- 11:53 am - Sat, Aug 18, 2012
- 54 notes
"What would you do for the world with $1 million?" asks TED, and the organization isn’t just tossing out a conversation-starter, as it will be giving that sum to someone.
I am on the record on this subject: My cameo in the documentary Objectified records me saying that if I had the dough, I’d launch a branding campaign on behalf of “Things you already own — enjoy them today!” (I may have said “a billion dollars” in the film, but a million would be enough to get things rolling.) (This is Rob Walker posting this item, by the way.)
In that spirit, check out this project: Shaz Madani / Look What You’ve Got:
‘Look what you’ve got’ takes everyday objects from around the home that have been discarded and encourages you to reconsider and appreciate them in a new light. These outcomes have been brought together and catalogued in a small format book and exhibited with the poster and accompanying object.
I guess it’s a couple of years old and doesn’t seem active at the moment, but if I ever get that marketing budget, I’m getting in touch with this person immediately!
Anyway I should also acknowledge that Unconsumption and the Uncollection are in fact attempts to promote that spirit of “enjoy what you own (instead of feeling compelled to buy something new).” Although our budget is approximately $1 million shy of $1 million, I still like the idea of “branding” things that already exist, as I wrote in On Earth recently. And we of course still welcome your participation, as described here.
Oh, and if you want to tell TED to give us that $1 million, you have until August 31!
- 7:45 pm - Sat, Jul 21, 2012
- 24 notes
I hope you will forgive me (“me” being Unconsumption co-founder Rob Walker) for a post that slightly crosses over with a separate project.
In New York recently, at the launch event for a book that I co-edited, I had the pleasure of meeting in person for the first time the delightful Tiffany Threadgould. You may recall she was the first contributor to our Uncollection effort — and she was wearing the Uncollection earrings she created!
It was a highlight of the evening for me, and that’s really saying something.
In a post this week on her site, Tiffany writes about the aforementioned book, Significant Objects, the culmination of a project overseen by Joshua Glenn and me, which involved commissioning fiction about thrift-store doodads, and selling the story/object pairs on eBay. She cunningly connects the effort to upcycling, here. Not surprisingly, I completely agree with her point of view on the matter. But she expresses it better than I ever did:
In a way, each piece has been upcycled. But rather than changing the shape of the object and repurposing it, the original form and function remain the same. Additional value is given to each piece in the form of a short story. Simply brilliant. Sometimes objects don’t need changing. They just need to be looked at in a different way.
What can I say? Thank you Tiffany!!!
- 10:44 am - Tue, May 29, 2012
- 23 notes
"This Brand Is Your Brand" : Unconsumption in OnEarth Magazine
I’m really pleased to pass along this essay I did for OnEarth magazine, all about our Uncollection efforts. It was an honor to speak to the publication’s audience, and a lot of fun to think through our “brand without products.” (— Rob Walker.)
The piece is here: This Brand Is Your Brand | OnEarth Magazine
Here’s an excerpt:
Around the same time that I was mulling over these ideas, some like-minded collaborators and I co-founded a group blog that we called Unconsumption. Our initial idea was to highlight inspiring examples of creative reuse and maybe, in the process, help slow the arrival of prematurely disposed-of objects into landfills. We’ve built up a nice audience — we have more than 20,000 followers at the moment — but at some point we decided that, like any growth-minded enterprise, we needed a logo. One of our colleagues created a symbol we began referring to as “Mr. Cart”: an upside-down shopping cart, flashing a smile. It was the perfect image, we all thought, to represent the Unconsumption project.
So now we had a brand! Given the nature of our endeavor, though, producing branded merchandise was out of the question. As much as I loved our adorable new logo, we had no products to emblazon. But there was an obvious, not to mention philosophically consistent, alternative: brand things that already exist.
More: This Brand Is Your Brand | OnEarth Magazine
- 1:49 pm - Wed, Jan 25, 2012
- 35 notes
Very cool news the other day via the Unconsumption Facebook page, from Alpha Wilson:
Greetings, today I modified the t-shirt totebag idea that is floating around Pinterest by adding a sewn-in drawstring bag to use to tote the tote bag when it isn’t full of stuff.
I inkjet printed the Unconsumption logo to the outside of the drawstring bag, which is made from a couple of pieces of cut-up t-shirt.
And definitely a worthy addition to The Uncollection — Unconsumption’s brand-with-no-products experiment, made up of things you have creatively reused or remade, and spruced up with Mr. Cart.
For more how-to detail on the T-shirt tote: Green is Universal ReUser’s Guide | FASTEST RECYCLED T-SHIRT TOTE BAG
For a photo journal detailing Alpha Wilson’s add-on, go here.
