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step inside the live catalog that is Future Ancestor

January 12, 2015

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Brian and Julia are the husband-and-wife duo behind Future Ancestor. Julia and I met at Foam to chat about their new shop on Cherokee Street. 

In the cozy home decor shop you’ll find a collection of mid-centry modern furniture with an eclectic mix of goods ranging from the latest issue of Kinfolk to Pendleton blankets refashioned into throw pillows. Hailing from Chicago, the couple moved to the St. Louis area not long ago with a goal to turn their Etsy shop into a brick and mortar business.

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How did Future Ancestor come about?

A few years ago we started buying a lot of furniture. We had a tiny apartment and thought “let’s try to sell some of this stuff we have on Etsy.” We posted a couple listings and it just went crazy – we sold stuff all the time. We kept buying stuff and rotated out the furniture that we lived with and the furniture that we were selling.

The idea behind Future Ancestor is sort of a live catalog. You can go into a lot of antique stores and everything is sort of piled together and you really have to dig for things, which is fun. But our shop is more about showing people how to set things up and how they can actually visualize it in their space. We want people to sit down, relax and feel it out.

Have there been any pieces that you’ve bought and never parted with?

There are things that we just love too much, and yes, we hold on to those things.

How often have you completely turned over your apartment?

About 5 times. We do it every 6 months or so.

There are certain things from family members we’ve held onto that we couldn’t possibly get rid of.

Why St. Louis for the shop?

We had our first baby in January, 2014. We are from southern Illinois, and decided to move home to be closer to family. In May we decided to take the plunge. We’ve been long time fans of cherokee street. An add for the space popped up on craigslist, and within a week, we had the keys.

Our philosophy on job security is kind of like – you can put everything in somebody else, or you can put everything in yourself. We believe in ourselves and trust we can make it happen and we’ve been doing this part time for a while, so we’re giving it full time effort. We said “see ya later” to chicago and are giving Future Ancestor a shot in St. Louis.

What has been your favorite part of opening Future Ancestor?

Seeing our vision come to life. We’ve been talking about doing this for years, we’ve been talking about being our own bosses forever. Here we are and it’s working, I think.

It’s also amazing how supportive everyone is on Cherokee Street.

Does your personal style influence the pieces in the shop?

I would definitely say the shop is all our style.

We like to say that we are redefining modern. A lot of people see or hear the word modern and the think of the atomic century style, or super shiny. We like a little bit of that, but we also like to mix it with the worn stuff and handmade things. We like things that are sustainable, which is why we like the second hand stuff – there is all that great stuff out there, why buy something new. We’re all about the mix and match. The shop has all things that we would live with, do live with, or have lived with.

Do you carry local makers?

We have handmade ceramics, screen printed tea towels from San Francisco, and candles from Brooklyn. We eventually would like it to feature all St. Louis makers.

When are you the happiest?

The moments when we realize it’s actually working.

Who/what are your sources of inspiration?

Humboldt House in Chicago and Homestead in Seattle.

Where did the name Future Ancestor come from?

Brian came up with it one day. It was the name of our Etsy shop. When we decided to open a brick and mortar shop, we thought we needed a different name, but realized Future Ancestor already works.

What is the Future Ancestor motto?

An example, and source, of modern living.

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Visit Future Ancestor at 2617 Cherokee Street in St. Louis.

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.] 

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pink coats and plaid shirts

January 6, 2015

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This coat, you guys. I’ve coveted this lovely pink lady from afar for many seasons, but never pulled the purchase trigger. As if by magic, someone was selling the beauty on instagram. I bought it, and haven’t taken it off since. I’m also living in plaid shirts this time of year. This one hails from the closet of Grace, and has electric pink lines pulsing through it. Cheers to borrowed tops and like-new coats when my closet has gone into hibernation and all the leaves have fallen off my money tree.

Side note, when are you too old to snag things from a friends closet? Because i’m sort of feeling like I will never to too old to take a really cute pair of boots from Sarah’s shoe rack.

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[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

See the rest of the style column here.

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a little rough around the edges: Made Supply Co.

November 24, 2014

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Tucked neatly into a corner of his clayton home is the Made Supply Co. headquarters, where Greg Lewis creates beautiful leather goods by hand. Making up his workspace are tables filled with hand tools and various colors of thread. Stacked rolls of leather bring an earthy scent into the room, slightly over shadowed by the coffee brewing in the kitchen. The tour of the room dubbed Made Supply Co. headquarters is quick – a couple work tables and an American flag. I dig into the history behind Made Supply Co. Which, as it turns out, isn’t quite the saga I was expecting. Having been in the leather goods business a little more than eight weeks Greg has amassed a product line and following i’d expect from someone more worn.

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With twenty years carpentry experience behind him, Greg took to leather work at the suggestion of his wife, Angie. “I started watching some YouTube videos and really did it overnight,” he recalls. “With carpentry, everything is lines and angles and cutting and everything has to fit and fasten. It’s kind of along the same lines, and was pretty easy for me to pick up.” Within a week of deciding he could start a home based business in leather work, Made Supply Co. was up and running.

