Category Archives: Green Materials

Benefits of Concrete Floors

Benefits of Concrete Floors

Concrete’s versatility makes it a popular material for myriad construction projects. It is used for home foundations, streets, hospital floors and many other surfaces. In order for people to make better green choices and help save the environment they must understand the benefits on concrete floors.

Concrete

List of Benefits of Concrete Floors

  • The other alternative to concrete flooring is installing a wood floor. By using concrete there is no need to cut down any trees.
  • Installing a concrete floor helps to minimize the waste created by installing other type of floors.
  • The cost to install a concrete floor is higher than other types of floors but you will find that a concrete floor installed by reputable concrete contractors will not need to be replaced as often as other floor types.
  • From a medical stand point concrete floors offer a better and cleaner surface for medical practices. An article by The Center For Sustainable Development points out that concrete floors in hospitals can lead to a 78 percent reduction in parasitic infection in children, as well as many other health benefits.

Concrete Floors can Produce Better Homes.

Besides certain benefits that concrete floors can bring to people there are some other ways that the material can help produce better homes.

  • Concrete can be fashioned in may different ways. Color can be added for decoration and design can be added for personal taste.
  • Concrete materials do not emit harmful VOC’s into the air. Some materials that can put VOC’s in the air include carpet, finished wood floors and tiles.
  • Radiant heat can easily be installed before the concrete is poured.
  • A concrete floor also can be cleaned more easily that a floor made of wood and other material.
  • A concrete patio can help increase the value of a person’s home.

Concrete can be Recycled

Another way concrete can help save the environment is that it can be recycled.

  • Broken concrete can be used to build a walkway or a path. Depending on the type of path you are trying to build the concrete will need to be broken up into very small pieces.
  • Some gardeners have found that putting concrete under the soil makes for seeds that germinate better in the spring. It can also be used to build raised beds.
  • The broken material has also been used to limit erosion and to help build angled retaining walls.

Heating Benefits of Concrete Floors

Concrete floors can be efficiently heated with radiant floor heating system. These energy efficient devices heat a liquid solution which is pumped through the floor. This heats the entire slab of flooring and begins to radiate up, heating the air in the room and the house. It also keeps your feet warm which makes all the difference.

This radiating effect continues even hours after the unit has cycled off. All combined a radiant floor heating system is one of the most effective and energy efficient heaters possible for concrete and other stone flooring, new additions and basements, greenhouses, and more.

Creative Commons image by Josh and Melanie Rosenthal

The Zero Home

The Zero Home is the first single-family smart home to be certified as net-zero energy-efficient, meaning that all the energy the home consumes is produced on site via renewable resources. To dive into the systems and building practices that made this feat possible, read here: http://www.techhive.com/article/2045771/a-floor-to-ceiling-tour-of-americas-most-energy-efficient-home.html

“The 4300-square-foot Zero Home is the result of a partnership between Vivint (a fast-growing company best known for home-security and home-control systems) and Garbett Homes (a residential development company that builds between 400 and 600 homes per year). Both companies are based in Utah, and the Zero Home was built in the Salt Lake City suburb of Herriman.”

“The Zero Home defies the home-of-the-future stereotype of being too impractical for large-scale implementation: “This home is designed to be replicated on a mass basis,” said Garbett Homes marketing director Rene Oehlerking. “It costs about $150 per square foot to build a home like this—the same amount it costs our competitors to build conventional homes.”

Mushrooms, the New Plastic?

“Mushrooms are effective as natures recycling system because they produce enzymes that help break down compounds in plants that other vegetation is unable to produce. At the end of the day, mushrooms create a root system containing a substance called mycelium. This can be used as a glue to hold together the agricultural byproducts used in creating an alternative packaging product that is 100% bio-degradable. Since the product is alive and grows on it’s own, the energy costs are 1/10th the cost of creating styrofoam, never mind the incredible environmental savings that is taking place.”

More at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/03/23/can-mushrooms-be-the-new-plastic/

DIY Greenhouses for Under $300

It’s seed-starting season and spring is just around the corner. If you’re looking to start seeds indoors and realize that you don’t have enough windows space to sprout seeds indoors, or don’t want to raise your electrical bill by installing grow lights, building a greenhouse from recycled and salvaged items might be the solution you need.

