Dublin Horse Show: 10 craft artists & designers to know

Model wearing Mulholland Jewellery

The Dublin Horse Show is back in the RDS this week from Wednesday, 9th to Sunday, 13th of August. In addition to the wonderful equestrian offerings, there is a lot more on offer, including some of the best art, craft and design that Ireland has to offer.
We had a quick chat with some of the weavers, jewellery makers and designers that will be exhibiting at the Dublin Horse Show this year to speak about their work and their favourite pieces.

1. Kate O’Kelly
Kate is an emerging maker and winner of the Ceramics Category.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
I will be exhibiting two unique pieces from the series Wild Blue, produced during a two-week porcelain symposium with Český porcelán in Dubí [in the Czech Republic].

An opportunity to work with the traditional Blue tissue transfers allowed me to explore surface decoration. By reinterpreting the traditional Blue Onion Pattern through folding and dissecting, the vessels are given a playful, evocative aesthetic. The vessels are slip casted in porcelain with cobalt surface decoration.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
Coming from an artistic family, art, craft and design has always been a passion of mine. I think what drew me to Ceramics, is the endless possibilities that the material holds. The opportunity to keep developing new skills and techniques has been a drive and motivation for my practice.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
The pieces I am exhibiting this year are very special to me for many reasons. The experience to work with an international porcelain manufacturer and take part in the symposium in Czech Republic was a fantastic opportunity that has influenced my practice.

I fell in love with the beautiful Cobalt Blue decoration, and am now developing my own techniques in surface design.

18, Kate O’Kelly, Wild Blue
2. Edel Traynor
Edel works with constructed textiles. She won both the Emerging Winner & the Constructed Textiles Category Winner & Lillias Mitchell Award.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
I am exhibiting a silk twill jacket which has handwoven hangings attached to it. Against the minimal back drop of the jacket, the woven pieces create texture and movement. They are also detachable and interchangeable around the garment.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I started my women’s wear label less than two years ago. I explored the idea of weaving for some time, as I wanted a way to bring texture to my garments in an interesting way. My favourite thing about my woollen pieces is the colour and movement that can be achieved.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
I created a collection that developed from the piece in this exhibition. From that collection, my favourite piece is a pink shirt with statement sleeves and detachable woollen fringing on the back. It’s a classic cotton shirt with interesting detail.

Edel Traynor, Woven Motion
3. Eleanor Haworth
Eleanor is an emerging artist working in jewellery and is winner of both the Jewellery Category and the
RDS Emerging Maker Award of Excellence.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
I am exhibiting two pendants and a brooch at this year’s RDS Craft Awards. Together they are called the Carapace Collection due to the way that a hard-outer shell protects and contrasts with a fragile interior. They form part of my graduation collection from the DCCOI Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills and Design Course 2015.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I have always had an interest in handling objects to learn how they are made and love to learn new manual skills. Therefore, the intricate nature of jewellery fabrication and the problem solving inherent in design really appeals to me. With a view to being accepted onto a full-time course I began taking classes in jewellery making about eight years ago and tried to learn in as many different places as I could.

Working with a variety people is, I believe, a very important factor in any creative industry. I now work as a tutor in the School of Jewellery in Dublin and teaching others about what I love is a wonderful way to spend the working day.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
I think Ireland has an extraordinary collection of art in many mediums spanning millennia. There is a timeless quality that would put the Keshcarrigan bowl and the Knowth macehead alongside contemporary Irish works. In their sparseness, they might be modern designs. Inspired by this I try to create pieces that will be relevant and wearable for people of all ages and for generations from now.

Eleanor Haworth, Carapace Collection
4. Ciarán Mc Gill
Ciarán is an emerging artist working in furniture and is the Furniture Category Winner.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
The piece I created is inspired by Russian Doll ornaments, it comprises of three jewellery boxes which stack inside each other.

The boxes are decorated with a marquetry portrait on the top of each box, this is created using natural wood veneers which have been dyed to produce the different tones each one cut out and pieced together to form the portrait. The main veneer is a silver figured eucalyptus with a unique rippled pattern running through the veneer.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I always had a fascination with wood from a young age but it was in GMIT Letterfrack that I was first introduced to the world of furniture design, and in my first year I was introduced to the technique of marquetry.

What fascinated me with it was the endless possibilities and versatility of the technique which meant any ordinary table, box or cabinet could be made unique using marquetry and how it could completely change the look, value and style of a piece.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
Currently, my favourite piece is ‘Dolls’, I feel that this project has a certain magic and excitement about it, it has brought together all the aspects that I have been developing with the company; design, marquetry, making and finishing. The portrait has a subtle yet captivating smile, it brings the piece to life and shows the quality and skill that marquetry can achieve.

The first time someone opens the large box and removes the tray to find the second box there is an excitement like unwrapping a present and an eagerness to explore for a third box. These qualities make this a unique piece and an insight into the future of marquetry.

