Tag Archives: Photography

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MOOD: COLLECTION

We’re loving the early spring moodiness of our current Collection—heavy in Twilight, Navy, and Black—as we transition seasons. Friends and photographers Rinne Allen and Christy Bush collaborated on the shoot from their home base of Athens, Georgia.

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The Rib Turtleneck (Elbow Length)

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The Striped Stole and Ashley Dress

Below Rinne discovers beauty around Athens in her co-collaborative book with Kristen Bach and Rebecca Wood, Beauty Everyday.

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Let the countdown to spring begin…

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Pictured in the first image: The Rib Turtleneck and Rib Skirt

View our current Collection here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – PABLEAUX JOHNSON + MARDI GRAS INDIANS

PABLEAUX JOHNSON + MARDI GRAS INDIANS

If you are a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance or a fan of the Bitter Southerner, as we are, you likely already know the work of Pableaux Johnson. During the 2015 SFA Symposium, he shared a short film about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and celebrated the city’s resilience with a helping of red beans and rice. His photographic essay on the Mardi Gras Indians was one of the most immersive and colorful pieces of writing we encountered last year.

ALABAMA CHANIN – PABLEAUX JOHNSON + MARDI GRAS INDIANS

A prolific writer and photographer, Pableaux often writes about the food, heritage, and culture of his hometown of New Orleans. He is also the author of three books, ESPN Gameday Gourmet, Eating New Orleans: From French Quarter Creole Dining to the Perfect Poboy, and Lonely Planet’s World Food New Orleans.

ALABAMA CHANIN – PABLEAUX JOHNSON + MARDI GRAS INDIANS

In 2014, he documented a year of life and loss among the Mardi Gras Indians, who spend untold hours stitching and beading and feathering costumes to be worn each year for Mardi Gras Day and Carnival, for annual events, and for Jazzfest. He captures the craftsmanship involved but also documents the community involvement, chants, drums, and dance of the Mardi Gras Indian culture. His work also portrays the commitment to family—biological and chosen—that tribes express when they lose elders and chiefs.

ALABAMA CHANIN – PABLEAUX JOHNSON + MARDI GRAS INDIANS

ALABAMA CHANIN – IRVING PENN: BEYOND BEAUTY

IRVING PENN: BEYOND BEAUTY

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word, effective.” – Irving Penn.

Best known for his fashion photography and portraiture, Irving Penn spent over six decades perfecting a unique style, with painstaking attention to detail and composition. He is largely remembered for his work with Vogue magazine and his fashion photography set the standard for documenting couture clothing and women’s wear for decades to come. Penn created an extraordinary 165 covers for the magazine, more than any other photographer. He also contributed singular and enduring portraits of famous figures—including iconic images of Truman Capote, Salvador Dali, Georgia O’Keefe, and Pablo Picasso. Vogue’s art director Alexander Liberman coined the term “stoppers” to describe the effect of a Penn photograph on viewers—meaning the image was so striking, it stopped you from turning the page.

ALABAMA CHANIN – IRVING PENN: BEYOND BEAUTY

After years of traveling the world on assignments, Penn developed a strong preference for photographing subjects in a controlled studio environment that allowed him to focus on a subject’s essence—without the distraction of outside elements. His portrait compositions were sparse and he generally posed his subjects against a simple backdrop, with diffused lighting. His most frequently used background was an aged theater curtain he found in Paris, and he carefully transported it to each studio he used. When traveling, Penn brought with him a tent that would serve as a similar background to his studio environment.

ALABAMA CHANIN – IRVING PENN: BEYOND BEAUTY

Decades of fashion photography led Penn to be somewhat critical of his own work, avoiding looking at his magazine images because “they hurt too much”. In search of new sources of inspiration, he immersed himself in learning early photo printing techniques. His research led him to a process for printing in platinum and palladium metals (known as platinotype), enlarging negatives for contact printing on hand-sensitized paper, which was adhered to an aluminum sheet so that it could withstand multiple coatings and printings. For the next three decades, Penn printed all of his new work and went back to recreate some of his earlier prints using this method. Supposedly, some prints could take over three days to complete.

ALABAMA CHANIN – IRVING PENN: BEYOND BEAUTY

In honor of what would have been Irving Penn’s 100th birthday, the Met Gallery has curated an extensive exhibit, Irving Penn: Centennial, that runs through July 30, 2017. The Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, is currently exhibiting Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty through May 29, 2017. We encourage you to visit one (or both) exhibits to witness Penn’s eye for detail and finding the humanity in his subjects.

If you can’t visit the exhibition, you can get the beautiful book here.

THE OVERVIEW EFFECT

Some time ago, I started following Daily Overview on Instagram and have loved watching the patterns of our planet unfold. Daily Overview isn’t our first opportunity to view Earth from above, but it does make me stop (if only for a second) every day to think about a bigger picture.

There is a phenomenon called the Overview Effect, that is reported by astronauts after viewing earth from space for the first time.  It was first reported in 1969 during the Apollo 9 mission by Russell “Rusty” Schweikart as a feeling that the whole universe was profoundly connected.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE OVERVIEW EFFECT

I first heard about this experience from an episode of On Being with Krista Tippett featuring Nikki Giovani, called “Soul Food, Sex, and Space.”  Krista explained, “it [the Overview Effect] refers to ‘the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth and space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life hanging in a void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish. The conflicts that divide people become less important and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this pale blue dot becomes both obvious and imperative.’”

Today you can follow NASA on Instagram and some of its astronauts on Twitter (more here.)

Nothing like some daily Overview Effect to keep perspective.
xoNatalie

P.S.: The term “Overview Effect” was coined by Frank White in his book, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution

Photos in the top grid are from the Daily Overview Instagram. Photos in the second grid are from the NASA Instagram.

CREATIVE PROCESS: PHILLIP MARCH JONES

Alabama Chanin followers and Journal readers are likely familiar with Phillip March Jones—artist, photographer, author, curator, Makeshift participant, and a frequent collaborator of ours. He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, attended Emory University, the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and Auburn University. Phillip founded and runs the non-profit gallery space, venue, and small-scale publishing house, Institute193 in Lexington, Kentucky. He has also been director of the Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York.

We believe that as an artist he sees beauty and relevance in things that most of us either overlook or choose to avoid, like roadside memorials. His book, Points of Departure, is a collection of roadside memorial Polaroids—glimpses of personal grief and reminders to all passers-by that someone’s life was irreparably changed at that specific place. Phillip merely documents each unofficial marker without imposing his own point of view and allows the viewer to bring his or her own meaning to each photo.

Phillip also served as Director of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a non-profit organization that documents, researches, preserves, and exhibits the work of self-taught African American artists. The organization’s goal is to bring this quintessentially American art form to a wide audience and have it rightly recognized for its essential, influential contribution to the history of American art.

While he has never stated this as his goal, I wonder if Phillip is inwardly driven to change the way the world thinks about and sees things that may be overlooked. With the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, he works to ensure long-term survival of art and artistry of those labeled “outsider” artists; with Points of Departure, he is also giving permanence to what might otherwise be temporary. He is attempting to help each subject transcend labels—or to simply be seen and recognized.

He clearly believes in the same sharing philosophy as Alabama Chanin, once telling us: “I believe that information, influences, and sources exist to be shared. I think a lot of artists, publishers, and musicians feel a need to protect their creative material to ensure their ability to effectively commodify their work. In my experience, sharing images on a website does not prevent people from buying a book, visiting an exhibition, or buying into a project. That notion carries over into my work with Institute 193 and Souls Grown Deep. Both organizations have an open content approach, and function on the principle that education and awareness should always be the motivating interest. All of the work I do is focused on providing access and points of entry to new ideas and material.”

It is with all of this in mind that we asked Phillip to participate in our research project on the creative process. Our questions and his answers are below.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE PROCESS: PHILLIP MARCH JONES
Homecoming Party

 

Alabama Chanin: Do you have any creative rituals?

