I recently illustrated and designed the poster for Jessica’s (The Shiny Squirrel) new pop-up shop which opens tonight in NYC. Perfect timing for some gift shopping for yourself, or that special someone’s gift for Valentine’s Day.
Tag Archives: The Shiny Squirrel Pop-Up
For our fifth feature in the series I got to spend time with my good friend Kate Jones of Ursa Major in her studio in TriBeCa this past weekend. Her mum, who is also an amazing jewelry designer, was in town for Kate’s birthday so we spent the afternoon chatting and geeking out about jewelry. I took the opportunity to take some shots of Kate working on the necklace my boyfriend got for me for Christmas and chatted with her about what she’s been up to and what she has planned for Ursa Major this coming year. Also click here if you want to read my Q&A with Kate from earlier this year!
Q. This fall you’ve started creating pieces for men. Are there different challenges that you face making men’s jewelry compared to women’s?
A. The cufflinks are pretty straight forward- but there is a real issue of functionality. I love the look of cufflinks that use chain in between, but all men tell me they’re impossible to use. I don’t like the look of hinged backs- so it was about finding a balance of aesthetics and function, which I love. Rings are a different thing- the scale is completely different to the women’s I’m used to. Sounds obvious, but it’s harder to be as minimal as I like and still make sure it’s gonna work for a guy- are the walls too heavy? Too thin? Too dainty? I’m always open to feedback. Fortunately I’ve got a lot of design opinionated guy friends As for the rest, it’s really just a challenge to make pieces that men want to live in, but one I’m happy to take on.
Q. Do you find that more men are comfortable wearing jewelry these days? Is there a piece that is commonly commissioned from you?
A. It seems that way. Men seem to be paying more attention to accessories and details. I think they realize it’s a way to make an otherwise very simple daily “uniform” personal. And most guys come to me after a piece which is ultimately very simple yet unique, and something they can live in. I do a lot of wedding rings.
Q. You’re cuff links look amazing and I’m sure will be a huge hit. Can you elaborate on the process of making them? Including your inspiration behind the patterns they feature
A. Well I was hanging around Scott Schuman and we were talking about how few good, simple cufflinks are out there that aren’t novelty. Vintage ones were the closest we could find and both agreed it was time for an update. Plus Freeman’s had been asking me to make some. Some of the patterns come from etched plates I made, others from existing patterned metal, and one, the Squash Blossom, is a design I came up with and had engraved- an amalgamation of the iconic American Indian motif and old coins (like the buffalo nickel, commonly turned into jewelry).
Q. And finally, what we’ve been asking all our vendors involved in the Pop-Up shop, what do you see for yourself and Ursa Major in 2012?
A. Big things! Finally the men’s line will come to fruition. I’ll begin selling Ursa overseas and the work’s been published in a couple of books coming out in the fall. Plus a new line I’ve created with a couple of great guys, Derek Brahney and Edge Trullinger, called Hyde. It’ll focus on men’s accessories- namely belts, but some fun bits and pieces too- like the “Spin to Pay” bottle opener you guys have got at the pop-up and available online at Partners and Spade http://store.partnersandspade.com/2011/12/05/spin-to-see-who-pays-bottle-opener/
Fifth in our series is Ted Harrington of Terrapin Stationers & Engravers. He’s a hoot and a half so hope you enjoy our rather silly Q&A below!
Q. Terrapin Stationers & Engravers is one of those rare family run businesses. What’s it like keeping work in the family?
A. It’s difficult to articulate. All I can say is I have an Old Steelcase desk in back of the shop with the bottom drawer kicked in…
Q. You’re infamous Fuck Off and Go Home and Change cards became a huge hit overnight. How did you come up with these brilliant concepts?
A.The Engraved FUCK OFF Calling Card was Michael Williams idea. I just made it happen. I have probably pushed it a bit too far but it is popular. Go Home and Change was Mister Mort’s idea. I’m not that confident nor am I that Natty. Let me repeat that, the Go Home and Change card was Mister Mort’s idea. (How is that Mordechai?) I think Puff Puff Pass could be a future collaboration…
Q. Can you elaborate on the printing process of one of your items, how about printing a business card.
A. Sure, unlike Letterpress, our plates our made of etched copper and our images are recessed. We stamp our paper with a carver press (late 1800′s). The result is perfect, crisp and raised. These plates last forever. We have dies from the 20′s.
