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Maine Handmade Fair

Maine Handmade Fair

Maine Handmade Fair on Instagram

We're organizing a virtual craft fair featuring talented Maine makers. Friday, December 6th starting at 10 am we'll be sharing our handmade work, as well as some special discounts, peeks inside of our workspaces, and creative processes. We are a group of 22 different artists and artisans representing a wide range of handmade products and processes and different areas of Maine's creative community. 

What's a Virtual Handmade Fair?

It's a group of artists and makers getting together to share their work - just like a regular craft fair. Instead of meeting up in person, we're meeting up online and inviting you to join us on Friday, December 6th, starting at 10 AM to say hello, see our handmade work, and find some special discounts on handmade holiday gifts. We think it'll be a fun way to see new work, meet new makers, support and create connections within this creative community.

printmaker Eliza Jane Curtis at work in her Maine silkscreen studio - Morris & Essex textiles, handmade in Maine

Organized by Eliza Jane Curtis of Morris & Essex and Leah B. Thibault of Ms. Cleaver - Creations for a Handmade Life, this event includes 22 Maine makers: 

@Sperrygeneralstore Cards, shirts, dresses, onesies
@beedandy_shop Bath & body products
@earthangelarts hand stitched ornaments and pillows, paintings, printed products
@Nailitartxo String art
@Morrisandessex Hand-printed textiles and letterpress cards
@sehallfurnituredesign Woodworking and Furniture
@gdixon03 Jewelry for men and women
@creationlabshop Water-Based, Hand Printed Apparel & Accessories
@mermaidmeadow Illustrative artwork on barnwood, fabric and paper.
@SarahCrawfordJewelry Jewelry
@WildwoodOysterCo Handbags
@annealexandersculptor nature-inspired sculpture, mostly in ceramics
@thinkgreene Textile Designer and Screen Printer
@APCuriosities Ceramics (animal bowls, travel cups, etc) and jewelry
@DMGDesignsMaine Jewelry & metal wares
@searosestudios Textiles, woodburning
@lanaplantae Naturally Dyed Yarns
@holmesandhudson Natural Skincare
@Jamiepeaks Art prints & Children’s books
@jeffreyliptonpottery Pottery
@McFlyandCo Dog Collar Accessories
@MsCleaver Embroidery/Knitting Kits

 

Please join us tomorrow morning, RIGHT HERE on Instagram, starting at 10 am we'll be sharing our handmade work together, as well as some special discounts, peeks at our studio and creative process, maybe some live video greetings, we'll see - each artist gets to choose what they want to share, so it'll be a bit of a surprise, and I think it'll be fun! Can't wait to see you there.

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Fall beauty, finding time for creativity, always in transition.

Fall beauty, finding time for creativity, always in transition.

    

 Mike and Hattie exploring Philadelphia old city

We've been enjoying a gorgeous fall in West Philly, missing Maine a bit, starting to plan for our next transition. Mike is in year 3 of his veterinary medicine degree at UPenn, and we just celebrated his White Coat Ceremony, which marks the 3rd year students' completion of the classroom portion of their studies, and transition to the clinical portion of the degree program. Starting in January, he'll be working and studying at UPenn's large-animal hospital in Kennett Square, PA. It's about an hour outside of Philly, in a beautiful area full of working farms - lots of cows, horses, cornfields, and mushroom farms. We had planned to stay in the city until Hattie finishes her year at preschool, but for a variety of reasons we decided to move out to Kennett Square sooner, and it looks like we'll be out of the city by January 1st! I've fallen madly in love with West Philly and I am going to miss it very much, but we're also super excited to start exploring our new home soon.

These days, my creative work continues to be a balancing act, always striving to find time for making, amidst the busy days and nights of small kids and grad student life and moving homes and traveling and being far away from my studio space (which is still in Cornish, Maine!) for most of the school year. This complicated situation has definitely led me to explore more portable aspects of my design work, from hand-embroidering scarves to painting with gouache and working to build up my surface design portfolio. I'm sure if life were simpler I'd probably be bored, but I definitely feel that life is very full and complicated these days. I've been trying to dedicate some time every day to yoga and meditation, to create a bit of a calm amidst it all. I'm grateful for the summer days that I was able to spend in the studio, printing fabric and building up inventory which I hope will find a home during this holiday season. I'm also incredibly grateful to my amazing studio-mate and helper, Sabrina, who helps me with printing, packing and shipping orders while I'm out of town. And grateful for everyone who chooses to support handmade and small businesses during the busy holiday season! Thank you!!

 

 

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Changes

Changes

Hi! Happy Summer!!

