Custom Holiday Cards

It's hard to believe how quickly Christmas is coming...I hate to rush it, Thanksgiving pies not even in the oven yet, but I'm already starting to feel the pressure of everything that needs to get done in December. 

I did get a jump start on my holiday greeting cards this year! A little line drawing of my barn. And, I'm taking orders for custom cards! If you want your farm (or home, or studio, or cat, or anything) on the front instead of mine, drop me a note! I think it's a nice personal, but subtle, take on holiday correspondence. 

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37 days until Christmas...? Place your orders soon!

Logo Design: Stephanie Boyd Works

When Stephanie Boyd led me down the stairs to her pottery studio in Williamstown, I was blown away by the depth and breadth of her work, and the evidence of an intense practice. Finished mugs lined shelves, several works in progress awaited colorful patterns and a final glaze, and new ideas were sketched out not far from her throwing wheel. Stephanie was particularly excited about a new process she was trying out involving monoprinting right onto her clay, creating funky patterns and interesting textures.

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I get so excited to see other artists' workspaces, getting a window into their unique creative process. There was a lot going on this one; Stephanie has played with an impressive variety of styles and methods since she devoted herself to pottery full time four years ago, creating an exciting body of work under the business Stephanie Boyd Works. She was feeling like it was time to start bringing it all together under a recognizable brand though, so we started on a logo!

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We wanted something clean and versatile that would speak well to her wide breadth of work, from timeless tablewares to bold statement pieces, as well as whatever new direction she may take next. It was important to keep things fun, too, because Stephanie's work is super fun. Did you see that monster plate?! 

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The final logo makes use of one of my hand drawn potted plants, with a little Matisse flair that Stephanie has been infusing into her own work lately too. Each element of this one is brush stroke heavy, reflecting Stephanie's artistic approach to each piece and the confidence and freedom she does so with.

Here's a few alternates that I will not soon forget. Pottery is so relaxing to doodle, bringing me back to freshman year drawing class where hours were spent with in front of colossal still life sets with dusty charcoal in hand.

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The empowered mug hand was meant to speak to some of her more socially and politically focused work. Stephanie is organizing an impressive collaborative art project called Vessels for Change, in which local potters and artists are joining forces to create and sell mugs to benefit the Berkshire Immigrant Center. They've already sold out on the mugs, but you can still make a donation!

This was such a fun project to work on; developing brands for artists is particularly important work to me and I'm happy with the direction this logo took. Thanks Stephanie!

All images courtesy of Stephanie Boyd Works

Finger Lakes Road Trip

The Finger Lakes are a place I lament to admit I didn’t fully appreciate when I was in school out there; I feel like I was always counting the days until I was back in Massachusetts. Now I miss the rolling wine country terribly, and always look forward to my annual pilgrimage back to Western New York. And this year Jake came with me!

Our first stop was the little town of Skaneateles, which sits perched on its clear, crystal blue lake. It was lunchtime so we stopped into Skaneateles Bakery, where we split a turkey sandwich on homemade bread and an almond cookie (in anticipation of a huge dinner). We poked around the village, stopping in an antique shop or two and then got back on our way towards Geneva. 

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Geneva is striking when you first drive along Route 14 and see Seneca Lake in all its glory; especially this time of year as the leaves turn. Colorful row houses lead the way to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where I spent my collegiate days. I pointed out the places I used to live to Jake, and took him down to the boathouse where the lake was still as I’d ever seen it. 

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We met Western New York friends Katie and Aaron at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Ports Cafe, and indulged in an autumnal feast. You always start with a baked brie at Ports, which was garnished with cherries and walnuts on this particular evening, and then I enjoyed a perfect piece of halibut with butternut squash risotto. We were too full leaving the restaurant, especially after the chocolate banana tort finale, but went on to our favorite wine bar, Microclimate, anyhow.

I’m not a wine drinker anymore, but I was so happy to be back in that cozy, rustic little bar on Linden Street. I helped Jake (sort of) with his flight of Finger Lake reds, and we laughed late into the evening.

