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Jun 11, 2018

Watching People Harvest Cork Makes Me Feel So Satisfied

Photo: Luis Viegas/Shutterstock

The internet didn't intentionally invent the idea of tickling your brain by seeing things get perfectly peeled, scooped, pulled or stripped. Yet, there are whole Youtube channels dedicated to things that fit perfectly, people breaking the pristine surface of a jar of peanut butter, people peeling the thin plastic sheet that covers most electronics. Comments on these videos are part of a shared sense of deep satisfaction, and you can find some of the most mutually joyful, least acrimonious interactions on the internet among people who are just eveling in that feeling of deep gratification. 

So, in the

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May 29, 2018

Five Great Sources of Masculine Stationery

Image: Thornwillow Press

I recently came across a great quote originating on Twitter by Stephen Fry concerning the debate on the analog-digital dethronement sequence: "Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators."

I'm a man neck-deep in digital technology (one prime example: I mostly draw digitally in Photoshop on a Cintiq tablet, which uses "brushes" coded to act like anything from watercolor to oil paints to graphite) and I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Fry. The more my surroundings convert to lines of code, sandwiched between a backlit screen and a power source, the more I want to balance it all out with things I can touch, taste, and smell.  

Correspondence is one of those areas: I email and text a lot, but recently I've started to turn to my old friends at the U.S. Postal Service to send my most important messages, for the simple fact that nothing says "I care" more than a handwritten note. (Check out our post on the still-existing power of the handwritten letter for more on the subject.) 

The only thing is, if I'm going to take the time to write someone a letter, I'm going to go the extra mile and forego the cheap printer paper.  So, along with a good pencil or fountain pen, the number one item I need for this task is some good, high-quality stationery that looks like it came from...well, me. Read on for some of my favorite suppliers!    

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May 24, 2018

A Primer on Typography for Non-Designers

When I sat down to write about typography this morning, there was so much I wanted to say that the letters on my keyboard actually sat silent for a good few minutes.

We're in a golden age for typography. Gutenberg totally exploded Europe in the 1500's when he dropped the printing-press-with-moveable-type bomb, but even then, for the next 500 years, the spread of ideas and publishing were in the hands of a collection of specialist craftsmen and the people who hired them. (After all, producing physical objects is expensive.) Then, in rolled desktop publishing in the 80's and—combining computer hardware, software that included digital type, and the ability to effectively "print" on-screen and distribute to other screens instantly via the Internet—you've effectively got a second Printing Revolution happening right now, with type squarely in the middle of it.

Typography was once a niche element, but now we're up to our ears in it. As it is with any craft that takes a lifetime to master, thoughtfulness will set you and your message apart. The craft will give back what you put into it. Using typography in design is a lot like using salt in cooking: when it's used well, it contributes to a greater whole but goes largely unnoticed; when typography calls attention to itself, it's typically been used poorly. 

If you've ever been putting together a quick flyer or PowerPoint presentation and wanted to put a little more thought into your font choices, but you feel like you're shooting blindly in the dark because you're not a trained designer, we've put together a quick guide for you.

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May 16, 2018

Check This Out: The Museum of Online Museums

HQ of the Museum of Online Museums. (Photo credit: chicagomag.com)

 

Author Seth Godin, in his book We Are All Weird, argues that the Internet era has busted open the starting gate and let the tribes out: information has truly become democratized, so now it's much easier for niche interests to connect and collect. One great example of this is the MoOM, or Museum of Online Museums. Coudal Partners, a Chicago design firm who created the famous Field Notes brand of notebooks with design guru Aaron Draplin, have run the site for about 10 years, which is basically just a big list of links, and in it you'll find the full gamut of niche stuff: from major institutions' virtual presence, like Amsterdam's famous art collection at the Rijksmuseum, to the most overlooked stuff like Manhole Covers of the World, it feels like it's all here. 

If you're a designer looking for visual inspiration, a novelist on the hunt for a random detail to spark a story, or a just fan of vintage eggnog labels, look no further than this treasure trove. I first discovered it way back in college and, though I did waste a lot of time combing through it, I was also able use it to do a lot of research on package design.

Read on for some of my favorites in the collection!

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May 04, 2018

How to: Make Your Own Typographic Illustrations and Artwork

Everyone likes a nice motivational quote with a fine adventurous backdrop and some nice typography that reminds us to get outside.   

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Apr 17, 2018

Your Daily Dose of Inspiration: Marvel at these Expert Craftspeople

Bon Appétit has become a paragon of food media lately with a gorgeous magazine, a wonderful podcast and some serious web content that is standing in where other outlets have stopped putting meaningful content in front of audiences. But they have quietly rolled out a series of videos on highly technical food crafts that are so well done, so well produced and so sharply executed that they serve as both educational content and an opportunity to truly marvel at people who have spent a lifetime perfecting their skills. Bon Appetite really deserves credit for providing a venue to showcase such talent and expertise. 

In these videos you can

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Apr 04, 2018

Not Your Father's Pegboard

created at: 07/21/2015

This is the tool wall in the workshop of Rhode Island furniture maker Hank Gilpin. It places every hand tool used in the shop  - including saws, clamps, scrapers, drill bits, chisels, planes, and measuring tools - within an arm's reach of the shops two main benches.   