Phillip March Jones: Everything I do starts in a small black book. I always have one in my pocket or bag. I make lists. I draw. I take down notes, memorable quotes, or random thoughts. Things seem to expand out of those pages.

AC: What makes you curious?

PMJ: Anything I don’t understand. I’m especially drawn to people driven by a seemingly other-worldly impulse. Artists, writers, musicians, and individuals who are slightly off or out or left or right.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE PROCESS: PHILLIP MARCH JONESChasing Shadows

 

AC: What do you daydream about?

PMJ: Walking out of my door and never stopping. Just walking.

AC: Do you have processes or tricks to spur creativity?

PMJ: De-connecting. I also take long walks, especially in cities. 6 hour walks. That kind of thing.

AC: Do you have to be in a certain mood in order to create?

PMJ: No—it just sort of seeps out, I think.

AC: If your creative process or project isn’t productive, at what point do you cut your losses? Or is there a point? Do you keep pressing on?

PMJ: Keep moving. Throw lots of things at the wall. Something will stick?

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE PROCESS: PHILLIP MARCH JONESCreeps

 

AC: What parts of your work seem the “heaviest” and the “lightest”?

PMJ: My daily photographs are the lightest. My heavier works tend to be my books and works on death, memorials, and memory. And the curated exhibitions. I need to learn to be less formal with those projects—loosen up a bit and find bits of humor in the severity of those ideas.

AC: What parts of your imagination seem the “heaviest” and the “lightest”?

PMJ: My imagination is active and unfocused. In that sense, it feels light, ideas dashing in and out, but the ideas themselves can be a bit heavy.

AC: In what ways would you want to change your imaginative spirit?

PMJ: I would try to make it more focused and productive, even though I think that might diminish the power or force of the ideas.

AC: Is there something that can halt your creativity? Distractions, fears, etc.? Have you found a way to avoid those pitfalls?

PMJ: Distractions and fears have always proven to be good fodder for creativity.

AC: Have you ever censored your imagination or creativity because you don’t want to offend anyone? If so, how?

PMJ: Not really. But there are things I have specifically not shared, because of their personal nature. They do exist, however.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE PROCESS: PHILLIP MARCH JONES
Pink + Green

 

AC: If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?

PMJ: Yes, I would be a gardener.

AC: If you were no longer able to use the medium that you are now working in, how else would you express your creativity?

PMJ: There is always a way to translate ideas into some other format. I would write more I suppose.

AC: Who do you define as a visionary?

PMJ: Unfortunately, most of the visionaries I admire have passed away. I’m looking for some new light. In the meantime: Hudson from Feature Inc, Samuel Mockbee from Rural Studio, and some of my favorite artists like Mike Goodlett and Robert Beatty.

ALABALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE PROCESS: PHILLIP MARCH JONES
Kid Dreams

 

AC: What last made you think, “I wish I had thought of that!”?

PMJ: Oh—that happens all the time. I was recently given an umbrella shaped like a cactus. It’s a truly brilliant object.

AC: Which ones of your products and/or services inspire you the most?

PMJ: Institute 193—and what the artists create there—is always inspiring. I only created the structure. The inspiring part is what the artists have done in the meantime.

(This project is made possible in-part by a fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.)

Photo of Phillip by Melvin Way.

All other photographs courtesy of Phillip’s daily photo blog Pictures Take You Places.

INSTAGRAM: @THESCHOOLOFMAKING

Our maker community has grown substantially in the past few years thanks to an increased interest in slow fashion and a do-it-yourself attitude. We’ve seen engagement, respect, collaboration, and beautifully-made contributions from many of you in The School of Making, which includes both a design and manufacturing service that facilitates production for other, smaller designers and also materials and patterns for home sewers who want to create sustainably.

We are excited to announce a new Instagram account dedicated to the educational arm of our company: @theschoolofmaking.

Follow along to keep up with our latest DIY projects, workshops, and an inside look at what’s going on in our studio and Building 14 production facility. And be sure to use #theschoolofmaking when you share your own projects so that we can continue encouraging one another to keep learning and creating.

Thank you to the makers who allowed us to share their photos. Photos courtesy of @annethrallnash, @bethbillups, @christine.chitnis, @designthirtyone@eaclaes, @iambestitched, @lisa.gerber, @melaniebuffett, @nellknits, @smmczyk, @sock_walker, @vicki.knitorious, @wanderingmuse.

 #theschoolofmaking

THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM

2015 was a year full of making, partnerships, learning, and growth. We truly appreciate each and every one of you and the love and support you show for us every day. We are excited to see what 2016 holds for us and hope that you’ll follow along.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM

P.S. – Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for (almost) daily updates.

CREATIVE PROCESS: RINNE ALLEN

Longtime collaborator Rinne Allen is a skillful storyteller in that she sets the stage, creates a visual narrative, and allows you to see through her same lens – without being heavy-handed. It is her light touch that allows Rinne to present her subjects in the best, most straight-forward, and appropriate manner but allows those subjects, themselves, to finish the telling of the story.

Rinne works in black & white, in color, and in other media (like her stunning light drawings), but no matter the approach, she seeks out what makes each image and each moment special; she finds those details that perhaps no one else sees, but that make the image real and truthful. I know that when art seems effortless, it usually means that an un-measurable amount of effort has almost certainly taken place to make the finished work or scenario seem natural. With Rinne’s work, you will never know… Her point of view is always present, always guiding and drawing your eye until: you’ve discovered the essential element of the piece. She uncovered it and carefully led you there until you found it – waiting there to be discovered.

CREATIVE PROCESS - RINNE ALLEN

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#THESCHOOLOFMAKING

We are constantly inspired and impressed by our DIY community and what you make and share. We loved sharing your projects as a part of #MeMadeMay and wanted to highlight more of our recent #theschoolofmaking favorites from Instagram.

With the weather (finally) cooling, now is the perfect time to settle in and sew something new. So, choose a pattern, alter it (if needed) with help from Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, cut, stencil, and sew along with our entire DIY community on Instagram. Or, if you’d rather get straight to sewing, choose from one of our DIY kits (or get really creative and design your own).

Photos courtesy of @vicki.knitorious, @tantesophie, @jessica_k_mf, @sojbird, @oldsaltstudios, @lotsaland, and @displaylady.

P.S. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

P.P.S. Use our hashtag #theschoolofmaking to share your latest Studio Style DIY project.

INSPIRATION: LIGHT DRAWINGS

Rinne’s Light Drawings remind me of leaves floating on the surface of still water, in shades of blue and indigo. And we’ve just added more of her ethereal drawings to our online selection.  Stop by The Factory Store in Florence, where they are on display and available for purchase. Call us with any questions: +1.256.760.1090

LIGHT-DRAWINGS

the bright nights just at summer’s end, when you wanted to make each day and each night last forever
secretly swimming and laughing and trying to will the autumn never to return
innocence remembered and clung to, as not to lose it completely

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
The photograph on the dashboard taken years ago,
turned around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse.
Still, it’s so much clearer.

I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge;
the moon is low tonight.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
I’m not sure all these people understand.
It’s not like years ago—
the fear of getting caught,
of recklessness and water.
They cannot see me naked.
These things, they go away,
replaced by everyday.

Nightswimming, remembering that night.
September’s coming soon.
I’m pining for the moon.
And what if there were two,
side by side in orbit
around the fairest sun?

That bright, tight forever drum
could not describe nightswimming.
You, I thought I knew you.
You I cannot judge.
You, I thought you knew me,
this one laughing quietly underneath my breath.
Nightswimming.

The photograph reflects,
every streetlight a reminder.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.

