Beauty, Eco & Human – Friendly … Area Rugs

Good news! I am officially a certified Green Accredited Professional by the Sustainable Furnishing Council. While preparing for one of the six exams I had to take to receive my certification, I learnt about carpets and rugs. Did you know that “the standard carpet that covers 70% of floors across the U.S. often contains materials that can be hazardous” and can even affect our health? I am sure many of you recognize the “new carpet smell”. Well that smell comes from “volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted as gases. Some side effects of exposure to VOCs are headaches, allergic skin reactions, irritation in the nose and throat, fatigue and dizziness”. The US Green Building Council doesn’t recommend that “carpet containing VOCs be used in baby nurseries as the gases emitted are not something that should be looming in the air around a new baby”. Allergies are also a common problem for people exposed to carpet VOCs.

So let’s imagine that we all decide to move towards hard surface environments. Well, the downside of that is that spaces may become colder and hard on the feet. Of course, we can always use area rugs. Let me introduce you to the beautiful world of natural fiber area rugs. A world that doesn’t cost more and can make you a healthier human being as well as a more environmentally friendly citizen of this planet. These rugs are made out of: wool, bamboo, jute, sisal, shag, seagrass and other natural fibers.

Wool rugs can be so much fun. Only imagine walking on this hand tufted rug by Gan Rugs.

The textures are sophisticated and unique.

You may even bring the look and feel of natural elements such as pebbles shown in this Pebble Rug by 2Form Design.

And may even have fun around the house with rugs such as the Brain Dead Rug by Timothy Liles.

Of course there are choices for everyone. You may visit Pottery Barn’ wool rug selection.

Bamboo shag rugs are so beautiful and soft that no one can resist relaxing on them.

Shag rugs may also come in leather. So pure and sophisticated.

Here a shot of our famous shag rug where many of my girlfriends enjoy laying down while having a chat and a glass of wine.

There are also beautiful sisal rugs that can be used in more classic environments.

And they also come in darker colors such as the Tonga Deep Sea Rug by Merida Meridian.

Seagrass rugs can be used on foyers and they look so good.

They also come in different shapes and patterns, so you can play with them.

Jute area rugs look and feel so delicate and natural.

They also are fun to mix and match.

Get in your zen zone, be good to your body and respond to the planet. Enjoy a natural fiber area rug!

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iDo Colombia – Two Powerful Videos Thanks to Steve Jobs

Yesterday, I spent all day editing two videos from the iDo Colombia final graduation ceremonies delivered at Fundacion Niños de Los Andes. Despite the fact that this was a time-consuming process, I was overjoyed by the fact that I could be my own video editor. This experience was facilitated by iMovie and my iMac, both by Apple. Thanks to Steve Jobs and  his vision of making technology accessible to everyone, I was able to choose what to share with the world. Cheers to his life and his direct influence in the work I do.

Today, I am asking you a favor. Please take twenty minutes of your time to watch these two videos. I would like to pick the best one to share at my graduate final presentation and to send to people interested in learning and hopefully supporting iDo Colombia. Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions. If you don’t know what iDo Colombia is, please check my March 2011 post. You can also see the process on my June and July 2011 posts.

Thank you for your time and help,

~Isabel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHPayulijOk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sys_8zSgwa8

Love doesn’t know age

Today’s post is not Design related, yet it was inspired by the design of love.

Last week, I began the Design workshops at a new house called Albachiara which is also an emergency center where street kids are taken to be put into rehabilitation programs. When I started the workshop one of the kids caught my attention as his face’s left side was all bitten up. To be honest, I felt intimidated by him no only because of his face’s wounds, but also because he didn’t speak to the other kids and felt disconnected.

On the second day, he came to me and asked me if he could tell me something. I said yes. He told me that he was worried about his “woman” as he had been taken into the emergency center and his family probably didn’t know he was there. I asked, why are you worried about your “woman”? He told me she was pregnant and he didn’t want her to think that he had disappeared of her life just because she was pregnant. I asked him to give me what he wanted to tell her that I would do something to make sure his “woman” knew he was living now at the emergency center.

He wrote this letter to his “woman”

Love letter from sixteen year old boy to his "woman"

(Translation)

Hi:

My love, I only write to let you know that “I haven’t left you” and to tell you that I love you specially because of that little person that you have in your belly. I will never leave you!. My little princess I am in Albachiara in the neighborhood xx xx. I will be here for about fifteen days. I only ask you to wait for me to raise the baby that is on its way. I only ask you to wait for me that as soon as I can, I will go to your side because I love you and I am not an inept to raise our baby. Try to survive these days that as soon as I get there, believe me, you won’t have necessities. I love you.

A big kiss to you and the baby.

Soon to be father ... here his facial wounds are almost healed.

I was no able to get the letter to the girl, but I was able to make sure his family and specially his aunt (which lived in the same neighborhood as the pregnant girl) knew he was now in a rehabilitation center. Today, he wasn’t part of the Albachiara house anymore, as he had been taken to a stable home where he can be in touch with his “woman” and his baby.

