These latest soap dishes are currently on sale at Northern Grade, a wonderful store in New York City that carries all American-made goods, including my tea towels and pillows. I find that soap dishes make great gifts so I’ll be making another batch to include in my shop, so check back soon.
January 10, 2017
September 29, 2016
The online Doonyaya shop is (quietly) re-opening October 9th. It will feature pillows, pillows and more pillows. Actually, only a few pillows at first, with the mother-load coming in the next few weeks.
I’ve decided to focus on pillows because we all love pillows. And here’s why: pillows are the easiest way to add style to a room – and make you want to lie down even more, which I think is really important in our work ’til you drop culture. So make where you drop a soft and stylish landing.
Speaking of soft, most of my research has gone into making the pillows both comfortable and fabulous looking at the same time – a challenge of epic proportions. For example, I was having trouble with the white ink because there’s an additive that makes it more opaque, but it also makes it feel like rubber. One customer had to return their pillows because they didn’t want rubbery pillows. Go figure. I mean, I’m always on the lookout for pillows that feel like tires.
I also wanted the insert to be squishy – but not too squishy. Kind of like down but without the poky, crunchy feeling of real feathers (which also make me sad for geese and I don’t like feeling sad for geese when I lean against a pillow). And after months of pillow trials, I finally found it – the perfect insert. Everyone who picks up a pillow comments on how good the weight and squish feels. Plus I can say, “no geese were harmed in the making of my pillows.”
Another improvement has been the sizing of the pillows to make them a little tighter on the insert. Linen softens with age which can make the pillows look a bit saggy with time (like us all). So I solved this problem by having them sewn slightly smaller than the insert. Like botox for pillows.
Also, my special, top of the line pillows now include the softest fabric of all…drum roll…velvet. I love velvet on its own, but combined with linen it’s like the rolls royce of pillows. They elevate the most neglected, depressing couches to high profile, red carpet status. In short, it’s the easiest way to pretty up the junkyard.
So check out the new offerings and consider updating your digs with some fabulous pillows.
October 25, 2015
It’s happening folks – I’m launching my online store! On Monday. As in the Monday that’s tomorrow. The opening coincides with a Remodelista feature about my home, my studio, my handmade housewares, which is really exciting, and also kind of scary. Truthfully, I’m completely freaking out. In a good way. And a bad way. Good because it’s forced me to get off my arse and take myself seriously enough to open a store. Bad because I don’t know how to do any of this – except design and screen print and play with clay. None of which has to do with starting and running a business.
And as with any deadline, it seems that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Let’s review: the studio lights for photographing my items decided to only work when they feel like working – which apparently was for three photos; my one employee decided to leave College and go home; my ink supplier is indefinitely out of black ink; I accidentally deleted an entire day of product shots; the emulsion on my screens is washing off in patches; the community studio where I screen print is booked through October so I’m printing at home and washing my screens with my garden hose, which has led to another list of problems too lengthy to list here (except the time when I almost broke my ankle falling into a hole near the hose because I was printing at night and rinsing the screens in the dark and couldn’t see where I was walking); the first batch of pillows had to be re-sewn a size smaller because the corners were too round; the thread I sourced for the napkin edging was the wrong color; the heat-resistent material for the pot-holders is crinkly and I don’t like it so there will be no pot-holders for sale; my conveyer dryer for setting the ink started overheating and smoking; I had a lingering sinus infection which made it close to impossible to breathe; and I’ve only had time to make one, single Cat Owl…and here it is.
Suffice it to say that the learning curve has been big. Mostly this month has felt like climbing Mt. Everest after spending the majority of my life strolling around the neighborhood sipping lattes and talking about climbing Mt. Everest.
But amazingly, I’ve had every new challenge/obstacle/problem matched with an equally competent expert/friend/enthusiastic stranger give me the help/expertise/enthusiastic thumbs up just in time. In fact, I get weepy and sentimental about the amount of support, encouragement, practical advice and words of wisdom that has come my way these past few weeks. Like, “there will be bumps and setbacks along the way, but it will build character and make you stronger” or “what you are doing is brave” or “take care of your health first” or “expect the best but prepare for the worst” or “get a POS system” or “it’s gonna to be great” or “you are your own worst critic” or “you will be fine” or “no worries” or the best of all: “yes, I can help you with that.”
