01 June 2013

Hoping To Inspire The DIY In You

It's very easy to find reasons as to why we shouldn't do things. First off, there's the time something takes. "Do I have enough time to do it?" Second, is the knowledge of doing it. We say to ourselves... "I simply don't know how." Third, is the money involved. "How much will it cost, and what if I screw it up?" Fourth, and very important in the mid-century/retro (modern or traditional) styling is... Will it be respected as fitting in?

All four of these points are very important to consider. In fact, I would go so far as to say, they are crucial before you start any DIY project. However, there is a fifth factor to consider as well.

What is the fifth fact you may be asking. Well simply put, it's what some may call perspective, ego, or being picky. I call it, knowing what you want. Our Fifth factor is, making sure you'll be satified with something that is not "vintage Mid-Century".

To me though, the term Mid-Century Modern is more about the principle of a design style and less of a time frame. It gives us guidelines to use in our own design processes. So, in other words. As long as a piece of furniture or design looks like it was built in the mid-century modern era, it's of good quality, and it functions the way I need it to, to me...It is as mid-century as something that Charles Eames made himself. Don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to compare my own work to Charles Eames or any of the other designers.

I'll dare state though, that most Mid-century modern dealers (if they've been around for a length of time) have come across a beautiful piece of furniture, only to find out that it was custom made and is not a famous designers piece. Why so? Simply because in the mid-century era, most did not have the money to buy all the furniture that they wanted or needed. Sure, there are tons of certain designs out there. These were popular for their time period, and sold by the ton. Plus, some designs are just to difficult for most to make without special equipment. Therefore, people bought the pieces.

Still, a hugely over looked aspect of the mid-century lifestyle was, not only to buy the most creative designs, but also to be creative yourself. How many DIY furniture, sculpture, cabins, art, cooking, sewing, and crafts books are still floating around from that wonderful design period? Question being though: Have you considered the feasibility of building something yourself?

As many reasons as you may have thought up for not doing a DIY project, there are just as many reasons for doing one. Here are just a few.
  1. It can be cheaper
  2. You can get the design that you want
  3. The size fits your specific area/needs
  4. Finishing options are almost unlimited
  5. The quality can be as good as you make it
  6. It's super fun. (once you get past all the frustration)
  7. You can tell everyone: "It my original creation"
  8. A lot of times you can sale it for more than it cost you to build
Understand though, I'm not trying to paint DIY furniture or otherwise, as being simple or perfect. Each project has its demands, and you may be limited by time, or space needed to effect the DIY project. Still, you would be surprised what you can do with just a few simple hand tools.

Yesterday, while it was raining outside, I started to reminisce about woodworking. I subsequently re-posted the photo on the (side the photo is on here) to facebook, and it amazed me the positive feedback that my credenza generated. Especially concidering the tools and materials I used on the project.

In a very short form (I'll put up a longer post on just the credenza later), this is what I used to build my credeza.
  • Hammer 
  • drill
  • circular saw
  • screwdriver
  • glue
  • screws
  • orbital sander
  • old fashioned Stanley hand plain (not electric)
  • sand paper
  • box cutter
  • chisle
  • square
  • measuring tape
  • construction grade plywood (Not cabinet/furniture grade. The rough stuff.)
  • a lopsided table
  • one helper (part of the time)
  • my wife as a table clamp
Honestly, in other words. I could say that I used all the wrong stuff, but it still turned out nice. It just took determination, a little time, and some effort. Now though, I enjoy my credenza much more than anything I could have bough,t and most people think it's vintage.

So, why not join in on the fun and get yourself a few electric hand tools, an inexpensive mid-century modern DIY book, and see what you can make for yourself. Who knows, you may have everything you need right at home.

 To help, I'm going to try and do a few simple economical furniture and crafts DIY projects and put them on the blog.

31 May 2013

Mid-Century Books: Your Mid-Century Modern Book Store

Photo source:
If you've ever thought: "It would be really nice to have a 100% MCM bookstore that I could shop at." Well, now you have it. Are you aware of it though? That's the real question. offers a large selection of books for the mid-century modern design and culture enthusiast. In fact, they have a site that's really well put together, and full of easy to use categories. Thru their categories, you can refine your search options by books on on topics such as culture, design, people, and places. If these four general categories are to broad for you, you can refine your search thru the book index they have on the site, use the search field, or use the tag registry on the left of the site.

Here you will find a well stocked library of books on architects, designers, and the places that immortalized the MCM style. Books on people such as: A. Quincy Jones, Albert Frey, Marcel Breuer, Charles and Ray Eames, Craig Ellwood, Eero Saarinen, Oscar Niemeyer, and many others are available and easy to find.

Many designers even have multiple books available thru the site, offering you the ability of view carefully view your options before purchasing. For each book you will find a well written description of the book present so you know what you are looking at. Making it easier to decide on your purchases before you make them. 

Photo Source:
Another important feature of Mid-Century Modern is the film selection. Here you will find films on a few of the famous designers of the Mid-century Modern Era, as well as some films on the likes of Julius Shulman and a couple other topics. 

