New Stuff

I’ve been making stuff again. Just in time for a rash of upcoming events, which I’ll tell you about in another post. Right now…can’t…write…much…more. Aren’t you glad, secretly, just a bit, that you don’t have to read my usual twenty paragraphs of convoluted text? Yes you are. It’s Friday, the end of a long week. I’m tired, you’re tired, so let’s just cut to it…

Mr. Owl says No!

Snow globes and ceramic plates: that’s what I’ve been working on. And what do these items have in common? Octopus-es and other creatures found in nature. The snow globes are for fun, but the plates are actually functional, should you be inclined to serve food on top of an owl’s face (and who wouldn’t be?).

For more of Mr. Owl and his friends, head over to The Roving Home store.

Handmade Wedding

My nephew Andrew just married a girl named Elizabeth, who grew up a couple of cornfields away from him in Ohio. They’ve known each other their whole lives, but it took a change of scenery a few years ago — a college trip to Europe with fellow students — for them to really see each other. Since that overseas trip, they’ve been steadily inching toward marriage, with the whole thing culminating this summer in a wedding in Ohio.

About a week before the wedding I checked in with my sister, Andrew’s mother, to see how things were going. We were traveling from Massachusetts and I wanted to know if she needed help with anything before I got there. Well, my sister told me, she wasn’t really involved with the wedding itself, just the rehearsal dinner. And she didn’t really know what was going on with the planning, actually. As she hesitated while trying to give me the details over the phone, I could feel her trying to lower my expectations. She had good reasons for underplaying things. Among the people who know them best, Andrew and Elizabeth have a notorious reputation for being easygoing. So easygoing, in fact, that they sometimes appear to be enjoying a reality the rest of us are not privy to. An alternate universe where there is, quite literally, nothing to worry about. All she knew, my sister said, was that Elizabeth had been “making crafts”, as my sister put it, for months and months now.

Sun setting through an old oak tree

But as it turned out, Andrew and Elizabeth, floating along in their parallel universe, were right. There was, in fact, nothing to worry about. Because they managed to create just about the loveliest wedding humanly possible — with a little help from their friends, not to mention the heavens, which cooperated in the end after pouring buckets and buckets of rain all morning long. Sometime late in the afternoon, alarmingly late in the afternoon, the skies suddenly cleared, the sun broke through, and everything and everyone was imbued with a golden glow.

The vortex of those months of craft-making resulted in the most thoughtful of handmade experiences, where we, the guests, were treated as if we were the ones being honored, while at the same time we were expected to fully participate in the festivities, to the point of being asked to wash our own dishes at the wedding. Yes, you read that correctly. While it sounds insane to ask your wedding guests to wash their plates — and it is — somehow it suited the occasion, much to my shock and to the shock of everyone else I met in line. Yes, you read that correctly as well. We stood in line to wash our own dishes. And as I stood there waiting to plunge my hands into dishwater, I had conversations with people that I would never have met otherwise, and it felt, altogether now, like we were helping this young couple by taking a quick turn at cleaning up. And in return they treated all of us to a lovely wedding ceremony followed by some awesome food, great music, crazy dancing, homegrown flowers, funny stories and of course, lots of crafts. The good kind.

Those dishes, by the way, were all vintage and collected one by one by Elizabeth and her friends at various second hand shops over the last few years, in anticipation of the day when she would need to find place settings for well over two hundred people. Elizabeth also hand wrote the name of each and every single one of her guests on individual place cards.

How could we feel anything other than loved?

Francie's place card

Francie’s place card

They were married in the front yard of Elizabeth’s parents’ house, under a canopy Andrew and Elizabeth made out of saplings. After the ceremony, which invoked the solemn prospect of marriage across space and time while also managing to make everyone laugh more than once, we all trekked one hundred feet or so to the reception, which took place just behind the house under a big tent, as is the fashion these days. Actually, Andrew and Elizabeth incorporated a lot of ideas that are the fashion these days: mason jars, a photo booth, wildflowers, old windows, pennants — but every single handmade detail felt so imbued with their young love and enthusiasm that it all transcended a cynical scroll through pinterest and became greater than the sum of its parts.

Just thinking about the wedding makes me happy, and (I must confess) half-wistful about my own wedding many moons ago, which was an equally handmade affair but not quite as mellow. Because attending to the details and worrying about the details are two different things entirely. If Andrew and Elizabeth can go on to achieve the same balance in life that they achieved on the day they started their life together, they will be blessed indeed.

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.

— Henry Drummond

Shopping: Portland Trading Co.

We stopped in Portland, Maine for a few days and I wandered into a relatively new shop, Portland Trading Co. Kazeem, the proprietor, is stylish in all the right ways. Which is to say he is totally current without being a snob. He was so engaging I could have talked at him for a long while, but fortunately for him some regular customers came in and rescued him from my enthusiasm. The aspect of the Portland Trading Co. that intrigued me the most, beyond the well-edited selection, is that Kazeem buys across several categories — the place is like a general store for the modern man — and yet it all hangs together in an entirely cohesive way, from clothes to jewelry to textiles to vintage items to food. He even manages to incorporate elements from Africa, and the colors and pieces he brings in look amazing juxtaposed against American-made, regional goods he sources.

Find the Portland Trading Co. on facebook or in the real world the next time you’re traveling up the coast of Maine. An online store is in the works too, just in case a jaunt to Maine isn’t in your immediate future (but if not, it should be…)

Old Display counter

Canvas bags

The long view of the counter

Display

Vintage Crate Display
Great magazine selection

Clothing racks

Rolled ties

Handmade goods from D Mfg
Leather boots & more
Goods up close
Pillows on sofa
Vintage typewriters
Food
Old Photos
Chesterfield & textiles
Handmade sign with logo

Resources: Block Printed Textiles

Julia Garrison lives and works in the town I live in, beautiful Rockport, Massachusetts. She’s one of those all-around creative people — I’ve tasted delicious homemade fish chowder that she made so I know she makes a mean meal among other things — who, when she’s not off painting on a movie set, is working in her studio as a block printer. Julia’s has a line of goods ranging from block-printed cards to pillows to aprons, all sold online and from the Sarah Elizabeth Shop in Rockport, which doubles as her studio. She inherited the use of an antique acorn press, as well as the rights to print archived designs from Sarah Elizabeth Holloran, the shop’s namesake and founder, and Isabel Natti, who worked closely with Sarah Elizabeth for years and owned the shop before Julia.

Sarah Elizabeth Holloran was a member of the Folly Cove Designers, a collective which existed until 1969 (and is well worth discovering if you don’t know about their work already) and it is fascinating to realize that Julia’s shop and studio space is a link of sorts to the region’s strong heritage of block printing. Stop by the Sarah Elizabeth Shop to see Julia’s work and check out the studio and shop space, which she just refreshed with great industrial pieces that complement the acorn press, a look that is perfect for the 21st century — a time when we appreciate handprinted textiles once again, but now we can buy them via an iPhone app. And if you can’t make it to Rockport, you can see Julia’s line at www.sarah-elizabeth-shop.com

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T-shirts

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