Super Cute

Into The Woods charm bangles $38 each

I just can’t help myself. I love super cute furry or feathered creatures the way some might love a fat baby. I’m currently obsessed with the Sweet Million ad campaign, with it’s sleeping piglets quivering on miniature bunk beds and piles of snoozing kittens dressed in onesies for a long winter’s nap. I grew up in the mythical 70’s pop culture, when graphic representations of wise owls and spotted toadstools were plastered on much of the decorative ware found in my friend’s homes. I carefully stitched embroidered butterfly appliqués to every piece of denim my closet and painted tiny canvases of lush fields sprouting a first grader’s interpretation of those ubiquitous mushrooms and butterflies with my beginner’s set of acrylic paints. As an adult, I have scoured thrift shops, flea markets and even my mother’s cupboard for reminders of that idyllic time, scoring kitschy vintage Arabia Finland pieces, for my collection of pure unadulterated nostalgia.

Into The Woods charm pendant $68

I’m a fairly serious jewelry designer, not generally given to fits of whimsy or pretentious post-modern irony, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for 70’s retro cute. Come autumn in New York City, my creativity is jet fueled by woodland fantasies conducted in brisk weather, as the thermometer tops 70 degrees. Inspired by the changing autumn leaf outside my window and the comforting knowledge that screech owls do indeed nest in the Forest of Central Park, I am overcome by my outdoorsy leanings, shuttering myself from the warm Indian Summer sun in my apartment studio niche, dreaming up cute designs for my little cast of woodland characters.

Woodsy Owl charm earrings $38

Cynthia Rybakoff oxidized sterling silver Into The Woods charm collection $28 to $68, on Supermarket.


Art Of Nature

“Numbskull” Cyanotype and Van Dyke prints by Matt Shapoff

Our home is a museum of not necessarily rare and precious objects. Just stuff we’ve stumbled upon and really liked for one reason or another. We’re not talking exotic wood carvings or colorful woven baskets from far away places, although I once dragged home from Stockholm a suitcase full of mid century modern Swedish ceramics and glassware. We collect things: a pair of vintage Boy Scout bookends, an incomplete set of worn wood type, a polychrome bird’s nest made of tangled sewing thread, a vintage microphone and whatnot.

Cyanotype fragment from Kunstformen der Natur, by Matt Shapoff

Natural wonders play an important role in our curatorial efforts and in Matt’s art. Each oddly shaped piece of driftwood, slice of agate or spiral seashell is examined for it’s unique potential to join our little cabinet of curiosities or perhaps become the subject of a new Handmade On Peconic Bay print series. Found feathers are of particular interest, as are dead bumblebees, lovely banded snail shells and tiny intact crabs in a ready stance, frozen in time on our shelf.

Van Dyke Brown fragment from Kunstformen der Natur, by Matt Shapoff

Call us new antiquarians living in a sepia toned world. We are modern collectors with Renaissance style. The 16th century Wunderkammer movement, defined as an explosion of interest in snapping up natural curiosities throughout Europe and Asia, then hoarding them in dedicated rooms and obsessively recording them in lavish botanical encyclopedias, was the original cult of collecting. Back then it was strictly wealthy patrons who traveled far and wide in search of animal and mineral specimens for their extensive curio cabinets. But the specimens were also of great interest to Northern European artists who started the trend for realistic still life paintings of newly discovered insects, vegetables and flowers. It’s an entirely human fascination with the art of nature that has not diminished in the last 500 years.

Handmade On Peconic Bay Wunderkammer collection of modern vintage Cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown prints by Matt Shapoff, $12.50 to $48.00 on Supermarket and Etsy.



Isaac Mizrahi clothing with Cynthia Rybakoff Papier Mache Jewelry
by Irving Penn for Vogue, early 90's

Throughout his multifaceted career as an artist, graphic designer and photographer, Irving Penn challenged traditional ideas of beauty, treating fashion models, consumer products and urban detritus with equal dignity, perfect lighting and sumptuous color. There was also a remarkable consistency to his expression, whether he was shooting an allegorical still life, fashion spread or anthropological study. The quiet stasis of his compositions were as classic as a Greek frieze, yet delivered a modernist punch.

After Dinner Games, by Irving Penn, 1947

On two memorable occasions, Irving Penn photographed my jewelry for Vogue magazine, the fabulous Isaac Mizrahi clothing being the actual editorial subject matter. Later on, I briefly met Mr. Penn in his studio, when a good friend of mine landed a plum job as his personal assistant. Star struck by his noble presence, I was far too polite to do anything but whisper a very nice to meet you, and fade into the seamless backdrop.
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