a bittersweet announcement

Saturday, August 22, 2015



Dear friends: a bittersweet announcement.

I will be moving my studio next week. Things have been a bit quiet around here lately because I have been completely engaged in coordinating the details of finding a new space.

Our sweet, ancient time-out-of-time loft building on West Broadway was sold to developers earlier this year, and all the tenants received eviction notices in May. The new owners intend to demolish all of the buildings on West Broadway between Murray and Warren Streets to build luxury condominiums. The buildings along this stretch have been occupied for decades by dozens of artists and small businesses. This project is part of the irrevocably damaging trend of overdevelopment that's sweeping through New York City right now, and it threatens, in particular, the historic character of the TriBeCa neighborhood where I've worked these last few years.

71 West Broadway has been such an incredible place to work. Old buildings have a magic to them that cannot be duplicated. To leave this space knowing that it will be destroyed is a deep heartache that I've been grappling with now for months. The light, the old wood, the absolutely frigid days in January, the camaraderie of the neighbors during this ordeal. I am so grateful for all of it.

I will be welcoming visitors this week, to the extent that I am able. If you'd like to come by, please get in touch.

I'm very fortunate to have found a beautiful new (light-filled!) studio in the Garment District through a friend of a friend, where you'll be able to find me come September 1st, but I want to take this opportunity to start a dialogue about what's happening to affordable creative space in New York City (and in cities all over the world), and to leave you with some resources, should you feel called to take action:

Lynn at TriBeCa Trust was one of the first people I spoke with about our situation, and she is valiantly fighting to expand historic district protection in TriBeCa (our building is only a few buildings away from the current protected district lines), you can learn more about her work here, and be sure to sign the petition to protect TriBeCa.

The pioneering work of the Artist Studio Affordability Project is of great interest to me. They are organizing the art community to fight for affordable studio space in New York City.

The Queens Museum & Art F City hosted a conference called Stay in New York in June, and the livestream is available here.

And the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, an organization that is fighting for the neighborhood where I live, is also worthy of your support.

Also, as a side note, if you know of anyone living in an illegal loft conversion in the city, please make sure they know that the Loft Board registration reopened at the end of this last legislative session in June, and that they may now have the chance to be protected under NYC's loft laws. More info here.

I love this city too much to stand by while it's reduced to chain stores and glassy towers, and if affordable creative space is important to you or to those you love, I urge you to get involved, write your elected officials with your concerns, and above all, get to know your neighbors and your community and be truly present in the places where you live and work.

I will leave you with this passage from Jane Jacobs' book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in her chapter entitled "The Need for Old Buildings:

"Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them. By old buildings I mean not museum-piece old buildings, not old buildings in an excellent and expensive state of rehabilitation–although these make fine ingredients–but also a good lot of plain, ordinary, low-value old buildings, including some rundown old buildings. 

If a city area has only new buildings, the enterprises that can exist there are automatically limited to those that can support the high costs of new construction. These high costs of occupying new buildings may be levied in the form of an owner’s interest and amortization payments on the capital costs of the construction. However the costs are paid off, they have to be paid off. And for this reason, enterprises that support the cost of new construction must be capable of paying a relatively high overhead–high in comparison to that necessarily required by old buildings. To support such high overheads, the enterprises must be either (a) high profit or (b) well subsidized. 


If you look about, you will see that only operations that are well established, high-turnover, standardized or heavily subsidized can afford, commonly, to carry the costs of new construction. Chain stores, chain restaurants and banks go into new construction. But neighborhood bars, foreign restaurants and pawn shops go into older buildings. . . . Well-subsidized opera and art museums often go into new buildings. But the unformalized feeders of the arts–studios, galleries, stores for musical instruments and art supplies, backrooms where the low earning power of a seat and a table can absorb uneconomic discussions–these go into old buildings. Perhaps more significant, hundreds of ordinary enterprises, necessary to the safety and public life of streets and neighborhoods, and appreciated for their convenience and personal quality, can make out successfully in old buildings, but are inexorably slain by the high overhead of new construction. 


As for really new ideas of any kind–no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be–there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."





May

Friday, May 1, 2015



We happily spent a few hours beneath the cherry blossoms this week. The garden is just bursting with life and many of the spring ephemerals are in their fleeting, gorgeous prime. 

 I'm at the sunlit studio on this beautiful afternoon wrapping up a few projects and preparing for my open studio days this weekend (please come! Saturday and Sunday, noon-5pm). There will be cold-brewed Rose Geranium Jade Oolong, and plenty of gift ideas for the mamas in your life. If you're shopping online, today is the last day to place your order for Mother's Day delivery.

Sending you my best wishes on this first day of May. Beltane, in the Celtic tradition, is a celebration of life-force, transformation and renewal. And with that, the abundance of this season begins!

xo Briar


spring getaway kits + a giveaway

Friday, April 3, 2015


Finally the time feels right. The precise moment where the spirit of one season gives way to the next isn't always neatly aligned with the calendar, and until this week, the spirit of Spring has felt just beyond my grasp. But the snow has now melted in the garden and our tiny white crocus are blooming with sweet abandon. The air nearly feels soft, benevolent. Though we'll surely have a few more chilly nights ahead, the balance has shifted.