I haven’t written in a while. I do have lots of exciting new ideas and works in progress, but nothing finished yet, so... I just wanted to say hello, and share a peek at what’s going on behind the scenes.

The past few years have been a major time of flux for my family and my work. It’s been a huge time of shifting ideas, locations, homes, family size, priorities. We had our second kid in 2017. My husband quit his job and went back to school full-time (he is doing a 4-year program to become a large animal veterinarian, with a focus on food animals)! So, we had to move and then move again. I’ve worked hard to maintain a sense of family stability for the kids throughout all these changes (also TBH I’ve worked hard some days just to keep them alive and to keep myself from yelling at everyone), and found myself thinking deeply about how to be a better parent, and then how to be a better human in this world.

 

I think all of these big changes gave me the opportunity to stop and ask myself big questions. What is my meaning in the world, what do I have to offer? What’s really important to me, and why am I doing the things I do, how do I create a deeper connection between my personal values and my creative work? All this moving and questioning has left me with some complicated feelings about needing to make changes, and also some really exciting ideas about how I want to move forward, new ways I’d like to work. So I’m in a pretty experimental stage of exploring new ideas right now, which is actually kind of awesome and exciting! And maybe a little bit scary.

I’m not making any drastic changes to my business at the moment, but I’m definitely thinking about making some gentle transitions into new ways of working. I’m feeling out new ways to create, that feel more mindful and less hurried. To be honest, I’m hoping to move towards a model where I create less, and sell less, but do so with more care and more depth of spirit, if that makes any sense. 

 

This is all a work in progress, but the most exciting new project is creating a new line of scarves with recycled materials. This means that the creative process is much slower, as each piece is different and each one needs to be made in its own way, depending on the material, colors, patterns, etc. I’ve started collecting old t-shirts, cutting them up and printing some of my favorite pattern designs on the reclaimed fabric, then stitching them together by hand, using traditional Japanese sashiko stitches and cotton threads.

I will have the first pieces finished within a few days or weeks, and hope to have nicer pictures to share when they are done. I’m hoping to have a collection of these new recycled / reclaimed scarves finished in time to bring them to Common Ground Fair in the fall. But for now, I’m still in the experimenting and playing stage, which is pretty fun. I am hoping that this project will always have room for playing and experimenting a bit, since by nature each piece will be unique. 

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I’m used to sharing finished products or more polished, photogenic parts of my process, but I hope there’s some value in sharing the messy and unfinished parts of the process too. I promise to follow up with some updates on the new work when it’s finished! 

 

Until then, you can always find some little glimpses of my world on instagram, facebook, and you can find my work online, www.morrisessex.com

 

Thank you so much for your time and your support!!

Eliza

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Cute Muffins!

Cute Muffins!

Hattie keeps asking me if we can bake cupcakes again. I've learned that this mostly means she will do some stirring and a whole lot of eating cupcakes and frosting. I'm not opposed to letting my kids eat sugar, but I thought it'd be reasonable (and yummy) to temper it with a few other ingredients, so we made these carrot-apple "cupcakes." (It's just a slightly modified version of this recipe from Williams Sonoma.)  

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated apples
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, dried currants or golden raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts - I used almonds, pumpkin seeds, and pecans, a bit of each.

Mix dry indgredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another bowl; fold together just until they're mixed completely. We used mini muffin tins, so they baked for about 15 minutes at 425. And we made cream cheese frosting, which is basically just softened cream cheese mixed with confectioners sugar and a few drops of milk until it looks like frosting. 

Hattie picked the bright purple and turquoise blue food coloring! We had a bag of sliced almonds so we used those to make the flower petals, and a tiny chocolate candy for the middle of the flowers.

  Hattie enjoying our healthy cupcakes recipe

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The Cloisters and the Unicorn Tapestries

The Cloisters and the Unicorn Tapestries

The Unicorn Tapestries at The Cloisters

I wanted to share a little peek into the inspiration for my new Unicorn Valentine greeting card.

In my first year of art school, my art history professor sent us to visit The Cloisters, an amazing piece of medieval history tucked away in a very far corner of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson river, which felt about 2000 miles away from our cramped Greenwich Village classroom with its humming slide projector and fidgety art students. At The Cloisters, inside a dark hall, I was amazed to find The Unicorn Tapestry. It's a familiar image - when I was little, I remember helping my cousins do a jigsaw puzzle of the same picture. Here it was, larger than life, nearly five hundred years old. It's displayed as part of a full series of seven tapestries, woven in dark wool with gilded threads. I spent a few minutes there in the quiet dark, a little overwhelmed by the huge set of huge tapestries. The quirky, botanically detailed wildflowers that fill the meadow were wonderful to see up-close. You can visit The Met Museum's "Unicorn in Captivity" page to see it and learn more about the love and fertility symbolism in this imagery, and the history behind these beloved tapestries.

