The Stuff of Life: Jasper Conran Porcelain and Other Amazon Finds


I am constantly amazed at the useful and stylish stuff that is available on Amazon—way beyond books, music, and electronics. There are obvious design treasures like the fine bone china pitcher by Jasper Conran (a perfect wedding gift) or a cowhide rug (below) seen in so many chic interiors these days. But what we love most is to see what we can find on the unexpected sectors of the site, like "Scientific and Industrial," where we find all sorts of things that we use in ways they weren't intended for... oddly-shaped glass laboratory vessels that we uses as flower vases. These Pyrex long-neck flasks come in sizes ranging from a tiny 50 milliliters to 1000 milliliters and higher:

I use glass beakers for flowers, mixing drinks, and storing food. This starter set is a steal at $26.37:

When I worked in restaurants, I made big batches of aioli by hand in a big porcelain "labware" mortar and pestle like this one, that holds 1000 milliliters, about four cups. (The inside is rough to help the process of crushing and pureeing.)

The "Metals" section of "Scientific and Industrial" always gets my imagination going (check out the Metal Finder at the top of the page to get an idea of possibilities).

I wonder how four-by-four-inch squares of aluminum or copper (left beautifully tarnished) would work as coasters....

...or what I could do with a roll of stainless steel foil that can be "cut, folded, and crease-sealed with ease":

I discovered that there's such a thing as a 10 X 8 X 6 Open Angle Plate (used by machinists and auto hobbyists) that would make a wonderful modern bookend or doorstop, or could work as vertical struts for make shift bookshelves. (They could probably be found second-hand.)

And then there's that rug, which you can buy here.

More Stuff of Life:

Images: Amazon

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Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

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