By Hand Made

img_6161Brooklyn Artisan slipped out of the borough last weekend to attend the massive NY Now wholesale market held at Javits. Our mission: to locate designs and artisans that exemplified the best in handmade creativity. Result: a selection of beautiful products with a Brooklyn origin.

Above, a Brooklyn-themed card hand-printed by letterpress in the Bushwick studio of Lovewild Design. Lovewild characterizes itself as “family-owned, women-run” and has developed a range of handmade products that are highly sustainable. The greeting cards encourage reuse—seeds are embedded in the paper and will actually germinate into tiny wildflower patches when planted in soil. The cards provide charming and sometimes pointed sentiments—a favorite is “I’m so relieved you found someone to marry you. Really.” Lovewild founder Sierra Zamarripa insists that was what her grandmother actually said to her. It could qualify as Most New York Congratulations ever.

fullsizerender-12Wilcoxson Brooklyn Ceramics displayed a wide range of bold, modern tableware in elegant forms and colors created in its Greenpoint studio. The style of ceramic is characterized by designer Kevin Wilcoxson as “New Modern,” a derivation of a traditional Japanese Mingei style and highly valued in museum gift shops. Another interesting activity of the studio is the schedule of workshops where participants get hands-on experience in the craft. Other craftspersons might want to consider how to incorporate similar real-world interactions into their businesses.

fullsizerender-7Jewelry definitely appears to be a growth industry in Brooklyn (viz. our piece from October). Swooping curls of sterling silver and gold are the creative product of designer Lucia Perluck, shown above in the Emerging Makers area at NY Now. Her minimalist designs under the label Lucia Pearl are available IRL in Crown Heights at Marché Rue Dix and online at Etsy. Especially notable is her collaboration with a Moroccan master engraver: Maalem and Maalema.

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Williamsburg-based designer Tracey Tanner showed an impressive array of leather products—wallets, clutches, pouches—in an astonishing variety of leather finishes. (And here I was thinking leather essentially came in brown and black. Anyone for sparkling magenta?)

As a footnote, all the designers featured in this piece in all their diversity work within a one mile radius in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick nexus. It is becoming difficult to grasp the volume of creative energy across the whole of Brooklyn.

Visiting Maker Faire 2016

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Emiko Shinozaki showing her elegant, chemistry-inspired jewelry at this year’s World Maker Faire 2016 (October 1 and 2 at the New York Hall of Science grounds in Flushing). Shinozaki, seen here wearing one of her signature pieces, lives in Carroll Gardens and works in her Dumbo studio (yes, artists still work in Dumbo). Trained in classical music, she chose jewelry design over medical school, yet keeps a link to her roots by often incorporating imagery that references organic chemistry, “especially caffeine.”

This Weekend Discover Art & Artist studios in Park Slope & Windsor Terrace

Facing East at Pemaquid Point, watercolor by Brooklyn Artisan executive editor Joy Makon. At letter R on the weekend open studio tour.

Weather reports forecast a beautiful late-fall weekend, November 7 & 8—a perfect time to wander about Park Slope and Windsor Terrace and pop in and out of the 34 artist studios that will be open for viewing this weekend.

The third annual Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artists Open Studio Tour features a mix of cutting-edge, classic and experimental work from established and emerging artists who make Brownstone Brooklyn their home. Many of the artists on the tour recently participated in Gowanus Open Studios and if you had a chance to discover art there, you’ll be pleased to find a lot more this weekend.

Information: Tour website, downloadable map & suggested itinerary, Facebook
Look for the green balloons outside of each open studio location. FREE.

Some highlights from the 34 artists on this year’s tour:

NORTH SLOPE studios: painters Gregory Frux and Janet Morgan, letter I on the map; distinguished classical artist Simon Dinnerstein, letter F on the map, mixed-media painter Jerry Friedman, letter H on the map.

SOUTH SLOPE studios: metal-sculptor Janet Goldner, letter Y, will be doing welding demos over the weekend; David Weiner, also at letter Y, will create event-based sculpture in real time; abstract painter Joy Walker, letter X; printmaker, illustrator, painter Nancy Doniger and kinetic metal sculptor Eric Jacobson, showing at letter G; digital/photo/social commentary artist Bob Hagan, letter M; plus 9 additional open studios—check the map.

WINDSOR TERRACE studios: sculptor Lisa Lincoln, letter P, will be creating with clay on Sunday; functional potter Caryn Kreitzer, letter O; at letter E: monoprints, watercolors by Susan Greenstein plus watercolors, photography by Phil DeSantis, plus 4 additional open studios—check the map.

Plenty of great places to stop and refuel along the route…but you knew that already…

Rinken’s Wrench N’ Ride Gets ‘Em on the Road Again

"The Wild Ones" with Marlon Brando imprinted the American imagination  with the sexy biker image.

The Wild One: Marlon Brando didn’t need no fancy ‘lectronics on his bike.