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Mar 30, 2018

You Should Be Burning Your Brassicas

"Brassica" has become my new favorite word. It is the Latin word for "cabbage" (or also, "cauliflower"), as well as the scientific name for the genus of plants that includes green, slightly bitter, slightly salty, members of the mustard family. The brassicas are the dominant representatives in the dark green vegetable world: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, mustard greens, kohlrab , Brussels sprouts, turnips, rutabega, rapini, and that amazing and unsung hero of the Asian grocery, gai lan or Chinese broccoli. They are durable and variable plants, defined by their green leaves and bright yellow flowers. They are, without

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Mar 20, 2018

7 Things I'm Totally Obsessed With This Month (March 2018 Edition)

These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.    

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Feb 28, 2018

Looking for a Bit of Process Inspiration? Watch These Historic Pathé Craftsman Videos

If you’re committed to greatness in your craft, there’s no better way to improve than to mimic the masters. But if you need general inspiration to help you keep going in your pursuit of excellence, it’s helpful to watch any kind of expert at work.

In 2014, the newsreel archive British Pathé released 85,000 high resolution historic films to YouTube. Among these are a fantastic collection of newsreel footage from postwar factories all around Great Britain. It’s mesmerizing and, if you’re a maker, a bit humbling to watch these skilled men and women exercise their trade with such aplomb. (Not to mention, the peppy English narrators, using that classic clipped 1950’s news reporting style, are really funny.)

Thanks to the wizardry that is the Internet, there are hundreds of them available at your fingertips today.

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Jan 17, 2018

I Can't Stop Looking at These Amazing Images of the Planet Jupiter

Last night, my wife poked me in the ribs, and showed me this image. "Guess what that is," she said.

"Oil paint mixed with water?" I guessed.

"No...those are clouds hovering over Jupiter."  

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Jul 19, 2017

6 Masculine-Friendly Ways to Incorporate Indoor Plants into Your Home

created at: 06/16/2013

Indoor plants in your home are a no-brainer: they bring the outside in, improve air quality, provide lots of natural color and texture, and encourage you to take an investment in the spaces you spend your time. They literally (and figuratively) add life to your home. Learn how to rock the green look with these six guy-friendly decor ideas. No floral wallpaper need apply.1: Mix and match. (pictured above) Go freestyle! Hit your nearest nursery and select a few different varieties. A few ideas include: palms, ferns, Massangeana, and rubber tree. Make sure to ask them about any special care requirements for each one of them (prior to

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Jun 21, 2017

7 Things I'm Totally Obsessed with This Month (June 2017 Edition)

These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.  

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Jun 20, 2017

Timeless Inspiration: The Military Field Desk

Field DeskI've had a generally mobile office for years. What this looks like to me is a laptop, random notebooks, and a mass of cables. While I've set up my "office for the day" in a variety of spectacular locations,  I've always lusted after the campaign desks of old, which adventurers carried along to pen notes, history changing letters, and likely stash a bit of liquid courage.    

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Jun 19, 2017

Awesome Video of the Day: A Mesmerizing Journey through the Center of a Tree

Cutting open a log or thick board is one of the most rewarding feelings a DIYer or woodworker can experience. Who knows what the grain will look like? Who knows if you'll find a burl, a beautiful sapwood/heartwood transition, or a knot you'll be proud to feature, not hide? Beneath all that bark lies a world to be discovered, a geode of cellulose waiting to be explored.

Right? Well...sometimes. Or, you can split something open only to find punky, foamy wood, damage from bugs, or just boring, boring grain. 

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Jun 09, 2017

This is the Best Video You'll See All Day: Capturing the Mesmerizing Process of Hand Shaped Pottery

created at: 05/28/2013

Hi, my name is Chris, and I'm a hopeless process nerd. Especially when that process is captured in a video with such amazing colors, sound, and cinematography.       

Filmmaker Nick Bennett visited

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Jun 07, 2017

You Are Exactly What You Do, So Make It Count

Point blank: life is too short to do something you hate. The core of me believes that, but, when things get tough, I forget. All jobs trade our hours for dollars. But we must strive to do more than just survive. 

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Jun 01, 2017

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Inner DIYer

created at: 08/11/2015

When you're new to the world of DIY, starting even the smallest of projects can be a daunting task. How much money will it cost me? How much time will I waste? Do I even know what I'm doing? Questions like these can easily deflate a well planned weekend of hard work when you're not comfortable with yourself and your abilities. 

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May 11, 2017

Bedroom Inspiration: 3 Ideas to Create a Statement Headboard

Credit: ST Interior Design [http://www.tollgard.co.uk/]

Need to spice things up in the bedroom? (not like that). Adding a statement headboard to your space can help you revamp the look in your bedroom by making it look "full" without having to invest tons in other furniture pieces. Take a look!    

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Feb 20, 2017

7 Great Sports Movies...That Are Really About Something Else

created at: 01/13/2015

Jesus taught in parables, and Polonius advised his king "by indirections to find directions out." One of the best things about revisiting classic sports movies as an adult is suddenly realizing all the incredible themes and lessons that were way over your head as a boy, but you likely absorbed through osmosis. Whether you’ve never seen these films or can practically do them as a one-man show, here are seven classic movies about sports that are really about something else…   

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