R.E.M., Nightswimming

INSPIRATION: RINNE ALLEN

Rinne Allen and Alabama Chanin first crossed paths almost a decade ago, when Rinne attended one of Natalie’s early “Alabama Adventure” weekends—which included picnics, short workshops, music and storytelling. (Those early weekends became what is now our annual company picnic + workshop weekend.) After that, it seemed that we began to cross paths more frequently—at Southern Foodways Alliance events, through friends, logically, working together became the most natural next step. Rinne has produced photography for the Alabama Studio Book Series, our collections, the website and Journal—and she perfectly captured the process of our Alabama Cotton collaboration with Billy Reid—including a beautiful piece for the New York Times online magazine.

Rinne currently lives and works in Athens, Georgia. One glance at her website shows her distinctive eye and diverse skill set. She can find and photograph a special moment in any environment and she seems to have an innate understanding of light. She also has a keenly developed understanding of natural elements. In fact, she and her husband Lee have spent the last 15 years maintaining the garden of Dr. John Linley, the late professor of landscape architecture at the University of Georgia.

ALABAMA CHANIN - INSPIRATION: RINNE ALLEN

For the last two decades, Rinne has worked as both a commercial and fine art photographer. In addition to Alabama Chanin, she also collaborates with Hable Construction, R. Wood Studio, and Selvedge Magazine. Her long-running series Harvest, documenting harvests across the south, is published regularly in T Magazine, The New York Times Style Magazine. She works regularly with artists and authors, notably with Hugh Acheson on his James Beard Award winning cookbook, A New Turn In the South. Her book, Citizen Farmers, made with farmer Daron Joffe, won the 2015 IACP award for Food Matters. Currently, Rinne—along with Kristen Back and Rebecca Wood—curates a beautiful website, Beauty Everyday. The accompanying book, Beauty Everyday, which highlights 365 beautiful photographs of the South, can be purchased here.

She has created a unique, natural light drawing process that combines elements from her garden with alternative photo processing methods she learned in some of her early college photography classes. She and her mother gather clippings from the garden and place them on specially treated light sensitive photo paper and lay them in the sun. After a certain amount of exposure to sunlight, a cyanotype emerges. Each of these beautiful pieces is completely one of a kind.

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Visit her website for just a glimpse of her talent.

TRAINS: ALABAMA TO SAN FRANCISCO

Two years ago, Cathy Bailey and her son Jasper came to visit Maggie and me in The Shoals via train. It was Jasper’s spring break and they boarded the California Zephyr to Birmingham by way of Washington D.C., and traversed the entire country to spend time in North Alabama. Needless to say, Jasper and Maggie became fast friends, our collaboration with Heath Ceramics continued to grow, Cathy and I became even better friends, and the next year, they came again. In a few short days, Maggie and I will be taking the California Zephyr to San Francisco. We’ve come to call it “Jasper’s Trip,” since Jasper has given me (and Maggie) a renewed love for trains.

TRAINS: ALABAMA TO CALIFORNIA

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A MONTH IN INSTAGRAM: JUNE 2015

This week we reach the three-year anniversary (and the 10,000-follower milestone) of our Instagram account. We’ve enjoyed the projects you’ve shared through #theschoolofmaking and the meals you’ve had at The Factory through #alabamachaninfactorycafe. Thanks for all of the ongoing conversations and for following along…
xoNatalie

P.S. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

POSTCARDS FROM AFAR

When I was a little girl, I started a postcard collection. Postcards were then—and are now—a low cost memento of a trip (and a low stakes investment for a parent to make on a souvenir). I don’t remember how old I was when I started accumulating these paper treasures, nor can I identify the first postcard that found its way into the old shoebox that housed the collection. As any collector knows, there is often no clear rhyme or reason behind why something appeals to us. It sometimes requires years of study for a true collector able to identify trends and collecting tendencies. After a half of a century of amassing them, I have begun to understand that the postcards were my first connections to travel and to experiencing the world.

I can look through the shoebox and clearly see that early postcards reflected my grandparents’ trips to Florida—to visit a rogue branch of our family that left north Alabama for parts unknown. The photos were of places and attractions that felt exotic to a child. Finally, I made my first trip to the Florida panhandle and Panama City—what today we call the “Redneck Rivera”—when I was 5 years old. After an overnight drive with my mother and a group of her friends, I awoke as we neared our destination and declared, “It snowed!” because the beaches were so white. A collection of 1960s style post cards document that trip: Goofy Golf and images of white sand and turquoise blue waters.

A few years later, my cousins moved to Texas and my grandparents’ adventures expanded. I received postcards from Hot Springs, Arkansas, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial in Dallas, Texas, and all the stops in between. My Aunt Elaine took a job as a teacher with the Armed Forces and set off for the Azores, and my collection grew further. I remember clearly sitting down across from her with a spinning globe between us, searching for the tiny archipelago of islands off the coast of Portugal. From there Elaine began to send a series of postcards that documented every stop of her travels. As my collection continued to multiply, friends and family members would purchase postcards for me from every place they went. Sent and delivered from around the world, these small rectangles of paper most likely created in me a need to travel and see as much as I could in my life.

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#MEMADEMAY2015

If there’s something we have learned from our DIY community and The School of Making programming, it’s that our fellow makers can be passionate and prolific. In a world focused on “fast fashion” we are constantly inspired to see so many taking time and effort to create meaningful things.

Quite a few of you have participated in Me Made May over the course of the last month. For the uninitiated, Me Made May was dreamed up by Zoe Edwards, a blog writer who, for the past 5 years, issued a challenge for makers across the globe to wear clothing they have created, during the month of May. While not everyone can wear something handmade every day, many have taken up the challenge with gusto.

So for May’s Month of Instagram, we are posting some of your beautiful photos of Me Made May garments alongside Alabama Chanin’s photos. If you participated this year (and have not done so already), please post your photos to Instagram and Twitter using the #mmmay15 hashtag – and also #theschoolofmaking, if yours is an Alabama Chanin garment.

Photos courtesy of @catcounts, @differentmeasure, @ebbandsew, @goodyarmamona, @heyallday, @hisclementine, @kaygardiner, @krrbsale, @lauramaedesigns, @lavalark, @making.it, @mbmoore, @melaniefalick, @qoyah_yisrael, @reneeplains, @subloke, and @yarnonthehouse

P.S. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

P.P.S. Use our new hashtag #theschoolofmaking to share your latest Studio Style DIY project.

AGATHA WHITECHAPEL: PATCHWORK PHOTOS

For many of us who call ourselves “mother”, there are two types of children in our lives: those that are born to us and those that come into our lives and become “ours” for life. For me, this was the case with Agatha Whitechapel, daughter of my dear friend (who I commonly refer to as, simply, “Whitechapel.”) I think of her as a version of her collages, fully realized – a lifelike composition of images pasted together to create a portrait. Adopted daughter to me; young girl grown up; mother of Elijah; photographer; and, finally, friend. Agatha cut her teeth in Europe of the 1990s, traversing between London and Vienna. Agatha’s school was the keen eye of her mother, music video film-sets, and the world of skateboards. When I met her, she was a 12-year-old girl, fascinated with hearing and telling elaborate stories. According to Agatha, she has taken her “childhood obsessions with fantasy and storytelling and turned them into visual explosions with as much colour, pop and pomp” as she can possibly fit into one picture.

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NEVER A PAL LIKE MOM (AND ROSANNE CASH)

Dust-to-to-Digital is a unique recording company that serves to combine rare recordings with historical images and descriptive texts, resulting in cultural artifacts. We have previously written about several of their collections that resonate so well with our brand. We believe in preserving traditions, and Dust-to-Digital truly speaks to that with their historically rich albums. We revisit one of their books, Never A Pal Like Mother: Vintage Songs & Photographs of the One Who’s Always True, for Mother’s Day.

NEVER A PAL LIKE MOTHER

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INSPIRATION: COMMUNE DESIGN

Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, Pamela Shamshiri, and Ramin Shamshiri are Commune—an inter-disciplinary collective of artists that work in the design realm. Commune is a design firm, but they are also much more than that; they invent moods and spaces for residential clients and for public space, design graphics and branding concepts, and create products that are beautiful without being wasteful.