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The next morning the four of us had a very trendy brunch at the new H.J. Stead Company, also on Linden, which served an impressive cast iron tostada. We took one last stroll around campus and said goodbye to Katie and Aaron, and were ready to head South along the lake to Watkins Glen, and then on to Ithaca. 

I visited Watkins Glen once previously as part of a geology class, and it was even better than I remember. The carved passageways and cool, wet air as you descend into the gorge seem so exotic, and waterfall after waterfall complemented by stone bridges, mossy sediment, and cavernous twists and turns makes you question if you’re even in New York anymore. 

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Jake took a quick shower in the glittering Rainbow Falls.

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The only drawback to Watkins Glen is that it's a major tourist attraction and packed with tour buses; and we were there during peak traffic on Saturday afternoon. Much better to go during an off-time in the middle of the week. 

We headed a little further South and arrived in Ithaca. It’s really such a unique place; you may have heard, it’s gorges. We stayed in the lovely Hotel Ithaca which was recently redone, scoring a fabulous corner room with a fall panorama of the city below, Cayuga Lake looming in the background. We met up with my brother, Drew, who goes to Ithaca College. He had a whole list of “secret spots” for us to visit.

First, he took us to a sunset spot just behind a bunch of creepy Cornell frats, reeking of circumstance, pomp, and cheap beer. We climbed down a wall of shale and passed through a spooky tunnel that must just be a hub of debauchery after dark. I was grateful that I couldn’t see the ground I was walking on. 

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But we emerged within a gorge at the crest of a towering waterfall overlooking the luminous sunset, a second waterfall just behind us. It was a perfect introduction to Ithaca. 

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More waterfalls were abound Sunday punctuated by a rugby game in which Ithaca College was victorious partly thanks to a try (score) by Drew. First we went to Six Mile Creek per Drew’s recommendation, which is made up of two major dams set amidst an old abandoned watermill; It’s a little chilling. There are plenty of cliff jumping opportunities into the emerald water, and we watched some college kids plunge into a deep spot just below the mill. 

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Drew’s third recommendation was our favorite, and probably one of the most impressive waterfalls I’ve ever been to. Lucifer Falls is deep within Robert H. Treman State Park; we had a little trouble finding the trail but I think our own lack of research was to blame. Once we were headed in the right direction, we were in disbelief of this gorge and the lead up to the falls; it truly felt like you were walking along the paths of some ancient civilization, forgotten by time and reclaimed by nature. 

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The falls themselves were incredible, and light enough this time of year that we could take off our shoes and wade right up to the base, letting the cool mist hit our faces. The climb back up the rim trail was a serious glute workout; LOTS of stairs, but worth it for the view.

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Monday morning was rainy and grey, good weather for heading home. But not without a stop at Collegetown Bagels, where we had our favorite meal:

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We took the road-less-traveled back East through the Catskills, making quick stops in Phoenicia (had to check out the Mystery Spot, and that diner with the killer branding), Kingston, and then familiar Great Barrington once we’d crossed the state line. 

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The Finger Lakes are perhaps New York’s best kept secret, and I can’t wait for the next journey west.

Fall Playlist

I can't believe how short the days are getting; it's proving deadly to my evening productivity. And chilly! I woke up to the first frost of the season and it was tough to leave my warm bed + cat. A good playlist helps, though.

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So much good new music this fall! I'm loving the tracks Slaughter Beach, Dog is putting out especially. A few halloween themed items sprinkled in there too. Enjoy!

Logo Design: Kelly & Co.

We are so lucky to have a robust community of makers and creatives in Western Massachusetts that is growing every day. A few months back, I came across one such local maker Kelly & Co. on Instagram, and fell in love with the handmade clothing and home goods like this linen pinafore apron. I was so excited when Erin reached out, interested in revamping her logo and further developing some branding. 

Simplicity, durability, and beauty are crafted into every one of the small-batch goods available in Erin's shop, and she wanted the logo to exude those ideals in a single mark. 

