Another Chapter Begins

May 30, 2013

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I lived in Chicago for three years. Within the first 6 months I lived there I had decided that this was not the city for me. It was fun for a while. I lived in a fun neighborhood of young single adults. I was walking distance to several music venues and great shopping.

And then young families moved into the area in droves.  While walking to get groceries I used to pass good looking people with great fashion sense.  Then it turned into a battle of dodging strollers and getting yelled at by a parent when the child they were dragging along and not paying attention to ran into the shopping bag I was carrying.

I never settled in to Chicago.  I could never commit to purchasing a Chicago Card for using public transportation or buying the IPass for speedy passage through the toll booths.  I simply could not commit.

I also struggled to make a living in Chicago.  The full-time positions I was offered did not pay enough to cover my basic bills to live in a safe neighborhood.  I worked a part-time job that ran very hot and cold for how many hours I would work on any given week.

I wasn’t sure about what was going to push me to actually leave Chicago until it came along.  Just as I had decided it was time to leave I began a series of interviews with a company I had wanted to work for for a very long time.  Despite the interview process beginning in Chicago, the position I was ultimately offered was not in Chicago/surrounding suburbs but in a city a few hours east and near where some of my family lives.  I accepted the job and quickly wrapped up things in Chicago.

The Chicago Chapter of my life is officially closed and I have very complicated feelings about my time there. I know I will not settle long term in the new place I’m living but it is a good resting point in life where I can travel and find new adventures.



March 30, 2013

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Prada.  What a delightful 3 part series!


How to make a book

March 1, 2013

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How to make a book in 9 minutes. For more click here.


3 Recent Projects

February 9, 2013

New projects on howdidyoumakethis.com:


Christmas in Chicago

December 24, 2012

Chicago takes Christmas very seriously.  Every year I spend a day in downtown viewing and enjoying the holiday experience. The photos are from the Christkindlmarket, Macy’s on State Street, Downtown Chicago, and Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo.  The video below is clips I took at the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.

Instructables Projects

Travel Bar

November 5, 2012

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I was invited to present at the Instructables Show and Tell night at the Craftsman Experience Studio in Chicago again this year.  I took it as an opportunity to build something I have thought about a lot over the last few years but never actually found time to make.  I built a case designed to hold everything needed to make 3 different whiskey drinks for up to six people. 

I’m not very experienced with woodworking but I do have access to a laser cutter and I’m pretty handy with Adobe Illustrator so I made it work.  

I purchased bottles specifically for keeping inside the suitcase.  I can change the type of whiskey or the volume I purchase and I simply need to re-fill the current bottle to continue using the case indefinitely. 

Customized grooves hold the glasses in place.  Jars hold cherries, sugar, and fresh orange slices to garnish drinks.  Straws are in the upper left corner, coasters in the upper right.  A small drawer holds toothpicks for the cherries.

I love beautiful things and when making a case like this which I plan to own for the rest of my life I pay special attention to the small details.  I used wood veneer to make this object something to display and use. 

For information on how I made this project, visit my Instructables account. 

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Fashion, Supply Chain, Pollution, and Human Rights

October 21, 2012

One theme that is always present in the things I make and the things I show others how to make is: put effort into what you make by selecting high quality materials and using the right techniques to create long lasting classic items.   We live in a world of fast-fashion.  We want lots of things and we want them cheap.  Oh yeah – and we want them on trend.  

Working with fabric is a funny thing.  It moves on its own, it has properties that are not always consistent, and it reacts unexpectedly at times.  It is one of the few things in the modern world that cannot be completely automated.  We just can’t make machines that can match a sleeve cap to an armscye with any consistency or react appropriately to the unpredictable nature of fabric.  Human beings are required in the process of making clothing and accessories. 

In the last few decades apparel and accessory manufacturing has been sent overseas to less developed countries because labor is cheap.  If we have to pay human beings to make a clothing item that takes X many hours to construct, why not find the cheapest labor possible so we can sell it for a lower price than that other store/brand/line and win some market share?   There are many reasons why this shouldn’t happen (everything from “American’s need jobs” down to “you’re exploiting workers in poor countries”) which we should be thinking about but that isn’t exactly the point of my post (today).  

These countries that are currently home to our textile and apparel manufacturing are desperate for the money they make from these factories along with the skills, training of the employees, and equipment.  Many of the countries don’t have the same rules, regulations, and standards in place to reduce or eliminate harmful chemicals from polluting the water, air, and ground soils near the manufacturing plants.  Some of the governments are willing to allow pollution to the point of premature death of their citizens to keep up with the demand for goods from American and European companies just to make sure the money keeps coming in.  

Recently, Friends of Nature, the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Envirofriends and Nanjing Green Stone joined together to investigate pollution in the fashion industry and push for changes to be made for the health and well being of those who make our apparel.  There is a problem with the apparel supply chain.  Inventory levels are down – in some cases way down.  We have reached a point where pollution has effected the work populations so deeply that it has slowed down production.  Some companies have cleaned up their acts since the Green Choice Alliance approached them with concerns – others have ignored the Alliance.  

An editor for a crafting publication – whom I won’t name because I don’t want to give her publicity – uses faux fur because, as she says, “not a fly was hurt” in making the garment.  Maybe not a fly was hurt but many, many human beings in poor countries were hurt in the making of that faux fur.  It has been popular belief for many years in America that the ethical apparel decision was to use synthetics instead of real animal hides.  Apparently, it is ethical to save animals (or throw away usable parts of the animal from the food chain) even though human beings in poor countries are dying because of pollution.  

Another layer to this problem that should not be ignored is that our presidential candidates did not mention human rights in the international policy debate.  Countries like China who keep tabs on how frequently our leaders use terms like “human rights” may see this as an opportunity to further exploit their citizens because the US is more focused on economic issues that human issues. 

For a very good summary and quick read on the topic, check out this article from Fast Company.  To see the full report including a chart of positive, neutral, and negative companies as well as a great explanation on what kind and where in the production chain pollution happens click here.