Read more at: http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/3-easy-diy-greenhouses-under-300.html

Triple-Pane Windows Theory

A shockingly simple blueprint for big cities to save the planet without wrecking the economy.

Climate scientists have estimated that, in order to avoid runaway global warming, the world would need to cut its carbon emissions roughly in half by 2050. Since emissions in developing countries like China and India are still rising fast, meeting this target would require developed nations to aim for a figure more like 80 percent. When you consider that the United States, the largest polluter in the developed world, has no real strategy in place to achieve that—and that no binding international agreements appear to be on the horizon—the goal can start to sound nigh impossible.

Read more here!

E. Coli Could Convert Sugar to Biodiesel


E. coli could convert sugar to biodiesel at ‘an extraordinary rate,’ say Stanford researchers

Researchers studying how biodiesel can be generated using E. coli as a catalyst have determined the bacteria have what it takes to produce high volumes of the fuel. Now they need to figure out how to tweak its cellular controls in order to kick it into high gear.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/november/khosla-ecoli-biodiesel-111011.html

Bamboo is the New Black in the Eco-Friendly Building Trade

One of the most prevalent materials in any home is wood but with growing concern for deforestation, choosing an ecologically responsible alternative such as bamboo has gained in popularity. Wood is commonly used for cabinetry, flooring, furniture, trim and even unseen items such as frame work. Bamboo is a rapidly replenished and sustainable material that can be used to create many of these items, is surprisingly durable even though it is technically a member of the grass family and is beautiful when finish-treated properly.

Typically, bamboo suitable for construction can be harvested in just five years while most tree species require upwards of fifty years to fully mature. The beauty in this is that ten times as much bamboo can be produced in the same amount of time it takes to grow one tree. Spatially, it is a smaller radius than a tree so it requires less acreage to harvest an equal amount of material. In addition to rapid growth and a small footprint, bamboo displays similar benefits to those of trees — it helps prevent soil erosion and releases oxygen which protects against pollutants to provide clean breathable air.

The durability and beauty of this material are two of the main draws in the realm of interior design. When properly treated natural bamboo will be a similar hardness to natural maple wood. Maple is a well known hardwood and has grown in popularity for its light blonde color and soft graining which makes it a perfect backdrop to many of today’s modern furnishings and bold fabric colors. Since bamboo is a grass there are few options for color (the material technically can not be stained) and natural blonde is a common choice. It will be extremely durable when a proper finish is applied. The second is known as carbonized bamboo which often has similar coloring to red oak. This is a popular choice because of the warmth in color however it is important to remember that the carbonization process of boiling the bamboo tends to weaken the material. When properly finished however, either is ideal for flooring, cabinetry or furniture.

There are a slew of bamboo manufacturers in existence and they carry a variety of products ranging from kitchen cabinetry to flooring to furniture and everything in between. AlterEco, a San Francisco based company, specializes in creating beautiful cabinetry from bamboo. Their online showroom is full of gorgeous installation photos which truly display that bamboo, although limited in color, can be a perfect choice in either a traditional or ultra modern setting. Flooring is one of the most prevalent installation selections for bamboo and iFLOOR is a company offering a very wide variety in style and color of flooring planks. Reviewing their prices it is clear that not only is this material friendly to the planet, it is friendly to the wallet as well. A carbonized alternative similar in color to Brazilian cherry is almost 2 dollars less expensive than that same cherry per square foot. The Bamboo Showroom carries a bar and stool set that would provide a fun and tropical feeling to indoor or outdoor spaces for about half the cost of similarly styled solid maple sets.

It is easy to see why bamboo is gaining attention in the world of design and construction. As a resource that grows up to ten times as fast as a tree, helps to produce clean air and a material that displays many similar qualities to wood it is an Earth friendly alternative. On the next shopping trip for household amenities consider bamboo as the trend that is here to stay.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Erin & Gavin Thompson of Dinner Time Chimes

Dinner Time Chimes, based in Clinton, NC, is an eclectic collaborative of Erin & Gavin Thompson. Their focus is on creating functional and beautiful house wares and accessories from recycled or reclaimed items. If you have been looking for a low profile recipe stand or a funky birdhouse like no one else in the neighborhood it is likely they will have just the thing. They are known however for windchimes made from silver plate flatware and unique bases. Very fun way to repurpose!