The Commune team is also known for creating unique spaces like the ACE Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, the ACE Hotel Downtown LA, the Standard, Farmshop, and showrooms for Heath Ceramics.

INSPIRATION: COMMUNE DESIGNCommune for Ace DTLA. Los Angeles, California. 2014

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MLK DAY, SELMA, + SONGS OF FREEDOM

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and we are honoring his legacy and observing the holiday through service to our community. In the past few weeks, the Civil Rights Movement along with the work of Dr. King has received much media attention, due in part to the film Selma. The film, directed by Ava DuVernay, tells the story of how the Voting Rights Act of 1965 came to be and chronicles the events leading up to its monumental passing.

There were three marches that took place in March of 1965—the first is referred to as “Bloody Sunday” due to brutal attacks on the marchers, and the second march was cut short, as Dr. King felt the marchers needed protection by a federal court to prevent further violence. On March 21, 1965 the third march began—this time with the protection of the Army, Alabama National Guard, FBI Agents, and Federal Marshalls. The marchers arrived in Montgomery, at the State Capitol building, on March 25. The route taken from Selma to Montgomery is now a U.S. National Historic Trail.

MLK DAY, SELMA, + SONGS OF FREEDOM

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THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM

2014 has been another year of making, learning, and growing. Thank you for the love and support you show us each and every day.

Have a wonderfully happy New Year.

THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM

P.S. Follow our journey on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest to see what new and exciting things 2015 holds for us.

PICTURES TAKE YOU PLACES @ THE SHOALS

Flags or Fences

Shreveport, Louisiana; Lexington, Kentucky; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; Corbin, Kentucky; Knoxville, Tennessee; Oxford, Mississippi; or The Shoals, Alabama.

No matter where Phillip March Jones finds himself, he takes photographs of the extraordinary ordinary, the peculiar still life: unusual signs, unfinished fence projects, garden rails, giant farm animals, and confusing natural anomalies.

The photos here—part of his Pictures Take You Places series—were captured last month in and around The Shoals.

Check out his recently released book: Pictures Take You Places

PICTURES TAKE YOU PLACES @ THE SHOALSGarden Rails

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MODERN ORIGINALS

In 2005, photographer Leslie Williamson made a wish list of all the houses that she hoped to visit in her lifetime. The homes belonged mostly to her favorite architects and designers, who had offered her creative inspiration throughout her career as a photographer. She was curious to learn what inspired them in their home and studio environments, and since there was no book containing images of these spaces, she decided to take on the project herself. The result was 2010’s Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Midcentury Designers. Her book’s success surprised Williamson and showed her that she was not alone in her curiosity about environment and inspiration. She then set out to create a “library of these designers and how they lived for future generations”.

Her recent follow up, Modern Originals: At Home with Midcentury European Designers, is another beautifully photographed book featuring the private spaces of European architects and designers. The book—funded in part with a gorgeous Kickstarter film—provides an intimate look into the at-home design choices of notable creative minds, showing not only their design and architecture choices, but also illuminating some aspects of their lives. Williamson writes that she felt she was “meeting these people as human beings through being in their homes and learning about their everyday life.”

MODERN ORIGINALS

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PICTURES TAKE YOU PLACES | THE FACTORY

Him and Her

Phillip March Jones says, “Seeing is everything. But it takes practice.” Expanding our collaboration with Phillip, we asked him to take a look around our studio as part of a new and ongoing travel series—and an extension of his daily photo blog Pictures Take You Places.

PICTURES TAKE YOU PLACES | THE FACTORYShop Show

“During my last trip to Florence, Natalie asked me to take some pictures of the re-imagined Factory with its new shop, café, and production facility. I spent an afternoon wandering around the building, amazed at what they had accomplished but also bewildered by this seemingly impossible marriage between a literal factory and the sophisticated, comfortable aesthetic that is Alabama Chanin. Chandeliers hang below fluorescent tubes, soft pieces of dyed cloth are hung to dry against corrugated metal walls, and plant shadows grow over the cracks in the asphalt. I love the idea of this great big metal building in Alabama, all dressed up and ready to go.”

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MAKING PICTURES: THREE FOR A DIME EXHIBITION

One Saturday morning in the mid-1930s, Mancey Massengill, a wife and mother of two, saw people having their pictures made in a dime store photo booth in Batesville, Arkansas. According to her son Lance, “she watched close, and got the name off the camera, then wrote to the company and ordered the lens. She got the money for that by taking about two dozen pullets in for sale.” Her husband, Jim, built a box to house the lens and outfitted a trailer to create a mobile photo studio. On weekends, they would set up in little towns across the state and make pictures, three for a dime.

Jim and Mancey Massengill started this family side-business to make ends meet. The country was in the throes of depression and on the verge of entering the Second World War. Work was scarce in rural Arkansas, but the Massengills understood that even in rough times, life continues. Babies are born, children play, couples meet, and we all grow older. Someone needed to be there to capture those moments and that person could perhaps make a living doing it.

A few years later, the Massengill’s sons, Lance and Lawrence, and their wives, Evelyn and Thelma, worked their way into the business. They outfitted their own trailers and made their own pictures, traveling across the state in search of clients. The surviving family diaries and notes from this period attest to a very strong and entrepreneurial work ethic, with little mention of aesthetics or technique. The men and women of both generations describe where they went, what they did, and how much they made with only fleeting mention of life’s details. With few exceptions, the stories are left to be told by the pictures they made.

MAKING PICTURES: THREE FOR A DIME EXHIBITION

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PHILLIP MARCH JONES | ROAD TO DALLAS

For the past few years, I have essentially worked as a roving curator seeking out new artists and projects for Institute 193 and occasionally finding time for my personal work. I am on the road constantly: crisscrossing the Southern United States, meeting people, visiting artists, and making pictures. Things happen along the way.

This past fall, I was driving from Atlanta to Dallas, a short twelve-hour jaunt, to deliver some paintings. Around sunset, I pulled over to photograph a roadside memorial near Cuba, Alabama. I had been talking to my mother at the time (I know, distracted driving) and our heated, but lovely, conversation had made it slightly more difficult to slow the car down while crossing multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic. As a result, I was much farther away from my subject than usual. I hung up the phone, jumped out of the car, and zig-zagged through one hundred yards of un-mowed wet grass and weeds to the wooden cross. I typically run along the highway shoulder, but it was narrow; the sun was setting; and one of my obvious but unstated artistic goals of my project is to NOT become the subject of a roadside memorial. The irony would be too much for me to posthumously suffer.

After a long slough through the mud and weeds, I bent down and took the picture. I ran back to the car, tossed my camera onto the passenger seat, put my foot on the brake, and watched a small light on my dash flash the words: NO KEY FOUND. And that is precisely the moment when things got interesting.

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THREE FOR A DIME: BEN SOLLEE

In collaboration with Maxine Payne and contributor Phillip March Jones, Alabama Chanin has invited a number of artists, writers, musicians, chefs, and creatives to offer up their own interpretation of the Massengill photographs in a series of posts for our Journal.  The posts give voice to the images of the sometimes anonymous figures that appear in the photographs. On the heels of John T. Edge’s essay, “My Life in Mobile Homes”, and Blair Hobbs’ poems, “Train-Track Hopscotch” and “Sweetheart”, musician Ben Sollee was inspired to compose a song in response to the “Three for a Dime” photographs.

From Ben:

We all have our chosen mentors: people who we look up to that influence us, for better or worse. They are cool-handed and know how to order drinks. From them, we learn things that are often too uncomfortable to learn from our parents. This song is dedicated to the language they speak.