With this letter, he taught me that Love has no age, social status, nor education. This boy will do what it takes to be a responsible father even if he has to be so at the age of sixteen.

Much love,

~Isa

Prototype development at Fundacion Niños de Los Andes

Hi all. I wanted to share with you the latest images of prototypes that the teenagers at Fundacion Niños de Los Andes and I have been working on for the last couple of weeks. These are musical instruments made with reclaimed plastic lids and inspired in the teenagers’ personal experiences.

Hope you enjoy them …

iDo Colombia: Week 1 at Fundación Niños de Los Andes

Did you know that your body is capable of getting used to many environments? including highly polluted ones? Yes! Finally my throat doesn’t hurt and my eyes don’t cry any more. I have assimilated Bogota’s pollution.

On Tuesday June 13th, I began to apply my design curriculum with the teenagers from the Children of the Andes Foundation. Although the first day was overwhelming and challenging, as of today, I have learned so much from the kids and am more than happy to have the opportunity of working with them.

Day 1: I introduced the kids to the world of design by presenting a visual gallery with designs made by Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarine, Le Corbusier, Carlos Montana, Custo Barcelona, Desigual and truly yours Isabel Perdomo. I also shared with them inspiring art by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rodin, Botero and Guayasamin.

They thought about identification through art and design, as well as the different ways design affects their life and they affect design. At the end of the class they made road maps on how they identify themselves through design and exposed their ideas to the class.

Creating road maps in relation to Identification and Design

Day 2 & 3: I introduced them to the creative process by creating a visual gallery in which I showed my personal process to produce the Albero Lamp and the Gaudi Pen. They learned the words sketch and prototype.

After understanding the process of design, they began the sketching process in which they explored their inspirations and how they could transform them into musical instruments.

At the beginning of day 3, I showed them their constrains (exclusive materials they could use when making a musical instrument) that way they could start thinking as a designer (within constrains). In addition, I created a visual gallery with different instruments around the world that could serve as inspiration. On this day their sketches started taking a much more design oriented form. At the end of the day, we had a critique session in which each student exposed his inspiration and possible idea for his design.

Sketching and Critiquing work in order to design a musical instrument

Day 4: Today we began making the first prototype of what will be a musical instrument made with reclaimed plastic lids and leather. I showed them how to use the crop-a-dile, gave them materials to build their prototype and helped them to solve design problems.

We played music and enjoyed ourselves as we wandered around the world of design with our own hands. Today, was the most productive day and, to be honest, the most exciting. Indeed, they like to use their hands and their imagination. Some kids worked on their own, while others partnered with a close friend in order to explore and create.

Exploring, creating, working together, Designing!

Please feel free to comment and of course to follow this blog in order to receive updates of this exciting and inspiring project.

Warm regards,

Isabel

A Tribute to the Sewing Machine

Forgive my obsession with sewing since I learned how to sew, yet more obsessive has been my search for a sewing machine.

Friday: Looking for sewing machines on ebay. So many models and brands, so little knowledge.
Saturday: Hours spent reading the features and conditions of each of the 26,786 machines available on ebay USA.
Sunday: Lost three bids for a Pfaff, and two Singers. I learned that good sewing machines are expensive even if they are used and made in the 70’s.
Monday: Read about the main brands that manufacture sewing machines. Brother, Singer, Kenmore, Janome, Husqvarna Viking, good old Pfaff, and started moving towards Janome and far from Brother. Sent an e-mail to my mum asking her for advice (even though she doesn’t sew) and learned from her that she had a sewing machine that had not been used in 15 years, went over to her place, undusted it and found a beautiful Kenmore 1803. The motor worked, but the machine did not work. I took it to Sears to get it serviced and am currently crossing fingers to see if it is fixable and useful.
Tuesday: Read about the sewing machine and developed a respect and deeper desire for it. So here I go with today’s literature extracted from wikipedia and The Museum of American Heritage.

The sewing machine was first patented in 1791 by British cabinet maker Thomas Saint who was in search of a machine that sew leather and canvas.

Thomas Saint Sewing Machine

In 1814 an Austrian tailor, Josef Madersperger, introduced his first sewing machine. The development of this machine began in 1807.

In 1830 a French tailor, Barthélemy Thimonnier received a patent on a sewing machine that sewed straight seams using chain stitch. By 1841 he was successful in having eighty machines sewing uniforms for the French Army. But the fears of the tailors could not be quieted and the machines were destroyed by a mob.

Sometime between 1832 and 1834 Walter Hunt a New York inventor produced a sewing machine that made a lockstitch. The machine used an eye-pointed needle carrying the upper thread and a shuttle carrying the lower thread. It represented the first occasion an inventor had not attempted to reproduce a hand stitch. The feed let the machine down – requiring the machine to be stopped frequently and reset up. Hunt eventually lost interest in his machine and sold the patent.