The Cloisters NYC

The Cloisters NYC

The Cloisters NYC

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I'd love to hear your opinion!

I'd love to hear your opinion!

EDIT: Giveaway drawing is closed, although the survey will remain open - I'd still love to hear your opinion anytime!

I have some questions for you! If you are a reader, a fan or a customer, or even just a random human passing by, then I'd like to know what you think. I LOVE to get feedback from my people - your opinions are golden to me. Hearing from you helps me to figure out what's working well and what I can do better, how my work is holding up over time, what you're responding to and what's exciting for you! So, I'm doing a survey to learn more about your interests, ideas, and your experiences with Morris & Essex handmade goods. Here is a link to the survey:

Morris & Essex Customer Survey!

As a thank-you for taking the time to share your thoughts (it will take about 3 minutes), everyone who completes the quick survey before November 1 will be entered WAS entered in a drawing to win this beautiful blue gift package. (or, if you don't love blue, you can pick out some different colors!) Every completed survey will be entered WAS entered in the drawing. Be sure to enter your email address at the end of the survey so I can contact you if you are the winner, and also you can sign up for my newsletter to stay up-to-date with new products and designs, giveaways, craft fairs and events, and other Morris & Essex goings-on. 

Blue hand-printed scarf, enamel coffee mug, hand-printed zipper pouch made in Maine by Morris & Essex

The giveaway package includes one glossy and gorgeous enamel mug, one hand-printed scarf made from eco-friendly bamboo fabric, and one hand-printed canvas zipper pouch

The survey will remain open through November 1st. Everyone who enters the survey will get one entry to the giveaway. A winner will be chosen by random drawing on Friday, November 2nd and the prize package will be mailed out by Tuesday, November 6th.

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Morris & Essex is on hiatus for the month of October! ...

Morris & Essex is on hiatus for the month of October! ...

Taking a break

It's hard to get time off when you have your own business, and I always feel guilty when I think about stepping away for a minute or a weekend or whatever. But I also believe that one aspect of sustainable business is self-care. Working relentlessly without a break is the road to madness and burn-out, so the next few weeks are set aside for family time, outdoor time in the beautiful fall weather, creative time with a sketchbook and pens, and ok, maybe a little bit of catching up on book-keeping and unfinished projects.

My website is on hiatus, we won’t be shipping any orders until November 1st. But you can still visit and take a look around, http://www.morrisessex.com 🌟 

#morrisandessexdesign #selfcare #fallweather #natureinspiration #smallbusiness #handmadeinmaine #madeinmaine #octoberbreak #sustainablebusiness #mainedesign #familybusiness #coloringtherapy #crayola #morrisandessex

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Infinity Scarves are here at last!

Infinity Scarves are here at last!

From the very first moment I dreamed about making hand-printed scarves, I always planned on making an infinity scarf... that is, a circular loop scarf with no beginning or end. It's a super easy style to throw on, as you never need to think about what to do with the ends, and it always hangs just right... 

It's not so simple to design and create, though! I've been experimenting with different ideas for how I want to do this, and it's taken me a few years to figure out the perfect scarf, but here they are! I think it was worth the wait.

These scarves are a collaboration with the super talented Mama Hen, who also makes amazing baby and toddler pants (and other fun stuff!) that my kids and I love! We used misprints and leftover pieces from my regular scarves, so there are some quirks and variations in the patterns, which makes each one even more special.

infinity scarves in the works

I LOVE making these because I can use up some of the slightly-irregular prints that I have stacked up around the studio, and it’s SO FUN picking out color and pattern combos and figuring out which pieces look best together. Most of the scarves combine three different fabric colors and three different patterns/prints. It’s all about finding the right combinations... Like doing a puzzle where the right answer is whatever I think is the most beautiful!! I could do this all day...

Mama Hen's sewing studio scarves in production at Mama Hen's studio

Here are some snapshots of the scarf fabric neatly stacked up at Mama Hen's sewing studio, neatly cut down to size and waiting to be stitched up into new scarves!

 

It's been so much fun to have the opportunity to collaborate with another talented craftsperson whose work I have always admired! And I'm so thrilled that we've been able to make this vision a reality. Now that the weather is turning cooler, I'm so happy to be wearing my new scarf and finding this color combo matches almost everything in my closet.