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THREE FOR A DIME: BLAIR HOBBS

“Train-Track Hopscotch”

Your hair is clay,
mine is water, and as we smile
into the camera,
cotton flowers—all gray—
Drape still behind us.
Now, there is no color—
only black and white—
so, after the flash,
we play.  You bring
the bottle Caps (Nu-Grape and Dr. Nutt),
and I pull teacher’s chalk
from my gingham pocket.
The sun sets on your side
of the track
that leads somewhere, like the tear
that will happen
across our paper faces.
Hush now,
Mother said
we couldn’t float bag-boats
down the creek.
Hush now,
hear the train whistle
warning us home.

Three-for-a-Dime-Blair-Selection-04W

“Sweetheart”

Nothing comes between
us but the moon
painted silver
beneath a stippled bough.

Dear, that moon
is full, and when our little heads
tilt on the axis of tomorrow,
its light will open–like a pearled

locket—and spill out
our starlit lullabies,
our Luna in a canning jar,
so many shared biscuits.

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THE HEART: ROBERT RAUSCH

You may have read recently about dear friend, advisor, and co-worker, Jennifer Rausch. As I recounted then, I have known Jennifer and her husband, Robert, since returning to Alabama. After moving home from New York (and after years abroad), I felt a little shy and out of place in my own hometown. It was a relief when Robert reached out to me, seeking artistic alliances. We were both looking for a relaxed camaraderie—someone to relate to in a somewhat unfamiliar world. After years of friendship and collaboration, we have Southern roots, design, sustainability, and family in common.

In those early days, Robert approached me and asked if I would speak to his university photography class about living and working as a fashion and photography stylist. Shortly thereafter, we became fast friends. It wasn’t long before Robert was helping me with projects for my first company. And since those early days, he has been a part of designing and creating images and photographs for the Alabama Chanin website, catalogs, the Studio Book series, and any number of other materials. We have co-hosted dinners, picnics, and events together over the years. We have raised kids, shared a dog, and talked design.

In 2002, Robert bought and restored a historic building in our community, which is now called GAS Design Center. He shares a deep love of sustainability and healthy living and this was evident in his approach to renovating the space and building the business. Every reusable board was repurposed and natural elements were invited in whenever possible. Natural light is perfectly harnessed in the GAS photography studio, to often-breathtaking effects. In fact, our first Alabama Chanin Workshop was held in Robert’s repurposed space—a comfortable place to launch what was then an intimidating venture for Alabama Chanin.

GAS-STUDIO

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THREE FOR A DIME: JOHN T. EDGE

My Life in Mobile Homes by John T. Edge

Where I grew up, singlewide trailers were as common as clapboard shotguns. On the far end of my Georgia town, near where the seg academy floundered, the mothers and fathers of my grade school friends worked at the mobile home factory, bending aluminum and punching rivets, constructing metal shoeboxes with roller skates on their bottoms. No matter. In my youth, trailers were jokes waiting for punch lines. We said terrible things. We said stupid things. We said, “Tornadoes are proof that God hates trailer parks.”

With time has come perspective. And humility. And a respect for trailers as shelter and conveyance. A few years back, I wrote a book on food trucks. Once I got beyond the hype and chickpea frites, I recognized that food trucks are trailers, too. Operated by new immigrants. And downshifting chefs. And aspirational hipsters.

When I first glimpsed the Massengill family photos of Arkansas folk, shot in a Depression era trailer studio and now being reinterpreted by Maxine Payne, I thought of old prejudices and of new realizations. And I thought of the everyday beauty that earned flashbulb pops then and deserves the klieg lights of fame now.
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A MONTH IN INSTAGRAM: JANUARY 2014

It’s hard to believe January is almost over. It has been an incredible month here at The Factory (and beyond), and I am looking forward to what the rest of 2014 brings…
xoNatalie

MAXINE PAYNE: THREE FOR A DIME

Lance and Evelyn Massengill

In 2008, Maxine Payne, an Arkansas-based artist, self-published a book of photographs titled Making Pictures: Three For A Dime. She catalogued the work of the Massengill family who worked from 1937 to 1941 as itinerant photographers in rural Arkansas documenting farmers, young couples, babies, and anyone else who had a few minutes and an extra dime to spend. The Massengills’ photos provided candid snapshots of the rural South just before the Second World War. Through her efforts, Maxine Payne has given new life to these old photographs by coordinating exhibitions and projects, including a forthcoming book by the Atlanta-based publisher Dust-to-Digital and a collaboration with Alabama Chanin on our new collection. We asked Maxine to describe her connection to the Massengill family and her involvement with Three For A Dime:6UP-GRID

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A MONTH IN INSTAGRAM: NOVEMBER 2013

It’s hard to believe that this month is almost over. There is so much to be thankful for – and so much to look forward to.
Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season.
xoNatalie

 

PHILLIP MARCH JONES | PICTURES TAKE YOU PLACES

Windows, New York, New York

We asked contributor Phillip March Jones to share the process and inspiration behind his daily photo project, Pictures Take You Places.

Seeing is everything. But it takes practice.

Modern_Antiquity_Atlanta_GA-WModern Antiquity, Atlanta, Georgia

La_Plage_Trouville_FRANCE-WLa Plage, Trouville, France

For the past couple of years I have been traveling almost constantly for various projects in the United States and abroad. As a result, I am often away from the studio and distracted from the kind of intense focus required and afforded therein. These circumstances have led me to rethink my artistic practice and even the way I interact with the world. The newfound freedom of a portable studio has forced me to develop exercises to keep my eye and mind focused and has led to several new bodies of work, including the creation of a daily photo project titled Pictures Take You Places.

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BEAUTY EVERYDAY

I met photographer Rinne Allen years ago, through mutual friend Angie Mosier, and have adored her ever since. Her work inspires me over and over again as it is always stunning and captures intimate aspects of life that many overlook.

BEAUTY-EVERYDAY-3W

Rinne’s love for gardening, travel, and all things handmade makes her the ideal Alabama Chanin collaborator. She has photographed a diverse range of events and products for us over the years; most recently, she documented our entire cotton-growing process.

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Rinne also co-curates the Beauty Everyday blog, along with Kristen Bach, and Rebecca Wood. Together, they document daily inspirations of beauty from around the South.

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They recently published a gorgeous photography book. Focusing on their hometown of Athens, Georgia, Beauty Everyday is a collaborative collection of favorite places and well-loved spaces.

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Thumbing through the pages is a pleasure. The book, featuring 365 photographs (one for each day of the year), celebrates nature, architecture, and seasons of the South.

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Beauty Everyday is available here.

 

EUGENE + MARIE

In 1939, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein met a 19-year-old girl named Eveline Kalke, whom he nicknamed “Marie,” at a state fair in Wisconsin. The two married in 1943, and settled into their daily lives in Milwaukee where Eugene worked as a baker. Unlike most bakers, Eugene spent his free time composing poems on the subjects of love, nature, reincarnation and time travel. He made fantastical paintings of unknown universes, ceramic vases pieced together from dozens of hand-sculpted leaves, towers and thrones fashioned from chicken bones, concrete masks, and perhaps most importantly, elaborately-staged photographs of his wife and muse, Marie.

EUGENE + MARIE

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LINA THARSING WALGREENS PHOTOGRAPHY

Cemetery Shadow, 2012

Contributor Phillip March Jones, introduces us to artist and photographer Lina Tharsing, who currently has an exhibition of her paintings on display at Poem 88 in Atlanta through October 19, 2013.

A few years ago, Walgreens launched a clever promotion for a reusable film camera in a world full of digital devices. The cheap plastic cameras, which retailed for about ten dollars, advertised “free film for life” in big letters. The catch was that you had to have the film processed at Walgreens, but it seemed like an opportunity to Lina Tharsing, a young painter and photographer from Lexington, Kentucky.

