There's a Bob Ross toaster (and it chars an image of him on the bread)

If a Bob Ross TOASTER isn't gloriously leaping over the "officially-licensed Bob Ross merchandise shark" with red, white, and blue streamers, I don't know what is!

Don't get me wrong, I love every inch of its modern-day kitsch aesthetic. From Bob's smiling mug and signature on the toaster's front to the feature that actually chars an image of the late great Joy of Painting host on the bread itself, fro and all. It's truly something to behold. But I can't help but feel sad that Mr. Ross himself wasn't around to experience his fantastic late-capitalism legacy.

It's touted as, "The perfect present to cheer up any artist's kitchen." You can get one for the artist in your life for $39.95.

(Foodiggity, Odditymall) Read the rest

The man who made his own toaster

I spent the weekend at the Aspen Environmental Forums, and one of the presenters I got to see there as Thomas Thwaites—a man who built a toaster from scratch. As a project for his design degree, Thwaites reverse-engineered a cheap toaster from the British equivalent of Wal-Mart and used it as a blueprint to build his own. The catch: Thwaites made everything that went into the toaster. He mined the metal. He drew out the wires on jewelry-making equipment. He even found a way to make the plastic casing.

The point of this project wasn't to suggest that everybody ought to be capable of DIY-ing up their own toaster. (Really, if you wanted toast in a post-apocalyptic world, you'd really just be better off with an old-fashioned, pre-electric toaster, which held bread in a metal grille so you could toast it over the fire). Rather, Thwaites was trying shine a light on how much we rely on other people, on their skill sets that we don't necessarily share, and on centuries of technological advance. It takes a village to make a toaster. Or, rather, in this modern world, it takes lots of villages, all over the planet.

Thwaites' project was also an interesting perspective on industrialization. There are drawbacks to producing goods this way. But there are benefits, too. And when we have the necessary conversations about how to make our world more sustainable, we need to consider both sides of the coin ... and how we can get the benefits for less risk. Read the rest