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I (Erin) work at home so it’s a just a few steps of a commute for me. I try to be finished up with my “real” job by the time Gavin gets home from work. Recently it’s been evenings working on remodeling our house and then to bed late. We try to spare a little time on the weekends to work on making windchimes and bird houses.

Who or what influences your work and why?

Our crafts are influenced by what we can find in thrift stores and at estate sales. People are always getting rid of what they consider “junk” but they make perfect materials for us.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

Someone can teach you how to hold a pencil or a brush (or in our case, how to use large machinery), but what do and make after that point is the true art.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

We make windchimes and other assorted goodies from silver plate silverware that we purchase at thrift stores, flea markets, auctions and the like. We also create a few birdhouse out of found objects, such as boots and cooking pots too. It’s certainly unique creations, but we like to think of them as practical things created from trash that are sure to make people smile!

When did you first become interested in working with dinnerware?

I first became interested in working with the silverware when I was in middle school. My dad saw the chimes somewhere and thought that it would something good for us to make together. On family outings to flea markets and antique stores it gave me something to look for and it taught me about “business” early on.

Who are the other members of Dinner Time Chimes?
We are a husband and wife team, Gavin and Erin.

What is it like working as a team?

It certainly makes the work go quicker!

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

I’ve always loved making things with my hands and I think that stems from spending most days with my grandparents while my parents were at work. I learned so much about life, sewing, and baking for starters.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

Our creative process starts at the thrift store or estate sale when we find the silver plate. Generally when the price is reasonable that also means that the silverware is black with tarnish. After flattening, lots of polishing, and drilling the assembling begins. A random assorted of flatware with a few beads and wind chime is made!
Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

We were both raised in farming families so it comes pretty naturally to us.

What have you done to incorporate an eco-friendly approach to your house wares?

Thrift stores and gifts from family have contributed greatly to our home. I love the stories that come with the things shared by family.

What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

We are relying more and more on home-grown veggies and meats. It’s quite refreshing to know exactly where everything came from.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

I’m really not into work by ‘famous’ artists, but I absolutely love creations from ordinary people such as quilts and needlepoint that were created by people many years ago.

What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?

It’s the only one we’ve got and it’s very important for us to take care of it. We live in the country and thus the conservation of farm lands is closest to our hearts. It’s amazing how many children don’t know that food doesn’t actually come from a grocery store!

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

I really like the large windchimes that we’ve created lately.

What challenges have you had in your work?
A fellow crafter on the web offered glass beads to anyone who could use them, instead of throwing them out. I was able to get them, thinking that they’d be perfect for adding some color to the windchimes. When I made the first one I was disappointed that it made it sound horrible and would barely ring. After a little trial and error I learned that the beads had to be specially suspended. Perfection! A wind chime with a little splash of color, which sounds just as wonderful as the regular chimes.

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

The internet has helped us reach customers that would have never otherwise found our wind chimes. We’ve even sent one internationally to Ireland! One thing that has worked to our advantage with non-local customers is the addition of a slide show of our windchimes with SOUND on our website. Without the sound, it’s hard to convince potential customers that silver plate spoons actually do sound great, but now they can hear for themselves.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To make people smile.

What are your long term career goals?

This craft business will probably always remain a hobby, but we hope to always enjoy it and the wonderful people we meet as a result.

What are you currently working on?

We’re working on gathering supplies to make more windchimes, in hopes of stocking up for the holidays.

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?

Follow your heart and make what you love. If it feels like work, it’ll never be worth the time!

What green product would you recommend to our readers?

Vinegar + Water does wonders when you need to take down old wallpaper. It’s been a huge time saver for us while remodeling our home.

What is your best going green tip?

When it’s time to plant your garden and flower beds, ask around to see which neighbors or family members have plants that need dividing. You do them a favor, spend almost nothing and end up with a lovely yard filled with plants that you know will grow in your area!

How would your friends describe you?

I’m the crafty one of the group.