Lina Tharsing is best known as a painter but has been making photographs since she was a child. According to Tharsing, “I remember my first roll of film exactly. I was only eleven, and in an effort to amuse a bored child, my mother handed me a camera and told me to go out into the yard and take some pictures. At that moment, my view of the world changed, the lens revealed something my eyes hadn’t seen before. It was the ability to capture a fleeting moment and freeze it forever, to frame a scene.” Tharsing carries a camera with her everywhere she goes in a relentless pursuit of light and a self-described “singular moment where reality and fiction intersect.” She seeks out the brightly lit tree in the middle of a forest or the deep shadow that forms a portal into some other dimension. The resulting images of figures, interiors, suburban scenes, and natural landscapes challenge our perception of truth, offering a composed tension of multiple realities that would otherwise be forever lost.

LINA THARSING - Portal LightPortal Light, 2012

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HÖFER’S LIBRARIES

We recently shared a few thoughts and memories of the library, collected from friends and neighbors, about the role libraries have played and continue to play in our lives. The draw of the library is foremost, the books. It is a democratic place to learn, escape, and relax. For many of us, the library conjures childhood memories of our local facility, perhaps a favorite librarian, and certainly the stack of literary treasures we inevitably brought home with us. German photographer Candida Höfer’s series of color plates, Libraries, captures the architecture and physical structures that hold those treasures and the art of those sacred halls.

This impressive volume contains 137 color plates of Höfer’s work, including the British Library in London, the Escorial in Spain, the Whitney Museum and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, the Villa Medici in Rome, and the Hamburg University Library, among many others. The images are mostly devoid of people, drawing the eye and mind not to the functionality of a space, but to the colors and aesthetic of a building with a single purpose.

HOFER'S LIBRARIES

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PHILLIP MARCH JONES, COUNTY CLUB, AND A RECIPE

We are pleased to welcome back friend and writer, Phillip March Jones, who we have convinced to join us as a regular contributor to this Journal. Phillip will be writing about art, visual design, music, food, and travel.

This week, Phillip shares a photo essay of (and a delicious recipe from) his new favorite restaurant, County Club, in Lexington, Kentucky. This new gathering spot is a stones-throw from Institute 193, Phillip’s gallery. Chef Johnny Shipley’s menu looks mouth-watering and County Club’s Instagram feed has me ready to jump on a plane to Lexington.

Please welcome Phillip with lots of comments below,

xoNatalie

Turner & Guyon, a design team based in Lexington, Kentucky, recently partnered with local chef Johnny Shipley, to transform an abandoned cinder block garage into a full-service restaurant and bar named County Club. The original structure, located on Jefferson Street in the historic Smithtown neighborhood, was built in 1974 as a storage facility for the Rainbow Bread factory’s day-old shop. The factory closed in the early 90’s, and the storage building was eventually purchased by a local man who used it as a garage and auto body shop.

Hunter Guyon and Chesney Turner (Turner & Guyon) have both lived within a few blocks of the building for years, and their familiarity with the neighborhood is evident in the restaurant’s interior, which is elegant, sparse, and comforting.

Memory is one of the driving forces behind both the restaurant’s design and menu, which explores new takes on classic barbecue dishes with a special focus on regionally sourced, in-house smoked meats. County Club, which only opened a few months ago, already feels deeply rooted in the fabric of Lexington’s food and social culture.

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CLOSING: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN AMERICAN FACTORY

In Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory, Cathy N. Davidson writes:

“When the last worker passed through the doors of White Furniture Company in May of 1993, hardly anyone beyond the city limits of Mebane, North Carolina, noticed. In national terms, it made little difference that 203 men and women were out of work or that a venerable, family-owned firm (the ‘South’s oldest maker of fine furniture’) had been sold to a conglomerate and now was being shut down. After all, what happened to White’s is hardly unique. In the 1990s, in every walk of life and on all social levels, Americans have had to learn a new vocabulary of economic anxiety – layoff, outsourcing, buyout, off-shoring, downsizing, closing. The statistics are mind-numbing: 70,000 people laid off from General Motors in 1991; 50,000 workers from Sears and 63,000 from IBM in 1993; 40,000 from AT&T in 1996. In these times, why should we care about the closing of one furniture factory in a small southern town?”

Davidson’s text accompanies Bill Bamberger’s photographs, which document the closing of this small American factory and capture the artisans, many of whom were masters of their craft. White’s Furniture Company operated by assembly line, though many of the details were executed by hand. The company was small, almost unknown, but to people in the know, White’s was regarded as one of the highest quality furniture crafters in America. Though Closing was published in 1999, nearly fifteen years ago, the trend of downsizing and outsourcing has continued, and our American factories have all but disappeared. Production, as we well know, has mostly been shipped overseas.

CLOSING: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN AMERICAN FACTORY

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

May all your dreams come true…

xo Natalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

P.S.:  Belt buckle, pants, and shirt thanks to Neilan Tyree

MAKESHIFT 2013 TUMBLR IMAGE QUILT

This year, with MAKESHIFT 2013, we expand ideas that were born from MAKESHIFT 2012 to create a global conversation among artists, designers, and makers. The first part of the MAKESHIFT 2013 SERIES took place at the Standard, East Village where panelists and conversation guides Cathy Bailey – Heath Ceramics, Rosanne Cash – Singer/Songwriter, Natalie Chanin – Alabama Chanin, Jessamyn Hatcher – Professor of Global Studies, NYU, Nathalie Jordi – People’s Pops/Writer/Author, Tift Merritt – Singer/Songwriter, Andrew Wagner – Krrb, and Kristen Wentrcek – Wintercheck Factory, shared their stories and experiences involving collaborative projects and making within their industries. Throughout the evening, guests were invited to express their thoughts from the conversations, literally or conceptually, using an organic cotton tote bag from Alabama Chanin as a blank canvas. A variety of materials were also provided to design, decorate, and customize each bag.

MAKESHIFT TUMBLR IMAGE QUILT TOTE Continue reading

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: JUNE 2013

June’s Desktop of the Month celebrates the idea of collaboration. Alabama Chanin @ Heath Ceramics have worked together to create some beautiful pieces that we have loved and put to good use. But, this pattern, The Camellia, highlights the intersection of design and craftsmanship perfectly; the white glaze shows off the intricate hand-etched floral pattern and the pattern, itself, compliments the curves and shapes of the place settings. You can purchase the available pieces from Heath Ceramics or our online store. Or, download this desktop image to brighten your workspace.

 

DUST TO DIGITAL: I LISTEN TO THE WIND

Last  week  we wrote about Dust-to-Digital’s Drop on Down in Florida, a 2 CD release highlighting African American music traditions in Florida, paired with a 224-page hardcover book. Dust-to-Digital is a unique recording company: part archivist, part celebrator of cultural artifacts. We will be talking about several of these awesome (by the original definition) releases over the next few weeks.

…i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: music in vernacular photographs, compiled by Steve Roden, is a 2 CD set and 184-page hardback book exploring an unusual collection of recordings and old photographs related to music.

I LISTEN TO THE WIND

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PHILLIP MARCH JONES

Writer, artist, and curator Phillip March Jones’s latest book, Points of Departure, is a collection of roadside memorial Polaroids depicting scenes of reality, often stark eulogies on road sides, highways, and Interstates, that we routinely speed by in our busy lives. The collection demonstrates an irony between our hurried motion and the absoluteness of departure the memorials commemorate, as if the two, at least at moments, exist in parallel universes.

A busy man himself, Phillip March Jones is the founder of Institute 193 – a non-profit contemporary art space, small-scale publishing house, and cultural centre in Lexington, Kentucky – and the director of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, committed to raising public awareness of African-American vernacular art of the South. We were able to catch up with Jones for a quick Q&A about his newest book.

POINTS OF DEPARTURE by Phillip March Jones

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FROM SARA: BILL CUNNINGHAM (POST FASHION WEEK)

I don’t want to overstate the obvious, but most of you would know that I am neither a New Yorker nor a fashion expert. While I enjoy style and design and I’m somewhat awed by the city, it’s clear to any observer that I’m native to neither. But, there’s something about Bill Cunningham that makes me feel comfortable with both. He lives and roams in the intimidating worlds of fashion and Manhattan, but manages to do so in an unpretentious way.

