I love playing tourist in New York despite living here all the time. Strangely, I had never been on a boat in the Hudson or East River before this secretly planned trip. We embraced the tourist gaze by taking trip on a Circle Line Cruise around the entire perimeter of Manhattan, going all the way up to the Harlem River and under the recently opened High Bridge and the immensely epic George Washington Bridge (and the little red light house.)
Other highlights on the cruise include: riding out into the harbor with sail boats and the wind, draw bridges on the east river with signs for all the underwater cables and their deathly warning for anchoring, glimpsing a vast subway rail yard at the top of Manhattan, those intrepid kids that mooned us near Roberto Clemente Park with such grace.
It was a surprisingly great change of pace, sparking the nyc-by-boat bug in me. We took another trip, this time by a sail boat, just last night.
Tip: As a local going tourist, ditch the upper deck where everyone fights for a good seat and stand at the front of the boat which opens after the trip starts. You can’t hear the narration as well but your views are better. You may even get splashed.
The project was to learn how to create a repeat hand drawn pattern, just by using paper, pen, and a copy machine. It was a utterly helpful look at how any repeat pattern works visually. I have a lot to learn but I’m glad I finished this class for the foundational principles it taught.
Now I want to print this out and color it in with crayons, like the good old days.
A few weekends back my friend Michelle and I went to the Renegade Craft Fair Pop-Up at East River State Park. I didn’t pick up anything that day but I love taking notes for the future. Here are a few of my favorite finds.
As a Massachusetts native, these tugged at the old heart strings. I liked the block printing on a few of the pocket sized notebooks. I love a simple, kraft paper styled notebook too. Better yet, they’re made from old typewriter paper.
A few weekends ago now I biked out to Dead Horse Bay for the first time. The delightfully gruesomely titled bay at the edge of Brooklyn and Queens gets its name from the former animal rendering plants that made up the area. Later, parts of the bay were used for landfill. When a cap of the landfill burst, the beach became littered with mid-century bottles, leather soles, horse bones, and pieces of ceramic tiles among remnants of industry.
It’s a sort of living testament to the detritus of late capitalism. That’s what makes it so interesting too, a gross at times interactive historical look at things sold and bought in the past century.
It’s also fascinating to observe how items were made before and how that tells a story about their survival. Plastic is almost altogether missing from the beach but glass is plentiful. The prescene of leather soles must be because rubber soles weren’t yet the standard, but I’m not positive why they survive.
I collected an assortment of small glass bottles, many medicinal looking, that I learned how to date based on markings on the bottom. If you’re looking for a bizarrely engrossing activity, look no further than dating vintage bottles. My special favorite is a small bottle that turns out is a glass baby doll bottle. Others come from as far as Illinois glass factories.
Another favorite find are cold cream jars that are milk glass white, many featuring interesting architectural details. Cold cream boomed in the later half of the 20th century as a must have cosmetic. The Ponds and Avon brands jar I collected are perfect for bathroom organizing and even making candles (like my very wonderfully industrious friend Katie taught me.)
Next time I’m going to bring a bigger bag to pack up even more of those 1940’s cold cream jars.
Go to Dead Horse Bay! Location
Hours: all year long.
Directions: take the 2 train and switch to the Q35, getting off before the Gil Hodges bridge. Or ride your bike! The entrance is right before the bridge.
Since spending the weekend in Honeoye New York in the Finger Lakes, I’ve been doodling and sketching the woods whenever I get a chance. Everything from my work notebook to my watercolor pads are covered in fern abstractions.
Living in Brooklyn, it’s easy to forgot how much I used to love just exploring the woods when I was a kid. Where we visit in the Finger Lakes there are thirty two acres of land up a hill, with walks over streams, stretches of bright florescent ferns, and tiny frogs waiting for you on the path. Just the past weekend there was a bear that wandered into the property.
Sketching the woods has also turned out to be a perfect time to start teaching myself pattern making based on my sketchbook. I found a glorious tutorial on Oh My! about pattern making in photoshop that I adopted to my hand drawings.
These above are my first tries—I’m sure I have so much more to go to improve this design process–but I’m in love with the idea of making fabric and paper prints based on a pattern I’ve drawn.
I’m going to start cataloging my designs on Spoonflower too, if you’re interested. Not sure I’m ready to sell fabric, but still interested in arranging everything as I get better.
During a long weekend last summer a group of friends and I discovered Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford Connecticut. We definitely found a holy grail of thrift only an hour from New York City.
In the previously unknown to me Northwest Connecticut–that is also home to a giant man-made lake rumored to have a ghost town at the bottom–Elephant’s Trunk has been operating every year since 1976. What makes it especially awesome is it’s a flea market of “pickers” who sell to dealers. The pickers are awesome people from across New England, running the gamut of eccentrics who love vintage pyrex to your Red Sox capped dad who likes going to garage and estate sales. That means a lot of the higher priced items in curated vintage stores like those populating in my home of Brooklyn might very well originate here.
One of the benefits to trekking out to New Milford CT, only an hour and so out of New York City though you’ll need a car to make it, is the ability to buy from these sellers, many of whom have just picked up fresh vintage wares the days before. All the prices are especially reasonable and naturally, flexible. If you’re an actual vintage dealer you can pay extra to arrive at the crack of dawn to buy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of worthy items left after the dealers come.
I’ve found the two times I’ve visited the flea that closing is an especially good time. Right before closing a few I found up a vintage globe from between the world wars and a mid century modern magazine rack all right before for much lower than I was expecting to pay.
Tips: Make sure to bring cash! Sellers using a mobile payment card reader are almost non-existent. There are food vendors (and coffee) in trucks and stands on the 55-acre grounds, too. If you’re hungry after thrifting, there is a giant diner not too far down the road.
Elephant’s Trunk 490 Danbury Road
New Milford, CT
April to Dec on Sundays from 5:30 to 1:00pm.
Parking is free, no dogs, $2 to enter
Albertine is a French & English bookstore with a exquisite reading room in the French Embassy. It opened last fall with the design firm Pentagram creating the branding.
The bookstore is tucked inside the French Embassy on 5th Ave overlooking Central Park. The building itself is famous: the Payne Whitney, one of the few Guilded-Age architectural buildings left in the city and built by Stanford and White.
Albertine is full of large fabric-covered lamps making you feel you’ve entered someone’s private home library meets Parisian salon. The best part is the upstairs reading room that has one of the best ceilings to lounge under on comfy leather couches.
The store was conceived by “Cultural Services of the French Embassy” to offer “the largest selection of French literature in the United States, with (get ready to swoon) more than 14,000 titles from 30 French-speaking countries.” (TimeOut)
English and french books are peppered throughout. The reading room upstairs has an extensive collection of French children’s books and graphic novels which peak the illustration lovers attention. There are cookbooks, art books, and even daily french periodicals, too.