Thursday, May 5

A Brand New Bag

It's been a year or two since I stopped writing this blog and I've been busy. I began developing a line of canvas products, including totes, messenger bags, pillows, placemats, and storage bins and the first efforts (totes) are now available here!

Working on these products and patterns has morphed into a fledgling surface design company called HABIT Goods that hopes to bring more patterns and products to the marketplace in the next few months.

Wednesday, December 16

And now for something completely new . . .

I started Modern Craft a few years ago as a means to explore artists and modern design and it's been amazingly rewarding and interesting. But now, after taking it as far as I can, I'm ready for something new. Thank you to everyone-- I've loved meeting you, seeing what you're doing, and most of all, learning from you. Best to you all! Jim

Monday, November 2

Classic trays

I love melamine. It's cheap, it supports very bold graphics, it's modern, flat, seamless. These classic trays (from Vitra) are another reason why. Beautiful. Do you know a manufacturer? Can you recommend one? Don't you want to make these right away?

Monday, October 26

Hockney's Prints

A new show just opened at Pace Prints in NY featuring David Hockney's new digital prints. He drew the subjects from life (friends and scholars) on a wacom tablet, then manipulated the images in Photoshop. Coloring them with his signature bold palette, the portraits are typical Hockney and yet offer something new. I think he's a genius and love his interest in new technology and the ways he pushes the traditional artist into new worlds. On view until November 28.

Friday, October 16


Designed in San Francisco, and cut, screened and sewn in Oakland, Studiopatr√≥ was born and raised in northern California. It’s a collaboration of local designers, artists, sewers and friends and their designs are really beautiful. The humble tea towel has become an unlikely canvas for all kinds of creative people, and these are outstanding. I think Christine Weber and company should advance straight to home textiles-- can't you see upholstery here-- curtains, blankets, etc. I actually think these are too nice and too graphically exciting to be tea towels-- I might not ever use them. I want these on pillows, sheets, etc. Beautiful.

Thursday, October 15

Andrew Spence

Andrew Spence's work is austere-- it is also slightly whimsical, if those two things can go together. His several decades of work utilizes simple forms and shapes and color. I don't know many artists who can explore the line in such depth and variation. His exploration of symbols and lines reminds me of another austere artists, Donald Judd, who worked for decades exploring and expanding the box form.

Wednesday, October 14


Paperwink just introduced these notebook trios with personalized kraft labels on the front that imitate official forms. I love how paperwink has reinterpreted old office supplies like these into modern tools. Their telegram notecards are another favorite.

Tuesday, October 13

Wayne Pate

The very talented Wayne Pate has turned his simple strong graphics into some new textiles. I love the 60s inspired graphics here, and the colors give these an updated appeal. An original piece of art from Wayne will be part of next week's October Giveaway!

Friday, October 9

Irving Penn

I was so saddened to hear of Irving Penn's death today. Penn's photography, starting with the extraordinary photos for Vogue under the leadership of another hero of mine, Alexander Liberman (daughter Francine, Alex, and wife Tatiana in top photo) and going through the celebrity portraits, the wonderful studies of everyday objects, the "portraits" of other cultures, etc, his work is exhilarating because it is so different and apart from what we expect. HIs career retrospective, Passages, has been on my must-have list for years. It's time. Looking at his pictures made me feel like I knew him and I'm sorry that he's gone but he left a brilliant body of work that will inspire me for the rest of my life.

Thursday, October 8

Jonathan Adler towels

These new geometric towels from Jonathan Adler tabletop collection are the right mix of vintage and bright modern design. I'm a big fan of his ceramics and it's interesting to see how that aesthetic expresses itself in other home goods. I think the red/yellow towel is the best-- a mix of 30s deco and Sante Fe graphics.

Wednesday, October 7

Urban DIY

At Urban Outfitters, you can pick up any variety of DIY kits to get started on those holiday cards and presents. I'm excited about the possibilities of what could be created-- the screen printing kit alone is worth a long look. What could you do?

Tuesday, October 6

Julien Pacaud

L'Affiche Moderne is a great online resource for affordable limited edition prints. These are by Julien Pacaud, and I like the way these mix collage with painterly elements. Plus, I think color is critical in collage, and these are very well done.

Monday, October 5

Bags for the People

Bags for the People is a great idea and if it works, there won't be any more plastic bags in the world. Anywhere. In an effort to curb plastic bag usage, three friends in New York, Megan, Glenn, and Kelly, began making re-usable bags from recycled clothing and fabric and gave them out for free at Union Square Farmers Market. The idea had legs and soon they had a website, lots of interests, and partners. They host bag making workshops for kids, the elderly, the crafty, and more. "Through bag making we show how activism can be fun and creative. We discuss environmental issues of why we do what we do and how making and using reusable bags is a healthy alternative to plastic." Kudos! You can write to request your own free bag here, download a free template, or send a donation.

Friday, October 2

Found My Animal

We've been thinking about getting a dog. Well, Elsa has been thinking about getting a dog and although I thought it was a passing interest, she asks me nearly every day. If, and I stress IF, that happens, this will be my first stop. Found My Animal is a Brooklyn business run by Bethany Obrecht that makes beautiful rope leashes for adopted animals and their people. They give part of the profits to the Louis Animal Foundation to help raise awareness of the urgent need for animal adoption. The custom-made rope used for the leashes and leads is a unique and durable alternative to leather. Each rope is hand-spliced by professional New England rope-makers. The collars are 100% cotton canvas coated with wax. Very attractive and smart and best of all, you're helping put the focus on a good cause. Handmade in the US.

Thursday, October 1

Field Notes

Who isn't crazy about Field Notes? Simple saddle-stitched notebooks with plain, ruled, or graph paper inside. It's the paperback version of those pricey Moleskin notebooks. I love the aesthetic of these, modeled on "the vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list." Speaking of, here is a page from my grandmother's version of Field Notes, circa 1941-- I think it was a free notebook from an agricultural supply store. It includes an entry for "show and popcorn" as well as "bought boar from Henry." If you're thinking about what to get me for Christmas, THIS IS IT.

Wednesday, September 30

Rachel Denny

Rachel Denny is a Portland artist. She's inspired by the natural world and the sense of wonder it creates in viewers. Her work uses unusual materials to interpret the "exuberance of nature" and in doing so gives viewers an unexpected experience. Her pieces are interesting and beautiful and reverent to their subject. I especially love the squirrels.

Tuesday, September 29

Christine Berrie

Berry is a Glasgow-based illustrator whose fondness for old cars, vintage cameras, mechanical contraptions and London led her to create these wonderful drawings which she's turned into prints you can purchase here. She has a great eye for the color and detail of these objects and executes them extremely well. I swear my dad had that camera . . .

Friday, September 25

To Dry For

This site features one product only: the humble tea towel. With clever graphics and well-known designers (Rob Ryan), they've got a good thing here-- a simple piece of cloth with some pop. It's interesting that the tea towel has become a kind of indie canvas. I have other favorites too, like Third Drawer Down that produce beautiful screen printed towels, most of which could be framed as art. Great stuff.

Maira Kalman

It's my favorite Friday of the month, when artist Kalman publishes her once-a-month blog in the NYTimes.