Why am I posting a sailing video? There’s something to be learned here about who you decide to partner with, how you work together, if you can persevere and, well, how a little luck can go a long way, whether that’s in business or on a boat.
And now I’d like to divert your attention to something I helped put together for Inc.com. Yes, it’s a gift guide.
What makes this one sort of cool, and one the Hand & Eye proudly endorses, is that all the items are sustainable in some way and are made by entrepreneurs.
It’s a typical Manhattan roof scene. Old weber grills. Patio furniture. Forgotten tomato plants. The harness I’m putting on is a full body type, with holes for the legs and the arms and it’s splattered in paint. There’s a single lanyard on the back that clips into the traveler on a safety rope. “This is the best wall we have,” Gary says. “My favorite place to climb out.”
I look down over the ledge. There’s a giant half-painted advertisement for some kind of beer right below us. From here, it just looks yellow and green and massive, but by the end of the day, Gary, who works for Colossal Media painting these giant murals and advertisements, will pretty much have it finished.
Eight floors down, just below the piece he’s working on, is the corner of Broadway and Grand in SoHo. It’s early morning and delivery trucks and construction workers dominate the streets. It’s a far cry from what the place will look in a few hours, when models and tourists will be filling up the sidewalks and cafes. From up here, right now, it feels a lot like a SoHo that vanished a long time ago.
Colossal paints hundreds of walls nationwide in cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, Portland, Kansas City and of course, New York. They do all the painting by hand but what makes the company even more interesting to me, is how they parlay their physical work into digital. With a full-time camera crew equipped with video and still cameras, and drones, Colossal is able to amplify the work they do for clients by producing digital features about their projects as well. (You can see more some of those videos here and the video for the wall featured in this post here.)
Gary shows me how we’re going to climb over the ledge onto the “rig” that’s dangling below so I can take some photos.It’s about eight feet from the roof to the platform on the rig. So not a hard move for a climber or any other Colossal painter, but for a guy who hasn’t been on belay in over 15 years, and who has a lingering fear of heights, it’s a fierce obstacle.
We go over each move I need to execute to get down to the rig below.
First, Gary says, clip into the traveler. Hang onto the rope with one hand and the chimney with the other. Keep the rope tight and slowly throw your leg over the edge of the roof. Lower your foot down until you feel a steel cable under it, and walk your way down until you can put your foot - backwards - onto the railing of the rig. Then step down onto the rig.
After he explains the moves, I watch Gary do this traverse and a knot of vertigo tightens in my stomach. “Holy shit,” I say, uncontrollably.
I hesitate for a second, but my excitement for getting a good photo overpowers my fear of heights. Plus, it took weeks of coordination with the team at Colossal to make this moment happen, and I don’t want to squander this chance.
I clip in and go for it. I hand Gary my camera and make the moves like he described. Facing the building, I hold the chimney and the rope and fling my leg over the parapet. I slide my foot down the brick wall until it finally lands on the steel cable.
I realize at this moment that in seven years of living in NYC, this is easily the burliest thing I’ve done here. I’m climbing the city.
I drop down into the rig and crouch down low. Gary shows me the ropes, literally, and we drive the rig down to the bottom of the painting.
The team uses a series of large paper printouts to draw the image onto the wall with permanent markers, then they proudly hand paint each brush stroke.
Gary shows me the shading, and the brushstrokes. It’s intense. He’s been doing this for six years and he says it takes someone five to ten to get good at it.
There’s detail in the work you would never be aware of seeing the image from the ground. It’s really impressive. But that’s why it takes so long for a painter to learn the trade. You can’t just take a few steps back and see what your work looks like.
After a few minutes we decide to head up. We drive the rig to the top of the wall. It sways less and less the higher we go. Then I see the ledge I just crawled over. I realize it may have been a lot easier going down then over but I don’t stop. We run through the sequence of steps in reverse order.
Back foot up on the railing. Other foot onto the steel cable. Grab the ledge. Pull up on the rope and the chimney. Throw a leg over the ledge and you’re up.
I hand Gary the camera and do it. My adrenaline is pumping again. It’s not smooth, but I make it up pretty easily. I look down over the ledge at Gary, grab my camera and take some photos as he climbs up. I grab one last glance over the wall and suddenly wonder if Colossal is hiring.
It’s not everyday you see a surfboard on display alongside an old Morgan roadster at a curated exhibition in downtown Manhattan. But that was the scene at the Balvenie Rare Craft Collection exhibition last night at Chelsea Market. And even if the roadster wasn’t technically part of the show (more of a showpiece for the Scotch brand), it does make a point: This brilliant resurgence of craft in the U.S., which is deeply rooted in all aspects of design, is alive and well across a spectrum of disciplines, makers and brands.
I was lucky enough to stop by briefly and take a few photos of some of the excellent items on display. Aside from Grain’s surfboard, there was also a beautiful shuffleboard table from McClure Tables, an acoustic guitar from Athens-based Scott Baxendale, a handmade sailboat sculpture from Jason Prigmore and an amazing pair of stools from Asher Dunn that we’ve actually featured on this site before here, that all caught my eye.
All in all, the Balvenie Rare Craft Collection is great selection of diverse products that really show off just how alive and well craft is right now.
