Get a Load of the Communal Jewelry Studio Elizabeth Thompson Created
900 square feet just bursting with creativity.
“We are a tribe that sees the beauty in small things,” says Elizabeth Thompson, the hyper-talented jewelry designer behind Elizabeth Knight, of her clan of 13 like-minded makers at the open-24/7 workspace FluxWork Studio, which she founded in 2008 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. What do you get if you’re part of Elizabeth’s posse? A bench—i.e., the jewelry-world equivalent of a cubicle—and access to come-one-come-all workspaces for tackling projects like grinding, polishing, and soldering. Go on—take a look around. —alisha prakash
“The studio in the morning. As you walk in, you can feel the calm and the potential in the air. Throughout the day, people come and go. Some days the studio is empty, and others people will be working through the night. I love the company of my studio mates—sharing ideas and tools. I also love these silent mornings accompanied by the unspoken magic in the room.”
“Many people don’t know jewelers’ benches are raised so that one can sit eye-level with their project. Making jewelry is a very close, intimate experience that requires an extreme eye for detail. Often I find that working in this way can be very meditative and calming. I love to work by my favorite window that gets the best sunlight throughout the day.”
“These are my girls. How I love them. On the left is Emma—who was an intern for the summer—working at the soldering table with my assistant, Nina, on the right.”
“In December, we had a wildly successful event with Jean-Noel from Top Notch Faceting and his partner, Dale. The pair came to New York to discuss the process of ethically mining stones in Africa and to present stunning stones cut by Jean himself. Jewelers from New York, Philadelphia, and across the East Coast came to FluxWork to hear Jean and Dale speak. It was a sincere pleasure to host these guys at the studio and was very rewarding to have the support from a wide community of jewelers.”
“One of my many boxes of treasures. Texture, color, and pattern from natural objects have always been my inspiration. You can find small collections, just like this, all around the studio.”
“Working at the soldering bench is always a thrill—the powerful rush from transforming and fusing metal can make a jeweler want to consider being an alchemist. We have a few different tank set-ups at FluxWork, providing different combinations of oxygen, acetylene, and propane gas. Each option allows us to control the heat and metal in a specific way.”
“This was an awesome find on Bedford Avenue! While meandering to the studio, I cruised a record selection laid out on the sidewalk. When I set my eyes on Patti, I knew I wasn’t going to leave her there—this is my very first Patti Smith record. Music is a big deal in the studio. When I am in the studio alone, I turn to my favorite music blog, Left As Rain.”
“This is the grinding wheel, the machine we use to take down large sprues from our castings. You must keep a focused eye on the wheel as it removes metal—and fingernails—very quickly. This is how I look when I am in the zone.”
Select photos courtesy of Jacob Pritchard.
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Hang With Yegang Yoo in Her Greenpoint, Brooklyn, ‘Hood
A half dozen reasons to get exploring.
“I love the water and the quiet streets around it. You see the city right in front of you—you feel so close, yet it’s just so relaxed here,” says Yegang Yoo of her neck of the woods—somewhere between the East River and Newton Creek in Greenpoint. “One of the best parts is the cluster of new food and drink spots popping up on and around Franklin Street. Their design-savvy but down-to-earth atmosphere fits right into the neighborhood.” Hey, sounds kind of like Yegang’s not-trying-too-hard bag line IMAGO-A! See where the Brooklynite chillaxes when she’s not hard at work. —alisha prakash
“The best wine shop in the area, by a long shot, is Dandelion. I lived around the corner from the store for many years and have loved this store since they opened. Everyone is extremely cool and unpretentious. You can go in and ask questions and always leave with something great. You can shop just by the ‘staff picks’ tags alone—always great recommendations!”
(153 Franklin St.)
“Paulie Gee’s is hands down the best pizza in the area—and I know this is a touchy subject. Most good pizza places have pretty lousy interiors, but this is a total exception. The interior is beautiful—always very dark, but with lots of great details. I especially love the bathroom and that beautiful blazing oven from Napoli. Two of my favorite pies right now: the Greenpointer and the Sweet Lou…from the secret menu. Shhhhh!”
(60 Greenpoint Ave.)
“Transmitter Park was in the works for what seemed like forever. It has a kind of zigzag-y pier, which is nice because it has no other purpose—it’s not a ferry station or anything—so it’s always quiet. You walk out on this pier and it feels like you are in the middle of the East River. There used to be almost nothing down there at the end of Greenpoint Avenue.”
