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Unique Provisions for the Home
Maker and Moss
San Francisco pottery artist Mary Mar Keenan began working with clay back in 1996 while earning her BFA from Roanoke College in Virginia. She went on to further her educational career at Studio Art Center International in Italy, Anderson Ranch Art Center in Colorado and Fenland School of Crafts in North Carolina.
Keenan makes all of her pieces by hand, turning out stunning, truly one of a kind pieces. Her tableware can be found in nearby San Francisco hotspots including The Progress, Goose and Gander, Bird Dog and (opening this spring) Bellota, Wildhawk, and Night Bird. Keenan has also produced custom designs for numerous homes in the bay area as well as exhibited her work at numerous galleries and stores throughout the country. The production of her beautiful pottery combines creativity, patience, and endurance. She creates all of her pieces in her own studio in Hayes Valley, San Francisco.
What inspired you to start your biz and how did it take shape?
I moved to San Francisco from the east coast in 1996. Clay and I were just beginning to become acquainted so I found a place to make pots and work on my skills so that I could eventually make it my sole profession. Over the years, my career as an artist has taken on many different shapes and gone down several different paths. I've owned and operated a ceramic studio and gallery, taught an after school clay class for kids, set up at craft fairs and consigned work in galleries and even started a separate on-line business making customized baby bowls. To supplement my income I worked part time as a server in several restaurants in the city. So, when my ceramics career became focused around making a full line of wares for a popular SF restaurant my paths seemed to converge.
About 2 years ago I was approached by my chef friend Stuart Brioza about designing a line of work specifically for his new restaurant, The Progress. Having worked in restaurants for so long, I felt I had an insight into what was needed. I know how busy restaurants work and the way the kitchen staff, servers and the food interact with the plates. This project forced me to look at all of these variables and as a result change almost everything about the way that I work. My clay body, glazes, firing temperature and aesthetic were adjusted to take on this project. Rather than just making pretty pots, I was now thinking more about how each piece would hold up in a busy restaurant and how it would look when food was introduced to it. My work became a collaboration between the maker, the server, the chef and finally the customer. Now it is that collaboration that pushes me as a ceramic artist.
Tell us about your studio/workspace.
My studio is in Hayes Valley in the bottom floor of a beautiful San Francisco office building situated behind the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk. I have to walk through the coffee shop everyday to get to my workspace and am flooded by delicious aromas of some of the best coffee in the bay area. My studio is about 500 square feet and since re-designing my business a few years ago, it has become a fantastic collection of shelves which house glaze materials, molds, work in progress and finished pieces. I have a potter's wheel, a slab roller, a glaze kitchen, a gas kiln and an electric kiln. I share the space with the owner of the building, a successful designer and architectural developer who uses the space part time to create work for his wife's restaurant. Currently we are pushing an enormous amount of pottery out of that small space.
What kind of creative patterns or routines do you have?
I wish that I could say that I woke up and sketched every morning while drinking my coffee, but that time has been replaced by making lunches and getting my two small children ready for their day and out of the door. Working as a full time studio potter and having 2 kids is no small task. The time that I used to spend on creative routines is now spent with them, which I absolutely love. Luckily my son (7) loves to draw so we find time to sit down and sketch out fantasies and ideas together. I am inspired by children and their freedom of expression. They have no boundaries or expectations of their own art work. For them it's more about the process and the story. It can take my son 5 minutes to sit down and draw a man standing on an elephant shooting a bow and arrow at an apple tree that is situated on top of an erupting volcano. And then he is done and on to the next one. This to me is a valuable exercise for the imagination and one that I value as an artist. We can learn so much from kids if we pay attention.
I find exercise to be of vital importance to my career as it really sets my head straight and I spend that time (typically at 6am) really focusing on my day and what it is I need to make and how I need to go about doing it. Staying physically fit is incredibly important as my job is quite physical.
Finally, I find it imperative to visualize success. I believe in the power of positive thinking and visualization. Vision boards help me sort out what I want to achieve throughout the year. (Plus, they are a fun and crafty exercise.)
How long does the creative process take from start to finish?
It's difficult to say how long the creative process takes for me. Making pottery requires the ability to work on multiple pieces at once so that the kiln can be completely filled before firing. The point at which the clay is transformed into an object on my wheel can take a few minutes, but it then must be slightly dried out, trimmed, altered, possibly have a handle added, dried completely, wiped down, bisque fired, washed, waxed, glazed, re-fired and then sanded. It is amazing to me how many times each piece is carefully handled and worked on before it is finally ready for its intended use. What helps me is to make a list at the beginning of the week of what needs to get made. Completing that list every week is one aspect of my craft that continues to challenge me.