MY 1979 KZ 750 WASN’T MUCH TO LOOK AT BUT it was clean with no major dents or scratches and nice chrome fenders and a seat in fine shape. Some days I’d ridden longer than 12 hours at a stretch. The bike always made it better than me. Besides burning oil it was mechanically sound. Except the irreplaceable mechanical ignition points—which lasted a decade. The bike’s book value was $70. One final time I file the points and barely made it to the nearest shop that would deign to take it.

That was 13 years ago. I still have the manual.

 Now Chris Rinken tells me $30 would put it back on the highway.

The author sitting atophis ex-motorcycle, a '79 Kowasaki KZ-750, Blue Book value $70.

The author sitting atop his ex-motorcycle, a ’79 Kawasaki KZ-750, Blue Book value $70.

“[Expletive deleted],” I say.

“I’m sorry,” he replies.

Rinken, owner of Wrench N’ Ride Motorcycle Repair, a small garage beside his home on the corner of Seigel and Bogart streets, works exclusively on pre-electronic, vintage motorcycles—anything ’81 and older. He tells stories that start out like mine.

“One guy kinda had no idea what to do to get his ‘72 CV 350 running. It was in storage for six years and he paid $600 for it and owned it for two years but it never ran. He was pushing it around from apartment to apartment, and—a total fluke—luckily for him there happened to be motorcycle shop,” Rinken says. “He was super pumped about it.”

Rinken didn’t replace a part, he just cleaned the carb. “The bike just needed some care,” he shrugs. And that’s all he does. Rinken stays away from body work or welding, but he can recommend someone.

“If it runs I completely leave it at that,” he says. Rinken first started riding at 11 and learned to work on bikes from his dad. Basic, simple stuff. “Nobody knew how to do vintage maintenance,” he says. “They weren’t raised with a dad who knew all that stuff.”

After graduating from law school in ’12, into the worst economy this side of the Depression, he opened Wrench ‘N Ride. Today he has eight vintage bikes in the garage. One ‘64 Honda 90 cc that he laid hands on is worth $2,500 dollars now.

A shop like Wrench N’ Ride is rare, unique even, considering the sheer number of motorcycles in Brooklyn. To help people buying vintage bikes make sure they weren’t being scammed, Rinken offered a second set of eyes. “A couple of customers wanted to learn basic maintenance, basic inspection stuff,” he says, “just as a way to make sure to get it on the road and avoid really expensive bills from the repair shop.” He’s starting classes now. “We have motorcycles in the shop, and we have extra tools. We get people here who want to learn about bikes, who maybe want to get into it, try it to see if they like doing it. It’s all about getting people into the community.

“I’d rather have a bike that’s worthy,” he says. “The last bike the shop sold was an old Honda 360 that had flames on it. It does a hundred miles an hour if it needs to.”

Wrench N’ Ride Motorcycle Repair

315 Seigel Street

Bushwick, Brooklyn NY 11206

608 695-8392

 Phil Scott is an executive editor of Brooklyn Artisan, a former managing editor of Omni magazine, and the author of seven books, mostly about the history of aviation. He lives in Rockaway.

Open Studio at Maria Castelli: Elegant Bags to Covet

 

Cobalt blue bag is soft and chic.

Cobalt blue bag is soft and chic. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

SORRY, FOLKS, THE DISCOUNT WAS JUST FOR THE DAY, last Saturday, the first Open Studios at Industry City in Sunset Park, and you missed it. But you can feast your eyes anyway, as Brooklyn Artisan did, while talking about the Maria Castelli business that just launched last month.

“We just launched,” daughter Veronica explained, “but we’ve been working on it for about a year and a half.” Though her lovely face was free of bags under her eyes or furrows in her brow, her expressive body language managed to suggest some weeks of round-the-clock effort.

“It’s a lot of work,” she confided, as her mother talked to a handful of serious-looking people on the other side of the room. Retail buyers, we hoped, who’d put dozens of these handsome bags into distribution.

Maria Castelli leather bag in black

As some Belle Dame d’Industry City might say, Chic is the thing with feathers.

The bags are rich looking with thick pebbled leather, yet flexible and almost slouchy in construction so that they’re easy to wear on your shoulder. (Just don’t load up with the Yellow Pages or bags of river rocks and you’ll be fine.) Although some small pouches on another table had the ubiquitous industrial zipper as design statement du jour as well a closure, the handsome shoulder-able bags were clean and as zipperless as Erica Jong’s famous **** (Fear of Flying).

We also liked the alternate bag in black that we spotted on a side shelf. The leather tassel of the blue version was replaced by two bunches of feathers on the black. Irresistably touchy-feely—in fact, we were quite tickled by them.

A co-founder of the erstwhile Getting It Gazette, Anne Mollegen Smith also writes about personal finance for investopedia.com. 

See our other Industry City Open Studio coverage, with more to come later this week.

