Happy Holidays.

I'll be spending the next ten days or so on a little holiday—resting, reading, (hopefully) writing, and most certainly spending some quality time with the wooly creature pictured below. Very much looking forward to returning January 4th (after ringing in 2016 in Austin!) with new stories. In the meantime, wishing you all a warm and wonderful end to the year—and a happy start to the one ahead. Here's to new adventures, always.

Some reading for the break:
-The year in volcanic activity, YouTube, and cakes.
-Hand-knitted treasures made by New York City grandmothers.
-Loved putting together The 20-Something's Guide to Glassware.
-Philip Pullman on embracing the cold: "...if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn't feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It's worth being cold for that." (Thanks, Stephanie.)
-And lastly, favorite POVs from 2015: on rotations, happy surprises, and feeling human.

See you in a few days, and many thanks for reading. As always, sharing this space with you has added so much brightness to my year.

Photo by Max Wanger.

Isaac Nichols on Sight Unseen.

interviewed Brooklyn-based ceramicist Isaac Nichols for Sight Unseen earlier this fall, spending an unseasonably warm morning in his Greenpoint studio near McCarren Park. I was already a fan of his famous "boob pots", having seen them in shop windows around the city for months, but I hadn't known anything about his story prior to our meeting. As it turns out, ceramics are a relatively new endeavor for Isaac, who was once a fine arts student and began experimenting with clay amid frustrations with his formal training. Now, his pots have found an audience among creative spirits far and wide. They've even become part of a larger feminist discussion, garnering praise for their realistic shape.

Says Isaac, who likes to listen to Thoreau as he works, "I still have a hard time thinking, ‘Here I am, the boob potter.’ But I’ve been trying not to worry about whether this is the direction I’m supposed to be on. Because before I found success in this, I put a lot of emphasis on, ‘Oh, I don’t do this. I don’t do that.’ And I missed out on a lot of life."
Read the interview on Sight Unseen. Photos by Emily Johnston. More from Isaac, here.

Recommended Reading / 55.

Every Monday (or in this case, Tuesday), words to start the week.  

This week: a short film from Huck Magazine about former prisoner Chris Wilson. In and out of jail since the age of 16, Wilson found unexpected freedom in art. His tools of choice: paintbrushes made of plastic spoons and human hair; crushed Skittles mixed with water for color. He's now a working artist based in Brixton. "Money doesn't mean that much to me anymore," he says. "I don't ask much money for paintings. I've been asking 150 pounds. You meet people who want you to strategize and ask for six grand and all this, but I prefer a really simple world at the moment. Simple and honest."

Three more, just because: 
-Batman loves a label.
-Cranberry "candles" and mayo "pinecones"—say hello to holiday indulgence, 60s style.
-Artist Olafur Eliasson is lighting Stockholm with a man-made star powered by energy from last summer's sunlight. Read more, here.

Wishing you a wonderful Tuesday. More recommended reading, here.

New Work: Shinola x WorkOf.

For those in a giving mood (and with holiday decorating yet to be done), this beautiful selection of hand-crafted Christmas ornaments is up for auction on Paddle8. Commissioned in collaboration between Shinola and WorkOf—companies that share a commitment to supporting American design and manufacturing—each ornament was made by a different independent designer or maker nationwide. Many take cues from the makers' signature materials and techniques. All have stories behind them.

Among my favorites: Haptic Lab's sequined and pin-studded sphere; Hui Buy's suspended succulents; and Elyse Graham's blueberry-colored Cluster, made using balloons. I also love Daniel Moyer's ornament, pictured fourth below—the artist, perhaps missing summer, recreated the effect of a lightning bug using rounds of lavender resin that glow in the dark.

In honor of the auction, I was lucky enough to interview WorkOf founder Charlie Miner and Creative Director Isaac Friedman-Heiman for Shinola's The Journal.  Accompanying studio tours with Eric Trine and Ryden Rizzo—two designers who contributed ornaments to the auction—are up on the WorkOf site, too.

To shop the auction, visit Paddle8.  Proceeds benefit MOCAD, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (a place I was lucky enough to visit during my trip this summer).

Recommended Reading / 54.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week, from Dazed: an interview with artist Audrey Wollen, whose Sad Girl Theory speaks to those who feel estranged from modern-day feminism. "The shade of feminism that's chosen for media attention is always the one most palatable to the powers that be—unthreatening, positive, communal," she says. "It demanded so much of me—self-love, great sex, economic success—that I just couldn't give." As an alternative, the artist presents sadness as something meaningful and empowering, an expression that acknowledges the full experience of contemporary womanhood:

I think Sad Girl Theory has a resonance now because feminism has made such a big 'comeback' in the media lately. I feel like girls are being set up: if we don’t feel overjoyed about being a girl, we are failing at our own empowerment, when the voices that are demanding that joy are the same ones participating in our subordination. Global misogyny isn’t the result of girls’ lack of self-care or self esteem. Sad Girl Theory is a permission slip: feminism doesn’t need to advocate for how awesome and fun being a girl is. Feminism needs to acknowledge that being a girl in the world right now is one of the hardest things there is – it is unimaginably painful – and that our pain doesn’t need to be discarded in the name of empowerment. It can be used as a material, a weight, a wedge, to jam that machinery and change those patterns.

