Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ode to Heather Moore

I'm not sure how I first discovered Heather Moore, the fabulous illustrator and designer of Skinny LaMinx, perhaps I found her in a magazine or a blog. Regardless of how I found her, I'm so glad I did because I just love her work. So much that I imported her products from South Africa- quite a distance, since I'm based on the East coast of the United States. It was so worth it, her items have been among my best sellers as they are unique and just beautifully made.

Heather lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She studied English and Drama and "fell" into illustration when asked to produce the illustrations for a book. When creating her designs, she uses a lot of "cut-out" shapes in her work, "enjoying the clean edges and slightly wonky end result." She turns her designs and "paper-cuts" into a screenprint with the help of a computer and then has them printed in waterbased inks by a small screenprinter down the street from her studio. Her designs are printed on locally produced 100% cotton hopsack. Her influences are from Scandinavian and Japanese designs from the 50s and 60s. She also loves Irish designer Orla Kiely and New York designer Jonathan Adler.

I love the clean lines and wit found her designs and the colors are just perfect. Her aesthetic fits in a old home (sitting perfectly next to beautifully worn antique wood furniture) and in a clean, modern home. The red "Eep" tea towel just pops a black and white kitchen with stainless steel. I love finding beauty in the mundane. I do dishes about a dozen times a day (at least it seems to be that much) and I love using her tea / dish towels- it just makes me happy. I also love that her tea towels and aprons have stories behind them. She used a collection of her own and "borrowed" spoons as a design- for her "Borrowed Spoons" tea towels and apron- see the photo above. Also check out the photo of her vintage mugs- they served as the inspiration for her "Mugs" tea towel. I love this towel and her mug collection is just fantastic! Her tea towels wash beautifully and just get better with time.

In her words after having just read Alain de Bottons, The Architecture of Happiness, "beautiful aesthetics help us to connect with those things about ourselves that we value and aspire to, and can remind us that human beings are filled with great potential to imagine and create amazing things. Well-chosen colors and surfaces and well-crafted things of quality can remind us of our best selves: individually, culturally and as a species. So a tea towel can do lots more than just dry the dishes!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How to say "I love you"

We are thrilled to be selling Paloma's Nest, a design company started by Caroline Colom Vasquez. Caroline was inspired by her mother who was an art historian and museum educator. She has been involved in art and crafting for as long as she can remember. Her mother always kept her enrolled in art classes, brought her to museums around the world and allowed her to turn her bedroom into a studio at the age of 12!

While growing up in historic Mystic, CT, she was taught the importance of appreciating things that were made to last and to treasure items that held their own history and have special meaning. It is from these ideas, she developed a passion for creating special gifts and created Paloma's Nest as a way to create what she calls "Modern Heirlooms" tm.

Caroline is known for her small bowls that are made out of white ceramic and then hand-stamped with phrases such as: "I love you", "I miss you" or "Cherish". All of the ceramic bowls in the collection are completely formed by hand with a technique that she has developed over the years. She does not use a wheel and her alphabet stamps are a vintage collection that her mother gave her many years ago. All of the text work is stamped one tiny letter at a time. This requires much patience and concentration - it connects her to every piece and makes the process quite meditative.

Her wood designs, such as the inspiration block is made out of recycled and reclaimed wood and then hand-cut making each piece different than the last.

She is inspired by symbolism in Early Latino, European, and Mexican art. We love the simple heart symbol called a "milagro" which means miracle in Spanish and found on the "Cherish" bowl and the "Love" bowl.

All of her items are unique and special. They make lovely gifts for Valentine's Day or as a thank you, Mother's Day or get well gift. The collection is well-priced also, ranging from $15-$54.00-perfect.

Each piece is handcrafted in her studio (see picture above) in Austin, Texas that is also powered by wind-energy! We love that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Saving Ourselves

Delphine Polar Bear / Penguin journal, Roost water bottle, Ige Design metallic pink pig canvas bag and Smock Paper bamboo cards

We are pleased to say that we sent our first check to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) in January. We plan to send many more. Why do we like the NRDC? Well, they are the "nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.2 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals." They are a powerhouse for the fight to "green" (I think it's considered a verb now) this country and this world. Their priorities are:
  • Curbing Global Warming
  • Moving America Beyond Oil
  • Saving Wildlands Across the Americas
  • Reviving Our Oceans
  • Stemming the Tide of Toxic Chemicals
  • Accelerating the Greening of China
Check out: http://www.nrdc.org/about/. There is plenty to read and learn and a good quick video narrated by Robert Redford.

We do our best at Orange and Pear to be "green" but we still have a lot of work to do. Our electricity comes from a wind farm (and is therefore free of carbon output). This is actually very easy to do. Check out:
http://www.coolthinking.org/little_money.html- my husband Tom started this site in 2007 (it has since been out on hold to focus on Orange and Pear but it has a lot of great information). This will help you understand how you to can ensure that your electricity comes from a wind farm. Our boxes, wrapping paper and packaging filler are all recycled. We select vendors with current "green" practices and many of our products are made in the USA (which saves on fuel used to ship).

There are so many terrific books and movies now about the environmental challenges that we are facing and some are listed here: http://www.coolthinking.org/reading.html.
The movie that made the largest impression on me is Leonardo DiCaprio's 11th Hour. I highly recommend you see it. The most powerful quotation to me was that of Kenny Ausubel, founder of Bioneers, who says "at the end of the day, when we all talk about saving the environment, in a way it's misstated because the environment is going to survive, we're the ones who may not survive or we may survive in a world that we don't particularly want to live in." Here's a clip (but definitely see the whole movie):

Without our basic resources- clean air, water and uncontaminated food- we won't survive. David Orr of the Environmental Studies Center at Oberlin College, says "as we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves."

Just a few things to think about.

On a lighter note, we offer some fun gifts for those who want to help "save ourselves" and still look good. See the photos above. The journal from Delphine is gorgeous reminder of some of the animals whose habitats are threatened by climate change. The water bottle and glass is a great way to curb that addiction to using plastic water bottles in your office and it looks better. The canvas bag is just one way you can leave CVS without a plastic bag and look chic (with a sense of humor). See also one of our favorite websites about plastic bag facts:


The "cheers" card is a wonderful line of stationery that is letterpress and made out of bamboo which is sustainable and renewable resource.

Enjoy! Thanks for reading.