Had a blast photographing the spring/summer ’16 lookbook for Tracy Jonsson Design with this troupe of inspiring women. You can read more about the designer and the collection on Puddingstone Post, where my interview with her was published this week.
Photos of the Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont. After a delicious pot luck lunch – one student brought rice pudding made with coconut water, cardamom and rose, my favorite! – I set about trying to capture every nook and cranny at the school like a kid in a candy store. I was fascinated by the shapes, textures and play of light in the studio, across the 18th and 19th century looms, and on the tools and faithfully traditional textiles being produced.
// more on Marshfield, VT //
// more on weavers and other such crafty folk //
The making of a West Indian bangle.
Oh, what’s in a rag rug?
Studio visit: Yria Ceramics
I’ve been meaning to show you my new bracelet for a while, which came from my favorite store in Providence, Simple Pleasures. The Saami are a peoples indigenous to northern Scandanavia and Russia, who hand stitch these bracelets, sometimes called ‘Lapland Bracelets,’ from reindeer leather, pewter filigree and antler.
I have a little tradition of buying a new bracelet when something momentous happens in my life. I purchased this one the day I got the job with SNEW. In her shop, housed in an old forge on the Pawtuxet river, Mary Moore sells Saami bracelets in a variety of colors and designs. Simple Pleasures is well worth a venture to the outskirts of the East Side!
The top photo was taken on a page of Lars Bolander’s Scandinavian Design, an excellent style resource for those with a restrained, but not necessarily modern, aesthetic. These heavy timber huts with green roofs are storage buildings, part of a compound on a Norwegian farm.
The bottom photo is taken on a page from Uta Barth’s The Long Now.
Wouldn’t this chair look great at a desk with a fuzzy shearling draped over it (to keep your bottom happy)? I wonder how it is sitting in it. I’m such a sucker for form over function and one day it will get the better of me. But anyway, who knew Target had such simple, mod designs? I need to stop doing all my work at the kitchen table. Maybe having a cool and important looking roll-y chair would provide the proper encouragement…
I’m brushing my hair with one of these right now. Seriously, I can’t stop. It came in the mail today and I want to wear it around my neck and take it with me everywhere I go. It’s more of a scalp-massaging lock-stroking spine-tingling gift than a mere hair styling device, although it does that, too. And it is BEAUTIFUL, handmade of silky smooth carved wood with two rows of contrasting teeth, and only cost $20. I know what I’m getting everyone for Christmas this year! The hardest part of visiting their website is choosing a comb because they are all so pretty! Click here to learn more about Carpenter Tan’s responsible practices as a corporate citizen.
Did you know that in France, tea, coffee and hot chocolate are served in bowls?
Well, it was news to me the summer that I volunteered in Provence, but I picked up the habit with pleasure. More than a mere traveler’s novelty, there was something deeply comforting about drinking from a bowl that I could not quite articulate at the time. I’ve recently resurrected the morning tradition in my own kitchen, which has prompted much pondering of the mug vs. bowl debate.
At least I know I’m not the only nostalgic bowl-drinking Francophile in America: antique one-offs picked from Parisian brocantes for a few euros regularly move in the market of $30 on Etsy, cracks, chips and all. You only have to add the words ‘Café au Lait‘ or ‘Latte‘ to their name and, Gallic lineage established, they sell like hotcakes.
My growing collection of French ‘Café au Lait’ bowls. The two on the left are affordable and dishwasher safe, and come in tons of colors. $5 each at Anthropologie stores, or $20 for a set of four online. On the right, two antique Ebay finds. I look for bowls with iconic details like the little ribs (côtes) on the sides, or a delicate flared foot, and am sticking to shades of white and cream.
My French friend Aurélie found my interest in bowls rather amusing, and in response to an enthusiastic “explique-moi” email, she told me that it’s totally French, everyone has bowls (especially the ones with côtes) in their kitchen, and people drink out of them everywhere. She also mentioned that since she moved into her apartment, she’s been taking her coffee in bed while on her computer, and that a mug is much more practical in that case. I wondered, then, if part of a bowl’s charm is the attention it demands of the drinker simply because it is easier to spill? Could it be that I was unknowingly longing for an antithesis to the American to-go cup culture, for a reason to sit down and enjoy my breakfast in lieu of dumping my coffee in a travel mug and rushing out the door? (I recently read that 1/5 of American meals are eaten in the car. Guilty, I am definitely guilty).
