Lisa Solomon and Candice Gold of Modify/D are two very talented local ladies with a passion for turning high-end fabric scraps (think cashmere and lush jersey cotton) into all manner of wearable and and usable things for the home. Their stuffies, pillows, dog beds, and infinity scarves are always a big hit in the shop. Be sure to drop by the shop THIS SATURDAY the 7th between the hours of 12 and 6 p.m. to meet them in person and peruse the MODIFY/D TRUNK SHOW! Lisa and Candice will be workin' the shop and have a bunch of their merch on hand, including their beloved owl stuffies. Here's a Q&A with the gals to whet your appetite:
You have such fun products. How do you come up with new ideas?
A lot of the inspiration comes from what fabric we get. We look at a swatch and say, "Oh, that will make a great pillow!," or, "That is perfect for an elephant ear, " or, "That pocket is so cute! We have to find a way to use it," or, "We can just take the hood off of that sweater and make a head/scarf thing…"
So all of your items repurpose garments that would have been discarded otherwise?
YES. We work directly with companies and get their extra yardage, damages, discards, samples, overruns, etc. It's fun because we never know what we are going to get. And we try really hard to use up what we are given with very little waste. We even keep tiny scraps to make patches, or scrap flower pins… we even save tiny scraps to use as stuffing. Most of our cashmere and sweater materials come from White + Warren in New York. Most of our knitwear and denim comes from Isda & Co. in San Francisco.
What are your favorite MODify/d products right now?
Hmmm. Always a fan of the stuffies. They are so cute and each one turns out a bit differently since they are hand-cut. Also, we're really loving our super soft infinity scarves, made from an amazing bunch of really lovely high-end jersey. Finally – our Jacquard Pillows are definitely high on the list. We got these super pretty swatches in, and it was fun to match the knit with menswear.
How did MODify/d get started?
Candice and I have been friends for quite awhile now. We're both interested in fashion (shoes in particular), design, and the environment, and Candice has a history of working in the garment industry. At some point she was working with a cashmere sweater company and showed me the boxes of stuff that were going to end up being thrown away. It seemed criminal to allow such amazing fabric to end up in the landfill… so MODify/d was born. It's great because we have really similar aesthetics. We are also driven to try and make a difference (even if it's small. You have to start somewhere, right?).
What are your arts and apparel backgrounds?
I'm a mixed media artist who moonlights as a professor and freelance graphic designer. I'm currently working on an exhibition that is exploring the number 1000 – sen in Japanese, with an installation featuring 1000 doilies in 100 colors pinned to the wall. Candice is an apparel industry executive (she owned her own company in New York) and is currently a consultant with Isda & Co. in San Francisco.
We are excited that some of our vendors are nominees for the Martha Stewart American Made award!
As you know, Marion and Rose's Workshop is committed to the American Made movement and shares in the thought that change happens on the street level with small businesses supporting one other and sharing their message to customers. We feel that planting the seed and helping it grow is our job and it is our commitment.
As proponents of the movement it makes us happy to see a large company embracing these small makers. It's these steps that will help rebuild the Main Streets of small towns and Cities, restoring pride in these communities. When you can say "I helped make that" or "this is my neighbors company", it gives you a renewed desire to support your neighbor and your community. Quality, craftsmanship and knowing the maker are all important aspects of how we curate the shop, and we are so happy to be able to relay their stories to our customers.
Our friends at Modestics put together a great reference list to make it super easy to vote. Included on the list are a few of our vendors Blue Chair Fruit, Cuppow, Native State, Peg and Awl. and Peterboro Baskets (these guys have been around since the 1800's!) We've also added a few links below to more of our friends and neighbors.
Outlaw Soaps (soon to be a vendor at the shop!)
Poppy Von Frohlich - amazing jackets made in SF. Want them all.
Kate Ellen Metals- our awesome neighbor and amazing jewelry designer
Please vote for your favorites, you can vote up to 6 times within a 24 hours period.
Thank you for your support of the American Made movement and of our little shop!! We are cannot express how happy we are to be here.
Remember "We are all in this together".
-M & R
You make so many cute towels. Which are your current faves?
We keep seeing your stuff around town at all sorts of indie fairs. Do you have any events in your calendar for this fall?
There's a slight breeze blowing through Old Oakland today, and while it's still warm and sunny out, there are some leaves on the ground and Fall is in the air. And you know what the coming of Fall means... new goodies in the shop! Some new merch is already starting to roll in, and we want you to be the first to hear about them. Here are a few of the things that have come in that we're especially excited about:
Earrings from Amano Studio! We first spied these charming adornments at a hip little boutique in Silver Lake, and had to have them for our shop. Turns out they're made right nearby in Sonoma. Our faves are the cast metal crystals.
Beautiful new bear prints from Michael McConnell. Michael really put his BFA in printmaking to good use with these prints, and drew on his love of watercolors as well.
Cards, wall art, and calendars from printmaker and illustrator Rigel Stuhmiller. Don't let your desk be calendar-less in 2014.
Letterpress maps by the hubby and wife team at Quail Lane Press. These beauties are pressed and watercolored by hand in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
So many lovely things! Come and see us at the shop and we'll show you around.
With all of the amazing press and accolades that Blue Chair has gotten recently, it's sometimes hard to believe that their kitchen is right here in Oakland. Rachel Saunders, their head jammer, is a visionary with a penchant for creating seasonally inspired artisan marmalades and jams in tiny batches in traditional French copper jam kettles.