Ciarán McGill, Dolls
5. Alan Meredith
Alan is an emerging maker working in woodturning. He is the Woodturning Category Winner & winner of the Irish Woodturners’ Guild Award.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
I will be exhibiting a set of two wood-turned vessels entitled diptych. The word diptych originates from the Greek word diptykhos meaning “double-folded’’. The vessels are a pair of art works and their surfaces are folded over each other which gives them their distinctive form.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
From an early age, I had a desire to make things with my hands, woodturning brings you close to the material and is physical. My favourite aspect is the circle itself, endlessly amusing.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
My favourite works tend to be pieces that develop as they are made, pieces that almost didn’t materialise and then at the end they emerge to tell their own story. The wood usually has something to say for itself.

Alan Meredith, Diptych
6. Alice Burns
Alice is an emerging maker working with glass. She is the Glass Category Winner and the winner of the Glass Society of Ireland Award.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
I am exhibiting three fused glass pieces that were made using traditional printmaking techniques and glass.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I started working with glass a few years ago after seeing work by Joyclen Prince, her work inspired me to find out more and learn some techniques in glass fusing.

My favourite thing about glass, that is difficult to say. The material itself is compelling, making it behave the way you want is a challenge, but worth the result.

Alice Burns, Hidden Narratives
7. Nataliya Boyko
Natlalia works in constructed textiles, specifically focusing on weaving.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
A collection of interiors influenced by the North Dublin seaside where the patterns of the sand and waves caught my attention. Most of the threads I used for weaving are linen and cotton because this corresponds well to the colours of the seascape and is environmentally friendly.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I think it started in my childhood in Ukraine where the traditional crafts of sewing, knitting and embroidery are still very strong. Later I developed my drawing and designing skills in college, and I became interested in patterns in the environment and how to translate these to cloth.

Weaving was a natural choice when it came to interpreting the undulations of sand and wave, and it is a craft that allows me to be creative and expressive in my process.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
My favourite piece is always the piece which I am working on at any one time. For me, the process of creation is as important as the product, and the process occupies my mind fully and completely in the moment of creation. I enjoy the challenge of interpreting a concept through threads and fibres, as with this piece ‘Sea and Sand’.

Nataliya Boyko, Sand & Sea
8. Mary Palmer & Anne Kiely
Mary and Anne work with embellished textiles. They won the Established Embellished Textiles category as well as the RDS William Smith O’Brien Cup  Irish Patchwork Society Award.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
We will be exhibiting a collaborative Art Quilt titled ‘Literary Landscape. This piece took inspiration from WB Yeats and his love of the beauty and mysticism of the Irish Landscape.

This quilt is made up of hand printed fabrics, printing was done at different stages of the construction with both makers responding to the fellow collaborators work. The patchwork is constructed in a collage style, and quilting is a dialogue to the printed images and patches.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
Mary: I’ve always had a love of art, music, and making, and drawing was a passion throughout my childhood. Upon moving to Ireland nearly thirty years ago, I wasn’t eligible for a work permit.

During my first year here I learned to knit and after about twenty jumpers decided another interest would be of value. The geometry and graphic nature of traditional quilts had always intrigued me, and I found it was a natural fit with my training in Automotive Design (a lot of rendering and technical drawing).

The shared support in the Textile communities has been invaluable. The Cork Textiles Network, The Quilters Guild of Ireland, and the Irish Patchwork Society have all been an important part of my life for many years, offering friendship and advice.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
Anne: Both Mary and I work as individual makers and no doubt we have our own personal favourite piece for very different reasons. As this RDS submission a collaborative piece I will answer this question based on our collaborative work to date. Mary and I have known each other for a number of years and to date have collaborated on five Art Quilts. But the quilt that stands out for me is Eroded Prospects.

This Art Quilt was intended to be evocative with our relationship with the countryside and the marks we impose on it. We used locally sourced linens which were washed, dyed and bleached to create a unique palette before applying our personal print and quilting surface interest.

This piece awarded us the RDS William Smith O’Brien Perpetual Cup and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland purchase award which are great honours, the impact of which continues even to this day.

Anne Kiely & Mary Palmer, Literary Landscape
9. Ryan Connolly
Ryan is an established maker working in furniture. He is winner of the Furniture Category.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
I will be exhibiting the Fossil Table in bleached French ash.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I began working with furniture from an early age at my family’s upholstery company, Connolly Furniture Ltd. in County Monaghan. I had a keen interest in design and decided to study furniture design and manufacture at GMIT Letterfrack.

I qualified with a distinction and began working in several workshops in both Ireland and Germany, most notably with the Joseph Walsh Studio, where I held the position of Senior Maker for many years. In 2012 I started my own workshop, Connolly & Company, on the grounds of my family business.

I have since been fortunate to be able to work with amazing clients to produce bespoke furniture. My favourite part of my work is setting myself a challenge and both achieving it and exceeding the expectations of my clients.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
My favourite piece was my first award winning piece, a side table in American Walnut. It won the emerging maker award for furniture and also the Muriel Gahan award at the RDS craft awards in 2015. This piece was the start of a collection of sculptural work that, although challenging, I have enjoyed making.