To see more of the amazing items offered by Dinner Time Chimes please visit their Online Storefront.
To listen to their windchimes in action click here.
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Bamboo The New White Picket Fence: That Could Save The Planet

When you think of fences most of us conceptualize the traditional white picket fence. There is a new more eco-friendly fence which countless green consumers are investing in. This up-to-date design of the ordinary fence is constructed from bamboo. Although bamboo furniture has been around for years few people recognized bamboo’s potential as a long-lasting outdoor fence. It is actually one of the toughest cost effective natural materials you can use. They are extremely environmentally friendly. It has been stated that if everyone planted and utilized bamboo within six years global warming could be reduced.

The average consumer has no idea how many benefits there are in using bamboo fencing. Unlike hardwood trees harvested for fences which take up to 50 years to regenerate drastically effecting the planet’s oxygen bamboo is one of the quickest growing plants in the world. Within three years once planted they can be re-harvested without causing any environmental harm to the planet. There is no soil erosion or other damages that occur when harvesting standard trees. Bamboo is a renewable resource. It grows practically a meter per day and belongs to the grass family.

According to the Home Builder’s Association of America bamboo is the strongest fence material when compared to other natural woods. The association has given three different bamboo commodities their coveted Gold Ribbon Award over other standard wood fencing items. Structures built with bamboo has been known to withstand earthquakes and many other natural disasters. The durability that you receive with a bamboo fence is priceless. Speaking of prices, bamboo is very inexpensive in comparison to other forms of fences available. The combination of simple installation and lighter than air weight dramatically cuts down the cost of bamboo. Another benefit of bamboo fencing is the breathtaking beauty it adds to every home. Natural beauty always stands out a little higher than the rest. The rich color and texture of bamboo creates an entirely different appearance to a home owner’s yard. We all want to reflect our sense of style into our homes. Bamboo fences come in various styles to allow you to do just that. It gives green consumers a way to have natural beauty, privacy, protection, preserve trees, conserve soil, and save money all at the same time.

If you are trying to renovate your home to look considerably du jour and green you must have a bamboo fence. Adding a bamboo fence not only helps the environment but it will give any yard an exotic alluring appeal. The ambiance that a fence of this caliber can give to a space is one of complete relaxation. You can truly become one with nature when your surroundings is natural. Having a fence made out of authentic matter that is not from a depleting resource is important. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious bamboo will be the new white picket fence for homes across the planet. If you’d like to learn more about purchasing a bamboo fence for your home visit Calibamboo.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist from Art Nous Faux

Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist located in Silver Springs, MD, has been completing specialty wall finishes for over twenty years, has had his work featured in numerous publications and teaches classes to students eager to learn about the world of decorative finishes and he does it all with a strong sense of our planet. When asked which photos from his website showcase an eco-friendly example of his beautiful work, Ron enthusiastically responded: “All of the work[s] shown on my site use only eco-friendly products”. With close to 100 images on his website, spanning the past twenty years of work, that is quite impressive.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

The night before, get materials ready for next day project. Wake up at six am, meditate till seven, make lunches and breakfast for my mamacita and adolescents, brew up some coffee, sit, chat, and watch the wildlife until we are ready to leave.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

The ability to create is not only innate, but is who and what we are. How that creativity is expressed is an individual discovery.

Who or what inspired you to become a Decorative Painter and Finisher?

Back in the mid-80’s, when I was working for a painting company, I observed another member of the crew creating a faux marble effect and I felt such an excitement seeing how it was all coming together that the very fact that I was excited made me realize I should pursue this, so I asked him for info on where I could learn some more and he turned me on to a book which had Ina and Allan Marx’s school address in the back, so for two years I commuted from Washington DC to New York to take most of her classes.

What prompted your shift from use of oil paint to latex or other Earth friendly products?

In the late 80’s to the early 90’s, I began to experience physical symptoms such as red eyes, dry skin, runny nose and headaches. My wife works in the health field and suggested that I could be allergic to the petroleum solvents in the oil paints. It was then that I started to explore the water based products using Floetrol as a glazing medium.

How do you find that water soluble products hold up compared to their oil counterparts?
There are pros and cons to each, but as the demand for environmentally friendly products increases, the quality and durability of water soluble finishes will catch up to the standard reputation of oils, if it hasn’t already done so.
How did you approach your first client with green design concepts? How long ago was that and were they immediately receptive?

In the 90’s, I began to suggest to clients that they use water soluble products mainly because I was allergic to petroleum, but many were already unhappy with the off-gassing of oils, not to mention that, because of the long wet time of oils, brushing up against the finish leaves marks that have to be fixed.

