December 10, 2008

packing for a show



purple merino shearling "tuck" jacket with lambskin trim

We are coming up to our last show of what has been a good season. We got the message loud and clear from our customers that they are still willing to spend on quality items that will keep them warm and fashionable for many years to come. Thank you all to those of you who purchased and placed orders to keep us going into 2009!

For those of you still looking, we will be in New York City at the Artrider show this weekend
at the Lexington Avenue Armory at 26th Street.  We still have many beautiful and colorful shearlings in stock, and we will also have a sale rack of "gently tried on" pieces. 
There will be many other beautiful things to buy from other talented designer/artists.
Click here for more info.


November 18, 2008

Recent and future shows

Well we are back from two weeks on the road, doing two of the most important shows of the year.
Both were slightly down due to the economy, but all in all we got a lot of orders for shearlings, thanks to our loyal customers who came thru, and some new ones as well. Thank you all, and we will be busy making your coats into the new year.
I always comment on the beautiful flower arrangements at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, and here is Juwan again at the bar, (see Nov. '07 post for The Philadelphia Craft Show) in front of the beautiful flowers.

Unbelievably I leave again tomorrow for the Paradise City Show in Marlboro, Ma. See you there!

November 3, 2008

Washington and Philadelphia

We are putting the final touches on our newest work and packing the car to go to two great shows. The first, The Washington Craft Show, (Nov. 7-9) is our ONLY show in the D.C. area until next year at this time, so don't miss it! 
Susan Boyd will be on hand to do a talk at 3 pm on saturday, entitled 
"Five Rules for Reviving What's in Your Closet with Artful Accessories"
Wondering how to bring personal style to a basic black suit or off-the-rack dress? Come learn the five rules for updating your fashion allure with craft art accessories, as fashion consultant Susan Boyd demonstrates and answers your style questions.

The following week is The Philadelphia Craft Show, (Nov. 13-16).
Both of these shows exhibit  absolutely the best craft/artist/designers, and are considered the 2 best shows in the country featuring living national treasures (us!), and give us a chance to make a living creating work with our hands.
We have just gotten in some beautiful skins in vibrant blue, purple and red from Spain, and will be showing shearling coats in these, as well as a palette of browns and black, both off the rack and to order in special sizes. You can also chose your trim colors and designs and be a part of the creative process.  Our limited edition and one of a kind pieces are made in our studio on 
Long Island. Below is a blue merino shearling one of a kind coat, trimmed with brightly colored lambskin.


October 15, 2008

Sneak peek!

We have been working like maniacs getting ready for a string of excellent shows coming up, 
starting with the Westchester Craft Show this weekend, as well  as filling orders from the 
great show we had in Evanston, Il in august. To see our fall lineup of shows, click here
then click on fall show schedule.



If you need a security blanket in these uncertain times, maybe something in a luxurious red
shearling to cuddle up in will sooth your anxieties!


We only get to live once, as far as we know, so have some fun with dots of color.......it will do your soul good, and bring a smile to your face.....


Or black and white, because things always seem that way, and it always looks chic!



October 4, 2008

Show cancelled!

Hello all.
For anyone who may be coming to the "Benefit Fine Art and Craft Festival" in Muttontown, NY this weekend, I would like to inform you that due to the promoter NOT doing their job and doing a disservice to all the fine artists and craftsmen who travelled to exhibit in this show, I have withdrawn from the show. Never in 25 years of doing shows have I left a show early, but this situation was intolerable.
Hope to see you all at a show or studio visit in the near future.
Check veryspecialjackets.com for our schedule.
Maryszka

September 20, 2008

inspiration in Manhattan, always



I love an artist that gives me an opportunity to play

freshly painted

Louise Bourgeois. Found this interesting film clip about her.


September 16, 2008

inspiration in Bridgehampton

We were invited by friends ceramic artist George Johnson and Melissa Megan to join them at a friends house in Bridgehampton NY, where Melissa had visited often growing up. The atmosphere and friends were perfect distractions from our daily grind. We met John White, who still farms land on the ocean that has been in his family for 15 generations.

Saturday George, Toshiki and I expored Sag Harbor

We all found good things at this tag sale for Obama


Around the corner from where we were staying was a house with a huge Richard Serra on their lawn



Here is an satelitte view........view larger map, zoom in and you can see the Serra


This is John White's farm.


View Larger Map

September 4, 2008

The Ambassador of Handmade


This article was in the NY Time Home section today. 
What do you think? What is the difference with what is going on
here and the American Craft Council shows and others that you have seen?