Ryan Connolly, Fossil Table
10. Fiona Mulholland
Fiona is an established maker working in jewellery.

What will you be exhibiting this year?
The ‘Crystalline’ necklace that I made for the RDS Crafts Awards consists of 9 individual handmade cubes that are created by cold fastening, (riveting), multiple layers of Plexiglas in a variety of colours which are then combined with silver. There are 49 layers of material in the finished piece.

The final process involves hand polishing each cube to achieve the highly reflective surface and the silver detailing adds structure and sophistication. The chain consists of small sections of silver tubing, further highlighting the facets of light when worn. I wanted the piece to be comfortable to wear but striking in aesthetic achieving a harmony between form and function.

How did you get involved with your craft and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I discovered at the tender age of 15, as a teenager in the 80’s, that by making coffin lid earrings I could express my punk ideals through the creative process – in this instance metalwork. I studied jewellery and metalwork at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and graduated in 1993.

It was during this time that I set up my first studio in the garden shed of my parents’ house. From these humble surroundings, I put together my first body of work for exhibition and became firmly hooked on the adrenaline of creativity. I have been making work for exhibition and to commission ever since.

My favourite thing about it is the creative process – it’s like magic and instinctively knowing that in those final stages of completion, it is going to be a good piece.

Do you have a favourite piece? Why does it stand out for you?
That’s a difficult question to answer because I have made so many pieces over the years and one learns something new from each making experience, but there are certain works that I am certainly proud of including. The largest piece I have realised to-date is a 5-metre-high memorial sculpture in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Co Dublin. Made up of 64 life-size bronze lifejackets, it articulates the fragility of life and acts as a signifier of our mortality.

I am mainly interested in artwork that can communicate on several levels, and in terms of a jewellery piece, the ‘Wedding Ring Cover’ remains a favourite in its simplicity of form with its subtle, yet bold message. By making a ‘cover’ for the wedding band, one can completely subvert its meaning.

I also made it mid-1990’s, when divorce had not yet been legalised in Ireland. And of course, working with so much colour in my current work always brightens one’s mood.

Fiona Mulholland, Crystalline Necklace
The RDS Craft Awards Exhibition is on during the Dublin Horse Show, which is on August 9th-13th.

13 things to do in Ireland this weekend | Aug 11-13th

Tullamore Show
By Ciaran DunneAlways looking for fun things to do with my kids that don’t involve screens. Unless Man Utd are playing.

Time flies when you’re having fun and it’s hard to believe that the summer is going so fast. But, don’t stop and think about it because there is still so much to do and lot’s more happy memories to be made.
YourDaysOut.ie lists thousands of things to do in Ireland but, as always, we have selected a few to try over this weekend along with some early tips for next week.

1. Puck Fair, Kerry
One of the oldest and most popular fairs in Ireland takes place next weekend from 10th to the 12th with twelve hours of free family entertainment every day featuring live music, street acts, workshops and the horse and cattle fair. There will be a spectacular fireworks display to close the festival.

2. Kilkenny Arts Festival
The Kilkenny Arts Festival runs from the 11th to the 20th August where some of the world’s best musicians perform in the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for unique collaborations and intimate encounters between audiences and artists.

3. The Little Festival at The Big House
Wells House & Gardens in Wexford offer a fun family day out house tours given by Victorian Tour Guides, an enchanted woodland walks with fairies, adventure playground, animal sanctuary, craft court and more.

This weekend they are also running a Little Festival in association with Wexford Arts Centre featuring live music, puppet making, circus acts and Shakespeare in the Wood. It’s great value too at only €10 per car.

4. Dublin Horse Show
One of the largest international equestrian events in the world takes place in Dublin from the 9th to 13th of August.

But, it doesn’t only feature world class competitions, as this year they are introducing new acts for the whole family to enjoy throughout the RDS venue. Music and circus acts will be roaming around the Showgrounds and a Kids’ Zone will keep everyone entertained with an inflatable slide, bouncing castle and face painting.

Dublin Horse Show ladies day 2016
5. Carlingford Oyster Festival
The Carlingford Oyster Festival is a four-day celebration from the 11th to 14th of August for the entire family based around local shellfish.

As well as tasting the various oysters, chowders and fish on offer in the markets and local restaurants, there will be a fun programme of events including Magic Show, Face Painting, Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Free Kayaking in the Harbour, Children’s Funfair and Bouncing Castles.

6. Malahide Castle & Gardens
Malahide Castle & Gardens is set on 260 acres with fantastic facilities for all the family. This weekend Milo Bear is hosting a Teddy Bears’ Picnic on the West Lawn from 12 to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Family garden tickets are €18.50 (2 adults & 2 children).

7. Killybegs Street Festival
A jam-packed summer festival in the scenic surroundings of Killybegs in Donegal takes place this weekend. Events include Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Sports Day, Fire Brigade Demo, Car Treasure Hunt, Live music and entertainment and more. Mohan’s Fun Fair will also be there.

8. The Maiden of the Mournes International Festival
The festival continues all week featuring live music on stage every night, magic show, children’s workshops, dog show, teddy bears’ picnic and more. There is a spectacular fireworks display on Wednesday night and the Maiden of the Mournes 2017 is crowned on Saturday evening.