When teaching classes, how much emphasis do you place on green concepts with your students?

100% emphasis

What are some of the important green issues you feel must be emphasized to your students?

Recycle water based paints by letting the cans dry out then take them to the recycling center or donate unused paints to shelters, high schools, etc.

Do you find more students have a focus on being ecologically responsible now than say ten years ago?
Definitely!
Can you tell me about your creative process?

For me, creativity is about being in a playful mood first. Ones’ attitude or approach to the creation of something is vital. Being tense inhibits the opportunity for creative ideas to flourish. Don’t be tentative which can only come from having expectations and with that comes the fear that you may not live up to those expectations and therefore you will judge yourself as a failure. The creative process is about tuning into an energy that can’t be described, but certainly felt. Tuning into it requires letting go of preconceptions of…whatever.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Yes

What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

Recycling materials, using reusable bags for groceries, using recycled products for countertops, floors, cutting boards, kitchen cabinets, using energy star appliances, energy efficient light bulbs. We plan to purchase a hybrid vehicle in 2009.

What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?

Conservation and preservation of our environment begins with the understanding of conserving and preserving our selves. We can only conserve and preserve ourselves when we acknowledge that which is life giving, and when we are in touch with that, there is a natural extension of it in out external environment. As within so without.


What challenges have you had in your work?

Whatever challenges I have had in work has to do with the fundamental ability to relax and realize that there is a solution to all problems. Things get worse if my mind is in an agitated state. Solutions arise when the mind is quiet.


Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

It depends on how one uses it for it to be positive or negative. For exposure, it has helped me tremendously.


What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To keep on growing in knowledge and spread the joy that I experience from doing something that I love to do.

What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on writing a book that has to do with wood graining. Nothing much to tell at this point.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

For historical Trompe L’Oeil, definitely the Flemish Masters, the Impressionists, Joan Miro, Kandinsky, for contemporary Masters in my field, I would have to include the legendary Marx’s, William Cochran, Pascal Amblard, Pierre Finklestein, Sean Crosby, Nicole Vigini, Kaltoum Maroufi-Colle, and many more that are out there that I have not had the privilege of learning from.

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?

Ask yourself: What do I want, how bad do I want it, what am I going to do to get it?

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Benjamin Moore Aura, Milk paints, American Clay Plasters, Faux Effects products

What is your best “going green tip?
What we do today affects our tomorrow


How would your friends describe you?

Deep, eccentric, thinker

Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Spotlight: Susan Rodgerson, Executive/Artistic Director – Artists for Humanity

While on the hunt for green inspired artists, a building in Boston called the EpiCenter continued to show up in searches. Upon reading various articles related to this building one thing became clear, the crew that helped construct this eco-friendly structure was certainly inspired to be hands on. The EpiCenter is the headquarters of Artists for Humanity, a group of at risk youth who are offered a chance to succeed through training and job placement in various areas of art. The students took an active role in every aspect of the completion of the structure, working with AIArchitects, from design to the opening of the doors. Susan Rodgerson, the founder of Artists for Humanity and an artist herself, was excited to share additional information related to the EpiCenter and its unique design concepts as well as how much she enjoys working with the youth in Boston who create inspiring art every day. All pictures are of art created by students.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I’ve been working with folks at AFH for so long that my personal and professional life are one in the same in many ways. I have the great good fortune to work with folks I love and care for and want to be with. However working in the city in a very people filled and intensely creative environment, leaves me very little time to be alone in nature where I am in touch with my personal creativity and spirit. I live with a great guy in Hull, MA which is a beach town. When I am not at AFH I am probably on the beach or in the woods.

Who or what influences your work and why?

I am influenced by the spirit that has created and continues to direct the mission of AFH – because it is my fate.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

Absolutely

Who or what inspired the construction of the EpiCenter building?

For 8 years AFH had the luxury of working in a 35,000 sq. ft warehouse loft in the Fort Point District and were spoiled by the open and light filled spaces that were constructed in the last century. The space was flooded with natural light and ventilation. We tried to replicate the space that helped to create us. And, since we were embarking on a capital campaign and going to the bother to renovate or create such a space, why wouldn’t we also think of how we could reduce our energy costs on into the future and incorporate renewable technology. I was somewhat involved in a solar project in the 80’s and was aware of the effectiveness, so seized the opportunity to make it happen.

