MAKER SERIES

A MAKER SERIES / 03

12/05/2013

Makerseries_thiefbandit

amie cunningham is a wood carver, designer for thief & bandit and artist living and working in halifax, nova scotia, canada. she makes clothing and accessories for women, kids and home goods. everything is made by hand from the screen printed fabric to her custom made dream catchers. you may recongize the brand, as we are big fans of t&b in our household. here is a look into her day as a maker…

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how did you get into apparel making?
Almost by accident really, I was invited to be in a ‘t shirt’ art show, and I just drew a design with a sharpie on a plain t shirt.  The response was great so from there I taught myself how to screen print and started screen printing my designs on t shirts.  The biggest silk screen I made was the ‘Southwest’ design which I printed on fabric yardage and made really simple scarves.  The cut and sewn part came a little later when my first son, Wolfgang was born.  I wanted some cool pants for him and knew I had to make them from the over-sized prints.
you recently moved back to canada, why?
To be honest it was the issue of health insurance.  When I became pregnant with my second son I realized I wasn’t covered for maternity and instead of going into a huge amount of debt my husband and I decided that moving to Canada would be the right decision.  We moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia and my parents are close by.  My husband is an artist so he is free to work on his sculpture while I focus on the business.  We also have the help of my mom who watches Dutch and Wolfgang for a few hours in the afternoon so we can hustle in our studio.
has business changed since the move?
It’s amazing how much it’s changed.  I was so scared to uproot the business here to Canada.  I thought that people would be hesitant to order from me since I’m based in Canada and at least 90% of my business comes from the US and overseas.  Luckily, that is not the case and the business has grown and is flourishing here.  Also, I have probably the most amazing assistant/seamstress.  She is a costume design graduate and she is just incredible in so many ways.  The quality of our garments are so great and I’m really proud of our work.  Another thing is when we bought our house we were able to install an attached workshop to build our dream printing table.  Before we left Richmond, VA we befriended a wallpaper printer who showed us his printing technique and we built a table custom to fit our fabric and screens.  This makes printing yardage easy but we can still make custom color ways to suit our customers needs.
how would you describe your line?
Thief&Bandit is a culmination of all my passions as an artist, maker and designer. I’ve always loved fashion.  I’ve practiced painting, sculpture and illustration and am honestly just obsessed with making things. Thief&Bandit is a collection of hand printed/hand made jewelry, apparel and home goods where the focus is on the print but I see it as so much more.  It’s a way for me to share my art with people from around the world, and to empower people by wearing or displaying pieces that are truly thoughtful, unique and handmade.
what does a typical day look like for you?
We get up with the boys (or they get us up!) and chaos ensues. We have breakfast, play, get dressed and get Wolfgang ready for preschool.  Throughout the week, Johnston and I take turns taking Wolf to school and often one of us drives downtown to our small sewing studio to drop off fabric and/or pick up garments from Carly. One of us takes Leroy (our shepherd mutt) for a morning walk or bike ride often with Dutch.  Around noon my mom comes over to help with Dutch and then I can focus on designing or making jewelry in my studio.  Johnston works in his studio during the day or helps with the printing.  We have dinner and play with the boys and get them ready for bed.  Usually from 9PM to midnight I work on emails or designing.  We have very full days.
what was the inspiration behind your boys names?
Back in Richmond, Johnston and I were working at a friend’s restaurant and became friends with a Wolfgang.  He is really such a stand up guy, so nice and has just a special outlook on life.  I remember telling my friend that if I ever had a boy I would name him after Wolfgang because I would want my son to be just like him.  Also, I guess it should be said that Johnston and I were in Germany for two months in 2009 for an artist residency and Wolfgang was conceived there.  Wolfgang’s middle name is Vergil who is my husband’s sweet uncle.  It’s a strong name and it just really fits him.  Dutch’s full name is Dutch Loyal Sebastian.  The name Dutch is taken from our very first dog, a mutt we found on the street in Richmond back in 200  He was the most beautiful animal, so gentle and sweet.  When we found him he was begging for food outside a cafe and had crazy road rash and was underfed.  I had to have him so we took him to the nearest vet and had him checked out.  He was so happy to be ours and we drove him to Canada the next day.  Sadly he past away only a few years later.  He was the most special animal and we wanted his spirit to live on through our son. Loyal is my uncle’s name and Sebastian is the name of our favorite French DJ.
tell us about your background before thief & bandit?
I grew up all over Canada and went to art school in university and received a BFA in fine art.  I moved to NYC in 2002 to study painting and sculpture at Parsons School of Design. After I got my MFA at Parsons I focused on sculpture and moved back to Canada to live at my parents rustic cottage for a year or so.  Johnston and I got married in 2007 in Canada and moved to Richmond, VA where I continued to make art.  With the encouragement of my husband and friends Thief&Bandit started shortly after.
what is your favorite product you create and why?
That’s really difficult to pinpoint, it always seems to change. I really enjoy making dream catchers.  I love the process of finding the wood for the frame and choosing the stones, etc.  I really love experimenting with new colors on new fabrics, it feels like painting which in many ways I miss.  We actually just started printing on canvas paper for unique wall art which I’m really excited about.  I would say my ultimate favorite thing to make is the kiddo leggings because I just love getting them on the chubby legs of baby Dutch.
what do you do outside of making?
I recently took up running again which has been a part of my life since I was ten years old. It’s in my head that I need to start training seriously for a marathon as it’s been one of my goals in life.  I love film and love going to see movies with my husband.  Spending time with my kids is probably the number one thing I do outside making, going swimming and taking them to the park, the simple things are really the most important to me.
photos by thief&bandit for bleubird.
read more of our maker series.

