Category: Art, Craft & Design

W. Ben Hunt – Grandaddy of the Makers

W. Ben Hunt from Indian Crafts and Lore

W. Ben Hunt from Indian Crafts and Lore

Even if you’ve never had the urge to make something with your hands, glancing through one of W. Ben Hunt’s beautifully illustrated tutorials will have you itching to chop down a tree and carve out a dugout canoe, tan a bear hide, make your own “mock” eagle feathers and so much more.

Hunt, born in 1888 was a largely self-taught graphic designer who developed a number of beautiful hand lettered alphabets (what we might call “fonts” today.) His attention soon turned to woodcraft and he parlayed his love for the outdoors into a full-time career writing and illustrating articles for Boy’s Life.

While his graphic style was exquisite and precise, Hunt’s instructional writing cut straight to the bone, highlighting only the most important details. You can instantly grasp how to sew leather, stamp leather or dance an Apache Devil Dance.

There’s more than a little anthropology mixed in with Ben Hunt’s crafts. Along the way you develop a solid appreciation and respect for native American culture. After all, who doesn’t want a grizzly bear claw necklace like the one below?

Most of W. Ben Hunt’s books are out of print but you can still find copies of his best books on Amazon.

How to make a bear claw necklace from Indian Crafts and Lore

How to make a bear claw necklace from Indian Crafts and Lore

Lightweight Cardboard House Can Be Installed in One Day – Designed to Be Permanent

modular cardboard house

Modular cardboard Wikklehouse finished with wood panels | Photo © Wikkelhouse / Yvonne Witte

Cardboard has long been the stuff of dreams – the joke is that at Christmas children spend less time playing with a toy than with the box it came in. And few things are more exciting than the arrival of a new appliance and a box that can become an instant fortress or playhouse.

Now it’s cardboard’s chance to come of age with Wikkelhouse, a project for building modular housing developed by the Netherlands design firm Fiction Factory.

The houses are framed and then spun from rolls of cardboard on an armature in a factory. The cardboard is waterproofed, the modules are paneled inside and then shipped to their final location.

This is by no means the first time cardboard has been used as a permanent building material. But it might be one of the most energy efficient ways to build small scale dwellings.

[Via Contemporist]

Is Apple’s New HQ Really a View of the Future? Or Just a Blast from Our Suburban Past?

General Motors' PR Vision of the Corporate Park via Collector's Weekly

General Motors’ PR Vision of the Corporate Park via Collector’s Weekly

The idea behind the flying-saucer design of Apple’s new headquarters is to generate plenty of cross-traffic and promote serendipitous encounters. That may be the case, but according to an article by Hunter Oatman-Stanford in Collector’s Weekly the design really isn’t terribly new.

Connecticut General’s new corporate estate included snack bars, ping-pong tables, shuffleboards, bowling alleys, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a barbershop, beauty parlor, game room, media library, meditation room, and gas station, as well as offsite services like dry-cleaning, shoe repair, flowers, and grocery delivery—more than half a century before Google and Facebook added such benefits.

When tech giants like Apple, Google and IBM locate their headquarters in sprawling suburban business parks they put pressure on workers to commute farther, spend more of their day on-site, and interact with a less diverse group of people than if the companies were based in the city, according to Oatman-Stanford.

Silicon Valley’s tech industry puts enormous strain on the housing markets in the suburbs where the companies are located and inflated the cost of housing in remote communities. Oatman-Stanford hints that there’s an element of classism if not outright racism behind the corporate HQ’s flight from the city.

Contrast today’s corporate park with Samuel Colt’s vision for Coltsville, a central factory connected to a cluster of affordable high quality homes, a family sporting complex, a church, a museum, schools, even a sustainable grove of willow trees to provide renewable resources. It seems like the 19th century city plan is the one that looks futuristic.

[via @PlacesJournal]


Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper – Revitalizing Public Areas on a Shoestring Budget


Lunch for 500 neighbors in Akron Ohio via

Lunch for 500 neighbors in Akron Ohio via

It doesn’t take a lot to create a sense of place and purpose. Think about how children will string a clothesline between two chairs, throw a blanket over it and immediately have a magical “tent-fort” that is somehow better and more purposeful than the room it inhabits.

That’s the idea behind “lighter, quicker, cheaper” placemaking. Architecture, redevelopment and urban renewal take a long time. We’re talking centuries…and a LOT of money.