It is important to understand that Mid-Century Modern is not, by any means, the be all end all source for mid-century books and films. Put simply, it is a simple to use, well maintained, but somewhat limited reference source/library, where one can link to books for sale. From what I noticed, it seems all the books and films are being sold thru a third party store that you are linked to for final purchase. Please don't let this deter you. This site has been well maintained and some amount of work has gone into the referencing of the information provided. So, it's still a valid site to visit.

While, there are a good number of books on the Mid-Century Modern site, as I mentioned before, it still does not cover all the books available.  If you are interested in other Mid-Century design oriented books that Mid-Century Modern is not promoting, then you may want to look at the books I have found on that my be of interest to you. Below you will find books on Blenko Glass. There are however, many other mid-century modern books that are not featured in this app.

30 May 2013

Fairview Series: An Edwin Wade Experience.

Here on Amidst Mod, you've had the opportunity to meet Edwin Wade,see why his digital art is just as important as screen, painted, or sculpted pieces of art,and now I'm going to focus on his Fairview Series. Let me tell you why.

If just seeing the piece here to the left wasn't enough, I'll expound on why I feel that Edwin's Fairview series is worth taking a look at.  Here a few of the reasons.

While it's definitely worth noting that Edwin Wade has been a very nice guy each time we've communicated, it's equally important to note that he is a very talented artist. In fact so much so, that I have always made sure to keep up with his work, even when I've failed to keep up with the work of other appreciated artists. He works with a number of mediums that are not easily mastered. Offering a whole gambet of styles and art that one can appreciate in your own home.

More important than even the aforementioned things though, is that the Fairview series is a purposeful series. One that comes from a more emotion inspiration. Over at Mr. Wades Etsy site, you can see the inspiration of the Fairview series when Edwin states:
"This edition print is first in a series based on a 1950's tiled office building in Fairview Park Ohio.

With America's short term memory, buildings like this jem that inspired the print are being demolished without a second glance. My goal was to preserve the artwork for future generations and generate a series of prints based on the original."

You can see from Edwin's quote that the purpose of this series is to not only fulfill the purpose of creating an art piece that someone can enjoy owning, but also to try and recapture the attention and importance of, at least some of the incredible architecture that has been overlooked and under appreciated for so many decades now. Is that happening? Is Edwin succeding in his efforts to make people more aware of these old and wonderfully inspiring buildings? Well... that all depends on you fine folks. 

If your interested in the possibility of purchasing one of Edwin Wades pieces, then I suggest that you check out one of the many outlets that he uses for the sales of his art. Currently, you can find his art at galleries such as:

Edwin also sells via his site that you can get to by using this link

Don't forget. While I've focused on Edwin's wonderful Fairview series in this post, he has equally wonderful work that I did not focus on here. So, stop by his Etsy and check it out.

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28 May 2013

Not Inspired To Write, But...

I may not be inspired to write by the post I found on Mid2Mod, but I most definitely am inspired to build another piece of furniture, as soon as my bed is finished at least. As I'm sure you will again, Mid2Mod hit on the head when they said the exquisitely handcrafted desk of the past are a lost art. For the most part, I would agree with that.

Today, there are still a few designers, and furniture makers that build that ultra linear, but with a flair of personality, desk by hand. However, most of that is gone. That being said, I know for a fact, that there are still plenty of woodworkers out there than can do this work. Some of the groups on Flickr, Facebook, and forums that I've found prove that. Only thing is, you have to buddy up to these people to be able to afford their work.

So, what are my suggestions on the subject? Well, here they go.

1)go rummage sales hunting more for that perfect vintage piece 2)Learn to make furniture yourself. 3) If none of those work out, make you some new online friends based on their woodworking abilities.

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Signed Karl Benjamin Prints

One of my favorite California Cool/ California Modern artists is Karl Benjamin. I just find his work incredible. So when I found these 2 pieces for sale, well...I just had to let you know about them. So here they are:

This Karl Benjamin "Abstract Landscape" is available here*.

The other signed print from Karl Benjamin, oil on Canvas, can be found here*.

An Unlikely Mid-Century Modern Hub

photo source via
When you hear North Carolina, what comes to your mind? Maybe, mountains, forests, southern accents, and depending on where you grew up, maybe even hillbillies. While, you can find a bit of all of this list in North Carolina, there is a much less likely topic that you can find a bunch of in North Carolina as well. What topic is it? Mid-century Modern architecture.

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Somehow, it's seems that there was a perfect storm of architects, residents, and investors that all mixed in North Carolina, and made it the third largest hub of mid-century modern design in the U.S. That's right, California and Chicago are the only two locations in the U.S. according to that have a larger concentration of mcm design than the triangle area of North Carolina. Make no mistake that this is quite a surprise to me too.

When I went to Myrtle Beach South Carolina, I was amazed to see all the old abandoned, and still running, motels, diners, convenient stores, and bbq's restaurants that were sporting a mid-century modern aesthetic. Yet, even these, evidently are no dent in the amount of Mid-Century Modern design that the Northern most Carolina sister has.

