But How Does Helen Dealtry Create Her So-Major Floral Prints?!
Hey, scarf—this bud’s for you.
“I paint a good flower,” says Helen Dealtry. Um, more like she paints blossoms so magnetic that you’ll want to drape your neck in ‘em. How does this astonishingly talented textile designer go from anemone inspo to airy, mood-changing scarf? Watch her make it happen. —genevieve ang
“I like to go to the New York City Public Library—they have an image section there, and you can make photocopies of things that you like. It’s good to get away from Pinterest, which I do get inspired by, but can sometimes be a bit repetitive. It can be nice to look through a book. I also love flowers, and if my neighbor Nicolette, who’s an amazing florist, has a wedding coming up, I might head over to the Chelsea flower market with her super early in the morning. I like to put flowers in unusual arrangements—I’m super inspired by Japanese arrangements called ikebana.”
“My archive of vintage fabrics and swatches is also really inspiring for me. The fashion cycle is so weird, and it can sometimes be hard to get in the zone when you’re painting during the opposite season. I like going to the Rose Bowl in L.A. for my fabric swatches—they keep me going for months.”
“When I start on a new project, I usually allow myself a week to just paint. It can be quite hard to turn off your business head and turn on your creative head and go back and forth between the two. My painting days are when I turn everything else off and go completely under—it’s when I feel completely free to chop things up and put different things together.”
“On the computer, I primarily play with scale and rearrange the layout. I don’t do a huge amount on the computer—it’s mostly done beforehand in the painting process. After I clean up my design, I send it off to production.”
“I then get a sample back, say ‘yay’ or ‘nay,’ and then that’s it! There’s usually quite a few months of turnaround time, so you have to be quite ahead of your game!”
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Sarkilahti.
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M&U Co. Gets Down With Metal
Lifting up your EDC.
“Every well-dressed or aesthetically conscious man these days has some awesome wallet or a nice pocket handkerchief, but then he has this ugly jumbled mess of keys,” says Hunter Craighill of M&U Co. “We want to elevate the things you have in your pocket every day.” Thing is, crafting a key ring and a money clip from brass is a whole lot different than creating in leather, the material at the foundation of the line Hunter’s partner-in-crime Nathan Gryszowka founded. Here’s what it takes to make their two streamlined—but not-so-simple—new pieces. —alisha prakash
“We start with a 1/16-inch-thick piece of brass. It’s digitally cut by a high-powered laser. If you look at our wallets, on the interior, the opening for the cards has these slightly tapered angles, and we used those angles on the money clip. It comes out a little rough, so we tumble it. Then we get it to our machinist in Brooklyn to do the bending.”
“We use this custom bending rig that we designed and had our machinist make to get the bends accurate for the money clip. It’s a beautiful object itself that we’re proud of. It has two steel bars—one is mounted and one can rotate while the other revolves around it. It performs one job—to create the bend where you put your money.”
“We went through a dozen samples with different detailing and radiuses on the angles and shapes before we honed in on the final design. We tested them for a couple of months. It seems like such a simple product, but so much effort and time and sampling went into it.”
“This image shows the key ring in the open position, where the keys can be added or removed. The hexagonal closure screws onto the threaded end of the bent wire on the left side to close. The entire hex piece is hollow, so it can slide freely up and down the right-hand of the wire.”
“The hex piece is made by our guy in Brooklyn—the same machinist who does the money clips. This is one of the hex pieces being drilled out so it can go up and down on the wire. What always blows my mind about the lathe is that if you’re familiar with a power drill, you know it spins quickly with a bit in it—so you can drill out into your wall or a piece of wood. But the object you’re drilling is already spinning on a lathe, so essentially you’re just pushing a stationary drill bit into it and because the object is already spinning, it still cuts out. That drill bit is slowly moving into the spinning hex piece. The hexagonal closure is drilled, chamfered, and threaded on the lathe.”
“If you’re working with a power drill, the thing that holds the bit in place is called a chuck. The machinist’s name is Chuck, too. He does a lot of work for us—he’s a very well-versed and skilled machinist, an all-around metalworker, and a good friend of ours. We work with him on almost every project, even if just to pick his brain. Here, there’s a tray of what looks like little gold rocks. As the lathe is spinning, you’re essentially cutting away pieces of metal, so those are all falling into that bed that looks like a cookie sheet. That’s all the refuse from making tons of threaded hex pieces.”
“The wire for the key ring is hand-bent on this custom steel rig, which is in a D-shape. You clamp the wire to one face of it, and you slowly wrap it around the D-shaped block. Once we get our hex pieces made, we put them on the bent wire.”
“Because of how they’re bent and how they’re threaded, the only way to engrave them is facing upwards. We have to mark one-by-one which face has to be engraved before we send them to the laser engraver. This shows each face marked.”
