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Monthly Archives: April 2012

  • Bonsai!

    We're not that old, really we're not. But we are finding ourselves beginning to appreciate things that we had, in our rash youth, thought of as the dominion of the "mature" set. Like mah jongg (it's okay--we have an app). Or skirted bathing suits.

    Or bonsai. That ancient Japanese art of miniature tree-growing is kinda cool, as millions of people over a thousand years have already discovered. It takes patience, which we now recognize as a luxury rather than a weakness.

    So we've been spending lots of time perusing sites like Stone Lantern lately. It's devoted entirely to bonsai and Ikebana (that means Japanese flower arranging, in case you, like us until about a week ago, didn't know). You'll find teeny little shears, lime sulfur for preserving deadwood, and tons of interesting reading materials. There is even gear, like ball caps and tees, so you can let everyone know you're on the 10-century-old bandwagon.

    See, we're old enough that we're getting interested in pursuing ancient, solitary art, but we're young enough that we still want to look hip doing it. Care to join us?

  • Outdated Electronics = Recycled Art Treasure

    Who can forget the days of cassettes, VHS tapes and floppy disks? We all probably have some laying around taking up space in our closets and attics with a broken old computer and a clunky VCR to match. Whether they're there because we can't let them go or we forgot about them is another story (perhaps a spring cleaning blog) but one man is on a mission to recycle and reuse these once loved items and reformat them into recycled art treasures - meet alternative artist Nick Gentry.

    We absolutely adore the fact that he re-uses everything from recycled computer "junk" to so called "useless" audio and video cassettes. Nick, a London based artist, shows his "green side" with an art project that only uses outdated and obsolete electronics to make a truly unique style of art. He paints over and manipulates these deceased materials to create cyberpunk portraits that still embody their original 80's and 90's flare.

    So the next time you find that copy of the Goonies on VHS in your closet sitting next to an AOL CD install disk - remember Nick Gentry and don't be so afraid to give it a new purpose in art and life!

  • Every Day is Earth Day (no, really!)

    We've all heard the expression, "Every day is Earth Day!" It's such a sweetly hopeful saying. If only that were true--if only every day really were a day when people across the globe are hyper-aware of the impact we have on our planet. The fact is, though, that Earth Day is over until next year.

    Well, almost.

    There's a movement called A Billion Acts of Green!® that challenges people to register their pledge to perform an "act of green," like biking to work or planting a garden. The goal is, you guessed it, to get a billion pledges to the site. That's a lot of pledges, right? You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that as of this writing, 968,867,575 pledges have been recorded. What a way to keep Earth Day going.

    While you're on the site, stop by the Ecological Footprint Calculator. It doesn't take too long to create your avatar and answer a few questions to figure out the size of your carbon footprint. Pretty eye-opening. We walk a lot, recycle and generally try to be aware of the planet, and yet our results informed us that "If everyone lived like you, we'd need 4.5 Planet Earths to provide enough resources." Um, sorry about that, Mother Earth. We pledge to do better.

    After all, "Green" is our first name.

  • Will Powered - Cancer for College

    On Saturday, April 14th, Will Ferrell came to our beautiful land of Saint Diago (San Diego for you non-Anchorman obsessed friends) to raise money for a very noble cause, and our adventurous founders got to participate. Will even signed some of our awesome Wheatpaste Posters that Stick to auction at the event. Cancer for College is a non-profit corporation run by Will's close friend and college buddy Craig Pollard. Craig, himself, is a cancer survivor- and he's made it his mission to help raise college funds for cancer survivors and amputees. College can definitely take a backseat in expenses when costs fighting cancer mount up.

    Will and Craig have teamed up, yet again, to find a way to help raise money for this noble cause. The latest event involved two double decker buses, and what San Diego has on tap- craft beer! Tom and Karen, GreenBox's founders, got to join the fun and have a few laughs. Even San Diego's mayor, Jerry Sanders, stopped by in support of the cause.

    So far, Cancer for College has provided over $1.5 million in scholarships to nearly 900 cancer survivors through many events similar to this. So, raise your glass for a toast to Craig Pollard and Will Ferrell- changing people's lives.

    Donate here!

  • The Layered Look

    Here's something we've been liking lately; the look of layered artwork. Several pieces are diplayed together, overlapping one another. This is most often done on a shelf, table, or mantle, but it looks terrific on the wall as well. The point is to group several things you really love: it shows not only your eye for art but is a nod to the depth of your collection, as well.

    This look is delightfully simple to pull together on your own. Choose a theme, like family photos, kids artwork, or nature scenes. Or the theme can be more visual than subject-matter, like reds or shapes. Then trace each piece onto newspaper and try "hanging" them in different configurations until you find one you like. (Or, if they're going on a shelf, just try combinations until you find the one you like best.) With this layered style, less is very often more, so be careful not to put too many together or overlap so much that the art itself is obscured.

    At Green Box, we've made it super-straightforward to select a grouping. You can narrow your search by color, artist, or theme. It's a way to gather an instant collection of items that have an eclectic connection.


  • Jessica Robbins

    There’s an intriguing iridescence in Jessica Robbins’ wall art. Bright but not pale; glittery but not quite glitter. We can’t put our finger on it at first, but immediately say “of course!” when she tells us what it is: auto paint. The strategic use of automotive spray paint in some of her pieces is indicative of the way Jessica creates her art. She is open to just about anything, even if she’s never tried it before. We asked about her method as well as some other aspects of this artist’s life.

