Friday, June 13, 2014

Slag


Photo courtesy Flickr

A buddy looked at the contractor’s bag full of last week’s photo sort and nailed the nomenclature for what’s left after inventory has been high-graded to that which is necessary, sufficient, and parsimonious.

As a wee student of chemistry, I was treated to a tour of the Asarco smelter in Tacoma. I picked a piece of bright, lacy copper spillage off the dirt floor of a lofty building full of huge, daunting cauldrons. The tour guide mentioned that the company salvaged enough gold and silver from the raw ore to pay for producing marketable copper.

Refining domestic inventory may not produce precious metal (though surprisingly often it does), but it yields even more valuable commodities: time, attention to spare, room to breathe, and a working inventory that serves rather than dominating. Paul Hawken’s The Next Economy and Don Aslett’s Clutter’s Last Stand are  useful guides to the territory.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Economics Of Light


Photo courtesy Flickr

Over the winter, I set up an eating table in the 1890 kitchen. The arrangement is so just right that we rarely use any other room when we’re at rest. The table’s in a dark area, and for the first few months, I lighted it with a single candlestick, just to see what restoring an old technology would teach me.

It taught me that candle light is an obvious fire hazard, that I’ll have to have someone wash the kitchen ceiling a little sooner than otherwise, and that candles are far more expensive than operating a light bulb. It also taught me that it’s more efficient to flip a switch than mush downtown to find more tapers. The upside is compelling, though: combustion generates light that complements the period interior, warms with infrared, and keeps the air in the room sweet.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Three Of A Kind


Photo courtesy Flickr

Over the last several years I have accumulated three of the four variations of Deep South America’s quilted jacket. Among them, the vest, hoodie, and full zip jacket, all the same color, fill every warmth gap in my wardrobe. 

I picked up the jacket the first year it came on the market. The company had sent me a glossy catalogue with a full spread about the thinking behind their new design. The frank admission that they had decided to try to make money with it was hard to resist. When I see second and third generation fashion knock-offs of the featherweight synthetic quilting, I can’t help but smile. I’ll trade pride in prototype for retail style any day.

Incidentally, numerous variations of the same design and color, like a knit top, add more breadth and flexibility to a wardrobe than their additional volume might suggest.

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More after the jump.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Killing Silk


Photo courtesy Flickr

Occasional laundry mishaps have taught me the power of the washing machine as a design tool. A piece of fabric too bright or shiny can be tamed in one cycle. An aggressive print can further be subdued by winding it into a gentle rope and letting it dry into wrinkles.

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More after the jump.