“Lastly, we assemble, tumble, and polish them. It seems like a crazy amount of work for such a simple object, but this is in your pocket and in your hand everyday—you should be thinking about this just as much as you think about where you put your credit cards and money. This is what gives you access to the world and your life.”
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Step Inside M&U Co.’s Pennsylvania Tannery
150 years of experience is nothing to sneeze at.
When it comes to sourcing leather for their wallets, M&U Co.’s Hunter Craighill and Nathan Gryszowka don’t mess around. “We like knowing where the leather comes from and how it’s produced,” says Hunter. And for them, that means working exclusively with Wickett & Craig, a tannery in Curwensville, Pennsylvania, that’s been at it since 1867. “They’re one of two vegetable tanneries in North America, and they produce the best quality that I’ve seen.” Hunter talks us through all that happens there below. —alisha prakash
“We use a quality that’s called bridle leather. It’s the hardest-working and most flexible leather. When the cowhides come into the tannery, they still have hair on them, so they’re soaked in baths that de-hair them.”
“Then the pieces go to the tan yard, which is a series of big baths. Here, you’re basically converting the animal skin into leather. I don’t think they change the water—the tanning liquid gets better with age.”
“From the tan yard, our leather goes on to be dyed. They tumble the hides in big barrels with a lot of dye. They come out dripping in dye and have to be hung to dry.”
“Then the hides are hot-stuffed. They’re put into these oak barrels—these things rotate and get heated up. The hides are soaked and tumbled in tallows and oils to create a nice, finished leather that won’t dry and crack over time.”
“After the hides are hot-stuffed, they go on to be waxed. This is the leather after it has been waxed. The final waxing makes the leather tougher but also allows a patina to come out. It’s like nice denim: When you buy it, it’s pristine and stiff, but as it wears in, it gets a character of its own.”
“This is the finished bridle leather, at its full thickness.”
“Our leather gets split to make it thinner. Natural cowhides can be between 1/8 inch and ¼ inch thick, and we want it as thin as possible, closer to 1/32 inch thick. They keep the outside face of the leather and cut into the interior side.”
“We like a darker inside to contrast slightly with the color of face of the leather, so we have the tannery spray a darker dye on the inside after it has been split and re-finished.”
“This is M&U’s fall order packed up. We ordered a few different colors—it’s probably 24 sides of leather. A side is half of a full cow, which is typically how leather is sold.”
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Melanie Abrantes Introduces Us to the Magic of Cork
From tree to tabletop, guys.
Your eyes aren’t fooling you: After the bark is harvested, the trunks really are that rusty hue.
Quarter-Portuguese product designer Melanie Abrantes is a huge—ginormous!—fan of cork. “It’s antibacterial, water-proof, washable—it’s practically indestructible!” she raves. It’s something that has been part of Melanie’s annual summer vacays with her grandfather all her life, but now she’s taken things to the next level, producing killer vases and planters from the stuff. How, exactly, do you turn bark into a bowl? Girl’s got the scoop. —genevieve ang
“There are all these valleys and fields full of trees that look naked in South Portugal. It’s one of those things you have to see to believe—it’s a pretty funny sight. Cork is basically the bark of cork oak trees. They get harvested around 12 times in their lifetime, every nine years or so starting from when they’re 25.”
“The cork I buy comes in these huge blocks. Basically what happens is that they cut out all the wine corks from the original cork bark that they harvest. They then grind up all the holey cork board, mold it into giant blocks, and bake them. That’s what I purchase!”
“After I buy my cork in these huge blocks, I use a lathing tool to shape it. It’s a little harder to sand to get the correct finish, so I do everything on a lathe. I went to a wood shop to purchase a lathe, and they kept talking to my dad because no one thought that a woman would be buying one.”
“I then finish each item with beeswax, which gives it a more finished look and protects the cork. Beeswax is food-based, so it’s okay to use for food containers and for kids to put in their mouths.”
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Watch Katie Diamond’s Cooler-than-Cool Bracelet Come Together
It’s made of malachite, which is definitely as cool as it sounds
“Making jewelry is one of the first things that felt really natural and easy for me,” says Katie Diamond. But for those of us who don’t have the skills to conjure up turquoise-and-diamond rings or lapis hoop earrings in their DNA? Katie’s here to show us the way. See how her designed-in-Jersey, handmade-in-India bangles came together. –olivia seely
"First, I do a detailed sketch with precise measurements. I keep several sketchbooks that I doodle new designs in constantly. Every so often, I go through my sketches and decide which pieces I’ll actually make. This one is the Cree Bangle. For most of the pieces I design, I tend to also design custom stone cuts."
“For this bangle, we chose a malachite stone. I absolutely love its color variation and the natural banded pattern. These stones are all custom-cut in Jaipur, India. I love the cone shape, which is a signature shape for me. I like to cut it as small as possible to balance its edginess. Here you can see our settings—they are cast in brass and then pre-polished.”
