We end our ‘There and Here’ Japan month tribute on a quiet note with ‘Enough,’ a day devoted to reflection, silence, meditation, and resolution.
You’d be hard-pressed to find another retail outlet/café that devotes a full day to differing aspects of Zen practice, but that’s the best way we can think of to wrap up this month of programming devoted to the food, people, artisans, and practices of Japan.
Flowing from 9am to 9pm on Monday, Oct. 26, our space will be devoted to seated meditation, tea service, flower instruction, an origami drop-in for kids, time devoted to mindful eating and mindful work, walking meditation, and mindful technology practice. Come empty, leave filled; feel the power of Enough.
We will have a wall of intention in which visitors may reflect upon the strength of considered action and post their resolutions accordingly. Additionally, we have invited Remodelista co-founder Sarah Lonsdale to join us for most of the day to help us consider an aspect of Zen that’s actually quite important to us: Conscious Consumption.
Or, go ahead — call it Slow Shopping.
Whatever you might call it, this idea is one of SHED’s bedrock concepts. We strive to offer objects, tools, and housewares that have a story — often familial — and that are beautifully made to last.
To single out just one product, the Sneeboer hoe makes a good example. Thoughtfully designed and produced by a fourth generation Dutch family, these quality hoes are made using traditional hand-forging techniques, a more expensive manufacturing process with the advantage that the forging technique produces a hoe with a tapered blade that will remain sharp and useful. Built to last, these tools are guaranteed for a lifetime.
That’s the kind of Slow Shopping or Conscious Consumption we’re all about. Sarah Lonsdale has spent a decade writing about design and goods for the home. She will showcase several of her own objects and a piece of clothing made by local makers at SHED on Oct. 26 to discuss with customers.
Among her personal items, Sarah will bring a wool coat made by Oakland artist Adele Stafford of Voices of Industry.
One of Adele’s handwoven wool coats is more than just a piece of clothing; it tells a whole story. It begins with Adele visiting a farm in the Appalachians where the sheep are shorn in the spring. While at the farm, she helps skirt the wool after the fleece has come off the animals to get rid of dirt and vegetable matter (a standard wool mill will use chemicals to clean the wool — in this case it is all done by hand).
It takes a few days to skirt 35 fleeces. For Adele, this is where the creative process starts, beginning with time on the farm working with the materials in context. The wool goes to a small mill 20 minutes away and is washed and carded before being spun into yarn. This can take four to five months and is an incredibly expensive, labor-intensive process.
Once the yarn is received, Adele starts sampling each collection, weaving patterns, washing and testing them in conjunction with a pattern maker, and working out how the final map will be on the loom where she will weave the wool.
Adele does batch production, weaving each piece at a time. Weaving itself is a labor-intensive process; it can take as many as three days to set up the loom. A piece like a coat will take as many as 12 hours of weaving, plus a day to wash and wet-finish it. The material is then dried and pressed before being sent off to the pattern maker to be cut and sewn.
“It’s one of a kind, but it’s more than that — it’s a time and place, it’s supporting the farmers, it’s reusing that sheep, it’s a whole cycle,” Sarah says.
“By showcasing these goods, I want to ask the question: When we buy, what need are we actually fulfilling, are we shopping for the moment or is there an actual need?”
Sarah compares the rise of Slow Shopping to the rise of organic and the farm-based food movement that SHED helps to engender. She thinks that once we change our attitudes about cheap, fast, and disposable when it comes to goods, we’ll come around to where we in the Bay Area are about food.
“It’s rarified right now in the way that organic food was rarified in the beginning, but now organic food is in Safeway, it’s in Wal-Mart. If we can expand this thinking to the rest of our lives, that would be useful practice.”
Another aspect of Conscious Consumption is capturing the awareness to know when enough is enough and paying attention to the emotional reasons we sometimes make impulse purchases.
“Most of us don’t need that much stuff,” Sarah says. “There’s very little that I actually need. Most of us have enough. I want to reflect on what it is that motivates us to buy things. If we can think about that, it will give us license to actually get what we need.”
She laughs as she realizes that she’s coined a term: “Buy less,” Sarah says, “have more.”
‘Enough’ takes over the SHED upstairs and down on Monday, Oct. 26, from 9am to 9pm. Free. For a full schedule of events that day, go to our Events page.