Darren Hauck for The New York Times
Ms. Levine with a vintage toy she embellished with sequins.

AT HOME WITH
The Ambassador of Handmade

Darren Hauck for The New York Times
PATCHWORK LAB Faythe Levine, a pillar of the do-it-yourself movement, at her home in Milwaukee. She recently completed a documentary and a book, both with the title “Handmade Nation.”

By PENELOPE GREEN
Published: September 3, 2008
MILWAUKEE

Darren Hauck for The New York Times
FROM SCRATCH Faythe Levine lives over Paper Boat, a store and gallery she owns with a friend.
THE entrepreneurial spirit of the modern crafts girl should not be underestimated. Faythe Levine, a 30-year-old gallerist, collector, maker and all-around booster of the indie-D.I.Y. crafts movement began six years ago with some sock monkeys and a handstitched felt owl.

Today, Ms. Levine, whose tattooed arms are twined with more hearts, flowers and lettering than a crewelwork sampler, is the proprietor of a crafts store and gallery, as well as the prime documentarian and patron saint of what she calls the handmade nation. She is cited in academic journals, quoted in magazines and newspapers, appears on TV and has been a keynote speaker at arts symposiums.

Back in 2002, however, Ms. Levine was a sometime artist who made punk rock zines. That year, she organized an art show of sock monkeys in her home, sock monkeys being universally appealing objects requiring not much medium, she explained, mostly just socks. She had 80 submissions, most of which sold.

The next year, she began making stuffed felt owls and selling them online; the success of the business — she had orders for 200 at a time — wreaked havoc on her neck and back. Before long, she found herself knee-deep in the alt-crafts world, attending its Lollapalooza-like events and becoming a part of a tight, mostly female, quasi-political community.

“I was going to all these fairs and I remember thinking: Something big is happening. This has to be documented,” Ms. Levine said. “People were writing about it, magazines were starting,” she said, referring to publications like ReadyMade, which started in 2001 and contained projects like Slayer T-shirt pillows, as well as newer magazines like Make and Craft.

“Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design,” a feature-length documentary that she financed largely on credit cards, will be shown at festivals and museums early next year. The film (handmadenationmovie.com), which has a cute-spooky soundtrack by Ms. Levine’s band, Wooden Robot (that’s Ms. Levine on the musical saw), portrays the handiwork of groups like Houston-based Knitta (which ties knitted “graffiti” tubes around street lamps) and Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching company in Austin (which produces and sells embroidery patterns of space aliens, hypodermic needles and human organs).

It is a sweet-toned record of a new and growing community, one with its own esthetic, lifestyle and economy. “If you don’t like the culture you’re in,” said one young woman at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, voicing the movement’s anti-industrial, anti-institutional and highly entrepreneurial manifesto, “you have to create your own.”

An eight-minute teaser that Ms. Levine posted on YouTube in 2006 caught the attention of the Princeton Architectural Press, which commissioned a book, out this month, with the same title as the film. (Ms. Levine wrote it with her friend Cortney Heimerl, another crafter and curator.)

As of this week, the YouTube teaser has had nearly 90,000 views. Meanwhile Etsy (etsy.com), the online department store for the D.I.Y. set, which claims to have had a million users since 2005, recently received a cash infusion of $27 million from a group of investors led by Accel Partners, a venture capital group that has also invested in Facebook.

Home stores like Urban Outfitters and, to a lesser extent, West Elm, continue to limn the handmade look — the woodland creatures, the deadpan-delicate drawings of nature scenes, “the whole cuteness factor,” as Ms. Levine put it — in many of their products.

Back in Milwaukee, though, Ms. Levine is just trying to pay the rent, cheerfully juggling commitments that sometimes help her do that and sometimes don’t: band practice; an artist’s residency; independent curating; the “Handmade Nation” book tour (Princeton Architectural Press is printing 20,000 copies, a huge number for the house); and other speaking engagements.

Then there’s the administration of Art vs. Craft, the crafts fair she started here in 2004, and running the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery, a store she owns with a friend, Kim Kisiolek, which sells handmade objects.

She’d like to pay off those credit cards, too ($30,000 would about do it, she said).

For a year and a half, Ms. Levine and her boyfriend, Nathan Lilley, a guitar player in an indie rock band, have been living in a large, airy apartment above the store, in a hundred-year-old brick building that used to house a bar, once the requisite business on nearly every corner of her working-class neighborhood.