And if this inspires you to use Mr. Cart and join the Uncollection yourself, post info and pix here.
- 2:09 pm - Mon, Oct 31, 2011
- 13 notes
The Uncollection: Looking for DIY/Crafty Creators To Spotlight
A quick note about the Uncollection project that’s been gradually unfolding here on the Unconsumption Tumblr.
As many of you know, we’ve invited a series of our favorite crafty creators to reuse our Mr. Cart Logo in original projects — rebranding existing stuff, as an experiment subverting the whole “brand” concept to give new value to old things. Lately our contributors’ efforts have been recognized by BoingBoing, Swiss Miss, FastCompany.com, and The Etsy Blog.
We have more Uncollection pieces in the works, but now is as good a time as any to say that we’re also looking for even more creators to work with. If that’s you, please get in touch — read on for details including contact info.
- 2:39 pm - Mon, Oct 17, 2011
- 151 notes
GARTH JOHNSON Joins the Uncollection:
Using Unconsumption’s Mr. Cart Logo on Dinnerware!
In the latest stunning addition to our Uncollection — creative folks using our logo to breathe new life into old stuff — the amazing Garth Johnson has blown us away by converting some secondhand art-deco plates into genuine Mr. Cart tableware. Really fantastic! Here Mr. Johnson, whose work you may (should!) know from his invaluable Extreme Craft site, explains how he uses a vinyl cutter to “rescue thrift-store dinnerware”:
Let’s hear it for scrapbooking. If I hear one more hipster studio artist or crafter hold up scrapbooking as the “opposite” of what they’re doing, I’m going to lose my shit. Yes, scrapbooking is a multi-bazillion dollar industry, with entire aisles in Michael’s devoted to stocking Martha Stewart’s gear. As anybody who has haunted those aisles can tell you, scrapbooking has some cringe-worthy aesthetic elements, but what craft doesn’t?
Consider scrapbooking at its most basic—it takes old photographs and recycled ephemera and transforms them into mementos that actually see some use rather than sitting in boxes in an attic somewhere. I have come to view scrapbookers as a pretty badass group of people. Part of this badassery comes from the way they combine different media and experiment with processes from die-cutting and embossing to custom rubber stamp etching.
The main reason that scrapbookers are so badass is their actual gear. Scrapbooking is enjoying a major resurgence right now, so they have the economic clout to introduce hobby versions of tools that have traditionally remained in the realm of industry or technology. My favorite example is the vinyl cutter, which has been a staple of the sign industry for a couple of decades. Thanks to legions of rabid scrapbookers, machines like the Cricut and Silhouette Craft Cutter are now affordable… and are just waiting to be hacked for your non-scrapbooking activity.
If you’re not familiar with vinyl cutters, they’re fairly easy to explain. They cut sheets of adhesive sticker material using a tiny blade. You know the little Calvin peeing stickers people put on the back of their pickup trucks? Those were cut out using a vinyl cutter.
The great thing about vinyl cutters is that you’re not limited to cutting out vinyl. Most will cut paper. Some will even cut thicker materials like wood veneer. If you can create a vector design on a computer, you can feed that design into a vinyl cutter to make stickers, stencils or any number of crazy craft projects.
I love to use my vinyl cutter to rescue thrift store dinnerware and give it new life. I’ve been looking for a good use for a set of four Art Deco-inspired porcelain plates that have been sitting on my shelf for a while, and a contribution to the Uncollection seems perfect. I decided to use my cutter to make a permanent gold Mr. Cart logo in the middle of the plates.
This project is a little bit tricky, but if you have access to a vinyl cutter and a ceramic kiln, you’re home free. Here’s what you need:
- 4:00 pm - Mon, Aug 8, 2011
- 2 notes
AND THE WINNER IS…
Last week we announced that the latest addition to the Uncollection — the rebranded lemon-keeper above — would be given by creator Rubi McGrory (in connection with her Object Permanence project) to whoever could come up with the most creative reuse idea for the thing.
Thanks to everyone for such great suggestions of the most creative re-use for a lemon keeper.
Perhaps I have allowed myself to become a wee bit influenced by the latest episode of Project Runway, where the challenge was to create an outfit from items available at a pet store. There was no room for ho-hum, with the goal to push each material’s use far beyond its original intent. (I firmly believe the birdseed dress should have won.)
It was with a similar spirit of creativity in which this contest was offered. I have combed through the responses and have no choice but to award the prize to Ellonyia, who will turn the lemon keeper into a bike crash helmet for her Boston Terrier. She has promised photos. Lemon keeper goes in the mail today because we can’t wait to see the final product.
