Archive for November, 2010

Anzfer Farms

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Nice lighting by San Francisco based Anzfer Farms.  The workshop uses reclaimed wood and warm globe shaped bulbs in their series called Fragment lights.

Rupert Blanchard

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Here’s a nice project from London based designer Rupert Blanchard.  Blanchard combined two iconic chairs to create a wooden version of Starck’s famed Ghost Chair.   Using the idea of low cost materials from Gerrit Reitveld’s 1934 Crate Chair, Blanchard used repurposed wood to create a new affordable version of Starck’s original.  I wonder if he would sell the design like Reitveld did with a do-it-yourself kit.

David Prince

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Artist David Prince recently exhibited his Lumberjack project at the Otis College of Art and Design in LA.  Prince hand whittled toothpicks out of poplar wood and is selling them one by one.  The starting price was 25 cents and they go up a little with each sale.  I knew I should have jumped in when they were at ten, get your limited edition piece here.

Orsoni Mosaic Foundry

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Before I moved back to the US I was fortunate enough to take a class at the Orsoni mosaic foundry in Venice. Located in the Cannaregio district, the workshop is tucked away down one of the endless alleys that line the city’s canals.  The only indicator of the place’s existence is a small mosaic sign outside the Domus Orsoni, the bed and breakfast that is run out of the original Orsoni home (above).

I wanted to share some pictures and background of this special place, where the same tools, techniques and recipes have been used to create mosaic glass (smalti) for over hundred years.  Founded in 1888 by Angelo Orsoni, the workshop was run as a family business until 2003 when Trend bought the company.  Though the ownership has changed, almost everything else seems to have remained untouched by the hands of time.

During my week long course, the staff was kind enough to show us how the glass is made. Our tour begins in the Orsoni color library, home for the 2,000 plus colors of smalti the foundry has produced. Some colors are part of their collection of 100 standard tones, while others are remnants from special orders, one-off colors that would make Crayola jealous.


The glass plates are made in a furnace from a mixture of sand, soda and various oxides for color.  The ingredients are hand mixed in ceramic crucibles, which only last for about 5-6 weeks before cracking.  Inside the Orsoni courtyard there were stacks of these crucibles, dripping with color from their final firing (above left).  The cracked pieces are sold and find a second life as planters. If only I could have lugged one home.

When an order comes in, glass is taken from the color library to the cutting room where the larger plates are hand scored and cut into the smaller squares used in mosaics (smalti).   During our class everyone from the fellows working the furnace to the business administrator stopped by to see our work and chat.  It was such a welcoming and friendly environment; its like every student becomes part of the Orsoni family.

My teacher, Antonella Gallenda, has been making mosaics (like the ones above) since she was a teenager, having been taught by the last Orsoni owner Lucio Orsoni (great grandson of the founder Angelo).  Being in this place was amazing; getting to see firsthand the dedication of the artisans who make the glass and the mosaic works.  Though I gladly would have stayed for a month, my ticket back home dictated I take the one week course. Orsoni offers a variety of classes including 3, 5 and 10 day workshops.

Sometimes when you are traveling it is nice to step beyond the regular tourist agenda and get a different perspective on a place.  For the week I was in Venice, I felt like I was part of the fabric of the city, learning a cherished trade and celebrating the work of a renowned Venetian family.  Thanks to Antonella, Mirta and everyone else at Orsoni for making the course so wonderful, I hope to come back soon!

Catie Newell: Salvaged Landscape

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Amazingly beautiful installation by artist Catie Newell in Detroit.  Constructed with salvaged pieces of wood from a burned out building, Newell created a passageway through the charred structure’s frame.  The geometric front facade shows the unburnt cross sections while the back reveals the story of the burnt wood, piece by charred piece.

Newell’s installation is part of a new Detroit non-profit called the Imagination Station.  The story of this space is inspiring, I’ll post more about it on my other site Poesy & Praxis here.  Newell was invited to create the installation in the burnt remains before the building is torn down to make way for a new artist space.

(via Core77)

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