9. Tullamore Show
Over 50,000 people will once again decent on Tullamore on 13th August for a fun-filled family day out featuring highly-contested livestock competitions.

There are also loads of workshops from the art of jam and jelly making to the do’s & don’ts of photography, live music, fashion shows, local food and crafts, dog shows & agility, as well as €175,000  in prize money for the 1,000 different classes.

Tullamore Show
10. Rock-N-Roll Festival
The Dublin Rock ‘n’ Roll festival returns a third year featuring music, cars, hairstyles, clothing and everything Rockabilly for lovers of all things 50’s and 60’s. There is free live music all weekend and vintage car and motorbike displays.

11. Belmullet Festival
Fun family festival with events and activities until the 22nd of August. This weekend there is Heritage Day on Saturday with prizes for the best fancy dress and a Family Sports Day on Sunday from 12-2 with lots of fun and games.

12. Sligo Summer Festival
Admission may be cheap but the quality of the Festival certainly isn’t. Live music over three days featuring The Blizzards, Aslan and more for only €3 makes this one of the best value festivals around. Also, children Under 12 are Free! There is a family fun day on Saturday afternoon too.

Check out the Sunnydaze Children’s Festival in Meath
13. Carrickmacross Arts Festival
Ireland’s biggest small festival takes place over four days from August 10th – 13th. The Festival is a mix of live music drama, poetry, film and comedy. There are kids activities on Saturday and Sunday featuring games, workshops, face painting, weird science and more.

3 Things for next week:

1. Rose of Tralee International Festival
The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland’s largest and longest running festivals, celebrating 58 years in 2017.

The heart of the festival is the selection of the Rose of Tralee but there is also a week-long programme of activities and events starting on the 16th August that includes street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair, fireworks and Rose Parades. Bird’s Euroshow and Fosset’s Circus will all be back in Tralee entertaining families throughout the week.

Rose of Tralee
2. Groove Festival
Set in Kilruddery Estate it’s billed as a family friendly festival with designated activities for kids. There will be live music from headline acts like The Hot House Flowers, UB40 and Primal Scream but there will also be designated areas for family activities and children Under 12 go FREE!

Avril Bannerton at Groove’s launch
3. Sunnydaze Children’s Festival, Meath
Celebrate the end of summer with a two-day children’s festival in the popular Rathbeggan Lakes in Meath. Weekend ticket holders can camp overnight. There will be three covered stages with live music and entertainment, giant wooden games, puppet shows, magicians and workshops.

Eminem-style customer complaint goes viral

When it comes to customer complaints, there are certain kinds that companies dream of.

When it comes to customer complaints, there are certain kinds that companies dream of. The right customer and a quality response can earn a company the kind of viral marketing that money can’t buy. And well, this one ticks all the boxes.
Earlier this week, UK customer Stephen Cannon posted a complaint to online clothing brand ASOS on Facebook. It seems that Stephen was having an issue returning a t-shirt but rather than have a moan at the company, he decided to channel the words of Eminem’s hit song Stan.

You can read the message below:
“I sent you my exchange but it still ain’t returning, I left my size product code and order number at the bottom, I sent for a T-shirt back in July you must not of Got Em, there must be a problem at the post office or something. Anyway f**k it how’s ya marketplace. you probably hear this everyday, I’m your biggest fan, I’ve got a wardrobe full of your clothes and shoes man. Anyway hope you get this, hit me back, just to chat, truly yours, Biggest fan Stephen Can.”

To their credit, it looks like ASOS studied the stylings of Eminem in detail before penning their response. Check it out below:

“Dear Stephan Can, I was meant to write to you sooner but we’ve been so busy,
You said you haven’t received your exchange, how long ago did you return it to me?
Look, it can take 10 working days for your returns to come back,
And if it’s been longer than that,
Pop us a private message and we’ll see what’s the crack.
Your exchange will be sent out with your original delivery service to you.
Don’t think we wouldn’t send it intentionally just to diss you.
When we’ve received it you’ll receive an email from us too,
I say pop us a message man and we’ll look into this for you.
I really think we could get this sorted out together,
And I hope this makes you think our service is better.
I hope you get to read this letter.
Pop us a message quick time,
With your order number & email address, that will be just fine.
Don’t forget your proof of postage too but Stephen Can,
We hope you understand,
That we do want you as a fan!
We want you to have the best closet, so
PM us with your details and we can have a gossip
And we’ll this sorted out and looked into
So Stephen Can, we look forward to hearing from you, ASOS Am (ber).”

Well done lads, well done.

In London, “melting ice”

Megapopular in Russia and Ukraine hip-hop group “Mushrooms” goes to London! The group instantly became famous, having released in March of this year on Youtube a clip in a deliberately marginal, anti-glamorous style: “Melting Ice” scored over a couple of weeks more than 10 million

views. “Mushrooms” – a kind of anonyms: they do not give interviews and their clips hide faces under hats and balaclava. Their solo concert in the club Under the Bridge promises to be a cult event for those who are “in the subject.”