This year's Spring Getaway Kit focuses on renewal and revitalization, and includes facial care to revive skin after a long winter, as well as one of my very favorite bathing tools for the body, the handwoven ayate cloth, which has just the right gentle scrubbiness to encourage good circulation and a healthy Spring glow. A bright and floral tea blend and a beautiful chunk of fluorite, supportive of cleansing, clarity and intuition, complete the offering. As always, everything comes wrapped in a cotton drawstring bag, ready to tag along wherever your travels take you this season, even if it's only an hour or two behind a closed bathroom door.

Each season I take great pleasure in giving away a getaway kit to one of you, as a thank you for your support. I'm so grateful to be able to do this work, and to have gotten to know so many wonderful people in the process. To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite signs of spring in the plant world. Alternatively, you can enter over on Instagram by posting a photo of your favorite spring flora, mentioning @marbleandmilkweed, and using the tag #mmspringflora. I'll choose a winner at random on Wednesday, April 8th.

Update: Tulsi just helped me pick a winner, and it's @tksloane (who entered via Instagram). It's been such a pleasure seeing and hearing about all the signs of spring in your neck of the woods. Thanks so much to everyone who entered!

Sending you joy as you greet this beautiful season!

xo Briar

on Florida

Sunday, March 1, 2015

 

We've returned from our trip to welcome a new month and today's lovely market at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It's always a fairly big deal for me to pack things up for an event outside the studio, but today was worth it. Snow falling outside the beautiful glass atrium at the garden, a quiet taxi ride over the bridge amidst the flurries, and meeting new people (like StephenIrina and Kirsten, and many others), made it all worthwhile. Over the next few days I'll be catching up on orders made while I was away, and working on the forthcoming Spring Getaway Kits (yes, spring is nearly here!). Sincere gratitude to everyone who dropped by the shop this past week, I can't wait to have your little bit of plant magic on its way to you in the next few days!

We spent a few restful days on Sanibel Island with M.'s grandparents, as is our annual custom now, with his sister joining us from Michigan. It was also such a pleasure to take a day trip to see his mom's mom in Sarasota. Much of the travel we do at this stage in our lives is for the purpose of spending time with family members who live far away. M. and I are so fortunate to have many of our grandparents in good health, and we want to seize the day and spend as much time with them as we can. The time itself is such a gift.

Florida possesses so much natural beauty, but I feel that it has a dark side, too. Everyplace does, I suppose. I'm never quite sure how to describe this feeling, but I'm always drawn back to this song when I'm preparing to travel there. I'll let it speak for me, for now. We tried to spend more time walking on the beach during our trip this year. The weather was perfectly moody (my favorite kind of beach weather!), and there was never a lack of fascinating bits and pieces underfoot. We also stopped at our favorite little spot, The Sanibel Sprout, where Nikki crafts the most nourishing food on the island. If any of you do find yourselves on Sanibel, please be sure to stop by - and say hi from me!

I shared it on Instagram this past week, but in case you missed it, this poem was just the thing to read while spending time by the shore.


February things

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I've been preparing for a few days away this week, this time for our annual winter visit to M.'s grandparents on Sanibel Island, Florida. A little escape could not possibly feel more timely, as yet another snowstorm passed through here overnight. February has been a slog this year with all these wickedly cold days alternating with messy slush. The thermostat on my space heater in the studio read 37 degrees when I arrived there on Friday morning. Can't help but feel a bit jealous of the West Coast, which seems to be barreling headlong toward springtime in a whirlwind of camellias and birdsong. But everything in its own time, I suppose. Meanwhile, this, this and plenty of tea are helping to get us through! Orders placed while I'm away will begin shipping on Monday, March 2nd. Thank you, as ever, for your patience.

I had the loveliest visitor at the studio on Friday, too. Carrie from Half Hitch Goods dropped by while she was in town from San Francisco, and we had the most wonderful chat over a cup of matcha. She is really committed to nurturing relationships with the artisans she works with, and it was refreshing to talk candidly about the challenges and the triumphs that come along with building a small business your own way.

I'll also be making a rare appearance outside the studio at Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Herb Day festivities, on Sunday, March 1st. You'll find me in the Atrium of the new visitors center from 10am-1pm with a selection of goods. Stephen Orr, author of The New American Herbal will also be giving a talk from 2-3pm and signing copies of his book. If you're in the area, I'd love for you to stop by and say hello! 

A few good things from this week:

I love photos of Lunar New Year celebrations...


a little insight into the year of the Wood Sheep

these little treats, very much after my own heart

midwinter

Sunday, February 1, 2015



More snow on the way tonight. Serious hibernation feelings happening around here these days. I'm trying a slightly different heating configuration at the studio this winter, with mixed success. I'd like to think it's something that I could overcome by thinking warm thoughts, but the cold simply has me moving slower than usual. Such a natural thing, really. Mostly, I've been making it through these past few weeks knowing that there's a hot bath waiting for me at home. Cozy wishes to all!

a few things from this week:

// so honored to be mentioned in Amanda's musings on small batch beauty

// this beautiful giveaway over at Cider & Rye

// some nourishing inspiration for starting the year off in deliciously good health


{photos from the 6 & B Garden + from our window on Rivington Street during last week's "blizzard"}


Saturday, January 24, 2015



A new year, a few days to rest. New projects taking shape behind the scenes.

As always, so grateful.

Here are a few photos from our recent trip to the West Coast.

And some words about the shoreline.







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