Suffice it to say we too would be very interested in seeing those photos.
Thanks, Rubi, and congrats to Ellonyia!
- 1:05 pm - Thu, Jul 28, 2011
- 15 notes
Betsy Greer X Mr. Cart: Our logo in stitches
Yes, we have yet another very pleasing and exciting new addition to our Uncollection!
The latest contributor to our Artist Series is none other than Betsy Greer, now the proud owner of a Mr. Cart-stitched shirt, thanks to, well, to her own effort. Betsy has been exploring the idea of Craftivism for a while now, both thinking about and acting upon the intersection of craft and activism. Among other things, she’s the author of the very thoughtful and useful Knitting For Good! For a more recent project, see her anti-war graffiti cross-stitch. “I want to open dialogue,” she summarizes, “instead of closing it down.”
Up next for her: With Sally Fort and Inga Hamilton, she’s working on QR-3D, which “invites anyone, anywhere, to create a textile QR code and share it on a Flickr pool; works will be selected to be shown at Cornerhouse, Manchester, in autumn.” (Learn more about Betsy and her work here. She also blogs, and tweets.)
Bottom line: We’re really psyched she agreed to be a part of our efforts to make Mr. (or Ms.) Cart an emblem of creative reuse.
Here’s what she did… (and as always, those of you who follow through on this how-to, or any in our series, or who do anything cool with Mr. Cart, we welcome pix on our Facebook page).
I used Cat Mazza’s KnitPro program to transfer the Mr. Cart image to a graph (above; click here for a PDF). Then I stitched Mr. Cart directly onto a t-shirt using Rayna Fahey’s tutorial on how to add cross stitch to fabric.
If I had to do it over again, I’d probably use 3 strands of embroidery floss instead of 2, as when I stripped away the aida cloth the stitches weren’t quite as crisp as I was hoping. But I still really love the result!
We love the result, too.
But those of you who are paying attention will have noticed that our logo appears inverted on the resulting shirt! Why would that be? To look better during handstands? Or so that the wearer can enjoy Mr. Cart’s traditional smile by glancing down at her (or his) shirt?
Neither. Once more, Betsy explains. You’ll like this:
To me, our job as writers/makers/crafters/creatives is to open dialogue. And, of course, as we’re all different, we all have our different methods of doing so. My approach (not that it’s unique; in fact it’s the bedrock of many of us involved with cultural production and/or critique) is all about putting forth something that looks familiar at first glance, but at second (or third) isn’t that at all. I like the way that approach allows readers/observers to come to their own conclusions and — more importantly — develop their own response, based on their own comfort level, either by asking questions then, dismissing (or misinterpreting) the work entirely or by letting the work unfold in their mind later. As creatives, we are both permission givers and dialogue openers, so I like involving the reader/viewer directly in my work.
When I was trying to get a photo of the shirt, I took it to work and had a co-worker snap one. While we were doing so, another co-worker came into the room and saw the logo and smiled and said something like, “Cute! A little shopping cart!” and then paused and added somewhat confused, “it’s frowning.” My response was something to the effect of: “It’s based on consumerism and consumption being too ubiquitous.” More pausing, followed by a smile and a thumbs up. And that open space for her to get my meaning in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way pretty much sums up exactly how I would wish all my work to be received.
Cool answer! Of course, you can orient the logo however you like — sideways, even.
Big thanks to Betsy Greer for being part of the Uncollection. What are you waiting for? Join in!
- 12:11 pm - Wed, Jul 13, 2011
- 37 notes
We’re very, very psyched about the latest addition to The Uncollection by way of our Unconsumption Artist Series, in which some of the brightest creative-DIY lights around make use of our logo in super-cool reuse projects.
This time around we’re lucky to have Christine Schmidt, of Yellow Owl Workshop, and author of the recent book Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques + Truly Original Projects. She made the delightful video above.
Create your own stationery and envelopes with discarded paper. Created for Unconsumption by Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop. Download Template here. For more fun projects pick up the new book: “Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques +Truly Original Projects”
Junk Mail Stationery (by Yellow Owl Workshop), features music by Still Flyin’.
As Christine notes, the Uncon logo could be used in any number of the projects she’s created & collected:
The book is full of creative re-use projects, and this one is just the beginning. Use the Unconsumption logo to adorn old bottles with image transfers made with packing tape. Carve your own Unconsumption logo stamp that you can use on almost anything, or embroider your own consumption logo polo shirt that is far cooler than the original preppy horseman.