How has your business grown since you first started it?
My career as an artist has changed in many ways. Always knowing that I want to make art has been the main driving force for me. Finding ways to do that and still being able to support myself has probably influenced its many turns. Making functional pottery has been something that I have been doing for almost 20 years but creating a business to support that has been quite an experience. Being approached to make the tableware for The Progress has changed my business dramatically. The restaurant itself has acted as a living gallery for me where not only are my pots being used daily, they are complimented with gorgeous food and presented to the customers within an artful space. Being in a restaurant that is well within the public eye has grown my sales tremendously. I am extremely grateful to Stuart for the opportunity to be a part of such a collaboration and I am now being approached by several other chefs. It has certainly changed the direction of my business and it excites me.
How has your practice changed over time?
My practice has become busier. I now run a full design/production studio and because of the amount of work that is demanded of me, I have had to hire people to help. This has been a welcomed change. Being a studio potter is not quite as easy as it seems. The amount of work that needs to be done aside from making the pieces themselves is grand. Relying on the help of my studio manager, part time assistants and interns has really allowed me to focus on the part of the process that I really love.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creative entrepreneurs?
Find what makes you happy and figure out a way to make a living doing it. That was advice my dad gave me many years ago that I have never let go of. It certainly has not been an easy road, but through a lot of hard work, sacrifice and some creative thinking and severe dedication it seems to be working out. In my studio I keep a quotation by Nelson Mandela written on my blackboard. It has become my mantra.
"There is no passion in playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Ceramic artist Whitney Smith’s love for clay began in 1994 while attending Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. She was fortunate to learn from working with other professional ceramicists early on, both production as well as how exactly artists are able to support themselves producing their art. In 2000, Whitney made the transition into a full-time ceramic artist, doing what she loves! Working solely for herself from her Oakland storefront studio only a few blocks from her home, she creates one of a kind pieces that are both essential and meaningful. Her pieces have an organic feeling, shape and simplicity. Whitney aims to create items that are both beautiful and functional. She hopes that her work inspires her customers to truly experience beauty and therefore be able to tune into the beauty that is all around them more frequently. What inspired you to start your business and how did it take shape? I was inspired to start my business because I was always looking for a way to work for myself, and pottery was such an obsession for me when I started that it seemed like a possible path for me. I was lucky enough to work for another ceramic artist early on, and I saw that it could be done, it was not a fantasy or a pipe dream to be a working artist. The business took shape slowly, first making pottery in my off hours, then part-time for a few years, then finally full-time 16 years ago. My only plan was to make a life in the studio, making things, and to avoid getting a job at all costs. Tell us about your studio/workspace. My studio is an old storefront in the neighborhood I live in. It’s an open room with very high ceilings and about 600 square feet. I’ve divided it into 3 spaces: a display area, a making , throwing, and designing area, and the glaze and kilns area. I want my studio to be a fun, airy, and beautiful space for me to walk into everyday, so I keep it very clean and tidy. It starts falling apart when I’m very busy, but I do my best to keep it organized. I have every art and craft supply I could possibly want stored at my studio, so if I need to do something else besides having my hands in clay to get inspired, I can easily sit down to make something in a different medium. What kind of creative patterns or routines do you have? I’m pretty rigorous about maintaining a regular work routine. I’m at my best in the morning, so I get up before the sun even comes up and try to get into the studio as early as possible and do the more challenging work, like designing, first thing. I save afternoons for more routine work that doesn’t have a lot of decision-making around it. I usually work for 3-4 hours at a clip and take a break in between. It took me many years to figure out that this is the best way for me to work. How long does the creative process typically take from start to finish? In general, I work in a 2 week turnaround, throwing and making for about 8 work days, then firing everything. I work fast and I get results fast, so if something is not working I’ll know about it pretty quickly. The deeper work of coming up with new ideas and collections is a much longer process that I can’t really measure. How has your business grown since you first started it? The first 10 years my business grew exponentially every year. Since I was starting from almost zero, that was great and I needed that kind of growth to survive and build my tiny empire. Since I’ve been in a more comfortable place for a number of years now, it is more of a roller coaster, up and down, depending on a number of factors that I mostly have no control over. How has your practice changed over time? I am much more open and expansive in my creative practice these days. I am not as afraid to make mistakes, make ugly or unsellable work, or try a new technique. I’ve learned that the critical voice in my head really has no taste or aesthetic so it’s best to ignore it. I also don’t work as hard. I used to work in the studio for at least 8 straight hours a day, and often up to 10 hours, including weekends. But now I work about 6 hours a day, and I think that is plenty. Working with clay is very physical and if I push too hard I feel it in my body, and it doesn’t feel good. Do you have any words of advice for aspiring creative entrepreneurs? Ask for advice, but never ask for permission. Help other people whenever possible.
