Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inside the Makers Workshop: Aleksandra Zee

"My name is Aleksandra Zee, I am a woodworker. I make wall hangings tables and headboards all made from new and reclaimed wood. A day in my workspace is not work at all for me. I am so lucky that I get to do what I love for a living, I wake up pinching myself every morning that this is the life I get to lead. First things first with any day I grab some coffee and head to the studio. When I get to the studio I spend about an hour getting inspired and prepping for my days work. Sometimes that means pulling old rusty nails out of old lath for a few hours. After that's done I move on to creating. I work organically, laying and cutting each piece as I go. By creating that way it becomes a creative meditation that I end up looking track of time and fall in love with every piece I make. I try my hardest to finish my work each day but if I don't then I make sure to leave at a stopping point that will let me jump right back in to that meditation. It's all creative energy that goes into every day in the studio, being preset and loving what I do makes all the difference."
Aleksandra Zee creates three-dimensional objects from found and re-purposed materials and situates them in site specific installations. Ranging in scale from small interventions to whole room distortions, she strives to transform the viewer’s perception of the space. Zee is interested in the transcendence of the harsh, broken, or discarded materials into objects of soft whimsy. In much the same way, Zee wants the viewer to pause and lose themselves in the altered environment. 
Originally from Los Angeles, Zee is constantly inspired by her peers and life in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Inside the Makers Workshop: Type A Press

Hi there! I'm Chelsey, owner and printer of Type A Press, a letterpress shop in McMinnville, Oregon. I am fourth generation in my family's newspaper business and grew up among rolls of paper and inky press rooms. While I have a degree in Political Science, after a few years of political life I decided I wanted to return to my family business. So for ten years I worked in almost every part of our commercial print shop. My first year there was spent in the bindery working at the machines and sweeping up scraps. Folks say that once you work in the printing business you always have some part of that industry in you. I am so thankful for the years I had learning printing because it gave me the confidence to start my own letterpress print shop. I started part time on my business in 2010, and in 2012 I took the leap and left my day job to be my own boss. Hands down it was the best decision of my life. 

I love it in McMinnville. I am so thankful to have my own business in the such a supportive community. My shop is in the downtown area and gets a lot of walker-bys. I feel so awkward when I am at the press printing and people stop and watch me. I pretend like I don't see them :). When I first moved into my space I painted it navy blue. Inside and out. Our building is on the National Historic Registry and has amazing high ceilings and old wood beams.  For about a year now Zach (@leftbywest) and now Mitch (@m_charles) have shared the space next to me. Zach is an artist and Mitch is a sign painter and they are too of the funniest people I know. And they compliment my hair when I come to work…so that's a bonus!

This is my view most days. I'm a one-girl shop, so I do all of the design, printing, shipping, marketing and whatever else I can do to grow my business (though I admittedly need an intern). I have to have a good notebook and pen for all of the lists I make. I also keep a stack of cards I have picked up. I like seeing what other stationers are doing and for some reason I feel really odd sending my own cards to folks in the mail. 

This is the press that started it all. This 1923 Chandler and Price letterpress had been sitting in our warehouse since the 1940's. I tracked down paperwork that showed it in the inventory of a purchase our family made of another newspaper. I am the first generation in my family to focus on the printing side of our business, my father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all newspaper men. So I didn't have any resources locally to learn from when I was first starting out. It took another supportive printer, a handy husband and some You Tube videos to learn this craft. I found some of the old instruction manuals and text books on how to print letterpress, but it was the trial and error and getting my hands dirty that made me the most confident. 

One of my favorite, all though most messy corners of the shop. This pegboard holds my packaging supplies, my old printing manuals and my copies of Kinfolk Magazine. I started working with Kinfolk in the beginning of their magazine and have printed their calling cards, dinner series menus, and a bunch of other pieces. They are the nicest and most supportive group of people, and they make sure I always have the latest copy when I drop off their orders. 

One of my favorite things to do is custom mix ink colors for people. Working in a print shop for so many years, I got to witness it being done on a large scale. So when I started doing it there was a lot of trial and error in getting the colors just right. But the practice of mixing ink is a great way to clear you mind and take some deep breaths (most days). 

I have huge windows in my shop which makes it nice for taking product shots. I have a box of really random props that I keep on hand. You never know when you're going to need some antlers and turkey feathers. These are some of the greeting cards I am working on with I have a ton of new products in the works and am so happy to be working with folks like Makers Workshop, Local Milk, Ruthie Lindsey and Amanda Jane Jones on my new product line. You can keep up with me at!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jacob Bromwell Since 1819

Jacob Bromwell is one of America’s oldest companies, creating a variety of unique, hard-to-find products proudly made in the USA. It was founded with the mission of producing the “highest quality cooking, baking, and campfire products for American families.” As one of America’s leading housewares companies, all of their products are well-built, non-electric, and backed by a Lifetime Guarantee.
Jacob Bromwell was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1785. As an educated, young soldier of the War of 1812, and a frontier entrepreneur, he soon accumulated enough money to get himself out of Baltimore and travel to the new territories opening out West—more specifically, Cincinnati. 

