January 30, 2008


For the past 27 years the Toshiki and Maryszka line has mostly focused on creating leather, shearling, and wool coats. However, every once in awhile, we experiment in the studio with different stitching, or different skins, and do small collections of bags. 
Below are some small cases, mostly about 7" in diameter, with different examples of quilting the leather on a stiffer padding than we normally use in a coat or jacket.

This group are cylinders created in a beautiful calfskin done using techniques as in making shoes. They actually have a "sole" which they sit on. The tops are supple lambskins with a cinch closure.

January 9, 2008


As we have just finished up quite a few Fine Craft shows, and are looking forward to the upcoming ones, for us beginning in March, I have noticed a disappointing trend in the wearables being shown, which is the field we are in, but I have a feeling it crosses all media.

Not only is there a lack of innovativeness and craftsmanship in some of the work, there is derivative work, out and out knock offs (this isn't supposed to be 7th avenue!) being accepted into the shows. By and large, this is not the case, but when exhibits like this enter the field it drags all off us down, and I think it is a disservice to to public who believe they are coming to see the best in the field of craft.

As all the shows we exhibit in are supposed to be top of the line, cream of the craft, the best hand made work in the country, how is it that the juries and show promoters are letting this work slip by, not demanding, or attracting the best to their shows. Are the jurors knowledgeable in the field? Are the promoters knowledgeable of the jurors they pick?

We try to be quietly proud of our work, keep our integrity,  and hope it speaks for itself, in design as well as execution of our shearling coats.  But when I see artists trying to pass off as their creations, work without any technique involved whatsoever, or their hands even touching the piece except to write the sales slip, getting awards, and into shows that we cannot, it is time to be verbal.  (One artist even boasts on her website that she uses three different factories to make her work and shows photos of the contractors! Where is the handmade in that!)  ( Another that has gotten in to all the top shows recently does nothing more than cut holes in fabric, and her trendy display apparently has blinded everyone to the fact that there is no manipulation to the material at all, and the "idea" of what she is doing is not hers, it was published in a book years ago.)

In Japan true craftsmen are considered National Treasures and revered by society. Seeing this trend in this country has truly made us disappointed in our careers as craftsmen/tailors/makers. 

And the icing on the cake is that the awe/fear of the Etsy movement by the fine craft show promoters, some of whom are taking them into their shows, is diluting the meaning of "craft" further. 

When are the shows going to decide what they are going to be? What do they consider their responsibility to their exhibitors?
Are they taking it as seriously as we, the makers are? 
How can we make a living if spots are being taken by these imposters?

January 6, 2008


While most of the tourists have gone home, New Yorkers were out in droves this weekend, as so many important shows are ending in early January. I made my way to MOMA on friday night, and was
thoroughly saturated and exhausted after seeing three great shows. Each touched a different nerve.
The American artist Martin Puryear-you can still catch this show until the 14th.

Perhaps my pick if I had to, was Lucien Freud, grandson of Sigmund, the psychoanalyst. Currently living and working in London, the show is of his etchings and shows many of the plates. Thru March 10th.

But Georges Seraut, the drawings, you go because you have to, and leave with a new respect for the artist.
If you are reading this after January 7th, you've missed it, what a shame.

But wandering thru the museum, one always finds an unexpected treat. For me it was this installation by Italian artist Mario Merz, titled "Places with No Street" from 1987. I guess it is my fascination with being enclosed by aluminum that struck a note with me.
Oddly, behind the Merz piece, I could see a reflection of the museum's airstream, the type of aluminum we
are usually encased in, when we need time out from work and life.

Saturday I dutifully headed toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to catch The Age of Rembrandt , and those incredible tapestries before they left town. Sometimes doing things you think you must turn out to be very rewarding.