Santa Cruz natives Chris and Paige Curtis have been designing and producing handcrafted 100% recycled and reclaimed wood furniture and home decor goods since 2012. Everything from their tables, to frames, shadow boxes and planters is carefully designed, hand crafted, and typically made to order because they're believers that good things are worth the wait! All of their designs are inspired and envisioned at their home and studio in Aptos, Ca. With roots all over the Santa Cruz area the repurposed wood they use comes from just about anywhere. Fences, barns, old floor boards, and any other beautifully weathered wooden objects they can find. Everything is sourced and built locally, all within about 10 miles of their home. Even their shipping materials are recycled generating as little waste as possible and a very small impact on the environment! What inspired you to start your business and how did it take shape? Alibi Interiors happened organically, it was not a conscious decision to be entrepreneurs! Chris first built a couple frames out of an old fence in his yard, and we were later approached by a local retail shop who was interested in selling the frames. After less than two years of the “hobby’s” existence, we both quit our jobs and went full time into developing our own business. Tell us about your studio or workspace. Our warehouse is 2,300 square feet and two miles from our home in Aptos, California. It is sectioned into areas; we have an upstairs office space, a downstairs lounge /kitchen /meeting zone, a mezzanine for storage, a product and shipping room, and the main production area. All components work together to create a pretty harmonious space. What kind of creative patterns or routines do you have? Our slow living kind of lifestyle is where our inspiration comes from- again, it’s an organic process. I’ll be tackling emails at home on the couch with a cup of tea and realize I want a tray for my tea. Or Chris has an idea for a three dimensional frame to hold and display corks in our kitchen from our favorite wine bottles (thus the shadowbox was born). We develop and design new products based on what we want within our own home. How long does the creative process typically take from start to finish? A long time! A product needs to be perfect before we offer it on our website or to our stocklists. This means each piece goes through a few iterations before being finalized. And often times we’ll offer them at our craft fairs to study customer feedback before having it as a staple product. I’d estimate a good six months, and that’s if there’s no other distractions (which doesn’t happen!). How has your business grown since you first started it? Alibi Interiors has grown in SO many ways! Chris started building everything in our garage and yard, and it was just him. We now have a warehouse and four employees, plus Chris and myself. We started with one wholesale account, and we now have over thirty, which provide a constant flow of orders every week. Since I’ve built our website and created the online retail shop, we receive around ten orders a week. I respond to as many as twenty emails a day inquiring about custom work, craft fairs or events, wholesale, etc. We’ve grown from a garage hobby into a manufacturing LLC. How has your practice changed over time? It really hasn’t, except we’ve become more experienced and knowledgeable on what it takes to run a business. We’re using an inventory and book keeping system, managing employees and tackling increase in sales, but other than that, we’re still doing what we always have. Chris still builds the frames and I still brand the backs! Do you have any words of advice for aspiring creative entrepreneurs? Keep your overhead costs low and try not to let your time = $0. Also, take weekend getaways to stay inspired and happy.