“Glasserie popped up less than a year ago at what used to be an old glass factory right by the Newtown Creek. It’s just unbelievable—it’s stunningly beautiful inside, and everything I’ve eaten there is next-level. The foods have a hint of Middle Eastern spices with lots of flavor from grilling. My favorite on the brunch menu is the poached eggs and spicy tomato stew.”
(95 Commercial St.)
“Alameda is beautifully designed by the Haslegrave brothers of Home, who designed some other great places in the area including Tørst and Paulie Gee’s. It has amazing cocktails and food. The majestic bar is the center of the place—I love the geometric tile works and great carpentry around it.”
(195 Franklin St.)
“Achilles Heel is also really new and well-designed with an extremely cozy interior. It’s located on the super-quiet West Street by the river. There’s a common thread to all these newer places—something about the way they combine a DIY feeling with a great, tasteful craftsmanship. Achilles Heel is another place that seems to really get it.”
(180 West St.)
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Head Home With Lia Cinquegrano of Thomas IV
There’s LOTS to see here.
Back in 2006, Lia Cinquegrano, the super-skilled designer behind the bag line Thomas IV, was living in a closet on 18th and 3rd in Manhattan. No, like actually a closet: “It was off my roommate’s room and had a children’s twin lofted bed, which touched three of the walls,” says the ex-Floridian. After a stint in Chinatown, she packed her bags for Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 2012, moving into a 1,400-square-foot space with her BF Nick. See what she’s done with those seven beyond-spacious rooms here. —alisha prakash
“A Lego VW van—one of Nick’s pieces—on a custom slanted tabletop behind our living-room couch. In the background is the Pez collection Nick inherited from his grandma and a flocked portrait by the artist Virgil Marti.”
“This is our crazy wall of art right by our front door. Nick has a very extensive collection. My brother, Tommy, designed the three larger black-and-white architectural prints in the center. He makes photo montages of warehouses and has them screen-printed by Kayrock Screenprinting in Greenpoint.”
“I love my dining table. I bought it at a church thrift shop on Gramercy Park. I recently painted the chairs and table legs bright teal. Also, it has our autumnal arrangement on it.”
“This is a view of the kitchen—and our magnet collection. The magnets are from around the world. Atop the fridge are three cast pineapples by Nick Paparone.”
“My favorite spice rack is a converted ‘Doctor Scholl’s Foot Comfort Remedies’ display shelf. Above it is a replica of a Van Gogh painting by my mother, Marilynn.”
“This is my sewing machine with some inspiration on the wall behind it—images of the crystal cave in Chihuahua, Mexico, and of the Tarahumara people of northwestern Mexico in pre-Easter costumes. Also, an illustration of one of my bags by Emily Rose Bartley!”
“A large banner by Nick hangs behind the bed, and a rug he designed lies below.”
“I love my cuckoo clock and branch shelf, displaying a collection of tiny tchotchkes, on the wall opposite our bed. The rattan loveseat formerly had more of a Golden Girls vibe. I recovered the cushions in toile and painted the bamboo a high-gloss red.”
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Samantha Pleet Teaches Us How to Decorate Like a Pro
A how-to guide for small-space dwellers—or anyone, really!
By looking at the pictures, you’d never guess that the adorable Greenpoint apartment that Samantha Pleet shares with her husband is only 650 square feet. The super-savvy clothing designer’s secret? These easy-peasy tricks that anyone can do. Who needs room to spare? —monica derevjanik
Hang your art high.
“If you have limited wall space to display your art, think vertical and hang your pieces over door frames. It will help make your ceilings look like they’re higher than they actually are.”
Get creative with your walls.
“Our bedroom has a forest theme, which started with our mural painted by Leon Ben.”
Spruce up your bed.
“What’s the point of a boring bed? We made our own out of birch trees.”
Play around with your bookshelves.
“We made our bookshelves from salvaged wood. We love that it creates the illusion of more space if you stack them all the way up to the ceiling like in an old library.”
Separate your space.
“Our dining room and living room share the same room, so we used furniture to divide the space while maintaining the openness. Our couches face our projector screen, which creates a little theater.”
Add some green.
“We have a lot of windows, which works great for our plants. Our little green friends give our apartment its tree-house vibe.”
Photos courtesy of Agnes Thor.
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Jimmy + Maeve
“Making has always just been a part of my life,” says Liz Hobin, the creative force behind the one-year-old scarf-centric line Jimmy + Maeve. Raised by a grandmother who showed her the knitting ropes and a master-quilter mother, Liz, with her “genetic instinct to create,” was pretty much destined to go the DIY route, and, after leaving L.A. to study public health in SF and Portland, she settled down in Greenpoint in 2010 and established her label in 2011.
