Hey! My name is Niamh - It's pronounced Neev, it's Irish and it means radiant and bright.
I am Vartan's newest employee, working on production and general assistance, while learning and loving the process.
I was born in Dublin, Ireland in August 1991.
(Jump forward 23 years and 10 months)
June 2015 – I graduated college with a BA in Visual Communication Design from IADT, Dublin.
August 2015 – I moved to San Francisco on an adventure.
October 2015 – My adventure now includes Vartan! How exciting!
Working with my hands and being creative is my main interest. The opportunity to work with Carly on the prepping, dying of fabrics and sewing is amazing to me. Having spent most of my previous design experience in graphic design, it's a really nice progression to move into textile design. I'm always looking for new and exciting projects to get into and learn from. Creative expression and happy accidents that occur during the dying and printing process makes working with fabrics a truly unique experience.
Other things that I like include colorful illustrations, RnB, and swimming in the sea. Traveling is also a huge part of my life. I feel so blessed to be able to call San Francisco my home for the next year!
“VRUWINK is a curated way of life rooted in the belief there should be no separation of life and art.”
Nicola Vruwink is the mind behind the magic ceramics line VRUWINK. Born in a small town in Iowa, Nicola has now lived in L.A. for 12 years. She and Mouse, her rescued street savvy pup, live in Echo Park in a century-old house with adjacent studio. Having previously studied at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina, she recently returned there for a two-month ceramic intensive. Currently, Nicola is the Director of Recruitment at Art Center College of Design and helps students prepare and perfect their portfolios. She will be at the upcoming West Coast Craft Fair - be sure to stop in!
An Interview with Nicola Vruwink
Let's start with a little background. How did you end up in ceramics?
NV: It’s in my blood. My dad is an artist and has an MFA in ceramics. I grew up with ceramics, eating off of handmade plates and drinking from handmade mugs. I even used to accompany him to “pot sales” throughout the Midwest…he wasn’t a very good salesman and let’s just say, the apple definitely did not fall far from the tree as now I participate in various craft sales/events and not always the best at peddling my wares!
My dad is/was my first instructor and mentor learning much of what I know from him. I have literally been making since quite small, early on my Christmas gifts were all handmade and I used to host sales with my best friend Dori Miller (we also nearly set the house on fire experimenting with making candles!).
I didn’t study art in college but soon after graduation it became apparent that it was my calling and I pursued an MFA, first studying in a program at the University of Iowa and continuing on to the University of Washington in Seattle. I have been exhibiting since graduation and though my work has explored many different materials, consistent throughout is a dedication to the craft and a love for the act of making. I did not specifically study ceramics but at the University of Washington I was exposed to an amazing ceramics program and was a teaching assistant for many amazing artists…Akio Takamori, Jamie Walker, Jeffrey Mitchell…I am still friends with other ceramic artists I met back there.
Currently ceramics is my number-one crush. There are plans for work in other materials but for now, my main focus is working with clay. I find it the perfect material to create sculptural forms that may also serve a function and see it as an opportunity to insert sculpture/art into our day to day lives.
Your works are bold and odd -- and let's not forget incredible -- where on earth do you come up with these ideas?
NV: Are they odd? I suppose they are…but that may just be a reflection of me and my monkey brains! The craft is also critical, so monkey brains in a well made object!
The studio is my home and I feel I am crafting characters to keep me company, creating my own little stories and worlds to entertain. I really strive to create objects that bring joy, there are far too many challenges in life and this world and I really want to provide a little respite.
Would you (kindly and briefly) take us through your creative-thinking process?
NV: My number one mantra is never stop making. Even when I feel out of ideas, I still engage with materials. I also welcome mistakes or what may seem like failures. Things that do not turn out as planned push you to reconsider or recontextualize. Humor is always important too. I take what I do very seriously, I do not take myself too seriously and hope that what I make can bring a little humor, a smile into someone’s life.
What single item of your creation is your absolute favorite -- and of course, why?
NV: Gosh, that’s like choosing a favorite child! It shifts, usually it is what I am currently working on but I am quite fond of the squiggle vases with the black stripes and the curvy vases. For a while, my doodle necklace was a constant accessory and it was really refreshing to make the doodle pieces. I am definitely channeling my teenage self and doodles from my notes.