But what if we want a good, vital place to be right now? That’s where LQC comes in. Check out the Pinterest board for lighter, quicker, cheaper spaces worldwide and you see dozens of ways people have been able to reinvent public spaces semi-permanently (is any architecture permanent?) and created vital, active spaces.

Also of interest: Pop-Up City

Order an Ultramodern Home – Starting at $38,000 | Shipping Containers

Honomobo container house via Gizmag

Honomobo container house via Gizmag

Shipping containers have been a promising alternative to prefab architecture at least since Stewart Brand’s Sausalito research library. According to Gizmag there is now a Canadian firm called Honomobo that will drop one of these ready-to-inhabit home spaces on your lot for the price of a basic remodel.

Of course you’ll have to work out the zoning regulations with your local municipality. Other than that Honomobo units can be ordered with everything you need to live, from solar power to hot water and electric heating.

If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer you can always buy your own shipping container (for $1200 to $5000 and up) and equip it on your own.

501s: John Wayne, Henry Rollins, Marilyn Monroe and the “Australopithecus of Cool Jeans”

Somewhere around 1972 the Los Angeles Times’ California Magazine ran an article about Levis 501s and the people who wore them – prospectors, cowboys and Bing Crosby who had a tuxedo custom made by Levi Straus so that he could wear jeans at his favorite high-end watering holes.

I was hooked. And even though I thought “shrink to fit” meant that you had to wear your jeans wet until they fit you, I’ve been a Levi’s fan most of my life.

This video simply makes me want to go back for more.


What Does It Take to Make a City More Livable? Not as Much as You’d Think


Market St, Philadelphia via Urb-i

A collective of urban designers and an economist based in Brazil have assembled an amazing collection of before and after photos showing  improvements to urban landscapes.  

One thing that is immediately clear when you start browsing the gallery is that it doesn’t take massive construction – or demolition – to make a city more appealing, walkable and vital.
Urb-i via CityLab

Make a Bow and Arrow the (Really) Old Fashioned Way

When society collapses you’ll be glad you have these skills. Primitive Technology shows how to make a lethally effective bow and arrows using just a few stone tools.

It doesn’t end there. The (as far as I can tell) nameless maker behind Primitive Technology serves up a baker’s dozen tutorials on how to do sophisticated things with a few paleolithic tools. Make a poisonous bean non-poisonous, weave baskets with plant fibers, make a mud hut with a central-heated floor.

The blog posts and videos are all clear, straightforward and completely understandable. I only have one question – with all the time this guy spends shirtless in the wild, how does he stay so white?

[Via Kottke]

Boy Scouts of America: Helping Robots Cross the Street Since 2011

The Boy Scouts of America has joined with NASA to introduce a Robotics Merit Badge, part of the BSA’s emphasis on science and technology.

The Robotics merit badge is part of the BSA’s new curriculum emphasis on STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. The BSA focus on STEM takes a fun, adventurous approach to helping Scouts develop critical skills that are relevant and needed in today’s competitive world. The new merit badge is one of 31 STEM-related merit badges that Scouts can earn.

While Scouts can still get badges for archetypal scouting behaviors like bugling, other traditional Scouting badges like Carpentry, Pathfinding and Tracking have been retired in favor of badges that tend more toward book knowledge like Architecture, Composites, and Nuclear Science.

The Scouts have come a long way since the days when the Boy Scout Handbook encouraged boys to consider that “many gorgeous toadstools are wholesome food.” (Scaredy Scouts: Today’s mollycoddled troops need a dose of the original Scout handbook, Aaron Rowe, Wired Magazine April 2011)

NASA and BSA introduce robotics merit badge via Make Online

Before I Die…Urban Art

Urban art installation by Candy Chang

Candy Chang’s installation project “Before I Die” transforms an abandoned house in New Orleans into a place for people to dream about what could be.

Before I Die – Candy Chang\’s installation collects dreams

Do-It-Yourself Hasselblad Medium Format Pinhole

medium format pinhole camera

Photo by Kelly Angood

The irony here is that Hasselblad cameras are known for their amazing Carl Zeiss lenses, coupled with precision leaf shutters. But now for considerably less money you can craft your own Hasselblad that has neither.

Treehugger has links to the downloadable PDF plus an instructional video. The creator of this project, Kelly Angood, also has a tumblr gallery of pinhole images where DIYers can submit their own photos.