You can see the full collection here.
It’s a bamboo bike frame that you build yourself that has just totally killed its Kickstarter goal. Last check, they had raised $53,000 on a $15,000 goal. That’s a lot of bamboo.
I’ve never ridden a bamboo bike, but I have been watching as they’ve become more common over the last few years. It’s makes some sense to get these in the hands of people who want to build a frame because it’s a lot easier material to work with than metal.
But what really looks interesting about this Kickstarter, to me at least, is the jig that comes with the kit and clamps onto a table. I’ve seen industrial versions of this rig at frame shops. This jig is the key piece to building a strong straight frame. Without it, you can’t make a frame. I wonder how well it will work.
And while I’m sure a lot of these “BIY” bikes won’t end up straight, or even built - as they point out over at Core 77 - I look forward to seeing one roll by someday soon.
The pop-up is no longer a novelty. It’s become a standard that’s been accepted as essential for new and web-based brands. And it’s not surprising why. Pop-ups are a great way for brands to connect with customers. And they're fun.
So we’re excited to share the news that on November 22nd and 23rd we’re going to join the good people at American Field at their first Brooklyn pop-up.
I first heard about American Field a few months back when, one weekend, it seemed my whole Instagram feed was just dominated by images of their event in Boston. Brands I really admire, especially from my home state (Massachusetts) and New England were there in Boston’s Seaport District, sharing their work. It looked like an awesome time. Needles to say, I was really pissed I wasn’t there.
When I heard that American Field was coming to Brooklyn, I knew I wanted to get involved. The mission of the Hand & Eye is to champion small businesses, makers, designers and entrepreneurs who are committed to their craft. The team at American Field feel the same way.
That, and it’s at Industry City, which is also cool and noteworthy. The H&E is regularly down their checking in with some of the great companies there like Orchard Steel and Gramercy Tools. The space drips of passion for craft and handwork and couldn’t be more fitting
This is a love song to New York, a place that’s all about the hustle. Does not matter if you sell jerseys in the street, play music, sell stocks or write blogs, it’s always a hustle. Love this guy. Love this video.
- Some really nice photos of the Grado workshop (Tools and Toys)
- More manufacturing revitalization happening in Maine (Kennebec Journal)
- Up and at 'em. Don’t waste the two most productive hours of the day. (New York Magazine)
- The American Craft Council and Balvenie whiskey are hosting a rare craft award and the collection will be on view this November 17th in NYC. Looks awesome. (10Engines)
At the risk of it seeming like this becoming a watch blog, I’m posting this really great look at Jack Heuer and TAG Heuer. This is a fascinating look at the business and history of a great brand and interesting man.
No other manufacturing industry epitomizes the potential for brining manufacturing back to the U.S. better than American watchmaking. Watches, especially mechanical, are some of the most complicated consumer goods on the market. And while the industry went over sees early on in the mid 20th century, its now coming back in force thanks to a big demand for quality American made goods, and, watches.
I got to explore this topic in Newsweek more deeply, where I interviewed some leaders in the industry and people I really admire like Shinola CEO Steve Bock, John Tarantino of Martenero and Cameron Weiss of Weiss Watch Company. Each of theses companies are brining watch making back to the U.S. piece-by-piece But it’s Weiss Watch that is likely going to be the first company to make an all-American made manual movement on large-scale, since that manufacturing went oversees some 60 years ago. Cameron Weiss is on a quest and he’s got the skill and momentum to do it.
It’s an exciting shift to see.
You can read the full story here.
The Equs is an electric motorcycle with room for hauling cargo. It’s appears to be nimble, functional and well designed. And my first reaction after seeing it was: I can’t wait for the day electric motorcycles are ubiquitous.
But that’s totally the wrong reaction.
I realized that today is the day electric motorcycles and vehicles are ubiquitous. Sure petroleum vehicles still far outnumber electric, but look around, electric vehicles are everywhere.
Recently I saw a Zero motorcycle cruising SoHo. Boosted boards, which have a range of 6 miles and can go 22 mph are all over San Francisco, and they just released a more affordable model. Then, of course, there are the hundreds of NYC food delivery drivers rocking these things, which is probably the most telling example.
Food delivery is a tough business. Margins are small and time is tight. So equipment reliability and affordability are pretty key. Would a normal pedal bike be better? Maybe. But in this case, food delivery guys are actually way ahead of the rest of us when it comes to getting around the city, even if it isn't totally illegal.
Looking to launch a food business? You’re not alone. The food manufacturing industry is one of the fastest growing industrial sectors in NYC. And for good reason, the demand for great food is incredibly high, especially in New York.
Enter the Local Food Lab. They’re holding their first ever Food Startup Bootcamp for would-be entrepreneurs this weekend. They call it a “mini-MBA” program for food startups. You can read more about the program in Edible and visit their site here.
And, if you do want to attend, use code "STARTITUP" for a $150 discount.
This is the second second of four weekends that Out To See will be going on in South Street Seaport this November. A menagerie of interesting makers and startups are getting together to show off what they’ve been building. Some of those include:
And those are just a few. Check out www.outtosee.org for more info.
Oh, and not sure how to get there? Go here for some Uber discounts.