Everything Greg makes is done sans machines. The cutting, the distressing, and stitching is all done by hand. “It’s all hand tools,” says Greg. “Punches, scribes, and needles. I break a lot of needles.” He’s breaking a lot of those needles perfecting the saddle stitch, the oldest method of hand-stitching, found on products like The Dempsey, The Kate, and The Eastwood. Once in a while, Greg will pull out a dremel to sand the edges of a product, but he assures me that’s a rarity.

Greg’s personal style is reflected in each of the products he creates – describing it as a minimal and utilitarian style. “It’s a little rough around the edges,” he explains. “It’s not perfect. I don’t like perfection.” Spezzatura comes up, or as Greg refers to it, Sprezz. An Italian word for “a certain nonchalance” and the essence behind the collection of goods Greg has created. “More than anything, I like to start with a bucket of junk and make it into something. I love a finished product. I like to stand back and look at something and go “damn, I made that”, that’s pretty cool.”

Greg’s parting words, “Keep it simple. Be true to yourself,” serve as his motto for Made Supply Co., and is certainly echoed throughout his collection of simple, beautiful leather goods.

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The Kate was featured in the recent shop St. Louis: local gift guide.

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

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wearable art: a look at Grace Kubilius’ work

November 14, 2014

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New to St. Louis by way of Chicago, Grace Kubilius is the current fiber artist-in-residence at Craft Alliance Center for Art +Design, which is where I first stumbled upon her work back in September. It was love at first sight. Made mostly from found and up-cycled materials, and inspired by poems written by summer camp students, Grace’s collection “Oh How I Love You” blurs the lines between art and fashion. In an effort to push the work a little further into the wearable category, Grace and I styled her pieces for everyday wear. Beyond a love of her work (especially those wood block + rope necklaces!), i’m lucky to call Grace a friend. With OUTKAST blaring in the studio and Jeff behind the camera, we managed to capture exactly what we set out to (complete with dance moves that would put Elaine to shame).

 

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Do you have a favorite piece in the collection? I’m pretty partial to the canvas tops, and will forever covet the “Oh How I Love You” wool piece. You can check out Grace’s work at Craft Alliance Center for Art + Design, located in the Kranzberg Arts Center.

[All photos + video by Jeff Daniels.]

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a studio tour with Joan Hall.

November 13, 2014

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A conversation with Joan Hall, and a look inside her studio. 

Hailing from Ohio, Joan landed in St. Louis after school to teach at Washington University. Through her art, she speaks to her passion for sailing and opens up a social discussion on the amount of plastic in the ocean. A look inside Joan’s studio in downtown St. Louis inspires – from the handmade paper hanging from the ceiling to the large scale works covering the walls.

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When did you decide you wanted to be an artist? 

I was always interested in the arts. I danced, I did ballet when I was pretty young. I played an instrument, and then in high school I decided I wanted to concentrate on art. When it was time for college, I decided I either wanted to go to school for languages or for art. And it’s a good thing I went to school for art – I’m not sure I have an aptitude for languages. I was always sort of more interested in humanities, I guess. I got a scholarship, that’s the way I ended up in art school. I thought, “well I must be good enough to go to art school.”

What work were you doing when you first started?

I had an interest in things that were sculptural, but I love paper, so I ended up actually focusing on printmaking and ceramics. In graduate school I met a guy named Garner Tullis who was running an experimental paper studio out in California at the time. I’ve always liked making paper, but when the people at Twinrocker were telling me how much money you need to build a beater in order to make paper, I scoffed. I thought, “I can’t afford that for a long time.” Tullis said, “do you have a sheet of paper?” and I handed one to him. He throws it in his mouth, chews it up, throws in on the chair in front of him, looks at me and said “I just made paper”. My first thought was “who are you?” And then I learned how to make paper from him. That’s where it started in 1977.

I always thought of paper as more than just something you worked on, but I realized over time that there was something about ceramics and something being more sculptural. So I blended this sort of way of printing to me that was a sculptural mark with making my own paper, which I could then do anything I wanted to with.

Tell me about the inspiration behind your work.

I’ve been sailing boats since I was 16 and was interested in water. It’s been sort of the underlying theme of my work all of my life – something to do with water. Whether it was drawings I made when I was out on the ocean sailing, or things that I documented like the motion or the colors.

I love things like printing and paper making. Paper making, because you don’t know what you really did until it dries, and printing because you don’t really know what it looks like until it comes out of the press. There’s this part of art that I like that is indirect, and I also like not being totally in control. I love to sail, but I don’t like motorboats. When you’re out in the water you really don’t have complete control. That’s the part of it to me that’s exciting, that I enjoy.

When did you decide to start doing work that had a social commentary?

In the early 90’s I did a few pieces that had to do with an oil spill that I saw off the coast of Rhode Island. I had some pieces I had done here and there where I sort of brought that [social commentary] into it. It wasn’t really a huge focus. I did a whole series of things that had to do with Cuban rafts and people migrating to the United States. Now, in my current work I’m really interested in making people interested in the amount of plastic in the ocean.