But, really, why scarves? As Liz explains, “coming from L.A., living in Brooklyn means a big comfort sacrifice that I’m not willing to accept—scarves are like comfort food.” So much so that Liz spent the entire summer knitting scarves on the beach. “I’m inspired by anxiety—if I’m not making something or reinventing a project, I go crazy,” she says.
Don’t let her fool you: Jimmy + Maeve, made of the softest materials Liz can find—wool, alpaca, cashmere, merino—is not just a Xanax alternative. It’s a biz, with a team of three hand-knitting from her studio, which, conveniently enough, happens to be located in her apartment. The ultimate goal: “I want it to be like having a blanket for your neck and face,” she says. —alisha prakash
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The 3 NYC Spots In God We Trust Calls Home
Find yourself an excuse to visit all of them.
Shana Tabor has come a long way: “When I first started, I had a tiny corner of my bedroom where I would sit for 12 hours every day and make jewelry,” she explains of the roots of her line In God We Trust, which now tackles apparel, too. But in 2005, about two years after she started working on her line full-time, Shana decided it was time to set up shop—an interest she had from the very beginning. She now has a trifecta of super-influential, crazy-cool locations in Greenpoint, Soho, and Williamsburg that carry the likes of D.S. & Durga, Billy Kirk, and The Hill-Side, beyond her own creations. Here’s how each shop came to be. —alisha prakash
“The Greenpoint store is where all the magic happens. Our design studio is here, and it’s where all the manufacturing takes place. I found this location in search of a bigger studio space. I loved the idea of our studio being attached to a retail space—it’s the best of both worlds. This space is by far our largest location, allowing freedoms not available in our smaller locations. The brick walls were already here. We added one large-scale piece of furniture, and it was done. Greenpoint has a real sense of community that is lacking in most New York neighborhoods, especially in North Brooklyn.” (70 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn)
“This store is our first Manhattan location. I was prompted to look in that neighborhood by a fellow shop owner, and when I saw the space was available, I left a note under the gate and waited for a call. Thankfully it happened. This stretch of Lafayette is a place that I used to shop in during the nineties. It’s also an interesting location in the city because we are not quite in Soho and also not really in Nolita. That makes for an interesting mix of people and lifestyles. The space is long and narrow, so there’s not much you can do. The main concern was removing the glass walls and six layers of X-Girl wallpaper (even on the ceilings!).” (265 Lafayette St.)
“This Bedford Avenue store is our newest location, which opened last summer. It is home to our perfect customers—this includes tourists and locals. Can’t help it, haters: This is my home. I have lived in Williamsburg since 2000. I love working in the same ‘hood that I live in—even though I sometimes hate it, too.” (129 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn)
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Lisa Levine Makes (Healing!) Earrings for Of a Kind
Yes, you’ll feel better just putting these things on.
When Lisa Levine closed her Williamsburg store in 2008 to focus on the healing arts—like calming breathwork, Reiki, and massage—it seemed like her just-bohemian jewelry line may have been done for good. But now she’s is back in the game with this ethos in tow: “Beauty, creativity, and healing all go together.” See how she fused them in the chain-strung earrings that are made, as Lisa she says, “for the goddess in all of us.” —lauren caruso
"I really believe in the power of sacred objects—that things we wear affect how we feel. Something you know is handmade has a different vibration than something that’s made as cheaply as possible, so the production is very important to me. This is very untechnical, but we would usually make a template, which is pretty much a piece of paper that has the length of each of the chains. You line up the type of chain and then cut to those lengths. It’s very organic and low-tech. Each earring may be a tiny bit different, but that’s the beauty of it."
"The most tedious part is opening the squares of chain so that the hoop fits through, but metal can stretch a bit. Now that all ten chains are on, I make the latch—it’s just a little circle for the part that goes through your ear to go through."
"Hammering the molecules in the metal together—which is called work hardening—gives it more form and strength, and it actually gives it a faceted shine because it’s flattened."
“The final step is to file the tip so the part that goes through your ear isn’t sharp.”
“And there she is! I’ve been really into gold lately, for the sun. The chains are super disco-y and modern, but the earring is assembled in an organic shape. That juxtaposition is really fun. They’re definitely summer earrings.”