What do you consider the most unusual aspect of the building’s construction?

When you build green – everything is important and considered. Probably the aspect folks want to hear about most is the natural ventilation system. Our cooling system is essentially designed to work like a simple attic fan. At night we open our operable windows and from 1 – 4 pm fans on the roof draw cool night air across the concrete floors, through the spaces and up an empty shaft to the roof. In the morning we close the windows and draw the shades. The night air has chilled the mass of concrete and helps to keep the building cool through the day. The system works reasonably well except when the night time temperature does not drop 10 degrees or so for a week at a time. In that case we take a sun day like we take a snow day in winter. It’s all good and we feel we have a partnership with the weather.

(Editors note: Please see this article for additional green aspects of the EpiCenter building)

Why was it so important to go green?

It is time for each and every person to take personal responsibility for living on this planet and most importantly take action and make change happen. I feel it is important that we the people do what needs to be done and not allow government to ruin our children’s future because we choose to be lazy and irresponsible.


How did you find neighboring residents and business owners responded to the construction of this structure?

Everyone that visits the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter leaves with a smile… honestly it is difficult to separate the building from the program and the program gives you such a sense of hope and inspiration. I guess the building leaves you with the feeling that a sustainable world is possible. If a grassroots organization such as Artists for Humanity, dedicated to the voice, vision and virtuosity of urban kids and the arts can build a platinum LEED building than others can too. It is just a matter of time and time is the matter indeed.


What type of artistic industries employ the youth in your organization?

At AFH we do business with all kind of industries – from designing and printing T shirts for Jasper Whites Summer Shack (a restaurant chain) and green centered designs for KEDS brand sneakers to designing a fountain made from antique plumbing parts for a local plumbing museum. We do lots of design work for other non-profits including arts organizations such as the Mass Cultural Council and the National Grant Makers in the Arts as well as local grassroots groups and young entrepreneurs. We have probably worked with nearly every type of business at one time or another.


Can you tell me about your creative process?

My creative process is one of intuition and response.


Where did your first inspiration come from?
I have always been a creative person – don’t think I have ever had a bored moment, but the highlight of my life as an artist was meeting the young people who co-founded Artists for Humanity. Something undeniable happened [in] art that time to set off the intuitive response that created AFH and the EpiCenter.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

I was greatly influenced by the green movement of the 70’s which unquestionably informed our plan to build the EpiCenter. When we began our building process in 2001 we were at the very beginning of the current movement and I guess you could say we were in the right place at the right time.


What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

I practice all the basics – replaced my incandescent lights, conserve water and energy, am very conscientious about buying products with little packaging, reuse and recycle everything possible and embarrass everyone I meet to do the same.


What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?
Without it nothing else matters.


What challenges have you had in your work?

On the job training is exciting and creative but has its challenges. There have been many times when I have had to think on my feet and make lots of intuitive decisions. I like making decisions so has been great fun but a bit scary at times. The hardest part of all we have done is fundraising for a start up organization.


Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

That’s a tough question. Most things are both good and bad. I’m really not sure what I think about the question beyond acknowledging that it makes designing much easier and faster and is really good for business.


What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To someday make a living selling my paintings.


What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on dozens of things and the one I am most excited about is a feasibility study to examine the viability of an Artists for Humanity in Portland, Maine.

What are your long term career goals?

To expand the EpiCenter and employ more kids. To live a life inspired and useful until the end.


Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

My taste and admiration is very fickle and I love, love, love certain artists when I am attracted to specific things.What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?
Practice, practice, practice and you will get results and the results will inspire you to practice more.


What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

I believe in simplifying- such as using natural products like baking soda and vinegar for cleaning.


What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

I believe we need to reprogram the way we live – giving daily thought to how we live with and are dependent on nature. However, probably for most people driving our vehicles as little as possible is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint.


How would your friends describe you?
Lucky!


Please visit the Artists for Humanity website for more information on this group.