"We then shape the wire into an open bangle using a mandrel."
"Then we solder the settings to each open end of the wire bangle."
"The stones are set, the piece is polished and plated, and it’s sent off to Of a Kind!"
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Carolyn A’Hearn Recycles Metal Like Magic
It’s the circle of (jewelry) life.
Carolyn A’Hearn never throws anything away—at least when it comes to jewelry-making. That scrap metal? It’s not garbage but rather raw material just itching to be made into a fly new cuff or a chic pair of earrings. It takes a bit of patience, a lot of heat, and, uh, a chopstick—see how Carolyn makes the most of her leftovers. —jane-claire quigley
“Often in the studio, I melt and recycle metal to create new models and pieces. Because I work with precious metal, it’s important to let nothing go to waste. I even collect the dust from my bench—when I have enough, I will send it to a refiner to be recycled. This is a mix of 10 karat yellow gold from old castings, metal scraps, and bits of leftover wire. It gets mixed with a little boric acid and placed inside a carved charcoal brick for melting.”
“Boric acid and a chopstick are a few of the tools I use to protect and manipulate the metal as it melts. The chopstick can be used to push stray pieces of melting metal back into the mold.”
“As the metal melts, it forms into a ball and starts to move like mercury.“
“Different metals and karats of gold look more or less yellow depending on the purity. The resulting lump of metal is called an ingot, which must be cooled and cleaned before being passed through the rolling mill.”
“I use different channels in the rolling mill to slowly stretch the metal into wire. Often this is a process done over many hours. Ten karat gold can be especially hard, so I anneal, or gently heat, often and let the piece air cool as I work.”
“The metal is annealed to maintain workability as it is rolled into shape. As the metal is rolled through the mill, it becomes work-hardened, and annealing prevents the metal from developing cracks or breaking.”
“After the metal is rolled to the desired thickness, it can be made into something brand new!”
Photos by Ash Barhamand.
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Let’s Make Sandals With The Palatines, Shall We?
It takes a whole lotta work to create something this polished.
You know what’s tougher than making a shoe look cool with buckles and studs and fancy detailing? Creating a pair that stands out without all those bells and whistles. After trolling L.A. for a factory that could get the job done, Jessica Taft Langdon launched The Palatines—kicks that, as she puts it, have a “minimalist-modern inflection.” Here’s how her sicker-than-sick Of a Kind slides attain their enviable sleekness. —olivia seely
“The base of the shoe is made up of three basic components: the outsole, the midsole, and the insole. The midsole is wrapped in the same leather as the top of the shoe. The insole is inscribed with a P, and the outsole is what hits the street.”
“This is an image of the uppers of the shoes before they get assembled. The thong part is that long tail. These sandals are made of cow leather. The piece of leather is about 50 square feet in its raw shape. We make a pattern for each different shoe size and then cut each shape by hand.”
“This shows what is called the last of the shoe—it’s the form that the shoes are made on. Here we have the insole marked with a hole for the thong.”
“Next we line up the upper with the insole and thread the thong into the hole that’s stamped into the insole. We apply glue to the bottom of the insole and take the excess leather around the last, gluing it to the bottom. The glue is a contact cement. It acts just like a rubber cement you used in high-school art class.”
“This is a machine we call the grinder. We’re buffering away the excess leather that’s been wrapped around the insole. We do this so when you attach the insole to the midsole, there aren’t any lumps.”
“After the excess leather has been removed and the outsole has been buffed, we glue the outsole to the rest of the shoe, sandwiching it all together.”
“Now we stick the shoe into this machine called the presser, which makes sure that there’s an even amount of pressure all the way across the sole of the shoe. You definitely don’t want to get your fingers anywhere close to the pressing side of this!”
“After a few more finishing touches, you get this—the final product!”
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Throw a Bowl with Workaday Handmade
Say “hey” to some clay.
You know what’s magical about hand-thrown clay wares? It’s impossible to make pieces that are exactly the same. Just ask Forrest Lewinger of Workaday Handmade: He looks at each one of the 200 tumblers he created for Of a Kind as an individual, saying, “It’s interesting to look back and see how different they all are. They each have their own personality.” Get a peek into his process as he turns a blob into a bowl. —jackie varriano
“First you need to wedge your clay to get all the air bubbles out. Wedging is a lot like kneading dough.”
“Then you want to shape it into a ball, like so!”
“Next, when the wheel is still, you want to slam your clay down on to the wheel so it’s stuck and won’t slide off the wheel head. This is where throwing gets its name.”
“Now the trickiest part: centering. In order to have control over your ball of clay, you need to compress it so that it is spinning smoothly on the wheel’s axis. This is the one that takes the most practice. Once you get centering, everything else gets a lot easier.”