Q. How does your Made in the USA production define your business?
A. I love it. It does not suck to produce work for companies like Red Wing or to walk into Club Monaco and see our cards on the Made in the USA table. It’s a dream come true. It’s just fucking cool. We don’t need to buy tons of cheap crap made offshore. Buy a few well made things. I guess what I’m saying is FUCK COSCO.
Q. What are your hopes and dreams for Terrapin in 2012?
A. To make sure everyone here is earning a fair wage, has health insurance, vacation. The basics. Taking a regular paycheck would be amazing.
And because Ted and I can’t communicate with each other without a dose of juvenile humor, I’ve got some unnecessary questions for him:
Q. When did your hair begin to gray?
A. Junior Year of High School
Q.So you’re not 66 years old?
A. No. I’m an immature 45.
Q. You have a beautiful big brother relationship with Michael Williams. How do you guys maintain such a wonderful bond?
A. I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate but I think he feels sorry for me . It’s not unusual for him to ring me up just to tell me I’m pathetic or worse. Seriously, Michael Williams is the Man. Legally that’s all I’m allowed to say.
Q. What are your favorite expressions that you use daily?
A. Oh Hell Testes. Thank you spell check. Also FUCK OFF. Obviously.
Chatted with Eric Heins of Corter, yet another Bostonian and fourth in our series of Pop-Up Shop vendor features. Read up on why he likes to spend his days working with leather and what it takes to actually make one of his beautiful wallets and belts.
Q. When did you first start working with leather? Are you self-taught?
A. I started leather work a month into my junior year of college in late 2007. I wanted a Redmoon wallet, but couldn’t afford it being a student. I found a thread on the fashion forum Superfuture about someone that made their own Redmoon-style wallet, and it inspired me to do the same. I ordered some low grade leather, watched some tutorials while it was in the mail, and ended up making the first wallet while home sick for a few days in September. I posted pictures on the forum, and was in business January 1st of the next year making custom wallets.
Q. What makes your products stand apart from other leather good shops?
A. I try to make things that are functional, affordable, and accessible. I’ve always designed for myself first, because I know a lot of my customers are very much like me. I’m not sure that it sets me apart from other leather companies, all I hope for is that the things I make are needed and used.
Q. For those who may not be familiar with how to craft leather, can you explain the process you go through for making one of your wallets or belts?
A. Sure thing. First I’ll design a piece in sketches. Then I go straight to leather and prototype the piece, which can take from 2 hours to 3 days to get right. I never really use patterns except for the Folded Bifold I offer- I just commit the measurements to memory and cut them one-by-one. After the prototype is in use for a few weeks, I adjust and tweak the things that need to be changed and make a final proto. From there, I design the production process that allows me to make every one myself, make a batch, photograph it, and put it in my shop. As far as the actual production, the general process is to cut the pieces, poke holes with an awl, and stitch- all by hand. I use a saddle stitch, and finish edges with a burnish and some bee’s wax from a farm in Rhode Island.
Q. You’re still a one-man shop, handling the crafting, sales, and PR/marketing. What’s your favorite part about running your own show?
A. My favorite part has always been designing. I design everything, from the actual look of the piece to the process that allows me to make the piece in quantity all by myself. I enjoy that the most.
Q. Where do you see yourself and Corter in 2012?
A. I’d like to do another charity project like the For Japan sale this year, it’s awesome to be able to help people. Other than that I can honestly say I have no clue at all. I need to move into a bigger shop again, but otherwise I’ve never had a business plan and kind of go wherever it takes me. I don’t want to be making things people don’t need- I’ve never wanted to be white noise- so I hope to keep making things people use and enjoy.
For the third in our Pop-up Shop feature series I chatted with friend Alice Saunders of Forestbound. She’s a local Bostonian and has continued to impress with her wide selection of handmade salvaged canvas and leather bags. Check out our Q&A below to see how she got into making bags and where she gets her unique materials.