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The flax flower is a significant symbol for Kelly & Co., and Erin was keen on incorporating it from the beginning. Erin crafts most of her wearable goods from natural linen, which is woven from the fibers of the flax plant. The final logo utilizes a silhouette I drew in effort to complement the calssic serif font. 

I played around with a lot of other flax symbols leading up to this though, and even a little doodle of the everyday dress. Here are some interesting alternates that came about in process:

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The entire project of crafting a clean, elegant logo that spoke to Kelly & Co.'s goods for good living mantra was so much fun; it's always most satisfying to design for a brand you already believe in and admire. 

All photos via Kelly & Co.

Summer in 35mm

I did a lot of film photography this summer, hardly touching my DSLR once. In the age of iPhone auto focus and Instagram filters I admit film has become more of a pain in the neck, but man is it worth it when you pick up an envelope of freshly developed color prints and go through images you forgot you had even taken weeks before. The hues, grain, glow and imperfections (slight, hopefully) are something you simply can't reach with digital cameras, and it (almost) always feels well worth the extra effort and patience.

Here's a few of my favorite 35 mm shots I took on my Nikon this summer:

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(the roll from the Vermont Road Trip was extremely tragic, full of split frames, light leaks, and scratches. I like this "dyptic" though.)

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This week, the first roll of 120 film taken with my Brimfield TLR will be ready! Fingers crossed.

Vermont Road Trip

It was time to escape August humidity in the Valley and head North up 91, crossing the state border to Vermont. A summer road trip through the Green Mountains was something Jake and I had been planning since early spring, swimming holes and cool, green forest trails on our minds.

Our first stop on a journey through downpours up 91 was Quechee, to visit the famous Simon Pearce store. The 19th-century mill it operates out of is perched on a cascading waterfall, nestled into the quiet village. Watching the artisans blow glass was a mesmerizing process, especially in the cavernous, molten heat of the glowing ovens on such a dreary morning. It made me sleepy. 

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Next, we made a quick stop in Woodstock, which was a busy and charming town with lots of shops and cafes. We had lunch at Mon Vert Cafe, stacked summer sandwiches on golden baguettes.

Two highly anticipated waterfall destinations befell us along Route 100. The first was Moss Brook Falls, which offered both fanned and plunged falls right off the road. 

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The second was Warren Falls, a local favorite. We were stunned as we emerged from the pines and came upon this woodland oasis, ogling at daredevils jumping from high cliffs, flipping into the deep aqua pools fed by tiered cascades. Jake immediately ran back to the car to change into his bathing suit, but I was content to take photos being the mediocre swimmer that I am.

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The coolest part of this natural waterpark was probably this rock slip-n-slide. Perfectly sculpted for butts by water and time, it chutes you straight into one of the swimming holes.

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Our final destination Saturday night was Montpelier, where we found our quaint accommodations complete with a cookie jar and a black and white cat at the Inn at Montpelier. We strolled around the state’s capital and enjoyed a riverside dinner at Sarducci’s

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The next morning was my favorite breakfast stop of the trip at Down Home Kitchen. This place brings authentic Southern cooking way up North, in a community-minded setting with big, family style tables. My breakfast sandwich was served up on *the best biscuit I have ever had* - it was buttery and soft and crumbly in all the right places. And it’s a good thing I had a hearty breakfast because Sunday presented my biggest challenge - hiking Camel’s Hump.

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Vermont’s third-highest peak loomed in the distance as we drove up 89, the only crest touching the clouds. We parked at the base of the Monroe Trail, laced up our hiking shoes, and began the ascent. It was challenging but a breathtaking path through thick foliage, mountain streams, and geological wonders. My legs ached a few hours in and I felt the temperature dropping, but Jake kept me laughing the whole time.

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I won’t lie - the top was a little scary. The sudden exposure to whipping winds and vertical slate shocked me a bit, and the open views were dizzying. It took some encouragement but I made it up and over the hump, taking in the sublimity of it all through clenched teeth.

Jake had a Snickers bar stashed away for me when we made it back down, five hours later. Chocolate never tasted so good and I felt pretty accomplished.

