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Entries in history (17)

Friday
Sep192014

redefined: das beer can

photo by: LaModaLisa photo by: cgrutt

The idea of drinking beer from something other than a ceramic stein or glass mug poured from the tap at the local public house or pub, was first considered over 100 years ago in 1909. Like many innovations, the technology existed but it took about 25 years—and the repeal of Prohibition—for the modest beer can to catch on.

In 1933, the first canned ale was tested in Virginia—needless to say, consumers welcomed the change which paved the way for easy-to-transport, easy-to-store, disposable cans. Initially made of steel with a flat top, they required a sharp opener, or church key, to pierce triangular openings—one to drink from, and another on the opposite side which allowed air into the can to improve the pour out.

The evolution to lightweight aluminum was inevitable due to the drawbacks of steel—not only was a lining required to protect the contents, steel is inherently prone to rust and the heavier weight meant transportation costs were higher than necessary.

photo by: Mark photo by: Amara

photo by: mark gallagher photo by: Paul Flannery

Easy-to-use pull tabs replaced the need to keep an opener handy—but they also heralded an increase in emergency room visits as the sharp edges cut fingers and feet or, in worst-case scenarios, drinkers choked on the tab they’d kept safe in the can. Today, wide mouth openings created by attached tabs are the norm—but as small brews flourish, the capped bottle is seeing a revival.

In the meantime, das can reminds us of modest old-school beers—not to mention beer can collections and Oktoberfest which starts this weekend—Zum Wohl!

photo by: Steve Jurvetson

Monday
Nov262012

redefined: the wreath

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons Laurel wreaths date back to Greek mythology— when Daphne, the object of Apollo’s affections, was turned into a laurel tree, he wove its leaves into a headpiece to console himself.

Being a skilled gamesman, tournament winners were awarded crowns of laurel to show their worthiness by bequeathing Apollo’s adornment upon them.

Soon, wreaths of laurel or olive branches became a symbol of honor—awarded to Olympic athletes, battle warriors, eventually as
a standard, stately emblem—and in Roman times, noblemen wore them in a similar vein, or vanity.

Eventually the wreath was closed to form a complete circle—symbolizing eternity—and was used on a greater variety of occasions. Today, not only are wreaths used as year-round decorations, each has a personality all its own—below are just four examples which started with a basic wire wreath form.

Note: due to stronger than anticipated sales, unfortunately the wire wreath from is sold out. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope these projects inspire alternative decorating ideas for the Holidays.

Friday
Nov092012

redefined: origami

The art of folding paper—ori, folding and gami, paper—dates to the 1600s and the most widely known or replicated subject is the crane.

Traditional origami starts with a square piece of paper—usually handmade or hand-printed—and does not allow for cutting or gluing. Intricate designs can be made by using many basic, small folds—or more simple designs are created in high volume for a more intense display.

The legend is that if you create 1000 origami cranes, a wish will be granted by them. Some believe that the crane—like the dragon and tortoise—is a holy creature that lives for a thousand years, hence the quantity, their popularity and mysticism as each folded paper crane represents one year of its life.

Much like paper cranes given as wedding or baby gifts, origami ornaments are full of good wishes, prosperity, health and happiness—powerfully meaningful and charming all year long.

photo courtesy of: Dominic’s pics

Note: scale of ornaments to each other is not actual.

Thursday
Oct182012

redefined: the rocking chair

photo by: Mark Wootenphoto by: Kai Hendry Dated to the early 1700s, but without any direct connection to its creator, rocking chairs range from simple to ornate in design—but they’re consistently built for comfort. By simply adding curved rails to the legs of a chair, a rocking chair creates movement and comfort beyond its original design.

Rockers comfort psychologically with their rocking motion reminiscent of cradles—quite possibly thoroughly inspired by them—and physically by centering one’s gravity and creating a natural, comfortable position in the seat. During the 1800s, doctors even prescribed rocking for its therapeutic benefits: to ease stress, focus the mind, work muscles and potentially reduce back pain.

The earliest examples were all wood—which made them affordable—and as leisure time increased, the chairs became more popular and more ornate. Wood spindles were turned on a lathe for greater details, painting details were added, and seats and backs were later—or consequentially—woven of wicker, rush, or cane.

For American settlers, they seemed a staple even with many chores and long days. Not surprisingly— and without entertainment in the evenings—many did handiwork such as whittling, knitting, or stitching.

As wealth, material availability, technology and worker’s skills increased, upholstered versions naturally came to the market. The curtis rocker, designed by furniture-maker Jason Lewis, takes cues from many elements of the evolution of rocking chairs—but starts where it all began with a sleek, solid wood frame.

Saturday
Apr142012

inspiration: technology

Driving through the Gouzhu Mountain Range outside of Beijing, the juxtaposition of ancient and modern has never been so extreme—notice the solar powered street lights.

Built for protection and to control trade, the Great Wall of China—which can be seen atop the most distant mountain range—spans east-west about 5,500 miles starting around the 7th century BC making it one of the oldest man-made wonders of the world.

We’ve never been so aware of what can be done with raw materials—basically all of which come from the Earth. And we’re reminded that so many products, although aided by machines, are still man-made using similar materials—clay for porcelain plates, sand for glass, wood for furniture, oil for plastics.

We’re simply awed—attempting to post from a laptop via a wi-i cell phone hotspot—and wish we had better reception and more time to explore here. But we’re staying on the road…to Milan!