Friday, November 26, 2010

10 top reasons to buy locally made stuff

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We might be preaching to the choir here, but let us entertain you with our own take on why buying locally made stuff is important.

1. Supporting your neighbor. Thanks to your choice of buying a locally made article, you are supporting a craftsman, your neighbor actually, who, like you, pays the insane property taxes, sends children to college, and attempts to live a respectable life on Long Island. It may not be easy on your regular salary, it is even more difficult for somebody whose livelihood may not be so settled. It takes time, energy, and lots of trial and error to produce a good quality, beautiful object.

2. Value of price. Your locally made article will most likely be more expensive than a mass produced item of a similar function. This is not necessarily bad. You will probably buy fewer such items (think of the time and energy saved on the next decluttering project!) but become very fond of each one you get. You will learn to care for it and it will serve you for a long time.

3. Value of beauty. Since you will expect to shell out more on a locally made item, you will make sure it is not only functioning as expected but it is also pretty. There are obvious benefits to surrounding yourself and people you love with beautiful things.

4. Value of spirit. Your holiday list may include people you would rather serve poison than offer a gift. Statistically speaking you are not alone. However, judging by a relatively low murder rate on Long Island, you probably go and buy that gift every year. Maybe for once you will make it something special and get a meaningful, locally made item. Even if this does not turn out to be a life changing experience for the gift receiver (well, some folks are just beyond repair), you may gain a new respect for yourself. A local artist will definitely be grateful!

5. Uniqueness. Anybody ever subjected to an embarrassment of spending a more or less formal evening in a dress identical to a dress worn by another guest will attest to the horrors of such a situation. Even the most resolute sense of humor may not be enough to lessen the mental anguish and carry the evening. Buying a hand made, unique dress, necklace, ring, scarf, etc, should liberate you from such unpleasantness. You may value it highly, unless, of course, you are a twin.

6. Distance less traveled. Granted, Long Island, though rich in many ways, does not produce a lot of raw materials - fabrics, metal, paper are all brought from other places. By having the final item made locally you remove at least one leg from the travels of a product.

7. Creative up-cycling. Many artists and craftsmen reuse items already here, be it a recycled glass or a rewoven fabric. No large factory could afford being so creative and so environmentally progressive.

8. Value of knowing the person behind the product. You have an opportunity to meet the artist or craftsman who made your mug, bowl, jam, soap, scarf, etc. You develop a new appreciation for the work done by the talented folks and for their creative process. It never hurts to let a bit of admiration for their ingenuity, skill, and passion to enter your life. Who knows, maybe you will feel inspired and try your hand at spinning, weaving, pottery, wood turning, etc.

9. It is made safely. Your neighbor, the artist, is less likely to pollute your air and water - he/she and his/her family are breathing and drinking the same air and water you are consuming.

10. It is easy to be green. Buying locally made things is probably the easiest environmental investment aside from replacing your old light bulbs and fixing leaky faucets. Everybody benefits from your simple choice - you, your friends and family, the artists, and Long Island.

Buy local. Shop Long Island.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knitting, weaving, spinning, instruction, fun

We had an excellent time at our Long Island Knits event today. Our guests, Donna Lee Trunk, Carrie Wood, and Theresa Wasserman, were busy giving instructions and explaining the work required to make the beautiful woven, knitted, spun or crocheted things they do.

It was great having the three ladies and other guests at one table. Aside from expert instructions, the ladies were fun! We were occasionally surprising the Buckingham shoppers with outbursts of laughter. And why not?

Carrie took her spinning wheel outside; passersby were curious to see the demonstration, we even had one man try his hand at spinning. Jolanta and a few guests joined Carrie with their work on the sidewalk.

Hope you will enjoy the photos from the event.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meet the Maker: Jane Cairns Irvine, glass artist

Thursday, December 2nd, 5 pm - 7 pm

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Renown glass artist, Jane Cairns Irvine, will present her glass art at Think Long Island First in Oyster Bay on Thursday, December 2nd between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Think Long Island First store carries her colorful glass jewelry, her captivating wind chimes, wine stoppers, swizzlers, and one of a kind decorative glass items.

Jane runs a successful studio in Glen Head, NY, where she creates her own work and introduces students of all ages to the magic of fused glass.

Fused glass applies an ancient technology where glass is fired in a kiln to a high temperature producing very strong, colorful glass. Modern designs push the creative aspect of fused glass to a new level.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jane Cairns Irvine, magic of fused glass

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Jane Cairns Irvine, glass artist from Glen Head, comes from a family of Scots from Edinburgh. True to her Scottish origin Jane played drums in a Scottish band where her father played bagpipe. Jane attributes some of the characteristics of her more complex artistic designs to her heritage.

The family had a well exercised creative touch - her father, an electrical engineer, built a model space ship with an airplane control for the kids ("it was called the X15!  it was made of wood and masonite panels, painted, with cut out little airplane style windows and real airplane controls inside.  it was wonderful! :)  we spent hours and hours, weeks, years playing in it. we took many wonderful adventures with friends!") and is now designing architectural lighting installations; Jane's mother engaged in crafts of all kinds. Growing up Jane participated in the 4H program of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, an activity she remembers fondly.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Though Jane's formal art training included painting lessons at the Stevenson Academy in Oyster Bay and training with Nan Coffey, portrait artist from Locust Valley, she is entirely self taught in the matters of glass art. She has and is experimenting with designs, shapes, colors and techniques. This gives her an expertise that comes with a fearless trial and error approach. Jane can now well predict the outcome, with, as she modestly adds, occasional surprises.

She does her own firing in one of her four kilns. Firing is a lengthy and expensive process; it takes about 14 - 16 hours to fire the kiln to 1,440F and then to cool it down to the room temperature. Fused glass can be surprisingly sturdy as a result of the process; it is strong enough to withstand the beating of strong northeasters as tested by Jane on a few sets of wind chimes on her own porch.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Fusing glass into submission involves various steps and techniques; some cheerful like color and pattern selection, some a bit dangerous like glass grinding and sawing which should be exercised with caution. Jane created a wonderful piece called "Shattered Dreams", a work of personal significance, where crashed glass was used to a great effect.

Jane designs glass jewelry, glass sculptures and wall hangings of various proportions. Some of the larger formats are on display at the gift shop of the Nassau County Museum of Art. Jane's website displays photos of many of her works. Our store carries her colorful jewelry and the captivating wind chimes made from recycled bottles.

Jane is not only a working artist, she also teaches classes at her workshop Studio 44 at 44 Railroad Plaza in Glen Head (phone: 516.216.4630) and also at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills and at the Great Neck Adult Program in Great Neck. One of her former teaching projects, a month long undertaking at a Sea Cliff school attended by her daughter, had students create a school mural of their own design; Jane donated her time and firing.

Jane will be our guest artist at the Meet the Maker event at the store on December 2nd, between 5 pm and 7 pm.