    GreenBox: Your canvas wall art is such an interesting combination of surfaces and patterns. Are you a painter or a designer?

    Jessica Robbins: My art is a marriage of both. My undergrad degree is in painting and art history, and after that I went to school for textile design and patterns.

    GB: Tell us about your process.

    JR: I do my work on plywood. I start with 2x4s or 1x2s and plywood, then nail it together. After that I layer stains, then enamel paint, which has a different sheen and plastic-y look that I love. I use a lot of automotive paint too, which has a sparkle to it—the spray form.

    GB: And then the patterns on top. How do you decide on the combination of background and pattern?

    JR: I actually think of it as if the pattern, the motif, is the main character and the tension is in the space around it. So I take a motif and put it in space, then create tension around the motif. The motif is the main element and the space is concurrent. The motif is all hand-done. No printing or collage.

    GB: Where do you get your inspiration?

    JR: [laughs] Inspiration is everywhere! I find it in upholstery fabric, other artists’ work, game pieces, pop imagery, everywhere.

    GB: With so many sources of inspiration, do you ever suffer from artist’s block?

    JR: One thing that helps me not get stifled is that I work on many things at once. So I don’t get too focused on one thing. I have so many ideas that if I use them all on one painting the clarity’s not there. I work on three or four at the same time so I can spread out all my ideas.

    GB: That sounds brave!

    JR: I’m not afraid to experiment. A lot of the elements that work very well in my paintings have been accidents. Things that happen, with mixtures of chemicals or wiping things away, open a whole new world of texture that I wasn’t even intending to create.

    GB: Have you always been that way in your art?

    JR: If I could give advice to the me of ten years ago, it would be to be open to a lot more opportunities and possibilities.

    GB: When decorating a room, do you choose the wall art based on everything else in the room or everything else in the room based on the art?

    JR: It depends on the piece. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Rio and bought a piece from a local artist. It’s got lots of bright colors and neons. For that, we hung it in our living room and decorated around it because we love the piece so much.

    GB: Finish the sentence: I really shouldn’t, but I…

    JR: Always do.

    GB: Finally, if you could invent a flavor of ice cream, what would it be? Presumably something out-of-the-box and experimental, like your art, right?

    JR: [laughs] Actually, when it comes to ice cream I think I’d go very basic. My favorite milkshake is a black and white. Chocolate and vanilla. Very classic and it definitely hits the spot.

    See Jessica Robbin's GreenBox stretched canvas art collection.

  • Bird(nest) Brain

    When we sat down to write this post, we were totally distracted by tweeting. Not the online kind (though that distracts us from work sometimes, too!), but the cheeping and chattering kind. We opened the window to yell "How's a blogger supposed to get anything done?" when we saw it--a group of industrious birds in the bushes, chit-chatting. And we thought, "Ah, Spring! Can a nest be far behind?" And the mood changed immediately.

    We'll keep an eye on that bush for you and let you know when/if a nest appears, but in the meantime, here are some beautiful hand-made nests to tide you over:

    These crocheted birds' nests are absolutely darling. Especially once you realize that this one is pictured along with instructions to make them for actual rescued animals. Talk about being useful as well as ornamental. Almost makes us want to take up crocheting.

    The pearl-filled nests look a little more straightforward, and they result in jewelry for human use rather than homes for wild animal use. These wire nests were created in only a couple steps, and the instructions are very clear. Mother's Day gifts, anyone?

    Here's another hand-made nest that is just breathtaking. Artist Fiona Heron uses bronze, aluminum or polished steel to make these, and they're for indoor or outdoor display. Can you imagine the art-in-action that would result if a discerning bird actually built a nest using one of these as a base?

    Speaking of art in action, of course here at Green Box we have all sorts of bird-themed canvas wall art to choose from--several dozen, to be exact. How about Welcome to Our NestIntricate Bird or One Willow? That's what we love about birds and nests: they're like fine art in nature, and we love seeing them as fine art for walls.

    Thanks for the inspiration, birdies!






  • Reclamation

    There aren't many upsides to the foreclosure crisis. But there is a movement in the design world to at least make sure the loss buildings through foreclosure and demolition isn't a total loss. It's called deconstruction, and it results in some beautiful, meaningful furniture.

    Here's what it is. Instead of demolishing a structure, which results in pretty much everything being destroyed, a deconstruction involves taking the structure apart. Anything that can be salvaged, like cabinets and light fixtures, is. Then it's sold or donated. It makes sense on a lot of levels, not the least of which is the saving and re-use of hardwoods. Floors, beams and paneling have new life as interesting, useful, often beautiful objects.

    Cleveland, Ohio has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. They also have a terrifically innovative company known as A Piece of Cleveland, or APOC. APOC creates industrial-looking furnishings like tables and chairs, as well as cutting boards. Over on etsy, there's an artist named Robert Kanne from Omaha, Nebraska who makes very cool endtables, among other things. He gets his wood from EcoStores Nebraska, a non-profit that's in the repurposing trade. EcoStores also sells some repurposed items like doorknob coat hangers.

    A good place to start if you're looking for reclaimed-wood items is on, sort of a clearinghouse between deconstructors and upcycling artists, like Fern Handcrafted Furniture in New York state.

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