She loves to share her know-how with the local community, and you'll often spot her or another one the of Blue Chair staff out at farmers markets peddling preserves, as well as The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. With figs, tomatoes, apples, grapes, stone fruits coming into season in September and October, you can bet she's going to have a busy Fall. Here's a Q&A with Rachel:
We hear you studied jam-making for 10 years before you launched Blue Chair. What was the research process like?
It was an extremely arduous process of trial and error. I spent all my free time pursuing jam and fruit, and had many days of despair and torment. Mastering the art of jam making is not for the faint of heart!! When people taste my jams today, they cannot imagine what it took to get where I am; I make it look easy now. I am a true believer in the 10,000-hours theory of mastery. And 10,000 hours is just the beginning!!
Do you really still make all of the jams by hand? What are some of your most exciting creations? Yes; all of our jams are completely handmade. Every flavor is exciting! We just cooked a nectoplum jam – a rare hybrid fruit of white nectarine and plum. We also just did a tomato and Adriatic fig jam.
It's pretty cool that you host jam-making classes. What's coming up in the schedule? I absolutely love to teach, because I love people and I love the chance to share some of what I know. My next classes are a Jam 101 class at Ramekins in Sonoma on September 6 and a Flavor Construction class at our kitchen in Oakland on September 8. Information about both is on our website. In mid-September, I go to Seattle to teach for several days at the Pantry at Delancey.
It seems like you guys are always out at the local farmer's markets. Where can we catch you here in the East Bay? Grand Lake on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Temescal on Sundays from 9 a.m. -1 p.m.
How can locals support you and stay in touch? The best way to follow us is on Facebook or Twitter; our name is bluechairfruit. You can also join our mailing list on our website for news about classes and new flavors!
Of course, you can always find a selection of Rachel's latest creations for Blue Chair at Marion and Rose's Worksop!
Some of our favorite pottery in the whole dang world is made by Jennifer Fish of JFish Designs (check out her cute stuff in our shop, above!). We were excited to be able to visit her studio yesterday down at the Berkeley Potters Guild! She's busy coming up with tons of new designs for the holidays, and engrossed in slipcasting all sorts of cool ceramic tableware.
Jennifer has a super interesting background, with degrees in Engineering Psychology at Tufts University and Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. She was a product designer for years and years, spending some time at Smart Design where she worked with companies like OXO, Hewlett Packard, and Toyota. She also worked on kitchenware products for brands like KitchenAid and Cuisinart as an industrial designer at Lifetime Brands.
It was awesome to see Jennifer in her environment, and to get a little taste of her creative process. Come on down to the shop to check out her goods live and in person.
We keep Sharon Zimmerman's beautiful jewelry right by the register, and it's a rare occurrence that someone checks out without oooohing and aaaaahing over her pieces. Her earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are simple and modern and supremely covetable, so it's no wonder she's living the real life version of the Portlandia skit "She's Making Jewelry Now." Since Sharon's a local gal, we thought we'd do a Q&A with her so y'all can get to know her better.
Your jewelry is swoon-worthy. What's the inspiration behind your designs?
I draw my inspiration from so many places – architecture, nature, travel – almost anything can become fodder for my work. I often take natural and organic forms and simplify them, removing details and adding others until I end up with a piece that is abstract and modern, but retains an organic flow.
How did you get started making jewelry?
A little over 10 years ago, I was bopping from job to job without much direction or satisfaction. I had been making and assembling jewelry for years as a hobby, but had never really seen it as a way to create a business. I stumbled upon a metalsmithing class at a Midwestern Technical College, and it was love, glorious love, at first torch, saw, and hammer. I've been at it ever since.
How is your work informed by the materials you use?
Gold and silver are such delightful materials to work with – ductile, forgiving, and malleable. Their precious qualities lead me into experimentation all the time. I don't fear making a mistake because whatever I make can always be melted down and made into something else.
We hear you're eco-conscious. How does that factor into your work?
Sustainability and transparency are core values behind what I do. That means that I work with 100% recycled metals from Virginia-based Hoover and Strong. And when it comes to stones, I take it a step further. Once a stone is mined, it becomes almost impossible to tell where exactly it was sourced from, making the phrase "conflict-free" meaningless. I decided that lab-grown stones were the best way to go. Lab-grown stones are grown from a seed of the same material that creates the stone in nature, and produce fully grown crystals that are identical to their mined counterparts in color, weight, and hardness.
What other local jewelers are you inspired by right now?
Yikes! Within my circle of jewelry and metalsmithing friends there is an embarrassment of riches, so it's hard to choose just one. So here are a few:
Amanda Bassolino of Voce Keen – She works unusual materials into beautiful pieces imbued with meaning. I own a pair of her arrowhead post earrings, and I love the detail of the brass circle hanging off the ear back.
Derek of DMD Metals – I was lucky enough to attend the Revere Academy with this talented dude almost 8 years ago. I have long been a not-so-secret admirer of his creative talent and mega-skillz.
Liz Oppenheim – Amongst other jewelry and metalsmithing talents, she is the Mistress of Mitsuro and one of my go-to people whenever I have technical jewelry questions.
Sarah of Sarah Swell Jewelry – Like Derek, Sarah and I met at the Revere Academy 8 years ago. I have always loved her creative vision and talent and it has been exciting to see her work blossom.
Last one, I swear (I could go on for hours!)Kate of Kate Ellen Metals – Super creative, a go-getter, and a woman of great strength and perseverance. I love her work and her ethos and I am so glad to count her amongst my friends.
And then, there's Rebecca Overmann, Lauren Wolf, Kendra Renee, Lemonade Handmade, and Corey Egan… Lord, I need to cut myself off.
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Sharon's in the shop every Wednesday, and is able to take custom orders. Stop on by and say hello! Don't live nearby? Check out these post earrings available in our online shop.