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A highly anticipated post-hike evening in Burlington was next, and began with the most gorgeous pizzas at Pizzeria Verita. The zucchini, ricotta, and flower pie was almost too pretty to eat, but ended up being just as delicious. We finished up with some well-earned Ben & Jerry’s.

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We spent the night at Hotel Vermont, one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s rustic and classy and hip, with personal touches like handmade Vermont soaps and a Tivoli radio by the bed. Breakfast in bed the next morning was the highlight - blueberry pancakes.

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Barge Canal Market was our last Burlington stop on the way out, a vintage spot we’d been Instagram-obsessed with since we found them at Brimfield. They had an awesome space, filled with mid-century modern furniture and decor.

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Heading South down Route 7, we paused along the river for perhaps my favorite meal of the trip: peanut butter sandwiches.

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Seeing this sign along Route 125, we hung a quick left. We couldn’t pass up a place with a name like Texas Falls.

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And thank goodness we didn’t! This place looked like it was straight out of Middle Earth, with emerald waters and winding pathways, smooth white rocks and mossy trees. It was a perfect last taste of paradise.

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Who needs skis? Vermont in the summer is a wooded haven. I only wish we could have stayed a few more days.

Cucumber Days

It's mid-July and I'm elbow deep in cucumbers; they're filling the drawers in my fridge and many more continue to sprout off the vine everyday. They never stop - but they're so good. 

Picklers are the favorite around here, but I've never actually pickled. Anyone want to teach me?

Simple, delicious cucumber salad: cukes + feta + mint + dill + salt + lemon juice + olive oil. Although I'm thinking of trying something more advanced

The cuke abundance is welcomed as deep summer humidity is bearing down upon us; lately I don't want to eat anything but cold cucumbers anyhow. Keep them coming, and getting anxious for ripe tomatoes to join them soon!

 

Brimfield in July

I am a Brimfield junky. Three times a year, I make the pilgrimage eastward down Route 20 in search of treasure among the fields strewn with tents and tables. It's like being transported to a Turkish bazaar full of exotic trinkets and wares, where cash is king and you'd better be able to barter, trade, and haggle. How lucky are we to have the world's largest antique fair in our own backyard?

July's spread was nothing short of stunning, despite grumbles from dealers and buyers alike around the monsoonish weather earlier in the week. We lucked out Saturday morning, with nothing but overcast skies keeping the heat and humidity at bay until noon - probably my first July Brimfield that required a sweatshirt. 

I was on the hunt for TLR film cameras, and saw plenty of oddities and glimpses of beauty in between:

Oriental rugs. My weakness. Although Brimfield prices intimidate me - I've never purchased one in the fields, although there are many.

No shortage of natural curiosities.

A handsome canoe Jake was drooling over. 

Antique maps had me drooling.

The most colorful vintage banner display I'd ever seen!

The Mahogany Ridge Fashion Tent is the absolute jackpot for vintage clothing. I tried on a fringed denim jacket and completely regret walking away. 

Most importantly, I tracked down a few TLRs that were in good shape, and bought not one, but three! Actually, the little Argus guy was thrown in for a deal on the Ikoflex Favorit. I'm looking forward to playing with them on a few trips planned for August. For now, I'm absorbing the instruction manuals and 120mm film is in the mail. In the meantime, it's more than enough fun to just take iPhone photos of the viewfinder. 

Looking forward to the September show! P.S., if you're Brim curious, pick up this awesome book that I'm reading now and learning a lot about what goes on behind the scenes. 

Logo Design: The Rooster Film Festival

The Rooster Film Festival is a new initiative in Newtown, CT organized by local film enthusiasits in celebration of independent cinema, local creativity, and community fun. They were in need of a little branding to get their name out there and spark some excitement around the event, and asked me to create a logo that puts the town's mascot behind the lens:

I'm glad they went with this option, but was a bit partial to a certain "chicken butt" concept I created as an afterthought. Here are some alternate options: 

The Rooster Film Festival will be held October 20 at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown. Until then, they are looking for submissions! Click here for more info. Wishing The Rooster Film Festival the best of luck as they set the stage for what is sure to become a local favorite for years to come.