Amazon launches Spark, a shoppable feed of stories and photos aimed at Prime members – techeblogs

Amazon today is launching Amazon Spark, a new feature aimed at improving product discovery, which is seemingly inspired by Instagram and its use of shoppable photos. Similarly, Amazon Spark users are encouraged to post stories, ideas and images of products they love, which others can react to with comments and “smiles” – Amazon’s own version of the Like or Favorite button.

The retailer has been quietly testing Amazon Spark in beta for a few months before today’s launch to consumers in the U.S. The goal with the new program is to shift some of the social activity around products taking place off-site back to Amazon, where product inspiration can translate directly into purchases with a click of a button.

In this way, Amazon Spark could be seen as something of a Pinterest competitor, as well, but the actual format for the service is a feed-style interface – which is why the comparison with Instagram seems more apt.

To get started with Amazon Spark, you have to use the Amazon mobile app, as the feature is not designed for desktop use at this time.

When you first join Spark – it’s available through the “Programs & Features” menu option in the app’s navigation – you’re asked to select at least five interests you want to follow. Using this information, Amazon Spark will create a customized feed of products, imagery and ideas that will relate to the sort of things you like to shop for, or learn more about.

You can select more than five interests, but you can’t proceed until you’ve chosen a minimum of five categories.

These interests vary, and generally tend to match up with Amazon’s own popular merchandise categories, like “Books,” “Style & Fashion,” “Technology,” “Home Décor,” “Music,” “Fitness,” “Toys & Games,” and many more. But there are also a number of niche categories like “TV Bingewatching,” “Cats,” “Internet of Things,” “BBQ” and others that are much more specific and narrowly focused.

Once you’ve completed the setup – which also includes entering your name and optionally enabling notifications for updates to your Spark posts and responses to comments – you’ll then be presented with an image-heavy feed of product ideas and other stories. In some cases, these posts will read more like a product review – someone detailing their personal experience with an item, for example.

Other times, you might just see a beautiful photo, where the product being sold is less obvious – similar to the sort of fashion inspiration photos you’d come across on Instagram.

When a photo contains a product Amazon sells, there will be a shopping bag icon in the bottom right corner with a number that indicates how many items from the photo can be shopped on Amazon’s site.

For example, in the below photo of a woman watching the sunset at Yosemite, a click on the shopping bag icon will take you to the product detail page for the hat she’s wearing.

In addition to lifestyle imagery, Spark posts can also contain product photos, text, links or polls.

The ability to shop the photos on Amazon’s site is a much more seamless experience than on Instagram, where often the fashion labels’ Instagram handles are tagged in the photos, but you’re not provided with a way to go directly to product pages themselves for the numerous pieces of clothing and accessories tagged.

Or, if you manage to hunt the product in question down, you sometimes find it’s no longer sold or out of stock. That shouldn’t happen on Amazon Spark, thanks to the way the product images are connected with Amazon inventory.

To some extent, the retailer sees Amazon Spark as a new frontier for product reviews. With Spark, Amazon is moving away from rewarding “Top Reviewers” who write up their thoughts and rate items, and is rather embracing a new system that rewards those who are “Enthusiasts” instead.

Enthusiasts will also receive a badge, which appears when they post to Spark or write product reviews.

Anyone can become an Enthusiast by contributing to Spark, but there’s a catch – to post, you have to be an Amazon Prime member. Non-Prime members can browse Spark’s feed, but can’t post or comment.

Encouraging product discovery is a newer focus for Amazon, which has also been steadily upgrading its curated shop of product ideas, “Interesting Finds,” with personalized suggestions based on users’ activity and shopping patterns, through a feature called “My Mix.” It also quietly began testing its own invite-only influencer program, which allows consumers to connect with Amazon products via influencer posts across social media.

Amazon Spark isn’t directly connected with either of those earlier programs, but it does have a similar goal of helping people more serendipitously discover new things they might like to buy.

It also lays the groundwork for a social network that lives right on Amazon, as customers’ user profiles – which have been around for years, but aren’t really well known – now become a much more prominent part of the Amazon experience.

In the future, one could imagine that users will also be able to generate some sort of income via their Spark postings. Making money from product suggestions posted to Spark is not an aspect to this program Amazon is prepared to discuss today. But an influencer-courting service like this will eventually need to nail down a monetization angle if it truly wants to challenge Instagram – a place where the most-followed users can make five or six figures for their posted photos and campaigns.

In the near-term, however, Amazon will focus on helping seed Spark with more content. On July 30, it will begin to allow users to share their previously written product reviews from their profile to Spark, for example.

Amazon Spark is available today in the U.S., only in the Amazon iPhone application.

10 things that will be lost forever, if bees disappear – TecheBlogs

Save the bees! Throughout the world, campaigns are being carried out in support of these small furry and inconspicuous workers. Threats that prevent the disappearance of bees, sound more and more often. You do not even suspect how much influence bees have on our world, especially agriculture and its associated business. Here is a list of ten items selected by Sidney Sauer, who may disappear with bees.