Bonus: If we shuffled through your music collection, what artists are we likely to find?
David Bowie and Wilco tie as number ones, quickly followed by Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, The Rolling Stones, Beck, Nina Simon, Luna/Galaxy 500, the Replacements, Gillian Welch, Yo La Tengo….this really could go on forever…music really is my first love and served as an escape during my youth (I played the trumpet throughout high school and actually went to band camp). Violent Femmes made me a huge odd ball in high school, and I have been a Wilco fan since the Uncle Tupelo days.
I love the incarnation of any passion made real and music is such a venue for experiencing just this.
If you check out my other work at www.nicolavruwink.com you will find my tribute to music, particularly music from the 80’s in the form of crocheted cassette tapes, a series I competed a few years ago and still make from time to time.
Thank you Nicola! May you and your work continue to be absolutely amazing.
All images are used with permission from Nicola, taken from her tumblr page: http://vruwink.tumblr.com/
The San Francisco Chronicle's take on our newest stockist is a perfect description: "Inspired Luxe site crafts commerce with a conscience." Featuring fashion, home decor, and handmade jewelry, the company not only offers unique pieces, but also embraces the varying communities from which they are made. As their site explains, "Even with fashion being top of mind, Inspired Luxe is equally passionate about supporting ethical fashion and social entrepreneurship. Customers will “look good while doing good” by supporting artisans and brands that make a difference in the lives of others and in the communities where they are based."
Beautiful goods, beautiful deeds. We're proud to be a part of Inspired Luxe.
Our dinner napkins come in bold shades and sets of four - and they are, indeed a true set.
The strategic creation process begins with one single piece of linen. After the hand-dyeing and drying is complete, the four napkins are cut from this single piece of cloth, resulting in a start-to-finish genuine set.
No random mixing and matching ‘round here! We’re passionate about quality, harmony, and consistency.
See our full line here
We're always stoked about our new stockists. This one, however, is particularly exciting, as it coincides with Park and Pond's grand opening at its new location. Founded by sisters Jessica and Abbey Herman, the shop exclusively carries goods created within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco, true to their slogan: "Goods from Near." Find our stuff - yay! - alongside other quality items such as stationery, home goods, and jewelry.
Don't miss the grand opening this Saturday, September the 5th!
Park and Pond
The Yard at Mission Rock (3rd St. & Terry A Francois Blvd.)
San Francisco, CA
We love this spot - and the clever nod to the 90s band Savage Garden (don't try to tell us you don't remember Truly Madly Deeply!). Owned by Matthew Linzer, Salvage Garden is "rooted in renewal" as the designer upcycles random materials to make amazing pots and such specifically for succulent plants. Salvage Garden also offers other uniquely handcrafted wares... now including ours. We're so excited!
1028 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco's Tailor's Keep provides a uniquely "tailored experience." Everything is hand-crafted and super-chic, thanks to the master tailoring work of founders Ryan Devens and Erik Gavrilov. We're very excited to say that our line will now be available at the Keep.
1 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA
The hand-rolled stitched hem is a traditional method which results in a featherweight and delicately smooth finish.
That’s why we use this hem for each and every pocket square created in our San Francisco studio. One pocket square requires roughly 20 minutes of stitching... not to mention the time spent carefully cutting, dyeing, and pressing -- the essentials to achieving that perfect finish.
"Inspired design for thoughtful living. Bringing you useful and well-made items, both new and vintage, that reflect the creativity and hard work of the people who made them." That's how Industrious Life describes their store -- and we couldn't agree more. The shop has been an inspiration for us, and we are ecstatic that our wares will sit on the shelves alongside their beautiful selection!
1095 Tennessee Street
San Francisco, CA
The T Shop: half florist, half gift shop. Owned by Lori Trent, the boutique offers anything from flowers, hand towels, fancy soaps to scented candles, and now... our linens! We're pretty excited to expand to Texas. :)
The T Shop
1191 Abrams Pkwy Suite 102
We've really been feeling the Nina Simone as of late. A strong, beautiful woman with immense talent and ambition, Simone remains an incredibly inspiring figure.
