Monthly Archives: September 2012

Banana Republic Catalogues

There was a time when you could shop Banana Republic through a catalogue filled with romantic hand-illustrated drawings and flourishing annotations. When walking into a Banana Republic store was like walking onto the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with Bush jackets, Ghurka shorts and a stipple mural of an African safari. A time when adventure and fashion went hand in hand.

1987 Banana Republic Catalog

Banana Republic Gift Work Book, 1987


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Wharton Esherick

A staircase in Wharton Esherick's Pennsylvania home.

Inside Wharton Esherick’s home in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy American Craft Council)

Wharton Esherick’s (1887-1970) famous 1931 Fischer Corner desk is no ordinary workstation. It has the undulations of a Futurist artwork, with wood panels ebbing and flowing wildly like Umberto Boccioni’s famous sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. Yet, it also has the hard angles and varied perspectives of Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque cubism.


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Oyster Roasting

Oyster roast fire pit. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

An oyster roast over an open fire – and sky. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

Autumn is the height of oyster season in New England and the South, when bonfires and the return of football unite with the salty, sweet victory of prying open a Wellfleet, New Haven or Lowcountry oyster and passing around a hot toddy or jar of bourbon and ginger.


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Shorpy Vintage Photo Archive

November 1942. Columbia Steel at Geneva, Utah. Floodlight servicing on a new steel plantation for the war effort.

“A photograph can be kind,” Einstein said. It never changes, even as the people in it grow old and their stories change completely. You can look back on a photo of your mother or father, or the old town where you grew up, and see things as you remember them.



The Letter Writers Alliance

We love people who make it their business to keep life’s simple pleasures alive.

Letter Writers Alliance

The Letter Writers Alliance is one group of stalwarts like us who won’t stand to watch the art of letter writing die out.  Founders Kathy and Donovan first got together in 2006 as 16 sparrows, and became the designers, makers and distributors of handmade paper products. But not just any paper products. Specifically, the kind that cater to sarcastic people with a smart-ass sense of humor who also happen to like pretty things.


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‘Made By Hand’ Video Series

Our friend Keith Ehrlich just put out a new film in his six-minute documentary series about craftsmen, called Made by Hand (@madebyhand).

The fourth documentary features Martinez Cigar Shop in New York City, filmed right in the shop in Chelsea. Keith has already made four other documentaries for the series about a gin distiller, a knife maker, a beekeeper and a bike maker, and there are two more films in the works.

When I talked to Keith about how Made by Hand started, he said some of his inspiration came from his own desire for connection.  He was questioning why more people didn’t live a life where they had a little less stuff that they could actually have a relationship with.

The motif comes through in his films. Some of his subjects became craftsmen after feeling dissatisfied with other jobs.  They wanted a new organic connection to their work.  “It’s not just a maker thing,” Keith said. “There’s a ton of that energy going on these days – the desire to make something, to own your own quality, success and failure.”

We want to continue sharing more news about people and friends like Keith who we find inspiring, and you can send your suggestions over to us at

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