World Food Supply

We are all well aware that bees are an important part of the process of pollination and the work of agriculture, but few people think about the extent of this importance. Today, around the world, there are 100 major varieties of crops, which together account for 90% of the volume of human food. Apples, bananas, avocados, corn. Bees are the primary agents of pollinating 70% of these crops. About 63% of our food is directly dependent on bees.

Although there are many other pollinators, their influence is insignificant compared to bees. Bats, for example, following on the contribution of pollinators, but prefer plants with faded colors. These boring cultures, such as agave, guava, figs, account for a much smaller percentage of the share of the world food market, and they will not be enough to support seven billion people – unless, of course, we go massively to Fijian pudding.

Coffee Industry

In addition to various fruits and vegetables, bees are also the main pollinators of coffee. Therefore, without bees, coffee supplies in our world would be reduced and the industry would lose its profitability. At first glance, this seems illogical: caffeine is not among the “needs” of man, and the end of coffee should not mean the end of mankind. But the amazing volume of the industry of our world lies on the production and sales of coffee.

In 2016 alone, Starbucks collected 21.3 billion dollars in gross profit. As of May 2017, this chain had 245,000 employees. Coffee also remains a valuable product in Latin America, especially in Guatemala, where most of the population is tied up in the coffee industry. Without bees, the multinational coffee empire collapses and will leave hundreds of thousands of people out of work around the world.

Halloween with pumpkins and pumpkin porridge

Bees and bumble bees – the main pollen of pumpkins. In contrast to the usual harvest, pumpkins often grow in small villages in small gardens. Annually farmers produce about one and a half billion kilograms of pumpkins.

Given the diversity of crops that farmers usually grow up, the loss of pumpkins will be a heavy, but a viable blow to their household. Nevertheless, for the Halloween industry, in which 170 million consumers spend about $ 850 million annually for carving of pumpkin heads, the lack of pumpkins will be a powerful blow. Seasonal business on Halloween will disappear, and lovers of sweet and cheap pumpkin porridge will be very upset.

Textile Industry

Cotton is one of the most popular materials for fabric at present. Historically, cotton has become the most popular bloom on American soil, and much of the history of the country has become a direct consequence of the influence of this plant. Today 60% of women’s and 75% of men’s clothes contain cotton. More than half of all clothing is made from cotton materials.

As you may have guessed, bees pollinate most of the cotton. Without bees, this material will disappear, and with it jeans and T-shirts. Although in the developed world this inconvenience, in principle, could be experienced, in the underdeveloped parts of the world, where cotton fabric helps to keep cool temperatures under the hot sun and protect the skin, it will affect much more.

Nut industry

Honey bees are necessary for the cultivation of many types of nuts, including almonds and cashews, as well as many others. The world’s largest almond company – which accounts for 80% of the global market – underscores the importance of bees to pollinating their crops. In fact, the demand for bees is so high that the almond industry in the US owns half the population of all bees.

Cashew is another popular kind of nuts that can not be without bees. In Africa, cashews grown with pollination of bees yield twice as much harvest as artificially pollinated nuts. Thanks to bees, family farms in these areas double their wages and receive additional income on the side, selling honey and beeswax. If bees had disappeared, not only world production of nuts would have decreased significantly, but many micro-businesses in developing areas would cease to exist.

Biofuel industry

A promising trend in renewable energy is biofuel. It serves as a gas, but unlike it, it is not pumped out of the bowels, but is produced from various plants processed for ethanol. This new technology is capable of revolutionizing the fuel industry and creating a more stable mode of energy supply for transport. Many companies, especially in Canada, prefer this kind of energy.

Biofuel usually includes ingredients pollinated by bees. For example, canola. Canola-based fuel is resistant to cold and has anti-corrosion properties, making it an ideal choice compared to other options. But, of course, canola oil can not be produced without bees, which pollinate the plant and keep this species alive. If bees are to die, the real biofuel industry, filled not only with workplaces, but also with renewable solutions to the world’s largest problems, will die.

Shipping services

Think about cargo transportation, and fruits with vegetables will be the last thing that comes to your mind. However, in reality they require a multitude of trucks and drivers that carry them around the country fresh and whole.

How does this relate to bees? If bees die, 70% of the most popular food will disappear. This will not only lead to hunger, but also to the collapse of the freight area. Trucks will translate into 70% less fruits and vegetables, which will result in serious perturbations in the economic market.

Meat Industry

 

To successfully raise cattle for slaughter, you need four things: feed, grain, oilseeds and bran. Grass, corn and wheat are self-pollinated by the wind, so they will remain without our pollinating friends. Bran can be made from anything, just enough to add nutrients. But oilseeds we get only with pollinated bees of plants like canola and sunflowers.

Of great importance for the meat industry is that without these oil crops cattle can not gain the optimal mass and size. Oilseeds are the main source of protein for cows, due to which they become large and tasty. Without them, cows will suffer from heart problems, wither, they will not reproduce well and there is land. Without a powerful population of bees, which will pollinate these important nutrients for livestock, not only our fruit and vegetable stocks will be reduced, but also meat reserves.