San Francisco Wood Map
Touch Sensor Lamps
Vintage Inspired, modern designed dictionary art prints. Each design is screen printed on old dictionary pages making them truly unique. Pair it with our locally made reclaimed wood frames for a ready to hang art piece. Print $14.95 8 x 10 Framed $49.95
Seasonal Produce Calendar
This elegant letterpress poster provides a detailed list of fruits and vegetables that are in season each month according to local farmers and seasonal harvest guides based in San Francisco Bay Area. Foil pressed on natural recycled chipboard and printed by a 200 year old local press in Northern California. Poster $25 13 x 19 Framed $90
Hand gathered from New England farms and crafted in small batches these beauties are the perfect pieces for serving while entertaining. 10” $65
Olive & Pits
Hand crafted porcelain pieces made in Sonoma, California. These are perfect for the friend or family member who has a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Each piece is one of a kind. Available in Cobalt Blue, Teal, Lime Green, and Hunter Green $52
Fall and holiday tablescapes should feel both rustic and elegant. Play with the season, think about incorporating fresh fruit, herbs, fall colors and flowers. Creating a fabulous table setting can be as easy as visiting your local farmers' market or even your own backyard. There are no rules, get creative, play with arrangements, and mix and match colors and styles. Find items you already have in your home and see how you can incorporate or utilize them in interesting ways. For example, using old canning jars for floral arrangements or as candle holders are great ways to repurpose items while creating unique table decor. Here are a few secrets to decking out a table for a fall get-together:
Start with the Plates
Utilizing simple, or white plates paired with timeless flatware and glassware helps a more rustic fall tablescape look elegant and polished.
Incorporate Natural Elements
Incorporate elements of nature into your table arrangement. Adding succulents or cut flowers create a sort of landscape on the table.
Create smaller arrangements using petite vases for individual blooms instead of one large centerpiece.
Add pops of seasonal color with the linens, table decorations and accents. Incorporate oranges, yellows, reds, and gold for shimmer.
Finish with Candles
Complete your overall look by adding candles. You can either incorporate small tea lights in simple jars or tall tapers for a dramatic effect. It's important to remember that your table shouldn't be too "perfect" it should create an atmosphere that is casual and understated, and allows you to relax and enjoy both your meal and your company.
The Holiday's are right around the corner! It's that time of year when friends and family get together to celebrate and enjoy the presence of each others' company. Many of us have the pleasure of hosting. It's nice to step up your normal daily routine a bit so it doesn't feel just like any other day, but it's important to remember hosting guests should be a cause for celebration and not stress. A lot can go in to preparation, planning and decoration for the occasion in order to make it special. However, life is unpredictable, and the only thing you can bet on is that things won't go as planned. So be flexible. As much as entertaining is about pleasing your guests, it’s also about enjoying yourself. Remember guests like to help, whether that means picking up ice on the way to your party, bringing dessert, or loading dishes into the dishwasher. It makes them feel useful and also at home. Letting your guests help here and there can also give you some great bonding time, as dinner hosts often get stuck in the kitchen. Here are a few helpful tips that may help in preparation for the occasion. #1 First, and this is very important, set up comfortable seating. This is a must at any party. Place seating together to help foster intimate conversation. #2 It's helpful to set up multiple "party stations" at opposite ends of the the room. This creates a triangle layout that works wonders. This way guests are able to mingle, create more conversation and really enjoy the atmosphere. #3 Set up your favorite fall wines and drink options at a small drink station. This allows your guests to take the drink of their choice and enjoy at their place setting using their glassware. #4 As for what tops the table, blend styles, mix vintage with contemporary, rustic with elegant. Go with a monochrome palette and add interest with different textures, like white hydrangeas, peonies, and linens. Don’t forget to make use of vertical space, consider hanging chandeliers or decorations above the ceiling for an uncluttered tabletop. #5 Think happy thoughts, speak happy thoughts, and set a good mood!