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Though Lisa Levine probably wouldn’t consider herself as much of a businesswoman as a healer, hand-crafting jewelry has always been lucrative for the Pittsburgh native—both spiritually and in the more standard, money-in-the-bank sense. “When I was a child, I could draw or paint or create to help me clear any bad emotions,” Lisa says in her six-inch voice. “I started making jewelry as a little kid and even selling it.”
Before taking things further as an adult and opening her eponymous Metropolitan Avenue jewelry store in Brooklyn in 2005, Lisa spent a year at Parsons and later shipped off to San Miguel de Allende—an idyllic artist community in Mexico—to study silversmithing with the legendary Billy King.
After a three-year run, Lisa closed her store and took “a 90% break” from designing to focus on breath work and Reiki more intensively, and now her cozy Greenpoint loft is home to a healing center, a yoga and meditation space, and her design studio. The jewelry thing is such a part of who she is that trying to escape it would be plain silly—luckily, all of her endeavors, with their open-endedness, meld together quite nicely. Or, as she puts it, “There’s a lot of positivity and healing that goes into making the jewelry. You can feel if there’s love in it.” —lauren caruso
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Lisa Levine Teaches Us How to Relax Already
She’s a jewelry-maker and healer, all rolled up into one.
Lisa assisting a handstand in her light-filled, hard-working space.
Lisa Levine’s inimitable Greenpoint apartment-turned-studio-turned-relaxation haven could easily incite jealousy, but luckily, as a certified Reiki Master, Lisa has the training to extinguish any negative thinking you might be experiencing. When the NYC transplant isn’t busy hand-crafting her line of delicately earthy jewelry—Lisa often juxtaposes animal elements like feathers and quills with oxidized silver and gold-fill coins—she is guiding meditations, practicing inner-healing, and spending time with one of her many shrines to Amma (the hugging saint!). Take a peek inside her endlessly versatile loft and pick up a few tips for coming down. —lauren caruso
"The space I live in is also home to a healing center, Maha Rose, and a yoga and meditation center, Kusala Yoga. I’ve lived there for eight and a half years, and it has evolved as much in that time as I have.”
"My guru, Amma, is the hugging saint. In this culture, I think the idea of a guru is really foreign, but she’s all about the religion of love, and I subscribe to that. The world needs more love."
"What these hands were originally has changed in the context of this room. A lot of the healing work I do is with my hands, so it’s symbolic in that way."
"I’ve always liked oracle cards, so I thought I’d make my own! They’re not finished, but I like some of them without any color. It’s important to make the decision to turn today into the best day of your life. Sometimes, we can be lazy. The mind is on autopilot so often, so unless we are consciously driving the mind, it starts to drive us."
"This table’s kind of charged from all the work that’s been done on it. Just laying on it may make you feel relaxed, but a body scan—which involves starting at the feet most often and bringing your awareness to each part of the body, feeling the bones, the muscles the skin and allowing each part to feel heavy—is a great way of relaxing because really brings you into the body. Too often, we’re stuck within the mind."
"You can do a body scan on your own, or have someone guide you through it. Relax all the organs around the belly and allow them to take in the oxygen, allowing them to soften and be at ease. Invite all your organs to relax. Thank them for the life that they bring you, even when you’re not thinking about it—that they always do their job so perfectly. Thank all of your internal organs for taking such good care of you."
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Sara Shows Off Her Space
She’s adorned it with all kinds of massive printing tools.
Sara Gates has been live-working from the same location in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for the last five years—long before most people were converting lofts and familiarizing themselves with the G train. “When I first moved in, I lived with a bunch of people, but over the years, the business has sort of taken over. It was half-house, half-studio, and now it’s more like three-quarters studio,” the woman behind the dye-happy bag line Cook & Gates explains. Here, she shows off some of the highlights and heavy machinery of the studio, where she also runs a screen-printing company.
“These are the two screen-printing presses that I use. I tend to do pretty small runs. I work with a lot of local artists and designers. I do up to a 1,000 pieces but not usually more that that.”
“To create the printing designs, you put photo-sensitive emulsion on a screen, let it dry, and tape the image—which is black on clear—to it. You put it in this machine, which vacuums it in place, and turn a 6,000-watt light on it to expose it. It’s really bright—and also really loud. The light hardens the emulsion, and the black blocks the light. Then you hose it down.”
“I do a lot of oversize printing, which a lot of printers don’t do because you need huge screens and huge equipment. There are little versions of the equipment, but printing tiny objects just on T-shirts is not that compelling for me.”
“The dyeing I do for Cook & Gates happens everywhere. I have buckets all over the place—I do a lot of it on the roof. That bag on the clothesline has been living on the roof for three months. That’s its home.”