The World Economy

The economy of a single country is not the only economic system that will suffer from the disappearance of bees. Other parts of the world are equally or even more dependent on bees. In many parts of Latin America, the sale of bananas supports the economy, for example. These countries annually export an average of 13 million tons of bananas compared to 2 million tons from Asia and 600,000 tons from Africa.

In Asia, the main agricultural products are cotton, oilseeds and various fruits. They account for almost 4% of China’s GDP. The African economy also thrives on unique types of fruits and vegetables, as well as on agricultural products in the production of oils.

As you have already understood, all these cultures are pollinated by bees and will die out when the bees leave. Honey bees alone provide a harvest of $ 15 billion worldwide every year, and along with other types of bees, this number reaches $ 30 billion in annual revenue. The loss of these pollinators will have disastrous consequences for the world economy and international trade, will give rise to a series of various crises that will affect every part of the world.

The human race

All these large-scale negative consequences led to the fact that some scientists and engineers came to the conclusion that people will not be able to live without bees for a long time. Many others remain skeptical of this theory, arguing that the disappearance of bees will not be a catastrophic event for humans, but will only cause economic difficulties and, perhaps, famine.

But a large group of other scientists maintain that the disappearance of bees and people go hand in hand. At the same time, people continue to destroy the habitat of these hairy insects. At the Earthwatch annual conference, scientists voted that bees are the most valuable species on our planet, ahead of mushrooms, plankton, bats and even primates. Without bees, the world would be completely different, and not for the better.

Cam-girls: Inside the Romanian sexcam industry

Interactive webcamming is the fastest-growing sector of the global pornography business. In Romania, thousands of women work as “cam-girls” from studios and from home. It is a 24/7 market, the majority of clients logging in from North America and Western Europe.

In the heart of Bucharest on the pavement outside a tall apartment building a group of young women smoke, talk and laugh. It is an unremarkable scene. Except that in the bright morning sunlight, their heavy makeup, sky-high heels and shiny, revealing clothes contrast with the sensible, summer dress of passers-by.

Inside the building, Studio 20 occupies the first and second floors. Forty rooms open off pristine, white corridors, their walls adorned with pictures of women in states of glamorous undress. A closed door means business. Inside that room a woman is live and direct via webcam with international clients – and as long as she is alone in the room, it is entirely legal. In this world of virtual relationships and cybersex, those in front of the camera are “models” and the men who watch are “members”.

Image captionInside Studio 20 – a closed door means a model is entertaining a client
Lana works in Room 8. It is dominated by a circular bed with cushions. There is a wardrobe containing some of her clothes.

“I usually go for dresses, lingerie, or leather,” she says.

In a corner of the room there is a large computer screen, an expensive camera and behind them, professional photographers’ lights. Dozens of pairs of eyes may view Lana in her room online in real time via dedicated adult websites. But she does not make any money until a member asks her to “go private” in a one-to-one webcam session.

Image captionLana works at Studio 20
Working an eight-hour day, she earns close to 4,000 euros (£3,600) per month – nearly 10 times the Romanian average wage. As Lana’s employer, Studio 20 also makes 4,000 euros per month from her online sessions. And at the top of the video chat money-making pyramid, LiveJasmin – the online cam site that streams Studio 20’s content and is responsible for collecting payment from the credit cards of clients – takes double that: 8,000 euros.

LiveJasmin is the largest internet cam host in the world. Between 35 and 40 million users visit it daily, and at any given moment, there are 2,000 models live online. It is not hard to understand how the web-cam industry, overall, generated an estimated $2-3bn in 2016.

Image copyrightLORENZO MACCOTTA
Image captionA cam-girl gets ready to entertain in a bathroom setting – complete with chandelier
Lana is a graduate who worked in real estate until the global economic crash of 2008 plunged Romania into recession. That is when she first took up video-chat. Her first day in front of the camera has stayed with her.

“I was alone in the room, and it felt like there were hundreds of people around me. And I couldn’t keep up with what they were all saying, and what they were asking of me. It was quite shocking. But then I learned to be perceptive about which member was a potential paying customer and not to waste time with all of them in the free online space.”

So what happens in a private, webcam one-to-one?

There are a lot of members looking for love – they want the connection – some want you to call their name

Sandy Bell, Cam-girl
“Mostly it’s conversation. I do role-play sometimes, and a small part of it is nudity and masturbation,” she says.

While the members sometimes try to push her to do things she doesn’t want to do, she is able to set the pace.

“It’s up to you as a woman to lead, and that’s quite empowering.”

The important thing is to keep a paying client online for as many minutes as possible.

“You have 10 minutes of being cute and sexy, and then you better have something to talk about because otherwise the member will not stay,” says Andra Chirnogeanu, Studio 20’s PR manager.

Image copyrightSTUDIO 20
Image caption”You better have something to talk about otherwise the member will not stay” says Andra Chirnogeanu, Studio 20’s PR manager
To this end, Studio 20 employs trainers, a psychologist and an English teacher. Most of the clients are North American and European, so it is essential the models can communicate with them.