Read the interview by Lucy Watson at Dazed. Photo via Audrey Wollen's Instagram.

A few more, just because: 
-A bonsai tree sees the world.
-Meet architect Moon Hoon, who finds creative inspiration in "cars, planes, warships, Japanese animation, Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks, and watching movies backwards."
-A day in the life of Roald Dahl: breakfast in bed, gin at lunch, chocolate after every meal.
-From Ernest Hemingway: "Live the full life of mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual."

Wishing you a happy Monday. More recommended reading, here.

POV: Meditations.

The day I left Berlin, I cleaned the apartment I'd been staying in, one room at a time. I stripped the bed. Sponged down the kitchen counters. Cleaned strands of dark hair from the bathroom's white tile floors. On the way out, I stood on tiptoe to close the windows against the rain. Then, airport-bound and bags in tow, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror by the door. Right away and with surprise, I thought, oh, it's you.

Fiction Landscapes.

In love with these "Fiction Landscapes" by J.Frede, who discovers new worlds in the thoughtful arrangement of flea market photographs. Each piece holds its own mystery, and, as the artist points out, spans a wide range of time periods and places. He writes: How many people have stopped at that rest stop and taken nearly the same photo of the plain hillside? All locking their own associations into the view: first road trip with a new love, last road trip to see grandma, one of many road trips alone.

Read more at J.Frede's website, here.

Recommended Reading / 53.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week, via Kateoplis: the story of Grandma Gatewood, the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail alone (that’s 2,168 miles). Gatewood was mother to 11 children, and wife to a husband who routinely beat her. At 67, she told her family she was leaving for a walk, with just a pair of Keds, an army blanket, a raincoat, and a shower curtain—and the rest is history. Read more at Kateoplis.

Three more, just because: 
-Imperfect produce.
-An artist makes a spoon a day.
-A remake of Purple Rain has been filmed in Niger, where only a sliver of the population know of Prince, and where the title translates to "Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It."

Lastly, in the spirit of the holiday that just passed: a belated (but very big) thank you for reading. I could never say it enough. I’m so lucky to have found such a warm and encouraging community of friends here, whether we’ve met in person or not. And though I’ve been a bit absent these days, I’m happy to report that things are a little calmer now — and I hope to post more this week: a POV, and maybe a gift idea or two. In the meantime, I hope you all had a restful, restorative Thanksgiving. (I went upstate to do a whole lot of very little, something for which I was very, very thankful.)

Wishing you a wonderful Monday. More recommended reading, here

Todd St. John on Sight Unseen.

I've long been a fan of Sight Unseen's thoughtful and beautifully captured Studio Visits, so I'm thrilled to share my first contribution to the series. Todd St. John is an illustrator, graphic designer, furniture maker, and animator who works out of a spacious studio in Gowanus. (Funnily enough, we discovered we attended the same high school, albeit years apart, in Hawaii.) Todd's clients include The New York Times, The New Yorker, Nickelodeon, and MTV, and though his growing portfolio represents decades of work, he's nurtured an inquisitive spirit since childhood.

"I'm curious," he says. "I like trying to figure out how to do things myself. There's an excitement to that that never goes away."

Find the full interview at Sight Unseen. Photos by the wonderful Emily Johnston. More about Todd St. John, here.

Recommended Reading / 52.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week: from Swedish photographer Magnus Wennman, portraits of refugee children and the places they sleep. Among the profiled: Sidra, 6, who dreams of candy; Lamar, 5, who remembers her dolls and train set abandoned in Baghdad; and Amir, 20 months, who has yet to utter a word.

Want to help? Click to donate to The UN Refugee Agency, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, or Unicef.

A few more, just because: 
-Five favorite things.
-Notepads from fictional hotels.
-Imagining the plates of well-known artists on Thanksgiving.
-The rewards of niche retail (or The Curious Persistence of Poetry Shops).
-"But she did look back."

More recommended reading, here. Have a wonderful Monday.

Moon Glass.

Fill these cups with the beverage of your choosing and discover the five phases of the moon as you drink. Beautiful work from Tale Design (and a great idea for a holiday gift, too).