Q. When did you first start crafting bags and what made you decide on using only salvaged materials?
A. I had been making bags on and off for many years, but officially started Forestbound in early 2008. I had been going to flea markets since I was a kid and was always drawn to military surplus and historic textiles.. one day it just dawned on me that I could take these old canvas items apart and make a bag that was more my style and that I would want to carry around every day. From there it just kind of evolved and made sense to transform these beautiful old textiles into practical every day items so people could still appreciate the history of them.
Q. Forestbound has become a rather well-known brand, what are some highlights in your career thus far?
A. Ah man, that’s a tough question! I was featured in the New York Times Style magazine a few months ago, which was definitely a highlight, but I’d have to say that connecting with other designers and creative types who have a similar aesthetic and mindset is what I am most thankful for. Aaron Ruff of Digby & Iona (www.digbyandiona.com) and Amy Merrick (http://www.amymerrick.com/) to name just a few!
Q. Where do you find your materials?
A. Mostly at flea markets & estate sales throughout New England. I’ve been hunting around for old military textiles for so long that I’ve been lucky enough to develop relationships with some real great old timers who collect military antiques and put canvas aside for me. Those always seem to end up being my favorite finds.
Q. What are your sources of daily inspiration?
A. Daily inspiration mostly comes from the textiles and objects that I’ve surrounded myself with in the studio. I basically have an entire room filled with materials that I’ve collected but haven’t sorted through yet. Whenever I need a little jolt of inspiration I just go into that room and dig through a giant pile until I find an old duffel bag or feed sack that’s just been sitting there waiting to be uncovered again.
Q. You recently launched a men’s collection and a collection of all leather goods with great success. What do you have in store next for Forestbound?
A. Well winter time is usually when I end up finding my best materials, so I’m mostly just waiting to uncover some new finds that will end up turning into a new collection of bags. I try not to get too far ahead of myself and just rely on new design ideas to come once I discover some unusual materials or hardware. I also have really been enjoying working with leather more than I have in the past, so I’ve been thinking up some new all leather bag designs as well.
The second feature of our series of vendors at this Saturday’s Pop-Up Shop highlights General Knot. I had the chance to catch up with Andrew Payne, one half of the brand on what got them on making ties, where they get their unique fabrics, and why it’s important to be a made in the USA brand.
Q. How did you guys meet and what inspired you to start General Knot?
A. Andrew: We actually met on a train platform, heading into NYC to our 9-5 jobs. It’s funny though, it takes guys a while to chat, but after two years of standing next to each other tends to finally break the ice! We realized although being in completely different careers, we shared a lot of common interests. With my background in fashion design and fabric collecting, one thing lead to another and General Knot & Co. was born.
Q. Your ties and bowties are crafted with such amazing fabrics, how do you find them?
A. Andrew: The fabrics and the collecting of them are my favorite parts of our business. I find the fabrics all over the country, from fellow collectors, antique shows, and sales. Admittedly, the whole process is completely random and unpredictable, but is really a lot of fun.
Q. General Knot is manufactured entirely in the USA, which is fantastic. How does this define your brand?
A. Andrew: As someone who has designed for brands with overseas production his whole career, I thoroughly enjoy making all of my product here in the USA. Having the pleasure of personally knowing each person involved in the making of our designs is amazing. The entire process, from fabric collecting to the actual production is a personal experience and has evolved very organically.
Q. Which of your ties and bowties do you think are great options for the many holiday parties that are fast approaching?
A. Andrew: Our versions of “Black Tie” and our Tartan combinations have been very popular and certainly have a great festive feel to them. We love how people are mixing them with casual looks as well as dressing them up with semi formal pieces.
Q. What are your main sources of inspiration?
A. Andrew: The inspiration often comes from the fabrics themselves. Each have their own story and history, which never cease to interest me. Some of our fabrics go as far back as the 1920s. Having the chance to work with fabrics that have been collected and cherished for upwards of 90 years is quite a unique opportunity to have.