Walter Hunt Sewing Machine Patent

Elias Howe, Jr. was born in Spencer, MA to an impoverished family. He had to work at a farm during most of his childhood.  At the age of sixteen he moved to Boston and started working as a machinist. After he married, he quit work due to a chronic illness, and his wife took in sewing to support the family. Seeing his wife toiling at her stitches and seeing his family at the edge of poverty convinced him of the need for a sewing machine. After watching his wife for hours at a time and trying to duplicate the motion of her arm, he completed a machine in 1845. The machine was set in a hall were five seamstress raced it. The machine finished five seams before any seamstress had completed one. After a lengthy stint in England trying to attract interest in his machine he returned to America to find various people infringing his patent. He eventually won his case in 1854 and was awarded the right to claim royalties from the manufacturers using ideas covered by his patent.

Elias Howe Sewing Machine

Isaac Merritt Singer has become synonymous with the sewing machine. He was the eight child of poor German immigrants from New York. At the age of twelve he started working as a mechanic and cabinetmaker.

Singer patented a type-casting machine for book printing and displayed it in a steam-powered workshop run by Orson Phelps. Phelps was involved in designing sewing machines; however, customers kept returning them because of faulty design. Singer examined the machines with the eye of a practical machinist. Singer suggested that instead of having the shuttle passing around a circle, the shuttle should move to and fro in a straight path. Phelps’ machine had a curved needle that moved horizontally; Singer proposed a straight needle to be used vertically. Phelps encouraged Singer to give up the type-casting machine and concentrate on the sewing machine.

In 1851, Singer was granted an American patent for a sewing machine, and it was suggested he patent the foot pedal (or treadle) used to power some of his machines; however, it had been in use for too long for a patent to be issued. When Howe learned of Singer’s machine he took him to court. Howe won and Singer was forced to pay a lump sum for all machines already produced. Singer then took out a license under Howe’s patent and paid him $1.15 per machine. Singer then entered a joint partnership with a lawyer named Edward Clark and formed the first hire-purchase (time payment) scheme to allow people to afford to buy their machines.

Meanwhile Allen B. Wilson went into partnership with Nathaniel Wheeler to produce a machine with a rotary hook instead of a shuttle. This was quieter and smoother than the other methods. The Wheeler and Wilson Company produced more machines in 1850s and 1860s than any other manufacturer. Wilson also invented the four-motion feed mechanism; this is still seen on every machine today. This had a forward, down, back, and up motion, which drew the cloth through in an even and smooth motion.

In 1855, James Gibbs, a 24-year old farmer, first saw a woodcut illustration of a sewing machine, and out of curiosity, he devised his own machine. Two years later, while visiting a tailor in Virginia, he noticed a Singer sewing machine, which he thought was too heavy, complicated, and exorbitantly priced. Recalling his own invention, he teamed up with James Willcox whose family was already involved in building models of new inventions. Together, they manufactured chainstitch sewing machines. The machines were sold for approximately $50. Similar machines sold for $100. The Singer company then brought out their own light family machine in 1858, but it also sold for $100. The Willcox & Gibbs Sewing Machine Company prospered and even into the 1970s was producing commercial machines, many of which were based on the original chainstitch principle.

Willcox Gibbs Sewing Machine

In 1885 Singer invented and patented the Singer Vibrating Shuttle, which made for a better lockstitcher than the oscillating shuttles of the time. Millions were produced until finally superseded by rotary shuttle machines in the 20th century.

…I often heard (Elias Howe) say that he worked fourteen years to get up that sewing machine. But his wife made up her mind one day that they would starve to death if there wasn’t something or other invented pretty soon, and so in two hours she invented the sewing machine.- Russell Conwell, 1877

As intriguing as this statement is, we will never know if the credit for the first sewing machine should actually go to Elias Howe’s wife, Elizabeth Ames Howe. What we do know is that of the thousands of sewing machine patents granted in the past 150 years, hundreds of them have been by women. Notable among them is Helen Augusta Blanchard (1840-1922) of Maine. Of her 28 patents, 22 of them deal with sewing machines; she is particularly known as the inventor of the zigzag sewing machine.

ZigZag

ZigZag Detail

Sewing machines continued being made to roughly the same design, with more lavish decoration appearing until well into the 1900s when the first electric machines started to appear. The first electric machines were developed by Singer Sewing Co. and introduced in 1889.

Electrical Sewing Machine

Modern machines may be computer controlled and use stepper motors or sequential cams to achieve very complex patterns. Most of these are now made in Asia and the market is becoming more specialized.

The sewing machine changed the life of millions of people, and it is bound to change mine. For now, I must wait to see if the electrical Kenmore 1803 made in 1973 is meant to be mine.

Enough sewing machine obsession. I will be camping in Point Reyes and Mendocino through the rest of the week and the weekend.

See you next week.