But this one really is particularly cool. I love the way she’s interpreted our famous Mr. (Ms?) Cart logo! (See below.) I also love that the project involves doing something useful with file-folders, of which I personally have a surfeit. (If you missed the link to the downloadable PDF template for the project, it’s here.)
Check it out and please help us spread the word!
Thanks so much Christine!!
- 5:24 pm - Tue, Jun 7, 2011
- 14 notes
Two brief pieces of Unconsumption news:
- We’re excited to see Unconsumption as a spotlighted “Sustainability” Tumblr! (Thanks, whoever decides about that sort of thing!)
- AND, we’re excited that CRAFT published this Q&A about our Uncollection project. Check it out! (And thanks, Diane Gilleland, @SisterDiane.)
- 5:19 pm - Tue, May 31, 2011
- 9 notes
Diane Gilleland x Mr. Cart: Reviving old T-shirts with fabric patches
We’re proud and excited to bring you the newest contribution to The Uncollection. (That’s Unconsumption’s do-it-yourself “ultimate lifestyle brand: all lifestyle, no products for sale” — any old item, object, thing, stuff, that gets a new life by way of anybody who wants to incorporate our logo into or onto it. You are encouraged to add your own stuff to The Uncollection, and post the results on our Facebook page.)
The second contributor to our artist series (following Tiffany Threadgould) is the fantastic Diane Gilleland: the Editor-in-Chief of CRAFT, she also publishes CraftyPod, a blog and podcast about making stuff. And as you’ll see, she’s pretty handy with the actual crafting, too.
Here she explains what she did, and how:
Old T-shirts seem to have a way of proliferating — most of us have a drawer (or back of the closet) full of them somewhere, and they show up at thrift stores regularly. So for my contribution to The Uncollection, I thought I’d make use of this ubiquitous raw material. I thought it might be fun to add contrasting fabric patches, making it clear that graphics are being deliberately covered up. And then I stenciled Mr. Cart over the patches.
Here’s one tee (above) before I started. I measured the screen printed area, and cut a big patch from another old shirt to cover it. I cut this patch about 1” larger on all sides than the graphic area.
To adhere the patch to a T-shirt, you can use one of two methods. For a small patch like the one above, on a different tee, I fused it to the shirt with fusible webbing. You can find this wonder-stuff in most fabric stores. Steam-a-Seam and Heat-n-Bond are good brand names to try. Just bust out your iron and follow the package directions to do the fusing.
Or, for a larger patch like the one I added to the orange shirt, you may want to sew it down. I just folded under ¾” on all four edges of the patch, pinned it to the shirt, and sewed around all four edges with my sewing machine.
Next, I printed Mr. Cart at the size I wanted him to appear on the shirt. I taped some freezer paper (shiny side down) to a cutting surface. and then taped the print-out on top of that. I carefully cut all the outlines with a craft knife.
- 12:05 pm - Wed, May 11, 2011
- 13 notes
Tiffany Threadgould: Shrinky-dinked Mr. (or is it Ms.?) Cart Earrings!
On Monday we announced we’d be sharing the things that Tiffany Threadgould, author of the (awesome!) new book ReMake It! Recycling Projects From The Stuff You Usually Scrap, made, incorporating the Unconsumption logo.
Above (and below, actually) is the finale in this series of three: A pair of earrings made with recycled plastic! Tiffany explains:
To remake your very own recycled plastic shrink jewelry, you’ll need #6 plastic (found on most deli lids and clear plastic takeout containers), scissors, hole punch, permanent markers, aluminum foil, an oven, an oven mitt or tongs, and jewelry findings.
Use your markers to draw your own designs — like Mr. (and/or Ms.) Cart — onto the plastic. The plastic will shrink over 50%, so keep that in mind as you’re creating. Since the plastic is clear, it’s easy to place an image under the plastic and trace. Cut out your shapes. Use a standard 1/4” hole punch to punch a hole in near the top of your piece.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place your plastic piece on top of a folded piece of aluminum foil. Aluminum foil may be hard to grab once hot, so be careful as you remove it. Keep an eye on your plastic. It usually only takes about 30 seconds to cook. Carefully take out your plastic piece and add your jewelry findings. Your new shrink jewelry will have big style.
For more inspirational yet practical remaker projects — 95 of ‘em in all, involving all manner of materials — check out ReMake It! Recycling Projects From The Stuff You Usually Scrap.
The Unconsumption team thanks Tiffany for this incredible work!!
And if you’re inspired to create your own reuses of our logo, post a picture on our Facebook wall. Maybe we’ll feature it here on the flagship blog! Help build the Uncollection!