If anyone in Newport has figured out how to make a meal feel special, it’s Michele DeLuca-Verley at La Maison de Coco. We had a little conversation while I drank a bowl of her famous chocolat chaud (yup, she serves all her hot drinks in bowls). It’s infused with tea (this time I picked rose and mint) and made with dairy that comes from a farm in Tiverton, RI.
Chocolat chaud at La Maison de Coco, $4.25
When asked about her decision to break from the traditional mug, Michele said that she wanted café goers to feel like guests in her home. In her experience, people don’t really sip out of bowls at restaurants in France, but in the home, “that’s just the way you do it at breakfast with your toast.” It’s interesting that we assign connotations of chic-ness to pretty much everything that comes out of France, but in reality, these café au lait bowls are just a part of everyday life that we happen to find charming.
To bring a little bit of the French je ne sais quoi to your mealtime, Michele recommends that you “turn off the tv, turn off your computer and just make a nice space for yourself. If you’re a single person and making something for yourself, have a candle on, have a glass of wine with it, just really make it a ceremony of relaxation, really taking in the food.”
PS- That’s me in my cute little kitchen. I’m obsessed! When I moved in, the cupboards were a nasty wood stain that clashed horribly with the 1970’s citrine color of the counters and backsplash. Painting them white was the best thing I’ve done to that apartment, and now I even love the yellow. It’s a very cheery place to hang out.
If, like me, you have heretofore had to stick your fingers in your ears at the words “handmade” and “rug” to guard against inevitable price tag related disappointment, you might want to check out Terry Ann Dewald’s rag rug shop on Etsy. Terry is a full time oncology nurse from Ames, Iowa who, following in the tradition of her parents and grandparents, has been weaving rugs from collected scrap fabric for most of her life in what little spare time she has.
She has an unbelievable sense of color and texture, whether she expresses it in a riot of cheery hues or a delicate and almost imperceivable shift between like neutrals. Terry’s attention to her palette of rags gives each rug an incredible depth and richness and turns a simple and thrifty technique into a real art form.
A lot of home decor stores, such as Urban Outfitters, sell imported rag rugs at temptingly low prices, but they generally aren’t made from recycled materials. Terry’s rugs, by contrast, are nothing but repurposed, sell for just a few dollars more, and are handmade right here in the US of A.
She explained a little bit about her rugs to me in an email, which I thought I would share:
“This craft was handed down by my grandparents. Grandpa purchased a loom when he retired off the farm for ‘something to do.’ My mother never threw away a shirt, pair of pants, or a worn-out sock. It was all saved and ended up in a rug. So I knew in my early 20’s to save it all. Once I had enough collected I would prep the rags and grandpa would do the weaving for me. In 1983 I purchased a second hand loom and got it up and going. Soon friends and neighbors found out what I was doing so when they emptied out closets they brought the old clothes my way.
Prepping the rags is the most time consuming part of a rug. First the garment must be taken apart. Then cut into strips and those strips sewn together into one continuous long weft. It is then that I can begin weaving the rug. I have a large floor loom which has a large warp beam in the back that I load with warp. I can make 50+ rugs on one filling. But I must say the filling of that warp beam is a time consuming part of my job.
In 2012 I was looking for a place locally to do some volunteer work. There is a christian organization that accepts clothing donations to put in the store where anyone can come shop for FREE. As a volunteer we sort through the donations and throw away anything that is stained, ripped, or has inappropriate language/pictures on it. Also if it has been on the racks for some time they sort through and throw those items away. It is the items that normally would go in the garbage that I bring home. There is very little I can’t use. A couple of my favorite items are socks and sweaters. Mostly because those rugs just have a different texture.”
The rug pictured here is made entirely of recycled blue jeans set in a striped pattern. It’s sturdy, machine washable, and makes me smile every time I walk on it!