This weekend I re-watched the feature-length documentary Bill Cunningham New York, which profiles this prolific photographer and wise fashion observer and, once again, this eighty-something gentleman captured all my heart. Sometimes, as a fashion outsider, I imagine that NY style begins and ends on the runway. Bill Cunningham is a firm believer that this notion is not true. “The best fashion show is definitely on the street – always has been, always will be,” he assures us. His “On the Street,” column in the New York Times is a collage of on-trend people, items, movements, and real-time style progressions. In the film, Harold Koda, Curator of the Costume Institute/Metropolitan Museum of Art, explains that Bill attempts to “tease out trends in terms of the reality of how people dress.” Cunningham himself demurs, “I don’t decide anything. I let the street speak to ME.”

BILL CUNNINGHAM FOR THE NY TIMES

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DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: NOVEMBER

For November, we’re featuring the Couching technique as our Desktop of the Month. Couching lends substantial weight and warmth to any garment. The final days of October brought quite a chill to Alabama, perfect weather for my favorite couched coat. I love pulling out my coats for the first time of the season; a sure-fire signal fall has arrived and the holidays are just around the corner.

We hope you have a cold-weather favorite you reach for year after year. Or, if it’s time to start working on a new favorite, you might consider making your own coat and embellishing with the Couching technique. The Alabama Chanin version of the technique is featured on page 110 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and shows several variations to work using beads or cotton yarn with a parallel whipstitch.

xoNatalie


OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI

Our BBQed dresses have been carefully hung along side the stunning photographs of Landon Nordeman and the smell of barbeque fills the room. We are en route to a weekend of storytelling and out-of-this-world food (and spirits).

 

Join us tonight in Oxford, Mississippi, for Punch, Pictures, and ‘Cue Couture, as part of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s 15th Annual Symposium, Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmasters, Places, Smoke, and Sauce.

The Powerhouse
13 South 14th Street, Oxford, Mississippi 38655

Opening reception:
October 18th from 4:00pm – 6:00pm
(The reception is free and open to the public and will feature the cocktail stylings of Greg Best from Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta, Georgia.)

Show runs through November 2, 2012 from 9:00am – 5:00pm each day.

Thank you to the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Melissa Hall, and John T. Edge for the inspiration and hard work that helped make this exhibition possible.

1006 Van Buren Avenue
Oxford, Mississippi

Thursday, October 18th: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Friday, October 19th – 20th: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, October 20th – 20th: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday, October 21st: 9:00am – 2:00pm

KODACHROMES (AND A LANDSCAPE FOR HOMESTEADING)

There are certain places you must see for yourself to have better understanding of a culture and people.

Through his Kodachrome images, photographer William Christenberry is somehow able to take you to places you’ve never been and give you insight on people you’ve never encountered. He tells beautiful (sometimes forlorn) tales spanning five decades in the rural South. Shot with 35mm Kodachrome slide film, the photographs feature white-clad churches, brick facades, overgrown landscapes, and rusted signage; they focus on rural locations, rather than individuals, but still manage to depict the humanness of the locales.

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LEARNING FROM THE VERNACULAR

“It is essential to remember that as many arts of living exist as cultural nuances and beliefs.”

I posted about Deidi von Schaewen’s work back in 2010 when her “Learning from Vernacular” first appeared as an exhibition to be seen only by train.

Now, she takes the work one step further in an exhibition that “proposes a world tour of traditional architectures, known as ‘vernacular’, presented in models, films and photographs.”


Deidi von Schaewen by Deidi_vonSchaewen Continue reading

PENLAND MOMENTS (AND HEADED HOME)

It has been a wonderful two weeks at Penland: learning, exploring, resting, dreaming. I dread leaving this magical place and at the same time I look forward to going home and using the tools I learned here to become a better designer. As I pack the car, we leave you with a few shots of the tools of Penland.

Happy trails and a great weekend to all…
xoNatalie

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DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: CLIMBING DAISY

Melanie – my editor – recently asked if I would send her a hi-resolution photograph of one of our embellished fabrics that she could use for her computer desktop background.  In talking about this simple act, we decided it would be nice to share these photographs with everyone.

Thus was born our Desktop of the Month series. Each Desktop of the Month will be available for one calendar year, when we replace it with a new image for the current year. Though we only have one week left in the month of February, we decided to start early (or late) and include our ribbon embroidered Climbing Daisy, which was featured in our Cotton Ribbon post today.

xoNatalie

 

ARRESTED BEAUTY + HUMAN KINDS

My friend Jennifer Venditti has been an inspiration to me since our first meeting a decade ago in New York.  She is one of those friends who I don’t talk to every week but when we do, the stories unfold. We have trips to documentary film festivals behind us and many a trip ahead of us I am sure. (Taos is next on the agenda.)

I met Jennifer at the time I had just started working on what would become Alabama Chanin.  She had a growing casting agency and also worked on a line of clothing with our friend Molly Stern-Schlussel, called M.R.S. (More about our upcoming collaboration with Molly and M.R.S coming soon.)

Jennifer is often credited with changing the face of beauty over the last ten years, mostly due to her unerring eye and a diligence for street casting. She has transformed “unusual beauty” into mainstream beauty in a decade of work, not to mention directing and producing an award winning documentary film called Billy the Kid that speaks to what it means to be an outsider.

At one point in the film, Billy says, “I’m not black, I’m not white, I’m not foreign… I’m just different in the mind…”

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BURNING MAN (+ WOMAN)

It seems that everywhere I turn these days, someone is talking about or asking me to go to Burning Man. This also happened to me a decade ago when I first moved back to New York from Vienna. At that time, all of the talk I heard centered on substances consumed and not content. I found the conversations boring beyond words and the folks talking seemed to be something more than obsessed. You would say something as banal as, “What would you like for dinner tonight?” And their reply would always start, “Well, at Burning Man…” You get my drift.

This new round of Burning Man admirers are of a totally different ilk. Beautiful images, like these taken by my friend, Reyes Melendez, are emerging and at the same time, the conversations are changing.

Each Burning Man enthusiast I have met recently has been speaking with passion (and content) of amazing moments: like drawing classes on classical form held on a white sheet in the middle of a white desert, dance, costumes, and the beauty of the gift economy – no exchange of money – as it relates to everyday economy.

I have to reconsider my decision to discount Burning Man if for no other reason than the fact than the DooNanny was compared to Burning Man in the New York Times and includes a story about the burning “100-foot vagina.”

Perhaps it is time to plan a trip to Burning Man?
xoNatalie

All photos above from Reyes Melendez. See more of his work here: www.reyezone.com

P.S.: Even a pair of our Bloomers shorts made an appearance last year.  Thank you for the picture Kate!

 

THE COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH

The Museum of Electronic Wonder & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour is exactly as the name implies: part museum, part sandwich shop. Brainchild of Adam and Krista Bork – of Food Shark fame, this is the place for late-night gatherings in Marfa, Texas.

 

Open from 9:30 until “thirty minutes after the last bar closes,” the menu includes grilled cheese offerings like the Classic with Bacon and Tomato options, Brie with Spicy Cherry Chutney, and Gruyere with Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion.

 

Originally conceived as a kitchen for the Food Shark, the museum has become an extended living room for the Bork’s – hosting locals and visiting art and music enthusiasts for late-night eats.

Why is it that small towns often have the coolest places?  Every small town needs one of these.

See more pictures here.

The Museum of Electronic Wonder & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour
300 West San Antonio Street
Marfa, Texas

 

EL COSMICO NIGHTS

The beautiful, beautiful Patty Griffin performs with Robert Plant and the Crown Vics.

A dream.

Today I will require a massage (or two) at El Cosmetico.

SOUTHEAST X SOUTHWEST

Packing my bags this morning in Berlin to head home – and later in the week on to our events in Marfa and Austin!

