Pruning the Bookshelves

A few weeks ago D and I brought home a beautiful bookcase that used to belong in his childhood home. We knew exactly where it would fit in our apartment, but this new arrangement required that we downsize the current bookshelves. Two Ikea bookshelves completely filled with our intellectual life for the past 15 years, to be exact. Every time we’d move to a new apartment, we were the people with boxes and boxes of books. There was a point in time when I was proud of this; the books were our trophies and pieces of ourselves. Now I’m feeling like a good portion of them are dead weight: Books that I haven’t read since college from religion classes- books on Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Paperbacks of classics that are now available as free ebooks. Novels I know won’t be read again. First, we decided to put aside the books that we couldn’t part with. Then the “easy to say goodbye” pile was put into boxes. The rest, for me at least, had to pass the “do I have a connection with it?” and “will I read this again?” test. The art books are in a separate bookcase altogether and I don’t see a reason to part with any of them.

Some of the books I can’t part with in chronological order of acquisition (sort of): The Saturdays, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Fahrenheit 451, Catcher in the Rye, et al., The Bhagavad-Gita, The Secret History, Howard’s End, Wind Up Bird Chronicles, Kitchen, The Beauty Supply District, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Everything is Illuminated, House of Leaves, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.

Which of your books could you never part with?

How Do You Define Luxury?

I often find that the word luxury is misused, which is why I hesitate to use this word when describing the garters in my shop or when describing them in person. I think it’s not only an over-used word, but whenever I encounter the word luxury in day to day life it feels like code for “marketing gimmick.”

Earlier this summer, D and I ate at Al’s Deli* in Evanston and I’ve been trying to put my finger on what I enjoyed about the experience. The closest correlation I can make is walking into a family member’s home and they make me lunch. The sandwich (smoked turkey on seven grain bread) has a degree of care in it’s assembly and earnestness. The quality of everything is very good, but I don’t feel the deli is trying to market itself as ‘fancy’ or ‘luxury’ (although I haven’t tried, I know you can get special add-ons at extra cost). This deli is not trying to sell me on the ‘new thing’. It’s honest. There’s something hospitable about it too. The sandwiches are generous, enough to share. Last time we were there, I noticed a cookbook about macaroons on the back counter behind one of the deli cases and based on that, decided to try a chocolate one. I don’t have much to compare it with, but the macaroon was incredibly decadent and clearly made with high quality chocolate. Although not the cheapest sandwich shop, I feel like I’m getting what I pay for at this place, which these days is rare. If it were within my means to do so, I’d probably be there much more often. For now, it’s the perfect cheap date for us. Quality shouldn’t have to be a luxury.

*If you click over to the website, make sure you mute your computer first, there’s music.

New Garters for Indie Wed

I spent several weeks before Indie Wed on some new garter designs that I’m thrilled with. I was really itching to work on something more complex than previous designs I’ve done as well as some challenging new techniques. I’ve also had a bunch of ideas drawn out in my notebook and Indie Wed was the perfect opportunity to complete them. There were some ideas that did not make the final cut however. While prototyping, I have a list of requirements that all garters need to meet:

1. Does it have aesthetic balance?  Are there too many things going on? Too many colors or different materials? I usualy go with my gut on this, not sure if I can articulate it. When something just isn’t right, I know it when I see it and make adjustments.

2. Does it look like Previously? Sometimes a design will look great, but it doesn’t look like it came from me. It doesn’t share a certain quality that all the other garters have. This can happen sometimes when I’m using a new material.

3. Does it look right on a leg? This is very important to me. How many of you have bought an accessory you loved in the shop only to find that actually wearing it is near impossible? I have a pair of knit sleeves with black silk tulle peeking out at the cuff. They are wonderfully Victorian. But they don’t look right on me. Their bulk isn’t flattering and they’re too long. An accessory can look good in theory, but if it doesn’t work on the body, it isn’t successful. It needs to hang right to be flattering.

4. Do I love it? I always need to feel a certain tug of wanting something I just made. It can be for a custom order or not, but if I wouldn’t buy it, I won’t sell it.