News / Q&A

Bay Area Makers Spotlight: Jess Wainer and Rachel T. Robertson

 A quick Q&A with Bay Area glass artist Jess Wainer and designer Rachel T. Robertson...

kerri johnson
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Q & A with Tiny Atlas Quarterly

We are very excited to be hosting our friends at Tiny Atlas Quarterly for a month long pop-up gallery..
kerri johnson
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The People in the Neighborhood: Q & A with Kate Ellen Metals

I caught up with our friend and neighbor Kate Ellen of Kate Ellen Metals and Crown Nine Jewelry...
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In the Studio: Q & A with Michael McConnell

In the Studio: Q & A with Bay Area artist Michael McConnell
kerri johnson
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Outlaw Soaps... A Q&A with Danielle Vincent

Outlaw Soaps... A Q&A with Danielle Vincent
Nicole Grant Kriege
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An Artist Reception and Q&A with Tallulah Terryll

We're really looking forward to having Tallulah Terryll's art up in the shop beginning on September 27th! Please come by from 6-8 p.m. to welcome her to the Old Oakland and see her show, "Willow Paintings" (up through November 1). Tallulah is an old friend of Kerri's (the shop owner) and an amazingly talented artist. She uses handmade stencils, paint, and Chine-collé techniques to create stunning mixed media works with lots of color.

We visited her studio in August, and were excited to see what she's got in the works. It's always fun to go behind-the-scenes with local artists and see where the magic happens. Plus, she sent us off with some zucchini from her garden, and a bottle of homemade jam (what a peach!). Here's a Q&A with her so you can get to know her work better:

What are your works inspired by, and where do you get the ideas for your patterns?
I'm inspired by snippets from nature. I look for the small, repetitive building blocks. Almost all of the work in this show is based on a photograph of the cell structure of willow bark I found in a biology book that had been untouched in a library for decades.

How do you generate the patterns, and what materials do you use for your works?
First I make a drawing, usually directly on the stencil material but sometimes I transfer it onto the stencil material later. I cut it out using a surgical scalpel. I then use watercolor, acrylic and inks with the stencil with many brush techniques and layers onto a sheet of paper.

We hear you spent some time in Japan. Can you tell us about the eastern influences in your work?
I think the thing most people jump to compare my work to is the beautiful Japanese textiles, and that totally makes sense. Of course, I also really love the textiles from Scandinavia, South Asia, and the Middle East as well. What was really significant about Japan for me was how well made everything was. There is such great craftsmanship and such pride in it. 

What's your arts background?
I got my BFA from Cornish College of the Arts. It is a really tiny school in Seattle with fine art, theatre, music, dance and design programs. That is where I fell in love with printmaking. Then in 2006 I moved to Oakland, where I've been lucky to meet and befriend a great number of talented and inspirational artists.

We love that you're local. How can we support your work as an artist?
Come out to my shows. Get your friends to join you. Sign up for my email list. And, of course, if you feel so inclined, you could add some of my work to your collection!

Nicole Grant Kriege
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A MODify/d Trunk Show This Saturday! And a Q&A with Lisa and Candice

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. 

Nicole Grant Kriege
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Tea Towels from The Heated: A Q&A with Artist Cristina Espinosa

If you haven't checked out our tea towels from The Heated yet, you're in for a treat! The Heated is a local screen printing venture by artist Cristina Espinosa – a super talented lady with a sweet side and a wicked sense of humor to boot. She was one of our first vendors in the shop, and her dish towels just get more popular as she comes up with more fun illustrations. Right now we've got her Get Awesome, Sutro Tower, and Owls dish towels in stock, and are planning on ordering her new Golden Gate Bridge design for the Fall. Here's a Q&A with Cristina:
How did you get into screen printing, and what's your arts background?
Years ago, I worked for a company that screen printed t-shirts for punk rock bands. My position was in sales so I never actually printed anything but it definitely got me interested. When my own band needed merchandise, I took the plunge and learned how to screen print. As far as my arts background goes, I had no professional training when I started The Heated. I'd always kept a notebook of my little drawings but never thought to study it in school. I've since taken a basic drawing course at CCSF so now I'm totally legit. 

You make so many cute towels. Which are your current faves?
My favorites right now are Sutro Tower and Cedar. I love how the current wave of San Francisco residents have made Sutro Tower their own, especially since the tower was so contentious when it was first built. Cedar is making me happy because of the detail I was able to get from using a small branch of cedar as my stencil to burn the screen instead of my usual computer print-outs. Nature is clearly a superior designer!
How do you create the illustrations on your towels?
These days, I start with a pencil sketch that eventually becomes a pen drawing (I like black Pilot Precise V5 pens). Often times, I clean it up on the computer, upping the contrast and fine-tuning to make sure that it will be a good, clear stencil. In screen printing, there are no shades of gray so making a crisp, clear black and white image is my goal. 
We love that The Heated is also a band! How can we have a listen, and what's the band up to these days?
You can listen to our music online and both of my (completely home-recorded) albums are also available on iTunes. Music has really taken a back seat to screen printing these days. I'd much rather be home printing than in a bar, waiting around for a show to finish before I can load out my gear and go to sleep. 