“So he forged his way across the American frontier and started the first wire-weaving and housewares business, calling it The Bromwell Brush & Wire Goods Company.  Mr. Bromwell's company created cutting-edge products that fulfilled the demands and needs of fellow pioneers during his era.  The products included shoe and scrub brushes, leather and wood horse shiners, dusting and window brushes, mops, rat traps, sand screens, corn poppers, and sifters.” Cincinnati developed into the “Queen City of the West,” which helped Bromwell’s wire-goods business grow. In the 20’s, Jacob Bromwell moved to Michigan City, Indiana and has been rooted there ever since.
"Few companies have exclusively employed only Americans for longer than Jacob Bromwell." — World Net Daily

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Get To Know The Artist: Giles Clement

We caught up with one of our favorite photographers, Giles Clement, on his current tour around the USA. 
Growing up in the south, I have many memories of tintype photography. On weekend trips to civil war reenactments or nearby plantations, I watched as husbands and wives stood expressionless waiting for capture, having to stand still for what seemed like an eternity. I remember Nicole Kidman's character, Ada, in Cold Mountain saying in her best southern drawl, "I don't know how to do that... hold a smile." Tintype photography was not only fairly quick for the mid 19th century, it was also inexpensive and conveniently pocket sized. It brought photography within the reach of the working class and the poor and paved the way for improvisational photos. Spur-of-the-moment photos became common and people generally behaved without restraint or formality in front of the camera. The resulting record is rich in detail and in the revelation of attitudes of the era. ( 
Giles Clement is an itinerant photographer currently touring the country with his Irish Terrier and a station wagon full of cameras, lights and wet plate collodion chemicals. Clement began his photographic career 15 years ago working as a photojournalist and the honest, direct approach to his story telling photographs has stayed with him throughout his journey.During one stint at a daily paper he found several antique Yashicas in the basement and began taking them on assignment with him. The inherent unpredictability of film and older equipment was in stark contrast to the clinical, perfect pixels that comprises modern photography. In time small formats led to the acquisition and use of 4x5's and 8x10's and then to the jump to wet plate collodion. 
I've been touring since March and it's been great, it takes a bit of adjusting to move into a completely transient lifestyle but I've done similar trips before so I have some practice. I've met a ton of awesome people so far, the one things that's struck me is how connected the creative community really is. I'll meet someone in Texas one week, the next week I'll be photographing someone else in New York and they'll be the best friend of the Texan. It's been hugely inspiring to meet a lot of these fellow artists and see how they're recording life and making the world just a bit more interesting.  
Has working with wet plates inspired anything else in your day to day life? To do things the olde way? 
I think wet plate has made me a better photographer, it's slowed me down in a good way and made me consider what story I'm telling with an image. There's no correcting mistakes in photoshop with a tintype image so I've learned to get things right the first time, make sure I'm really prepared before taking a photo. I suppose that's a lesson that can be applied to most things in life. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Share Your Space

We believe that the mess, the undone sort of beauty that happens when you're creating is where the real magic is. We're building a community of movers and shakers who believe that it is our duty to preserve handmade craft and the creation of quality goods. We want to see where you create! Be sure to tag #makersworkshop in your photos!


In January, I paid a visit to my pal Paul Kaufman at his beautiful LA home. Pskaufman was founded in 2010 after a long career in shoemaking, Paul decided it was time to put his name to a product that reflected his longtime passion for shoemaking and it's values. His love of heritage is reflected so clearly in his work and in his person. In his garden, story after story of work and of experience was told; every detail of his process with thought and purpose.  
"With a firm belief in footwear that can be worn for decades, not months, pskaufman features Goodyear-welted boots and shoes, made as they have been for over 100 years. Constructed by hand, as well as on ancient machinery, pskaufman features high-quality, full-grain leather uppers and full-grain leather linings." 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Forge Your Own Path

Last week, we were honored to be the first featured for Dyer & Jenkins "Forge Your Own Path" series. You can read more on the interview on the D&J blog.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


For a long time, I fought joining Instagram. The last thing I needed was another thing to keep me from being present but, as time went on, I finally caved. Since then, Instagram has proven to be more than just another social media platform but, has forged lasting and true friendships. Enter, Janelle Pietrzak, founder of All Roads Design, "a creative workshop and textile studio in Los Angeles. All Roads is a culmination of past experiences, and a collective of skill sets. Carpentry, welding, sewing and weaving are trades combined to solve design challenges and create objects and spaces." 
When I entered the All Roads workshop in January, it was like visiting an old friend though in reality, it was my first meeting with Janelle. We sat in the sun filled studio and shared stories of shared passion as she moved the shuttle back and forth on her new creation. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MW x CALIFORNIA: Wildflowers and Work

This spring, I joined wildcrafters Juniper Ridge for their limited edition Field Lab fragrance harvest,  Topanga Canyon. With my camera and backpack in tow, I documented our 3 days in the Southern California wilderness. We rose early each morning in search of the earth's new bounty, the wildflowers exploding from each brightly colored new green stem. Here, on the trail and around the campfire is where the soul of Juniper Ridge lies and where the basis of my business is born. This recent work for Juniper Ridge, is so emblematic of my mission here at Makers Workshop; to celebrate these incredible processes like enfleurage and these skills that have been passed down for centuries. By first getting to know the brand, the people and their passion, I gained insight that allowed me to create an end product that truly spoke to the core of the company and their culture. It is so rewarding to see this transition for Makers Workshop, to not only shine a light on these companies and makers that I love, but to in turn, use my skills to further tell their story.   
I am excited for the future of Makers Workshop and the new works we will create with other quality brands. If you are interested in more information, you may contact me via email.

You can see more photos from my previous post HERE.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow

"A tribal priest who wished to send a prayer to the sun, but didn't know how to get it there. He called upon his friend the bear, who said -- for in those days men and animals could understand one another plainly -- that he could carry it only to the top of the tallest tree. Fortunately, the bear knew someone able to deliver the prayer all the way to the sun: Brother Eagle. And the eagle, according to the legend, circled ever higher and higher until he reached the sun -- a beautiful woman. She said to the eagle, "Wait, give me one of your feathers, I will kiss it with my hot breath, and then you carry it back to the Tunica-Biloxi as a sign that I have chosen them as my people." And that is why, to this day, the top of an eagle's feather is still scorched black from the kiss of the sun. "