Add a little Nina to your day...
Nina Simone, 1933 - 2003
"How it Feels to Be Free:"
"Ain't Got No, I Got Life:"
Colby Hallen's shop began as a holiday pop-up where she sold her goods. The owner herself travels near and far to find eco-friendly, quality, essential products and pieces, referring to the now brick-and-mortar shop as "a modern general store."
3350 California Blvd. #A
Napa Valley, CA
Vartan is ecstatic for our Renegade Craft Fair debut this month. 500 local makers of all mediums (where else might you find hand-dyed pocket squares alongside Bear Naked granola and The Poetry Store?) will display and sell their various wares this year at Fort Mason.
Don’t miss the Vartan booth, next door to Wood Thumb, and a chance at winning some amazing giveaways...
We’ll see you there!
My name is Sophie, and I am a born and raised Californian, happily living in San Francisco for almost 4 years now. My days at Vartan are spent helping out with all varieties of office support, as well as assisting with production in the studio.
I am a food enthusiast, and I take full advantage of the plethora of fantastic eateries throughout the Bay Area. I am incredibly punny, especially to myself, and often laugh so hard at my own jokes that I begin to tear up. I have an incredible passion for music and almost always have something playing, regardless of where I am. Going to concerts is my favorite pastime, and I have, on occasion, been to as many as 10 shows in one month. Over the past month, I have been listening the most to Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Kelela, Lo-Fang, and Feist, to name a few. Some of my all-time favorite shows (out of many!) would include Paul McCartney, Jurassic Five, Deer Tick, Tame Impala, Toro Y Moi, and Queens of the Stone Age.
I love reading, namely within the genres of sci-fi, psychology, and comedic memoirs (suggestions: any book written by Douglas Adams, Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter, and Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs) and like to spend any sunny afternoons lounging at the park with a good book. You may even see me biking through Golden Gate park or in the crowd at the next concert you attend!
Pattern Behavior, a spoof of old McCall's sewing pattern covers, is the hilarious work of Natalie Kossar (@nataliekossar). Here are a few of her funnies that left us in stitches.
See more at http://mccallspatternbehavior.tumblr.com/.
I’m Heather, and it’s nice to meet you.
My work with Vartan revolves around the writing, as a copyeditor for the lovely Carly and her company’s website. I only know that Carly is lovely thanks to Skype, as we’ve actually never met in person. It was a fun little twist when my oldest friend moved to San Francisco, calling me one day after a brunch where she’d met Carly, who incidentally needed someone for editing and content copy for her new business. My friend introduced us via email and it turns out we work pretty well together, even from a distance. See, I’m over here in Kansas City -- which, in case you didn’t know, is more than a few miles from California.
I’m the senior writer for Squeezebox Kansas City, a contributor for other local publications, and freelance varying projects, like resume editing and admin for a lobbyist group. I have a crazy beautiful kiddo with my dear hubs, three cats, and a fervor for vintage, history, strong coffee, Alt J, and the Oxford comma.
It’s been a pleasure.
The Renegade Craft Fair, established in 2003, is a traveling showcase for cream-of-the-crop creative minds and makers. Renegade hosts anything from art to music, jewelry to re-purposed furniture, even artisanal foods. If you can imagine it... you can find it here.
Vartan is proud to be featured at this year's fair in San Francisco. Don't forget to stop by and see our founder Carly, and of course, her lovely wares.
July 17, 18, & 19
(Please note: Friday open to wholesale vendors only; Saturday and Sunday open to the public)
@ Fort Mason Festival Pavilion (San Francisco)
Full details here
The dynamic husband-and-wife duo behind Asmbly Hall have curated one sassy collection over their three years in operation - an array of hip clothing and accessories for all you hip young men and women out there. By the way, they’re expecting their first child, so if you pop in, be sure to congratulate them!
1850 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA
Bonhomie, by Liesl Southerland, is part of Molte Cose & Belle Cose. Bonhomie is a true San Francisco gem. This fantastic collection showcases a variety of quality vintage pieces paired with modern locally-made accessories, from rustic side tables to hand-hammered silver jewelry.
2044 Polk St
San Francisco, CA