How has your work progressed over your career? 

In 2005 I got sick, and I didn’t work in the studio for 4 months. It was an odd thing because I’ve always worked all the time. I started thinking about how I felt like a fish caught in a net and had no control. A friend of mine had given me a net years before and it was sitting in a box. I started thinking about the net as a metaphor. I was caught in the net and it was really personal. My work kind of does this thing where it sort of slowly morphs. The piece that is at the Contemporary Art Museum for Art:314 is called The Soul Sails. There was a second piece called The Body Anchors. It was a metaphor that on the water I always felt free, and so those pieces have to do with travel and the navigation elements.

Most of my work is really large. I always like people to be in my work, not looking at my work. I think it’s sort of this sense that when I was in the ocean – when you’re out of sight of land, it’s this horizon and you feel really, really tiny. That’s a sensation I love. The bigger I can make a piece of art, the better. Give me a wall and I can fill it. It might take me a while, but I can fill it.

Tell me more about people being “in” your work.

There are lots of layers and lots of materials. When you navigate on a boat, you log your journey, so I thought of the idea of a notebook and logging my journey through the piece. There are things hidden in it that you can’t see.

I like people to be overwhelmed by scale. There’s so much going on in the piece, and also the process is sort of foreign for people. There’s detail, so people will walk up to the piece and stare at it. Sometimes there are little hints in them and they’ll get a sense of what the work is about. If you look close enough, on that piece [the first image] there is a little yellow rubber duck. You have to look really hard.

Tell me about people who influenced your career.

Early on, there was a woman by the name of Eva Hesse. She worked with latex and unusual materials. I always loved her work because it was very ethereal. It wasn’t traditional sculpture. When I went to school, I think I moved into printmaking because I didn’t like the idea of what sculpture was or what painting was. I wanted to do something that was more free-form and wasn’t very popular at that time. I started making paper, because you could mold thick paper into shapes to create instillations and things. Printmaking as a flat medium never interested me that much. I took the materials I liked and made them do what I wanted them to do. The paper being the underlying source of that.

What tools do you work with most?

A press, a scalpel, and printing ink.

Any parting words? 

Beauty. For a long time in the arts, I think that was something that was left out. I also wanted to take something like paper and elevate it beyond craft and making paper, I wanted to make art with paper.

Beauty is really powerful, and if you make really beautiful art, you can maybe get people to see the message. You also have to understand that I was a young artist in the 80’s when they thought unless your work is brown and black and dismal and had really serious messages, it wasn’t real work. I was anti that. I wanted to make things that are beautiful and I didn’t care. I’m going to do things that I want to do.

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You can see Joan’s piece, The Soul Sails, at the Contemporary Art Museum this Friday during Art:314. Join me for the silent auction (featuring The Soul Sails) and a raging party! Use the code CIAJ1975 here for $10 off tickets. Peek at the list of all the works being auctioned off that evening.

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I was invited by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis to explore their Young Friends Program. I received complimentary access to events, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

shop St. Louis: local gift guide

November 10, 2014

Shop St. Louis Local Gift Guide

I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite products from some of my favorite local makers in St. Louis (mom and dad, if you’re reading this, it will also double as my wish list this year). Things to wear, things to drink, things to write in, things to frame – essentially, all of the things. Anything on this list would make an excellent gift for anyone on your list this season, from the coffee lover to the constant doodler. Take a peek at the picks below.

Full Gift Guide

1/ Leather Luggage Tag. The Foundrie. | 2/ Southwestern Brass Cuff. Fable + Lore. | 3/ Knit Scarf. Michael Drummond. Available at Skif. | 4/ Block Necklace. Grace Kubilius. Available at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, located in the Kranzberg Arts Center. | 5/ Quote Print. Love Leesie. | 6/ Single Speed Session. 4 Hands Brewery. | 7/ Incline and Topo Notebook + Wallet. JAWNS Brand. | 8/ The Original Snake Bite: Forked Church Key & Bottle Opener. Snake Bite Co. | 9/ The Kate Clutch. Made Supply Co. | 10/ Ethiopia Africa. Sump Coffee.

JAWNS Brand Notebook Wallet

Grace Kubilius + August Abroad

Snake Bite

Fable + Lore and Michael Drummond

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[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

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desktop wallpaper // november edition

November 3, 2014

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I had a weekend i’ve been calling “fall as fuq”. Activities included a family bonfire, soup, flannel, apple pie baking, red wine, thick socks, endless amounts of coffee, a little sawdust, and a bunny costume. Oh, and we set the clocks back an hour. So, hi darker evenings. With the changing of our clocks, it seemed fitting to change the desktop wallpaper too. Mercedes Armstrong has provided another stellar design to (pumpkin) spice up your screen. Keep scrolling for the download.

Mercedes Armstrong November 2014 Desktop

Click to download the NOVEMBER WALLPAPER by Mercedes Armstrong.

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