Thanks, iGNANT.

Recommended Reading / 51.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week: words from a hotel in Tokyo called Book and Bed, an "accommodation bookshop" that caters to book lovers who relish the experience of falling asleep while reading (the beds are hidden behind the bookshelves). "The perfect setting for a good night's sleep is something you will not find here," the site says. "What we do offer is an experience while reading a book. An experienced shared by everyone at least once: the blissful 'instant of falling asleep.' It is already 2 am but you think just a little more...with heavy drooping eye lids you continue reading, only to realize you have fallen asleep."

Visit Book and Bed, here. Thanks, Sadie Stein.

A few more, just because: 
-Modern pantry staples. (Black garlic, anyone?)
-A lamp designed to resemble a blade of grass bending in the wind.
-Via Kottke: fascinating updates to Richard Scarry classics.
-Lastly, my friend Monica has a new comedy series out called EX-BEST. The show focuses on two women who must "forge individual identities after their friend 'break-up' leaves them adrift in the adult world." It's 13 episodes, four minutes each. Check it out, here.

More recommended reading, here. Have a very happy Monday.

Tina Roth Eisenberg on FvF.

On a hot day late this summer, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina Roth Eisenberg for Freunde von Freunden — and, happily, the story went live yesterday. Tina is the founder of the design blog Swissmiss, the temporary tattoo company Tattly, the international lecture series CreativeMornings, the to-do app TeuxDeux, and the Boerum Hill co-working space Friends. Needless to say, she's a busy woman, so it was a treat to spend the day hearing her thoughts on creativity, intentional communities, and why she thinks she'll always call New York home.

I especially loved what she had to say about children and technology: "I’m trying to find a balance with my kids, but I do let them spend more time on screens than other parents I know. I just tell them, you need to use it to create something. Ella just spent two weeks at a summer camp learning to code. I couldn’t be happier. This is her world. Coding will part of her vocabulary. I might have learned French; she’s learning Java."
Read the rest on Freunde von Freunden. Photos by the very talented Nicole Franzen.

Other recent work on FvF:  ClĂ©ment Froissart / Mick JohanFrank Huang. (More, here.)

Party Down.

A big thank you to whomever it was who posted a link to "Women Having a Terrible Time at Parties In Art" on Facebook yesterday. I couldn't love it more—it's the perfect mid-week laugh.

Many thanks to The Toast via Notorious Mag. Happy Wednesday.

Recommended Reading / 50.

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week: a feature on a new cat cafe called Koneko, which opened recently in Lower Manhattan. (Cat cafes, where visitors can pay to spend time in the company of cats, have long been a phenomenon in Japan and are just starting to take off in New York City.) The entire article is a very amusing read; my favorite detail, however, concerns one of Koneko's three cattery "guides":

Anne Paolini, 24, is a yoga instructor with a degree in foreign policy who plans to hold vinyasa classes at Koneko, and cat meditation. What does that mean? “No one knows,” said Joe Crump, 55, Koneko’s creative director...Ms. Paolini explained later that the cat meditation she had envisioned involved humans meditating among the cats, not the other way around.

Find the story in its entirety at The New York Times. Photos by Deidre Schoo.

Three more, just because: 
-Children at Seoul Fashion Week.
-Explained: why we jerk awake before we fall asleep.
-Tom Waits says, "The beginning of it starts at the end."

More recommended reading, here. Have a wonderful Monday.

Frank Huang on FvF.

Hello again after a week away! So happy to share a bit of what I've been working on these past few weeks – in October, I was lucky enough to sign on to a few international interview projects; one of them, a story on Taiwanese art collector Frank Huang, went live on Freunde von Freunden today. Frank, who's the founder of Polymer, Taiwan's largest artist residency village, couldn't have been warmer, funnier, or more full of surprise. His home is a trove of artistic curiosities – a story in itself – but what I loved most about the interview was his commentary on what it’s like to be creative in a place where pursuing art is an uncommon choice – and how he’s sharing his love of the weird and wonderful with his toddler son.

Below, a few photos of Frank’s home in Taipei. When I asked to know more about it, he said: “I love that right outside of the window I can see banyan trees. When the leaves are growing, I don’t need a curtain – I can hide behind the trees. I can look out and watch the birds commuting.”

Find the interview in its entirety on Freunde von Freunden. Photos by Shinji Minegishi.

Other recent work on FvF: Nawab Khan / Linda Derschang / Chelsea Miller. (More, here.)

I Could Eat You Up.

For Halloween, via Oeuf: beautiful, brilliant gastronomical get-ups for children, including an eggplant romper and fried egg berets. Not pictured: leek scarves, radish mittens, an apple hat with tiny woolen stem.

Find it all on Oeuf.

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