Thinking Outside the Box

 

LEARNING TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX & OTHER INTERESTING TIDBITS FROM MAKING BREAD

 
 
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Creativity has always been an integral part of my life. From the way I “spice” up things around the house to choosing designs for the P2 Collection--I always want something that is unique. I think this desire to seek individuality comes from the way I was raised. I grew up in the big city of Chicago with a house full of animals and children. TV was never really a thing for us growing up. Instead, my brothers and I chose adventures. There’s plenty of mischief to get into around Chicago. Most of it was harmless childhood adventures, some of it a little bit riskier and things my mom is only just learning about--but we lived to tell about it so it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

We lived in a brownstone next door to my grandparents and spent most afternoons wandering between the two adjoining houses. It became our afternoon playground. My favorite memories of those times were spending time with grandpa. He was the original maker in the family, the O.G. of P2 if you will, and instilled in us a sense of “you can anything you put your mind to” attitude that came from his years working in the military and raising a family. They were the type of words and thoughts that you lived by.

I remember making bread with him one afternoon and commenderring items around the house to make a proofing box. These were the best kinds of adventures. Making things, creating something more new and exotic from simple items that we found around the house. We “borrowed” a vintage wire store display shelf that grandma had plants on--sorry plants, it was all in the name of adventure--the humidifier, and his old wool army blanket. I was mesmerized how grandpa could turn everyday things into something completely different. I learned more than just how to make bread that day--I learned how to think outside the box. I learned to problem solve with items available. To this day, I am forever grateful to my grandpa for teaching me how to think and use my hands. He also taught me how to bake. I’m still an excellent baker, just ask my husband. Grandpa’s old techniques are what won over the former pastry chef.

But, of course, it was always about more than just making bread. Grandpa had a workshop full of all kinds of tools. We built anything and everything out of just a single scrap of wood or some rusted metal we found out on the streets. Sometimes, to grandpa’s dismay, some “good” things ended up being sacrificed to our curiosities and our desires to build. Oops.

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Even now, grandpa is still alive and well, living on in spirit with us in our studio. In our studio, grandpa’s first wood project is proudly displayed on our wall. Originally it was a spice rack that he made for grandma but now it holds jars of beads instead of jars of spices.

It’s really exciting to find a good use for an old piece of work. Just because something is aged doesn’t diminish its value. And it’s a great way to honor the memory of our grandpa and all that he taught us about using our hands and our minds--applying ourselves and never giving up--even when you can’t quite imagine making bread with a few pieces of items found around the house.

Our grandfather definitely passed on his creative spirit to his grandchildren. I still love tools and working with my hands! And so do my mom and brothers.

I am always grateful to my grandpa for naturing in me a sense of wanting to learn and explore. When we were kids we would take long road trips across the United States and it was never really about the destinations but more so about the journey of getting there. It was about leaving the comfort of our home and exploring and learning along the way. We would stop and read every historical marker on the side of the road, collect rocks from the side of the road every time we stopped at a gas station, or search for old coins with grandpa’s metal detector. We would bundle up our “treasures” each night so we could clean and examine them and look them up in our field guides. We’d press the flowers between books and make a pile for the rocks on the shelf.

One of my favorite earrings that we designed really captures those days of hunting coins and reading historical markers. It’s a mold made from a buffalo nickel. Everytime I wear them it makes me think of all the flowers we pressed and all the times I was digging in the dirt trying to find treasure that made the metal detector go “ping”.

 
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When I was young, I collected things and explored. Now that I am a little bit older, instead of collecting things I take the experiences I’ve accumulated and turn them into something new. Something that is full of memories and inspiration, of that adventuring spirit that I still have from when I was a kid.

I think the jewelry we create really captures our love of history, travel, nature and adventure. We want to create pieces that you can travel with and wear well. Pieces that inspire you to get out there and see all the amazing things there are to see in the world and even in your own neighborhood. Our jewelry is about adventure. It’s about taking those experiences that define a place, an emotion, or a just moment in time and turning them into something new. Just like learning how to bake bread from things laying around the house.

So what adventures are you planning in 2018? I’d love to hear about them!

Penelope