“Throwing is a combination of applying firmness and strength and being guided by the movement of the clay. Once it’s centered, with your elbows anchored on your hips, push your thumbs into the middle of the centered clay, and try to keep it from wobbling.”
“For bowls, you want to widen the hole in the clay you just made with you thumbs by slowly pulling it outward.”
“Now for the fun! By compressing the clay between your left and right hands, slowly guide the clay upward. You want to keep one arm anchored into your body to keep everything steady.”
“Once you’ve gotten a shape you like, you need to let it dry for the trimming process.”
“Once the bowl is dry enough to hold its own shape, you put it back on the wheel to trim. Trimming is about finessing the shape. I’ve been liking clean, simple shapes lately.”
“Trimming is also about making a foot. And making your mark.”
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Watch Steven Shein Make a Diamond Ring Look All Fresh and Cool
Say sayonara to the solitaire.
How do you turn a diamond ring—a piece of jewelry about as classic as they come—into something exciting? Steven Shein, the totally badass L.A.-based designer, has an answer. “What’s cool about the process is that we’re using cutting-edge, modern technology—3D printing and modeling—and age-old techniques—specifically, lost wax casting,” he explains. Here, dive into everything it took to create his brand-spankin’-new, seriously slick black diamond ring. —alisha prakash
“I wanted to riff on the classic diamond ring. I thought about how I could make something by reducing it as much as possible to its most functional state—no decoration, no ornamentation—and from that reduction, maximize it. I imagined these thin, tubular posts coming off of a circular form with the same tubular profile, and I wanted to set the diamonds into their tips, like some beautiful bulbs in tiny flashlights.”
“This is an image of the 3D model, which I created using Rhino, a 3D modeling program. The model is then exported as an STL file, which is a type of file that a 3D printer can read.”
“This is the piece that was printed by the 3D printer. Basically, it’s an object that the printer builds up layer by layer in a process known as additive manufacturing. I believe this is some kind of plastic wax composite, which is designed to be directly cast to create the master.”
“This image shows the master. The master is a metal object created from the 3D-printed object using the lost wax casting technique.”
“Here is an image of the freshly cut open mold with the master still sitting in it. The mold is created by heating a specialized rubber around the master. Once cooled, the master is removed.”
“This image shows a wax model that was cast using the rubber mold. It is made when the jeweler shoots liquid wax into the rubber mold, which will cool into a solid object that will then be used to create our metal casts using the lost wax casting technique. The rubber is flexible so the wax can be removed from the mold relatively easily. Using the rubber mold, the jeweler will produce as many waxes as required. They’ll attach these to what is known as a “tree” (or little pole). It will then be encased in a flask that plaster is poured into. This will go into an oven and be heated up so the plaster hardens and the waxes melt out, leaving negative spaces—or volumes—into which liquefied metal is poured to create the final casts.”
“This is the finished piece. To achieve this, the metal piece from the mold is cleaned and polished. The stones are set; the ring is polished again to a high shine, and cleaned by an ultrasonic cleaner to remove any debris or polishing wax. The piece is then electroplated with a clear-coat, which will protect the metal against tarnishing—so it will retain its color and shine.”
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Watch the K/LLER Gals Craft Their (Diamond!) Of a Kind Edition
Don’t worry: It still has plenty of fierceness.
“We have been asked for awhile if we would ever use diamonds in the collection, and we’ve always been hesitant since neither of us are blingy girls,” says Katie deGuzman, half of the team behind the rad line K/LLER, which just entered the fine-jewelry fold. The solution? Taking a graphic, minimalist approach that doesn’t feel too glitzy. “You still get the tough K/LLER aesthetic with a bit of sparkle—the dark clashing with the sweet,” notes Michael Miller. “Just the way we like it.” And then there’s the name of their first fancified collection: K/LLER Stoned—further proof they aren’t getting too lofty. Here, see how one of their newest pieces—their Of a Kind edition!—came to be. —alisha prakash
“This is a pile of the raw castings of the sterling silver pave earrings before we clean them.”
“First we saw off the sprues, which is an excess piece of metal from the casting process.”
“We use a variety of different grinding wheels, burs, and polishing wheels to clean the surface of the casting.”
“The next step is to solder a post to the back of the earring.”
“Once we have all the castings cleaned and ready to go, they are now prepared for the diamonds!”
“We work with a wonderful jeweler, Ara, who sets our stones.”
“We use three different sizes of cognac diamonds in this earring. Each stone is carefully selected and placed in a setting.”
“A setting bur is then used to push the metal around the stone to secure each one.”
“Once all the diamonds have been set, the earrings are passed over with a lapping wheel, which removes the marks created during the stone setting process.”
“They are then polished to a high shine.”
“Finally, they get a little steam clean to get rid of the polishing compound, and we send them off to get plated in rose gold.”