September marks our two-year anniversary. We are so grateful to be where we are today and it’s mostly due to all of you, our customers! In honor of your overall belief in Maker & Moss, our furniture, décor, and design expertise we want to extend a huge thank you! To celebrate two years and YOU we wanted to show you how much we're here to assist you throughout the entire design process and remind you that we are always here to answer your questions. From lifestyle items, to décor, to custom upholstered furniture we’re here to help you create the space you’ve always wanted. To help provide some direction in the design process we've pulled together a few simple pointers to alleviate the stress, provide some inspiration and overall ensure the design process is creative and fun. Furniture: It is okay to mix styles! Redoing vintage finds, mixing and matching patters, colors and textures is a great way to create a eclectic and personal feel. A great way to add personality to your room is by playing with and switching up your seating arrangements. Incorporating occasional seating, updating upholstery and finding unique designs is also a great way to do so. One crucial thing to remember is that flow is important! Make sure your seating invites conversation while still allowing easy movement around each piece. Artwork: Gallery walls are a great way to show off your work, especially if you have a lot of different pieces. To create a simple yet stunning gallery wall collect or place similar prints in different frames, this allows the eye to move fluidly over the whole wall and all it's detail. If you’re working with one piece, scale the artwork to your wall, the middle of a picture should be at eye level. Lighting: Natural light should be emphasized whenever possible! You can always utilize mirrors to make a space feel lighter and brighter, this works especially well when they are placed on a wall perpendicular to a window. Layer your lighting. Each room should have three kinds of light: ambient to light the entire space, task lighting over places like a reading nook, and accent lighting for decoration. We hope you find these basic design tips both helpful and inspiring. Please don't hesitate to contact the showroom for questions, further design tips or consultations. We're here help. Happy Decorating! Your friends at Maker & Moss
As we are preparing to transition from our Spring assortment and move forward with our Fall collections we thought now would be a great time to explore some of the top design trends that helped influence the selection of our new Furniture and Decor pieces. There are four top trends that we're sure you'll be seeing represented throughout the Fall Season. #1 Mixed Materials This design approach can be utilized from accessories to furniture. The combination of mixed materials creates a beautifully bold contrast. We will be introducing a number items representative of this to our Fall assortment. One of our favorite mixed material designs is the Alexander chair. With rich black leather and dark wood it is a top design choice for this trend. #2 Compact Lighting Lighting plays a large role in pulling together the overall design of a space and getting the right amount of light can often be a challenge. Incorporating smaller compact lighting fixtures throughout your room is a great way to accomplish this. Our Wire Mesh Table Lamp will not only add needed light to your room, but also an interesting industrial design element. #3 Geo Forms Geometry is here to stay and sculptural decor is a top choice in any space. Our Prismatic Stool & Planter is striking and multi-functional. The copper color is the perfect hue for the Fall Season. #4 Brush Strokes The introduction of color and dimension to your space can easily be done by adding artwork and decor with the "brush stroke". This artistic design element is both organic yet intricate. Added in a larger scale like our 60 x 48 canvas "Wave" print creates a statement piece. You may also use larger scale pieces as the focal point to your overall design.
During the month of July purchase any LEE Industries upholstered piece and we'll reward you with a 5% discount on your purchase as well donate another 5% portion to San Francisco's non-profit Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). For over 40 years LEE Industries has been committed to the well being of their customers, community and environment. LEE has become a leader in upholstery manufacturing; every piece is sustainably handcrafted with pride in the USA. LEE is dedicated to its’ sustainability efforts. All LEE upholstery contains certified sustainable frames, soy-based cushions, recycled metals, and recycled fibers. Both Maker & Moss and LEE Industries support local charities and environmental causes. Our goal is to leave the world a little better than how we found it for future generations and we invite you to shop smart and eco-friendly. Every item of LEE Furniture sold this July goes towards our contribution to FUF to green our city. FUF is an advocate of a larger, healthier urban forest. Through community planting, tree care, education, and advocacy they work to improve the city's "green infrastructure". This green infrastructure not only beautifies the neighborhoods, but also helps clean the air and reduces polluted storm water runoff. Since 1981, FUF has planted more than 49,000 trees, totaling 47% of the city's street tree canopy! Shop Maker & Moss this July and help FUF make our city a happier and healthier place to live by planting more trees and greening the city. Contact Maker & Moss today for a design consultation.
As many of us are all too familiar with, San Francisco city living often means small living and maximizing space. When it comes to decorating it's necessary to choose items that are functional, yet still offer unique design elements. We want to create mini spaces with mega style. One of the most common mistakes when decorating small homes is maxing out your space with small scale furniture items. Many think that they must stick with smaller pieces in order to maximize their overall space. However, mixing up the scale with a few larger statement pieces that also serve a certain functionality help add depth and weight to your design. We're excited to introduce a number of new furniture items to our assortment that are perfect for small city living. They make a bold statement, offer storage solutions, and create extra dimension to your space. The Henry Chair, although smaller is a great seating solution for either a living room or bedroom. The chair introduces a sleek modern design with textural and color contrast with its leather capped upholstery. The Oxford Book Cases, create storage while maximizing wall space. The narrow design offers a great amount of storage space or display shelving for decorative accessories. The Oxford comes in both small and tall and is great for living rooms, kitchens, and the small size may even be utilized as a bedside storage table. The Helena Bookcase, is both multifunctional and unique. The distinctive geometric design makes it a decorative element as well as storage solution. The Helena is the perfect statement piece to add dimension to you room. It is also available in a console.