Because these scarves are made using fabric from seconds and misprints, each one is different and no two are exactly alike! However, the scarves listed on the website are ones that I've made a few scarves of the same color/pattern combos. So, while each scarf will have some variation in the details of the hand-printed patterns, each one will generally look like the scarf pictured in the product photos. I also have some infinity scarves that are entirely unique, as they are made using sample prints or one-off pieces that I won't be able to create again. Those won't be listed online; you can find those in my booth at any of my in-person events, such as Common Ground Fair or the holiday Picnic sale in Portland. 

infinity scarves display

infinity scarves finished

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brand-new, limited edition Organic Cotton Gold Rose Moth tees are here!

brand-new, limited edition Organic Cotton Gold Rose Moth tees are here!

Hooray for freshly printed fall tees! Here is a brand-new, limited edition organic cotton tee with a shimmery rose gold moth illustration. This is a design I started sketching at the beginning of the summer...

first moth sketches

I hand-painted the finished design with a fine paintbrush and black India ink on transparent film,

then used that film to create the silkscreen stencil, and hand-printed a limited edition of only twenty-five prints on these super-luxurious organic cotton tees.

Here's a fun time-lapse video of the set-up process, mixing and testing the ink color, marking out the t-shirts to make sure the print will be neatly centered, etc... Silkscreen printing takes a lot of careful set-up work!

And here's a time-lapse of me printing the tees! 

silkscreen printing the new moth tees

 

It's a really flattering scoop-neck style with beautiful, simple details, well-constructed from unbelievably soft Pima cotton. Because it's a different (and fancier) style of tee than I usually print on, I only made twenty-five of these for the Fall 2018 season, and will not be printing more this season, so they'll probably be selling out by the end of Common Ground Fair, if not sooner - if you want to catch one in your size, they are all up on the website now.

 

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Morris & Essex at LL Bean!

Morris & Essex at LL Bean!

Maine State Greeting Card

I am so excited about packing up a box of goodies bound for the one and only LL Bean today! Keep an eye out for Morris & Essex tea towels and greeting cards at the LL Bean Home store in Freeport! 

I have special feelings bout LL Bean - Growing up, my family shopped at Beans every year, even when it was just a little shop with creaky wood floors, on the second floor, upstairs from the Freeport post office. Every family expedition was entirely outfitted with well-worn, vintage LL Bean gear, from heavy waxed canvas backpacks to crinkly parkas and cross-country skis. It’s so cool to know that some of my own favorite designs will be for sale at this iconic Maine spot!! Thank you to LL Bean Home for supporting local artisans! ❤️

#morrisandessexdesign #mainemade#letterpresslove #mainedesign#madeinmaine #letterpressgreetingcards#greetingcarddesign #mainemakers#madeinusa #letterpresscards #mainelove

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Summer 2018 Craft Fair Schedule

Summer 2018 Craft Fair Schedule

I am feeling SO very spring-sunshine-y this week, it's glorious! And that's got me thinking about this coming summer craft fair season... yay! I've cut back on my craft fair commitments now that we've got TWO little running, climbing, wild, mischievous and delightful assistants on our little team. It was always a lot of work to pull off a big craft fair when it was just me, but now that we've got two little kids to look after, it's a HUGE undertaking! Someday the kids will be older and they'll be thrilled to spend the occasional weekend away from us and we'll get back to doing more fairs then, but for now, they're only little once and it's hard to do too many big weekend commitments. So, just a few great events lined up for this summer:

Yarmouth Clam Festival, crafts area: July 20 - 22, Yarmouth, Maine

Ossipee Valley Music Festival: July 26 - 29, Hiram, Maine

Common Ground Country Fair: September 21 - 23, Unity, Maine

Come out and see us - these are all FANTASTIC events filled with amazing handmade goods, and I'm looking forward to each of them!

Also, check out Picnic Craft Fair on August 4th in Portland - we LOVE this one and always participate, but have to miss it this year for a very special wedding in New York. And if you're in Portland, absolutely go check out the Portland Fine Craft Show on August 25th. We'll be out of town for this one too, but it was awesome last year and I'm sure it will be a great showing again this time around!

Common Ground Fair rainbow

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Packaging Design

Packaging Design

Did you know this week was national packaging design day? I know it’s a small detail, but I’ve always been really proud of my product packaging and the design thought I’ve put into it. Simple, minimal and practical (and eco-friendly)! My pattern design style is always pretty elaborate, which means the packaging needs to stay understated - I think it's a nice balance. And nice packaging makes it easier to give them as a gift - wrapping and presentation is always part of the joy of giving and receiving!

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