So here’s my big THANK YOU to everyone that has helped me – you know who you are. Now let’s open this store and sell a Cat Owl.
October 12, 2015
OK, I want to show off my ultra-cool-retro-circa-60s-made-modern-office. Because a lot of risks were taken in this room which ultimately paid off, because this is one flashy room, right? But as with all risks, sometimes they lead to miserable failures. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a risk I guess. I’ve also been talking about the importance of risk-taking with my business-number-cruncher/friend Nick. You wouldn’t think a numbers guy would be into risk-taking, but we both agree that life is sad, boring and stale without taking some scary and thrilling leaps. Or even worse, that life without risks can come to a complete standstill. And that’s not a good way to live.
But let’s be real, I’m not talking about life-altering risks like cashing in your life-savings for a thrilling and most likely the-worst-idea-of-your-life kind of weekend at Vegas. I’m talking about whether to paint a room white or ooooh, let’s get crazy here and go with dark blue–kind of risk.
So let’s talk about these risky dark blue walls in my white-walled house. Shocking, right? The idea was to match the background color of the wallpaper I made on the back wall–the one with the brambly white branches. The wallpaper came into existence after a brainstorming session with Kathryn (my co-designer/architect/friend) about themes that were emerging in the house, and one of them seemed to be trees. That prompted me to take a photo of the branches outside the office window and obsessively mess with it in photoshop. Once I was fairly satisfied with the image (or taken to the edge of my sanity by lining up tiny branches to make a seamless repeat) I called it done and got the design printed onto wallpaper at Spoonflower. I’m pretty happy with how it came out but I think it would be better if the branches were more random looking so you couldn’t see the repeat at all. Still, I think it was a smart move to prioritize my sanity.Moving on, for the shelf insert I wanted to have a collection of vintage cameras. Because I like vintage cameras. No risk taken there.
Then I decided to screen print these long retro pillows. I tried to line up the pattern to be continuous when the pillows are put together, but again I fell short because, obviously, the pattern is not continuous. Don’t get me wrong, I still like these pillows. A lot. In fact, I like them so much that I’m reproducing and selling them as part of my first “product line.” Yep, that’s right, after four years of planning my launch it’s actually happening–in two short weeks.
Anyhow, back to my flashy office…Finding a desk was a major challenge. Mostly because desks are big, imposing pieces of furniture that change the style of a room instantly. So I wanted something with understated personality. Like a party guest that’s polite and kind of quiet, speaking only when moved to add something intelligent and thoughtful to the conversation. Kind of like Scandinavian design: intelligent, practical, individual without a big ego. Plus mid-century and retro. Which equalled Alvar Aalto, the creative force behind bentwood furniture, like the stools at the Apple’s “genius bar” that he designed back in 1935. Anyhow, one night of obsessive eBay searches I found it: this Aalto desk with cool lucite nobs and signature bentwood legs. Score.
The cool orange swing light is from Brooklyn-based company onefortythree, who manufactures each light by hand. The trash “can” is a wire egg basket I painted black.
For the vintage typewriter I again searched obsessively on eBay and found this awesome, working Underwood. The penholder is one of my pottery experiments and the stapler is from Schoolhouse Electric, which has great modern-with-a-retro-feel plus a selection of handmade things (hint hint to any product scouts from Schoolhouse Electric who just might be looking for hand screen-printed pillows, table linens, Cat Owls…)
On the other side of the room I have my bookshelf with the screen printed postcard I made from a vintage Reader’s Digest book cover. The quote “There’s Puddles on Every Trail” reminds me that taking a risk is actually not even a risk, because whichever direction I choose there will always be obstacles and challenges. So I guess that actually means that whatever choice I make will lead to problems…so maybe I shouldn’t do anything at all…or even leave the house cause it’s just going be bad…I guess I should stay inside and do nothing…why risk it?
Wow, my brain hurts. I’m choosing to ignore that line of thinking and go with this: when I try–and sometimes fail–at something new, even if it doesn’t work out the first time I’ve still gotten one step closer to a new possibility. And one step further from living a stale, sad, stagnant life.
And that alone is probably worth the risk.