The apartment is filled with her “addictions,” as she calls her collections of handmade books, zines, records, paintings, drawings, Outsider art and objects like a crocheted anatomical heart by Merrilee Challiss, an Alabama artist, and a hand-stitched stuffed yellow lion she bought for $50 at a store called ReForm School in Los Angeles.

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Levine wore cowboy boots and a vintage Liberty print dress, its demure flowers a counterpoint to her extensive body art, much of it paid for by bartering artwork. This particular collection — of tattoos — was started when she was 17.



Darren Hauck for The New York Times
The store, a corner bar in a past life, sells all manner of objects, from clothes to shadow puppets.



“I’m lucky my taste hasn’t changed,” she said, pulling off a boot to reveal her latest, a zebra face with a circus headdress that had been inked onto her left calf and was still a bit scabby.

The surface area of one’s skin provides a built-in limit for the collector of tattoos. If one collects three-dimensional objects, however, one is limited only by the ability to pay for storage.

“I have enough for four houses,” Ms. Levine said. “In dreamland, I would open a museum.” She pointed out some of her favorite objects, like a picture by Mike Brodie, a train-hopping photographer, “of my friend Jessie’s shack, which she built from garbage in North Carolina” and a sequined coyote pelt hanging over her bed. (“Sequined taxidermy, how awesome is that!”)

On a linoleum table in the dining room, a mushroom-bedecked vase, crocheted doily and assemblage of tiny carved wooden critters offered the complete ironic-cute dialectic that is the visual arsenal of the modern D.I.Y. esthetic.

“My whole place is saturated in it,” she admitted.

Ms. Levine grew up in Los Angeles and Seattle, with parents who were as much at home in the alternative world as she. Her father, Rick Merlin Levine, is an astrologer whose work is syndicated to AOL and Google; her mother, Suzanne Wechsler, is an organic dairy farmer.

“They were always pretty supportive of any creative urge I had,” Ms. Levine said.

Her “gateway drug” into the handmade life, she said, was the zine culture of the underground punk rock scene. That world, with its vegan anarchist collective restaurants and plywood punk houses, its handmade record covers and hand-lettered, stapled newsletters, and its network of fans connected by old-world skills like letter writing, was a Luddite’s paradise of 21st-century homemakers and do-it-yourselfers.

“Everything is mass-produced,” Ms. Levine said. “Here were these people doing things the hard way, making these amazing things. It was the incredibly awesome idea that people were taking the time to do this, and that I could do it, too.”

The democratic world view of the modern crafter — the unschooled, technique-and-judgment-free energy of it all — is what pulls many in. “I’m no seamstress, I can’t hem anything, and I’m too impatient to learn how to knit or crochet,” Ms. Levine said, “but I love just stitching.”

It is also what irritates old-school craftspeople, those who might have come out of the American studio crafts movement of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Yet their ideals are the same, according to Andrew Wagner, the editor of American Craft magazine, which redesigned itself last year in an attempt to bridge the two worlds.

Mr. Wagner, a founding editor of Dwell magazine, went on to say, “It’s still about working outside the mainstream, and making a living doing what you love. We saw this huge new movement, which Faythe is cast as sort of the poster child for, and it and the old guard weren’t communicating.”

There was, Mr. Wagner said, some real hostility: “The old guard was saying: It took me 20 years to master my craft, and these kids think they can start by just stitching owls.”

“It would be incorrect to say there’s nothing of quality coming out of the D.I.Y. world,” he continued, “but what they bring to the table is what’s important. Their energy is infectious, which is why I call D.I.Y. the punk rock of the craft world.”

In the current issue of American Craft, an article titled “DIY Grows up: The Political Power of the Do-It-Yourself Movement,” chews over the state of the crazy quilt it has become: the fairs awash in money from corporate sponsors, the huge market for the objects sold there and the confusion that has arisen for the makers.

Is a handmade object still subversive if buyers are willing to pay more for it than the maker could afford to pay herself? Do the tight bonds of the community and its micro-economies trump the appetite of mainstream culture for the authenticity those bonds and economies represent?

“The handmade look is definitely a trend everywhere, from the art world to the stores,” Ms. Levine said. “But I think it helps the community, because someone can go to Urban Outfitters and then to a craft fair and relate that look back. It makes it all stronger.”

Still, she said, “I do understand the turn-offs. If you see 100 owls, it’s hard not to get annoyed and bitter.”

Ms. Levine, who receives hundreds of submissions from makers who want to be shown in her gallery, does see a lot of owls. “But even when I turn people down,” she said, “I want to send a message: Don’t stop. What matters is that people keep making things.”

