The Fruits of their Labor: American Artisans at Work

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It’s only fitting that for Labor Day Weekend we share with you a few of our brands that are powered by artisans who go above and beyond what it takes to make pieces that are artfully minded, ethically crafted, and carry the stories of the people who made them.

It’s no surprise that they’re also some of our favorites, the intersection of designs that are both handmade and consciously crafted are those that we can’t help but gravitate towards. We may have all hit our beach or cookout destinations, but take some time to champion artisan work, will ya!

Let’s dive in

Farmhouse Pottery: Vermont Hand-thrown Ceramics

Farmhouse Pottery was founded in 2008 in Woodstock, VT by New England natives, husband and wife team, James and Zoe Zilian. It all started when James created the Windrow Berry Bowl at Zoe’s request for their daughters to hold while they picked berries from the garden (how cute!) and the rest is history.

They grew their portfolio and began selling at local markets around Vermont, making everything out of a studio in their basement. Zoe brought her photography and marketing prowess, while James channeled his love and experience in ceramics and design direction.

After outgrowing the basement studio, the business spread all over the house and ended up taking up over half the garage – until they found a new home for Farmhouse in a former Bible bindery! They set up their studio, retail space, and workshop, all under one roof where they’ve been ever since.⠀

Farmhouse refers to themselves as old-world potters in the modern-day, focusing on supporting artists and not machinery. They create their wheel-thrown pieces with the intention of making designs of heirloom quality that will be durable for generations. And fun fact, they are one of the few handmade-pottery businesses of this scale in the country.

Their process

This spring we took a trip to Farmhouse to tour their studio and get an inside look into how their pottery is made. Specifically, the step-by-step process of making the Trunk Vase.

Farmhouse goes through about 7-8 tons of clay a month, that’s roughly a 1,000 pounds of clay per week! After any of their pieces are completed on the wheel, they sit to dry for about a week. When that week is through, the piece then goes through two rounds in the kiln, one is a bone-dry to dry out the piece completely and the other is after the glaze is applied.

And their kiln count? Farmhouse has 9 electric kilns, 3 devoted to that bone-dry and six others devoted to the glazing process. From start to finish each pot has about a 14% shrinkage due to water loss!

Explore their designs, here.

Cisco Brothers: Upholstery Hailing from Los Angeles

Cisco Brothers is a custom upholstery brand based in Los Angeles that embodies the California-conscious lifestyle: their furniture and manufacturing practices are sustainable, their designs are modern, and they champion community, personalized craftsmanship, and the creative calmness of west coast aesthetics.

“Manufacturing and making goods are essential for a city to be self-sustained. We bring that to our community, it’s a way to give back to the place I live.” -Cisco Pinedo

Cisco Pinedo was the driving force behind building a small family furniture business in 1990 to what Cisco Brothers is today. One thing that hasn’t changed over the past 20 years is Cisco’s commitment to family, whether that be the legacy of Pinedos or helping to foster a culture where entire families are eager to work at the company. This means business is personal: One of Pinedo’s brothers is the company’s wood-carving artist, another is a plant manager. His daughter Maurishka and Natalie run the show in Cisco’s creative and marketing endeavors. Their furniture is a conglomeration of artistic visions, committed families, and the earth.

They have an ongoing video series in which they profile a craftsman with beautiful shorts, learn about Jose:

Their process

Hands are truly cutting, sewing, sourcing every single item that comes out of the Cisco Brothers factory.

The sourcing factor stems from Cisco Pinedo’s commitment to using natural or reclaimed materials. Cisco was one of the nation’s first furniture companies “to only use organic materials and certified sustainable lumber,” Pinedo says. All wood must come from a Forest Stewardship Alliance lumber provider that, among other practices, plants more trees than the supplier harvests.

Pinedo says, and we agree, the foundation of the furniture industry is wood, and its quality can make or break (truly) the essence of a piece. In the Cisco world, once that wood is acquired, it’s perfected by hand and finished using only organic oils made from natural materials.

Taking it a step further they have also created an “Inside Green” line which is 100% organic furniture (only natural fibers, sustainable woods, and absolutely no toxic flame retardants), even the fabric is washed with natural detergent that’s cruelty-free and earth-friendly.

They respect and give back to the nature of Los Angeles on a cellular level by maintaining a lush company garden outside of their headquarters.

Explore their designs, here.

Penn & Fairmount: Glassware from the Pittsburgh Glass Center

Penn & Fairmount is a glassware collection created by artist Jason Forock of the Pittsburgh Glass Center. If you haven’t heard of the PGC before, it’s known for its state-of-the-art green studios and community of artists, and it’s one of the top glass art facilities in the U.S! Plus – it’s a nonprofit, public access school, gallery and glass studio, all rolled into one.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center was founded by glass artists Kathleen Mulcahy and the late Ron Desmett who shared a vision in the early 1990s to create an innovative glass art center that would become a communal art consortium and help revitalize the arts community within the city.

Pittsburgh Glass Center Opened in 2001, welcoming those experts in the art of glass, novices, or the general public.

Their process

The process of making colored glass like the beautiful hues of Penn & Fairmount actually relies on metal! Colored glass is created by adding metals and metal oxides to clear glass.

PGC says the main tools used to create glass creations are heat, gravity, air, centrifugal force, and time. The stainless steel tools used to supplement the former have remained unchanged since Egyptian times.

When glass blowing, the furnace stays at 2,100˚ F –– to keep the glass similar to the consistency of honey and so it’s malleable for easy blowing and creation of complex designs. To make changes to the piece during this process, the glass is constantly being reheated to maintain that temperature sweet spot. 

The glass is then put in a device called an Annealer which is a kiln where finished pieces of glass are placed to cool for 8-10 hours while the temperature is lowered. Any finishes touches that need to be made are done in their cold shop, which could be using anything from hi-tech glues to diamond saws, or cutting by hand.

Explore their designs, here.

Questions about anything you read today? Drop us a line.

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