We keep seeing your stuff around town at all sorts of indie fairs. Do you have any events in your calendar for this fall?
I definitely get my craft show hustle on all over! I'll be at the Urban Air Market in San Francisco's Hayes Valley on September 15th. I'll also be at the Mission Community Market every third Thursday through October and the Bluxome Winery's Meet Market this Saturday, August 31st. I'm pretty good about keeping my website up to date so you can go to my events page for the latest information on where I'll be selling next.
Nicole Grant Kriege
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Seasonal and Sweet – A Q&A with Rachel of Blue Chair Jams

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 CookbookWith 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! 

Nicole Grant Kriege
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Seriously Fun New Jewelry from Mark Poulin


Mark Poulin's new line of jewelry is arriving in the shop this week, and we can't wait to get the goods! Mark is an Oakland jewelry designer and one of our all-time favorite people on the planet. In addition to being really talented, he's an inspirational character with an amazing attitude and a super giving personality.

We love that his jewelry appeals to us as grown women, as well has our inner child. He has a beautifully designed, modern line that is perfect for when you want to feel like a sophisticated adult, and fun cartoonish jewelry for when you want to be a kid. And of course, everything he makes is well designed.

Here's a Q&A with Mark so you can get to know him better.

Your pieces are so fun and playful. Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by offbeat design, cartoon trends, and pop culture. I interpret each of them in my own twisted way. I have modern taste with a touch of rustic and a dash of fun. I love fashion, and I'm always on the lookout for a unique outfit accessorized with items that don't have a department store look to give me inspiration for my jewelry designs. 

How and where are they made?
My workshop in West Oakland is my maker center. It's a cozy little place with lots of tools and materials. We are set up with kilns for glass and a furnace for enameling. It's a great place to work and I love being here. Most pieces start with a sketch, get carved into a wax, then cast into metal that is cleaned up for mold making. Once I have the parts cast in sterling I can start the enameling process. Each piece has many trips into the furnace fusing the enamel onto the metal. For the final firing I use custom screen prints made from my drawings.


What are you currently selling at Marion and Rose?
 You have a new line, too?
I sell lots of my Oakland and San Francisco pins from my kids line. I guess you are never too old to feel the local love. I also have some fun sloth and animal charm necklaces. There is a nice selection of my modern color blocking enamel line too. Later this week, I'm dropping off my newest line of reversible enamel geometric necklaces. This new work has lots of subtle color and is very wearable and actually inspired by Kerri's (M and R owner) love for "mountains and triangles." The line is getting a great response. I'm excited for Marion and Rose to carry it.

Nicole Grant Kriege
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New Art Up at the Shop! Thanks to Kala Art Institute

We're really excited to have Andrea Voinot from Kala Art Institute curating a selection of works here on the walls of our shop for the month of July! In case you're not familiar with Kala, they find talented artists who work in all different mediums, help them to develop their skills through residency and fellowship programs in their amazing studios, and exhibit their work to appreciative audiences. They also hold a bunch of inspired art classes for locals. Here's a Q&A with Andrea to give you more of a sense of what they're up to.


What's hanging on the walls at Marion and Rose right now, and how does it represent Kala's work?

An eclectic mix of works by Kala artists Amanda Knowles, Kathryn Clark, Nora Pauwels, Emily Payne, Lisa Solomon, and Seiko Tachibana. (It wasn't intentional, but I just realized they're all women!) These artists work in a variety of media including traditional and digital printmaking, mixed media, drawing, and embroidery. 

What's the Kala Art Institute all about?

So glad you asked! Kala has been around for almost 40 years, and it was started by two printmakers – Archana Horsting and Yuzo Nakano – as a place for artists to come and work in a supportive and encouraging environment. We're located in the old Heinz Ketchup Factory on the corner of San Pablo and Ashby in Berkeley. Our artists have 24 hour access to the building, and are given total freedom to do whatever they want with our collection of arts equipment.

Downstairs we have a wonderful gallery with rotating exhibitions. Enrique Chagoya's show "Freedom of Expression" just ended, and next up is a show featuring works by our current Fellowship artists. We also offer classes to the general public, and educational programs for school children. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's always something interesting going on at Kala – lectures, kids camps, calls for entries, etc.



What are your artists-in-residence working on right now?

So many different things…  One of our fellowship artists, Clint Wilson from Canada, just built a kayak in our classroom! It's part of a three year project called Finding Morris, and you can read more about Clint in this interview in SFAQ. Once he got the boat all put together, he screened William Morris' "Strawberry Thieves" pattern on the top and inscribed excerpts from John Ruskin's writings from the 19th century on the hull. To top it off, he attached his watercolor easel to the front so that he can paint while at sea.

At the beginning of July, another of our fellowship artists, Margaret Leininger, led a free Indigo Dye Potluck. And there's always great work being done in the studios where we have equipment for both traditional and new print processes including intaglio, monotype, woodblock, lithography, screen printing, letterpress, black and white photography, digital photography, design. large format printing, and digital video editing.  


How can locals get involved with Kala?

The best way to hear what we're up to is to get on our mailing list, which you can sign up for on our website: We're constantly posting information about new classes, lectures, exhibitions, residencies, and family art days.

Nicole Grant Kriege
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Q&A with Local Jeweler and Metalsmith Sharon Zimmerman

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 ReneeLemonade Handmade, and Corey Egan… Lord, I need to cut myself off. 

* * *

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.  




Nicole Grant Kriege
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