But the English teacher, Andrea, has a remit that goes far beyond language skills.

“I teach them about fetishes – what a fetish is, why a person has one… We study Freud and a lot of psychology. And we study a book of gestures because women must be sensual, smart and beautiful.”

Image captionModels are encouraged to message clients every day
Geography is important too, so the models can talk about where the members are from.

“That or exotic places,” says Andrea. “This is not only a sex business as some people think – models have to speak with a member as if they are in a normal, online relationship. Being able to discuss many subjects brings comfort to both parties.”

Studio 20 is the largest studio webcam franchise in the world. It has nine branches in Romania, including one employing “cam-boys” who service the gay market. Its other branches are in the Colombian city of Cali, Budapest and Los Angeles.

Image copyrightLORENZO MACCOTTA
Not all models work from a studio. Sandy Bell – a graduate with two university degrees – is one of a small army of women who webcam from home. She makes about 100 euros (£90) a day when she goes online to supplement her income as an interior designer. One advantage of being independent – and dealing directly with a web-hosting company – is that she earns a larger percentage of members’ fees.

“Mostly they’re nice guys, not crazy men,” she says. “There are a lot of members looking for love. They want the connection. Some members want you to call their name. Or to talk to them while you dance and strip. I’m very honest with them – they know I have a boyfriend, and they know we are not going to have sex in real life.”

Media caption”They don’t touch you. They are thousands of miles away”- Sandy Bell, a ‘cam-girl’, describes her work.
Sandy Bell’s partner lives with her in their high-rise flat on the outskirts of Bucharest. He knows what she does, but her parents do not. It is not uncommon in this industry – even for studio owners – to hide their occupations from family and friends. This accounts for the fact that those who talked to the BBC in Bucharest preferred to use their cam name, or just a first name.

Unlike many who work in the sex industry, Sandy Bell does not worry about her own security.

They don’t touch you – nobody touches you

Sandy Bell, Cam-girl who works alone
“What can a member do to me? If he crosses a line or even if he is rude to me, I just click the mouse and stop it. And I can talk to the administrator on the website and they ban the IP address, so the guy can never enter again even if he changes his nickname. I mean, those people are thousands of miles away from me. They don’t touch you – nobody touches you. You go online alone and you work online alone. This has nothing to do with prostitution.”

Is Sandy Bell a victim? She says she is not, though feminists such as Irina Ilisei say the question is more complicated than it seems.

“Do we talk about women who are forced to do this? Are they women who choose it? Or perhaps they do it because they are psychologically manipulated, or they have a lack of economic stability. Probably, it’s a combination of all these factors.”

Ilisei believes the push factors include Romania’s high rate of teenage pregnancy, and the fact that 30% of those who finish higher education cannot find a job.

Image captionIrina Ilisei believes some women are pushed into the industry
The webcam industry also does its best to entice young women into the business.

“There are advertisements on university campuses,” says Ilisei. “Students get direct Facebook messages with offers of work. And the studios are very corporate – exactly like an entry-career job in other fields. The language is all about empowering young women, being independent, learning skills, even getting bonuses if you convince your friends to try it too.”

For Lana, 31, webcamming has provided enough money for her to bring up her daughter alone, and to think about investing money in something “that will bring money to the country”. She plans to give up in two years’ time.

But some women are not free to make the choices Lana has. Oana, 28, counts herself as an escapee from the sex industry. At 16 – a minor – she fell in love with a boyfriend who persuaded her to do video chat.

The next step is prostitution, I see that now

Oana, Former cam-girl
“He told me I just had to talk. That’s all. But he was in the room with me, and we made pornography there.”

It is illegal in Romania for a man and woman to webcam together, but it is impossible to say how commonly the law is flouted in the way Oana describes. She went on to work as a prostitute in Germany, until she found the courage to return to Bucharest and a new life. Now she works in sex work prevention – talking to young women about her experiences, and trying to persuade them of the danger of video chat.

“There are girls who think they will just stay in front of the camera and make money. But all the things they do there will affect their minds. The next step is prostitution. I see that now.”

It’s about selling your brain, not your body

Lana, Model at Studio 20
Lana disagrees.

“It’s about selling your brain, not your body,” she says. “I see it like a performance, like a show. But this is not a job for everybody – a lot of girls quit after a few weeks or even days, because they have this mindset that they’re selling their body. Your mindset is what matters in this job. I have my limits, and I truly do not feel exploited.”

Andra Chirnogeanu, Studio 20’s PR Manager, also rejects the idea that this is risky or psychologically damaging work.

“It’s psychologically damaging to stay 12 hours in an office getting paid a minimum wage,” she says.

But the fact that models often seek to conceal their job is, perhaps, telling. If Lana and Sandy Bell could have made a good living using their qualifications and other work experience, would they still have chosen to undress for clients in New York, Frankfurt and London?

Lorenzo Maccotta’s photographs are from his award-winning series about the Live Cam studio industry in Romania

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