Photos © Artists for Humanity

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight Reine Hewitt, Fiber Artist of Reine

Reine Hewitt is a fiber artist based out of Tarrytown, NY who creates an eclectic mix of designs such as women’s necklaces, stuffed animals and baby bibs. She utilizes natural fibers such as cotton and soy silk in her creations whenever possible, making her pieces truly unique. As a mom she is always looking for alternative solutions to items for her own family; creating eco friendly art and accessories is something she was born to do.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

My days are ruled by a 2 year old. I work when she sleeps.

Who or what influences your work and why?

Everything I see and my daughter. I am always looking for patterns, colors, and practical ways to make my life better. My daughter is my muse so much of what I do is for her.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art, is innate?

I don’t know about other people but if I didn’t create I would implode.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

I see myself as existing somewhere between the world of art and the world of craft. William Morris was also obsessed with the blending of the beautiful and the practical. Textile, paper and the home all begin to blend in how I see things. What I am doing is trying to make life more beautiful in even the most mundane moments.

On a more technical note: these days I am mostly knitting, though I am sewing as well. I go through phases with other pointy crafts such as needlepoint and bookbinding, but knitting seems to work best with my need to be able to drop it all at a moment’s notice for my daughter.

When did you first become interested in creating fiber art?

My mom says I was 2 or 3.

What was the inspiration behind your closure-less baby bibs?

My daughter kept pulling her bibs off. It seemed like a simple problem easily solved by a colorful slip-on bib. Now she doesn’t need them, but she likes them and can put them on herself.


How do children respond to your snake plushies made out of organic cotton?

Kids seem to like them a lot. They sort of work as magnets for the 10 and under scene at craft fairs.

Where did you first discover soy silk? What made you decide to try it in your jewelry items?

I think it was an accident, but it’s been a busy few years so I can’t say for sure. I bought some Alchemy Bamboo silk on sale and made myself a lace top. It was delicious to work with. I put it in my jewelry because I decided that having a green store was the way to go. Now I’m really into it and have discovered such a wide variety to texture and color in bamboo.

Do you plan to move completely toward natural fibers like organic cotton, bamboo or soy silk?

Yes, and I’m also interested in recycled fibers and anything else sustainable, but so far finding the “right” yarn to get the desired affect has proved harder than I would have thought. It’s a great excuse to constantly be testing out new yarn!

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

I don’t have any recollection of a moment of self discovery. My parents are artists so perhaps if there had been a moment I discovered I was an investment banker at heart, then it would have been momentous!

Where did your first inspiration come from?

I couldn’t even begin to imagine. Inspiration comes from all over all the time.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

It’s ineffable.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

I barely know what the Green Movement is, but I’m pretty sure it’s what we should all be doing for ourselves and our children. I have a lot of very serious environmentalists in my family and I am often surprised by how much information I have absorbed over the years when I thought I was day dreaming.

What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

I try to walk walk walk walk.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

My great grand mother Germaine Lehner, the rug makers of Oaxaca, Mexico, William Morris, the Werkstatt Movement artists — I guess I’m interested in whole groups and schools of thought. If I wrote a list of artists it would become a book.

What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?

It’s a gut feeling I have. I don’t have a theory, just a sense that if I don’t make an effort then I’m giving up.


What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

That’s a hard one but let’s say the Moby Dick sweater I made for my daughter. It isn’t the most complicated thing, but it gave me a great deal of pleasure coming up with the whale and making it. Sadly I don’t have a picture of this one and now my daughter is way too big for it. It is a simple raglan sweater with layers of waves in different blues and a little white whale on the sleeve.

What challenges have you had in your work?

Time, money, locating materials

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

The internet has been great for the technical side of the arts and crafts movement. Ravelry.com is an amazing site designed to be both a resource and a community. I am impressed by how much people share on the web and am happy to learn from people all over the world.

As for influencing art, it’s a vague world, but I know I get to see much more of my friends work thanks to their websites.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To make a living

What are your long term career goals?

To have a studio/store and become a Reverend of the Church of Craft.

What are you currently working on?

Organic snake in red, monogrammed wedding towels, bright balls, big blanket, a whole bunch of jewelry, a lace cable tank, Christmas ornament socks, and so so so much more. I keep a ridiculous amount of stuff on the needles and in limbo all the time.

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?

Be practical and remember to sleep.


What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Local honey.

What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Avoid paper towels.

How would your friends describe you?

Eccentric, eclectic and hyper.

Reine’s work can be seen in her online storefront

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com