A MAKER SERIES / 02

10/24/2013

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frank clegg is the blood, sweat and tears behind frank clegg leather works. he has been creating true works of art out of leather, with his own two hands in his fall rivers, massachusetts work shop for over 40 years. we are proud owners of two of his pieces and can say that the quality and craftsmanship is like no other. i am a firm believer that "you get what you pay for" and these bags will definitly be passed down to my children and grand children one day. they are timeless and built to last. you can see and feel the hard work and passion that goes into his craft. i admire this man so much. here is a look into his day as a maker…

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how did you get into leather work?
my girl friend (now my wife) gave me some leather working tools for christmas one year. i started working with leather at that time and have not stopped.

what is it about your craft that appeals to you?
i have always loved making and restoring things. i guess i could have received wood working or metal working tools and that might have given me a different direction. the thing that is the most important to me is designing, and it does not mean only leather goods. my mind never stops, and everything i look at i am always trying to think of a way it might be improved, whether it is a car, house, guitar, or vacuum cleaner. i quickly realized that i could design and make whatever i tried to make and this gave me the satisfaction that keeps the fire going.

how would you describe your line?
the collection on my website is only part of what i do in leather. i have more than one look. but, this line is frank clegg at the purest state. many items in  the current collection i have been making since my start and i am proud that our customers appreciate them as much now as they did 40 years ago. my goal is to craft products that offer the customer the finest workmanship, the finest materials i can find, and use the knowledge that i have acquired over 40 years in this business to present to them a lasting value.  i use hardware at a minimum, and my designs are kept as simple as possible. when i design a piece, my goal is to have a product that is functional, long lasting, and when viewed, represents a quality product to the untrained eye. i like to think that the collection represent american design, american craftsmanship, and the desire to always be the best by being different. my goal now as it has always been is no compromise.

what does a typical day look like for you?
i am at the shop between 5:30 and 6:00 am. my fellow worker arrive at 7:00, so i have time to get all the ME items complete. my day is a mixture of business and craft. i am involved with the products along with the entire crew. i feel it is important to be involved so the quest to perfect is ongoing. because we are dealing with a natural product, there are always issues that need to be addressed. now that my son andrew has graduated from college, he has joined the company full time. he brings to the company another view that we will explore. production, customer service, and shipping consume the day, and before I realize the time it is 5:00. i guess i am having fun.

tell us about your background, before the business?
since i was young, i always made things. whether from wood, or metal scrap. i enjoyed taking apart motorcycles, painting them and bringing them back to life. i started making leather goods in college, and after graduate school i focused on doing my craft. both my parents worked with me for over thirty years. my parents and i have over 100 years in this business. they helped me to understand what integrity meant and what it takes to achieve the qualities needed to be successful.

what do you do outside of leather work?
besides working with leather, i enjoy making guitars when i have the time. i also collect and restore fountain pens. when time permits, my wife and i enjoy going out for a bike ride on our tandem, or taking out the kayaks. getting together with friends is always special. nothing is better than being with the kids. as they get older it is not like watching a soccer game, but it is more like hanging with adults (well almost). my work is more a lifestyle than a job, they are both tied together. i have enjoyed the many vacations my wife and i have had with my two boys. both andrew and ian have made me realize that above everything else family what makes everything complete.

visit frankcleggleatherworks.com
photos by frank clegg leather works for bleubird.
watch this inspiring and beautiful video of frank clegg designing and creating a bag from scratch.

A MAKER SERIES / 01

09/16/2013

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i couldn’t be more excited about this new series that i have been putting together over the past few months. there are so many incredibly talented and inspiring folks out there, many of whom i feel lucky enough to call friends like hannah here. my hope is to tell an inspiring story of the maker behind their craft. i will give you an intimate, personal look into their lives. i will show you a day in the life, while they are hard at work, using their hands, in their element, mess and all. i am hoping they will inspire you as much as they have me and also introduce you to some beautiful handmade goods.

hannah ferrara is the brilliant maker and artist behind one of my favorite jewelry lines, another feather. she makes everything by hand in her small home studio in asheville, north carolina. here is a look into her day as a maker…

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how did you get into jewelry making?

i went to school for fine art, and after getting bored with painting i switched to metalsmithing and jewelry design with a focus in fibers and textiles then jumped in feet first. i feel really blessed that i’ve been able to make jewelry full time ever since.

what is it about your craft that appeals to you?
i get to constantly work my hands almost every day, and there’s nothing that makes me more content.

how would you describe your line?
jewelry for the non-jewelry wearer. the pieces i make are everyday staples that are simple and can comfortably be worn every single day while still being interesting in shape and design.

what does a typical day look like for you?
wake. early morning is spent making coffee, having quiet time, yoga, then into the studio to begin making jewelry for most of the day. everyday is a little different especially when i working on multiple projects, or designing a new line. we break for chocolate in the afternoon and if i’m lucky i end on a bike ride along the river and a meal with my husband.

tell us about your background, before another feather?
i have a BFA in jewelry metalsmithing and then fibers and textiles. i also have a BA in art education. these are all things i continue to dabble in, though now the majority of my time is dedicated to jewelry.

what do you do outside of jewelry making?
i love to be outdoors, swimming in rivers, riding my bicycle, traveling whenever i can. i also really enjoy baking and making meals for friends. i work with kinfolk hosting and planning workshop events and gatherings which has been a really nice excuse to step outside the studio and collaborate with a number of talented folks.

visit anotherfeather.com
photos by emily suzanne mcdonald for bleubird.

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