Much of the Modernist movement was directly related to the efforts of one Henry Kamphoefner who was the first Dean of the School of Design at North Carolina State College. He worked diligently to recruit professors of architecture that where focused in the discipline of modern design. Thru such efforts, North Carolina grew in it's inventory of modernist homes. It's been said that at some point, over 1200 mid-century modern homes where built in the North Carolina state. Unfortunately, as it is with all things, some of these homes, and buildings have been razed to make room for contemporary homes of "better quality".  While, to most of us, the mid-century modern home is the most important style of home, it is note worthy to mention that the North Carolina area is still maintaining a strong hold on contemporary modern design as well.

photo source via
Honestly, when I started to write this post, I thought I would probably have to focus a small portion of the post on the history of the North Carolina area, use the one or two houses I could find, and mix something together from a bit of nothing. However, that's not been the case.

photo source via
If I went into all the houses that I had found information about in the different sites and blogs, then I would have to do a number of series just to mention a small amount of what I found. Still, I would like to mention a few nice pieces of information and architecture that I found in my research.

First off, I'd like to mention a small, concise blog post that I found on a gallery showing that was held at the Gregg Museum. Good Night wrote the post. Here you'll find out a bit about the influence that modern design had on Raleigh, and why it's so important to North Carolina to keep it protected. At the bottom of the post "Southern Roots of Mid-Century Modern at the Gregg Museum" you will also find a few links that help orient you toward more modern architecture in the North Carolina area. While the site is not 100% mid-century, there are definitely some gems to be dug out of the post provided.

photo source via
Second, I like to mention that North Carolina was home to a very influencial house. One that was the first of it's kind, and inspired many adaptations that directly effected the flow and design of many a googie/retro futuristic building*. We are speaking of no other than the Catalano House (Fadum house). Built by Eduardo Catalano, it was a very impressive and progressive house for its time. Even now, it's pretty impressive and progressive. Unfortunately, even with the attentive work that Preservation North Carolina put into trying to keep this structure protected, the Catalano house fail into disrepair and ended up being razed.

Still, there are many wonderful homes to see and learn about. One great source for home and architects of the North Carolina area is While the site is a bit cumbersome to navigate, there are many a good photo and a lot of info hidden within this site. It's well worth the time spent searching thru it.

27 May 2013

Feels Like A Sci-Fi Day

Today, I wanted it to be an easy, relaxing day. So I figured that I would talk about something light-hearted. While thinking about what topic to choose, I was working on my new Amidst mod zazzle store*. Then it struck me... "I should search "Retro Sci-fi*". So I did, and I was pretty impressed with what I found.

Now, just so you know, I'm not particularly into kitch. I don't think badly of those who are, but still, kitch just hasn't ever really been my liking. That rule, of course, is broken when it comes to Retro Sci-fi*. I LOVE Retro Sci-fi*. In fact, just about the only thing I read, other than design and furniture*/retro woodworking* books, are Retro Futuristic Sci-fi* novels. Isiac Asimov* is my favorite author. Even his joke books are really good.

Still, what has always attracted me most are graphics, and illustrations.  To that end, I thought I'd share a few cool graphics that you can purchase in different forms on* that are 100% cool retro futuristic/sci-fi. In fact, you can even find a number of vintage sci-fi movie posters and graphics from novels applied to different products.  So to give you an idea of what's available, here are few of my personal favorites.

Also, don't forget to check out my Amidst Mod Zazzle store as well.

Vintage Rocket Launch Postcard
Vintage Rocket Launch Postcard by packratgraphics
Check out Space Postcards online at zazzle
Destination Moon Poster
Destination Moon Poster by vintage_images
Search for another posters online at Zazzle
Plus, there's a ton more. Look thru this app below to see some more of what is offered for sale.
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26 May 2013

Getting to Know Bauhaus

In general, design and ingenuity rely on individuals and inspiration. Typically, this is more important than schools and universities. That’s what I think anyway… However, I also, think that a well coordinated college/school, can teach and inspire ingenuity, design, and functionalism in a fairly balanced and practical way. It seems that one school has become famous for many of these aspects. This school, more than most, became known for it’s influence on modern design. Bauhaus is it’s name.

Honestly, I had never paid much attention to info on the school itself. I knew that many a retro/mid-century architects had been influenced by it, or by a mentor who had attended the school. Other basics that I knew was that the school was in Germany. Also, thru the internet, I had come to know that many of the students and staff had focused on “modern” design.

On the web one day, specifically, I found an interesting set of videos. There are 3 of them, and altogether they are a Documentary about the history of Bauhaus. Each video is about 15 minutes long, and it shows photos of the schools different locations, the students, and it explains a bit about the how the students felt about being able to express themselves for the first time in their lives.

Most of us have grown up in societies that encourage the expression of ones self, and can’t comprehend how much that having "freedom of expression", for the first time, changed these students lives.

Another great part about these videos, of course, are the details they give on the students who’s works have become famous. Not to mention the eye candy that is shown thru out the videos. There a number of pieces of works shown, and it’s amazing to see how much the works from back in the 20′s – 30′s still influence the styles of modern design today.

You can also find a bit more information below.