August 28, 2008

American Craft Expo

We just returned from Evanston, Il, just outside of Chicago, exhibiting at the American Craft Expo. The show was fantastic. I just wish Michelle Obama had come, since it was in her neighborhood, but I guess she is kind of busy!

What I wanted to show you was a little of what goes on before and after a show. We have about 1000 lbs. of stuff
to get there, between our stock and our booth, and need a little help, especially during the fall shows which are
very close together. This show is 1000 miles away, so we have Josh Chaiken, of Art in Motion, take it all for us,
as our studio time is precious just before a show of this caliber. Then we can fly and avoid two days of driving.

Josh doesn't come to Long Island to pick it up, so we meet him at a convenient location, often as here near the 
Javits Center. We have two large crates plus three smaller crates to hold all the stuff. We try to do it late at nite
when NYC traffic and heat have died down.

If you do craft shows, have you found a good way to transport your stuff?


video video

August 15, 2008

thunder

we have been having so many storms this summer, which make for amazing skies
took some pix from the studio roof while working late one nite





August 1, 2008

dig this/Duffy

heard this chick on Anina's blog....................had a good moment listening, and watching the moves

July 31, 2008

Home Delivery

another free friday evening at Moma (courtesy of Target) we took in Home Delivery:Fabricating the Modern Dwelling.
It was fun to wander thru the prefab homes which had been erected on the vacant lot next to the museum.


the sunshine house was my favorite, below, and above the one with the big deck.

my friend Toni, who splits her time between Louisiana and New York, found this Katrina house in New York to pose in front of

loving silver and orange, I was intrigued by this laser cut wall design at part 2 of the exhibition on the 6th floor


July 13, 2008

back to work!

I began today to get ready for our first show of the season, which is in Guilford Connecticut
this coming thursday, friday, and saturday. An Artrider event, It benefits the Guilford Art Center, and from what I hear is in a lovely town, on the village green. I experimented with some black and white fabric and leather tote bags for the summer, and will also be showing some new designs in shearling and will have a sale rack


July 10, 2008

Brooklyn, again

I wanted to see, ©Murakami, which was about to end, so off I went to Brooklyn, again. I saw those "waterfalls", two of them anyway, from the D train on the way over...........wasn't too impressed, seeing them from that distance, in the day. I think you need to be close to them to get the impact, and I think nite would be more interesting, so unfortunately you may have to go on the circle line to get up close.........
anyway, when I was changing trains at Atlantic Ave and Pacific St., (only the New York ego could eliminate the rest of the continent and have these two streets intersect), I saw this. Not sure if it was an installation or infrastructure,
but pretty nice looking.


at the Eastern Pkwy stop for the Brooklyn Museum the art starts before you leave the station, with these specimens of urban archaelogy surrounded by mosiac tiles




I never liked the new addition on the front of the museum from the outside

but I do like the front lawn

but once you are inside the lobby it is quite a nice space, and functional


there was a group of kids being inspired by the Murakami  piece in the lobby
and so was I. It was a good show, I like the integration of art/fashion idea, and the Louis Vuitton shop in the middle of the show.
hurry up, it ends this weekend.  


July 1, 2008

inspiration in Queens/after 53rd st.

I wanted to learn more about the artist Olafur Eliasson before seeing his waterfall installations this summer in New York Harbor, so I hopped on the LIRR to catch the last day of his show at MOMA, and then the 2nd part at PS1 in Queens. The train I was on had a "pedestrian accident", (suicide) and we were almost 2 hours late, I made a mad dash for Moma to see the show entitled:

I had to slow down, and immerse myself in such things as a hallway of yellow light that took color out of everything (including skin)
and mirror box's placed in a window so when you looked down you saw up

a wall of moss


a dark room of light and smoke...................


a little divergence to see some interesting work by Israeli artist Sigalit Landau 
these are objects made of barbed wire, then immersed in the Dead Sea and then dried in the 
desert sun...........


I still had 3 hours so off to Queens and PS1 for the 2nd part of TAKE YOUR TIME


(a little graffiti across the street)


PS(public school)1 is housed in an old school, with lots of rooms for gallery space


and this began the most enjoyable part of my day. Going to the outer boroughs is for me like going on little vacations. Here you enter the school yard, and where other summers they have created a beach, this year an urban farm has been created.



so 2 weeks ago, I saw pigs in Brooklyn, yesterday, roosters in Queens.
what's not to love about New York.


It was curious that photography was allowed inside Moma, but not PS1.
I am not sure how all this will inspire our collection of shearling coats,
but it will, in some way