Yum! Ample Hills Creamery Cookbook is Here

 

Ample Hills Creamery Cookbook

Co-authors Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna included Ample Hills’ famous salt crack caramel recipe in the new cookbook, which can be yours for $25.00. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

YESTERDAY WAS PUBLICATION DAY for the new Ample Hills Creamery cookbook, and copies were stacked up on the counter at the popular premium ice cream store on the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Bergen Street, in Prospect Heights.

Proprietor Brian Smith, right,  was on hand in a front booth to inscribe copies. He confirmed to Brooklyn Artisan thatAmpleHillsBrianSmith the company’s new location in Gowanus is scheduled to open by late June. Ice cream will be made right on site as at the Prospect Heights location.

“Our business is more than an ice cream store, really,” Smith said. “It’s a neighborhood hangout.” The Prospect Heights store has a toddler play area, just visible over Smith’s shoulder.

The familiar Ample Hills ice cream carts will be back out in their locations near playgounds and parks this summer also. Smith co-founded the business with his wife and cookbook co-author,  Jackie Cuscuna.

 

 

Moving Parts: Brooklyn Furnishings Design at The Factory Floor

SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE: Otherwise, it’s hard to categorize the ingenious designs of Brooklyn makers at The Factory Floor in Industry City in the recent two-weekend show. But starting small, Brooklyn Artisan will do our best, for the record.

Small batch, small scale, big thinking at bhold design: Product development under the eye of Susan Taing, founder, takes certain characteristics from the MakerBot desktop 3D printer used to produce prototypes in the bhold lab. Double-walled thermal saki cups, for instance, with little fingerholds on one side.

Using the MakerBot 3D desktop printer, b-hold can turn around and refine prototypes in a few hours that might take days in traditional development cycles.

Using the MakerBot 3D desktop printer, bhold labs can turn around and refine prototypes in a few hours that might take days in traditional development cycles. (Photo: Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/dfs)

Or—our favorite, above—colorful little two-tone, two-piece objects that separate: the outer C-shape that hangs on the restaurant table and holds your bag or helmet by its handle or chin strap; and the inner part that emerges to wind and store your earbuds tangle free. You can work with the bhold labs on your own designs; contact susan@bholddesign.com. Or like us, you can just stand at a design show and play with the appealing objects fitting them together and taking them apart over and over again as minutes tick by. 

Founder/owner Mark Righter crafted sliding shelves that don't tip, thanks to the sliding dovetail joint.

Founder/owner Mark Righter crafted sliding shelves that don’t tip, thanks to the sliding dovetail joint. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/ams)

Small detail, big advantage: Cambium Studio is a Brooklyn-based woodworking furniture and design company founded by Mark Righter. From its Greenpoint location, Cambium will create custom designs for clients, and on its website offers a portfolio of pieces of its own design.

Talking shop with a potential client, Cambium Studio's founder Mark Righter, with coffee, is next to his shelves with sliding dovetails. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/ams)

Talking shop with a potential client, Cambium Studio’s founder Mark Righter, with coffee, is next to his shelves with sliding dovetails. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool/ams)

What caught our eye at The Factory Floor was deceptively simple but elegant shelving for display of favorite small objects—a place to put the candles, the Japanese vase, the framed photo—that can be adjusted as the array of objects changes. How?

The framework is hung from a secure cleat on the wall, but individual shelves operate on a sliding dovetail joint. The shelves, using bamboo, are beautiful finished and the sliding function gives you an excellent excuse to pat them and fiddle with them for the pleasure of touch.

Then there’s the MidCentury-looking coffee table with lift up hinged covers on its four storage compartments. Three of the covers are in a 60s’s orange and one is in bamboo strip laminate. Fittingly it is named Mod Quad by Wonk, its maker.

David Gotl lifts the four cubby covers of the streamlined coffee table,

David Gotl lifts the four cubby covers of the streamlined coffee table,

Other combinations of finishes to suit individual clients are possible, Wonk’s website says.  In fact, since each piece is custom-made for you, you are confronted with swatches and urged to pick from them. Takeaway notion? Wonk if you love finishes.

The laminate frame holds the cushions in place; upholstery fits cushions closely.

Pratt grad’s design: The laminate frame holds the cushions; upholstery fits cushions closely.

Change the color statement (or hide the pizza drippings) at will.

Change the color statement (or hide the pizza drippings) at will.

Along with others, Pratt Institute was a co-sponsor of the design show at The Factory Floor.  At the Pratt Industrial Design booth—Pratt Institute is, by the way, based in Brooklyn—Brooklyn Artisan was engaged by a very clean-lined yet comfortable loveseat. The foam cushions made it quite sittable. And as its Pratt graduate designer demonstrated, the cushions can be flipped to your choice of color contrasts.

More coverage from the recent Brooklyn design show at The Factory Floor in Industry City, Sunset Park, is to come in the next few days. For Brooklyn Artisan’s prior coverage, follow these links:

Overview by Bruce A. Campbell

Alexandra Ferguson: Done is Better

Sleeping on The Factory Floor

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