Hello Etsy was amazing, inspiring, reassuring and _____ – fill in the blank. I had every intention to live blog my time here but have found that I need time to process all of the great ideas that were presented.  Over the next weeks – and after our Texas excursion, I will be catching up with some of the great folks we met at Hello Etsy.

Here, a few of my favorite moments from Berlin!

Gluckskind = Darling of Fortune – perhaps tagged here at the entrance to the subway as a reminder to celebrate the small moments in life.

I feel very lucky and honored to have been included in the first Hello Etsy. Thank you to everyone (Matt, Emily, and all!) for such a beautifully organized conference.  I heard a rumor that this will become an annual event and I am already looking forward to the next round!

HÔTEL DE CRILLION

My four-year-old daughter Maggie this morning while looking at the laundry hamper:  “Mama, you REALLY need to do the laundry. I’m just saying…”

Some days you just need to be running down the halls of the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris.  I’m just saying…

*Photo from my friends @  Le Deux Garcons – taken sometime last decade. xo

MORNING WALK

I have missed having a camera handy in my pocket these last months since my point-and-shoot was hijacked in the studio.

Last week I broke down and bought this Canon PowerShot. Little did I know that I was going to have to fight Maggie to keep it in my pocket.

Here is her document of our morning walk. You can tell that she is already obsessed with nail polish, shoes, things on the side of the road and flowers – a girl after my own heart.

SVALBARD GLOBAL SEED VAULT

Beautiful images of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault––photographed exclusively for NOWNESS by Greg White.

Some believe that this vault will be the saving grace for a future where hybrid seeds have altered the crops of the world.

LEARNING FROM VERNACULAR

I love the juxtaposition of images, architecture, and landscape in this exhibition by Deidi von Schaewen.

Visible only by train, the images make me long for a travel via rail today.

NOWNESS

NOWNESS – Every day of the month there is something to love. NOWNESS

Look for Alabama Chanin on NOWNESS in the coming months thanks to Wyatt Troll and all our friends at Commune.

CHARLES MOORE: 1931 – 2010

Famed photographer Charles Moore changed the course of American history the only way he knew: with his camera.
The life of our friend, hero, and neighbor will be celebrated this Saturday.
Please join us for an evening of powerful imagery, inspiration, talks, friends, music food and a look at how one man made a difference:
Life Celebration for Photographer
Charles Lee Moore
Saturday, June 5th
7pm at GAS Design Center
109-A West 6th Street
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Powerful Days indeed…
*Photograph by Charles Moore – March 1931 to March 2010

CHRIS JORDAN: A MESSAGE FROM MIDWAY ATOLL

My dear friend Susan called over the weekend from Mountainfilm in Telluride. She had just heard Chris Jordan speak about his experiences and work on Midway Atoll.

Nothing I have ever seen has made me so drastically consider the plastic I have consumed over the course of my life. These startling (and beautiful) images from Chris have shocked me into action.
I commit (again) to think 1000 times before every purchase I make.

From the website:

“These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

HOPE AS THE ANCHOR OF THE SOUL

Breathtaking new work by Denyse Schmitt:
“Hope as the Anchor of the Soul: Mount Lebanon Quilt Series”

About the series from her website:

“On a 2007 pilgrimage to the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in New York, Denyse saw accidental, raw beauty in empty, decaying interiors awaiting renovation. Knocked out doorjambs, random linear gashes in walls that exposed ribbons of lath, and cream-on-cream layers of patches in the plaster, would visually translate into the minimal piecing design of her new quilts.

On View at Ralph Pucci International, 44 West 18th Street, NYC, Gallery Nine (9th Floor). 212-633-0452.”

PICTURES + STORIES

A few years ago, my friend Sara helped me work on organizing my collection of books into a (very loose) library format. The tomes were divided by a “genre” that I determined by somewhat random method but that made sense to me.   Books on textiles got a red sticker on the spine and books on design a white sticker with little ### symbols, etc. I did this as a way to make the search for a particular book easier, re-shelving mindless and to create a system to loan books without continually losing them. What shocked me when the library was finished was that the largest category of books was not fashion design or textiles or craft but photography.

Thinking back, this should not have been a shock as I started collecting photography books as a design student. Over the years, these books are continually the ones I search out over and over and over again. Writing about Richard Avedon yesterday made me nostalgic for other heroes who have storytelling at the heart of their work. When I look at Avedon’s pictures, I dream that I have an audio file from The Kitchen Sisters telling the story with the dual voice of photographer and subject. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men comes about as close to telling the story with the imagery as you can get; however, the book does not satisfy my hunger. I want the photographs of Dorothea Lange to come to life and sit down with me on the porch. As that is not possible, I take one of my books of Dorothea’s photographs, listen to Studs Terkel and dream that I am an oral historian.

AVEDON FASHION 1944 – 2000

The Museum at The International Center for Photography will be showing the fashion work of Richard Avedon: Avedon Fashion 1944 – 2000.

One of my all time favorite books of photography was created by Richard Avedon: In the American West. This genre of photography as story teller has been an inspiration to me since the day I first started working. They are images that make me want to HEAR the stories too.

Visit The Richard Avedon Foundation for more.

P.S.: I literally ran into Avedon in a book store in Montauk, New York, some years ago. Backed right into him. As I turned around, I lost all calm and stumbled right out the door.

THE SONGBIRDS

Robert Rausch just finished our final catalog and lookbook for The Songbirds…

The photographs are lovely – thank you to Russ Harrington and everyone involved. It was a beautiful process. We are working on updating our website and will soon have this and a slew of other new projects going up. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorites:


THE COLORS OF SOUTH AFRICA

Blue skies, rolling lands, rich fabrics and faces, recycling – using what you have available to the best advantage. Ingenious.   Colorful. Respectful and full of joy…

These beautiful photographs from Shack Chic by Craig Fraser and a lovely collection of books by Quivertree Publications from a collection of South African artists, foodies and designers.

MARFA, TEXAS

Butch has been in Marfa the last few weeks working on Liz Lambert’s El Cosmico with Jack Sanders and crew. I love this photograph which shows how something so simple can be so beautiful.

See more photos from Jesse Hartman here: El Cosmico in Process

TOPICS FOR CONVERSATION AND INSPIRATION

I received the email below from friend Sarah Lewis after she visited the Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium since 1960 (through October 19, 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City). And while I am not in New York myself to see the exhibition, my entire body of work has been very influenced by the photographs of Walker Evans (along with others from this era) and particularly his work with John Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

I love the text below. Here is Sarah’s email:

I am sure you heard of the photographer Walker Evans…!?

“Watching Allie Mae Burroughs work with a simple broom kept in the kitchen corner, Agee mused that everything in the house might be licked with the tongue and made scarcely cleaner.

Evans photographs of the tenant farmers’ tidy kitchen are distilled essences of domesticity. “

From the MET photo exhibit,

“Kitchen Corner, Tenant Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama, 1936.”

And his predecessor, Sherrie Levine, “After Walker Evans.”

…I think of you no less than every other day…

Xo
Sarah

Learn more about the exhibition here and start your own discussion about the role of the historical in contemporary work:

Sherrie Levine: After Walker Evans 2, 1981

 

RINNE ALLEN

I received the most lovely pack of 3 x 5 photographs from Rinne in the mail a few months back. The photos were like a photo album from the last three years of my life and included our old offices, my daughter at three weeks old, and my grown son. But the loveliest of all was this picture of Butch’s installation:

Birds of a feather will fly together.

I have this photo pinned above my desk to remind me each and every day that we are here to fly.

See more from Rinne here.

And all of her work for Hable Construction

 

YES WE CAN

Regardless of your politics, religion or gender, this photo is beautifully captured and reminds us that we, as individuals, are part of a larger whole that is this nation. Yes we can. Yes We Can Photo above from Charles Moore.

 

Charles Moore’s collection of Civil Rights Era photographs are showcased in Powerful Days.