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herb kits? so last year! grow edible flowers instead


Around this time of year, foodie magazines like to publish recipes that contain edible flowers. Resisting the urge to capture such a gorgeous and fleeting ingredient during its peak season is not possible. Look at this bountiful salad in the new MSL! Or this feature over at Food & Wine. But us readers, especially those without a green space, are left longing, relying solely on inventive chefs to toss a dose of colorful viola or geranium petals our way. The truth is edible flowers truly are everywhere, but without turning into a nighttime flower thief that raids the neighborhood beds, most of flowers are there to be seen, not eaten. Enter this adorable kit available from Rhode Island designer Sarah Rainwater at Etsy to solve the problem! It comes
all the goods you need to grow four types of heirloom flower seeds in in your home — calendula, lemon mint, nasturtium and starflower. In addition to including biodegradable folded paper pots for starting the seeds, it also comes with a lovely wooden display that will display your fresh flowers in glass vials — until you’re ready to eat them! What an inventive Mother’s Day present, don’t you think? Edible flower kit, $50 at Etsy.

get to know: caravan pacific & their lovely lamps

Shannon Guirl, owner and designer of Caravan Pacific. Photo courtesy of Lela Cyd.

If you are a fan of mid-century modern inspired design, you are going to love Caravan Pacific! Owner and designer, Shannon Guirl, was a television editor in New York until 2011, when she decided to leave Brooklyn for Portland to become part of the city’s entrepreneurial “maker scene.” She’d been designing lighting in her spare time, and continued developing her designs on the road. A year later she introduced her first table lamp, the Alberta and just like that Caravan Pacific was open for business.

All the table lamps in Caravan Pacific’s offering are handcrafted by teams of skilled artisans. Shannon makes the prototypes herself, using a lathe, a traditional wood turning tool originating in ancient Egypt. Talk about a time tested technique! That prototype is then molded and cast in clay to make the body of each lamp. The neck and base are also turned on the lathe and then wired and assembled one by one in her studio.  Even the shades are made by a family owned company that has been in business since the 1940s.



The prototype for the Sullivan was turned on a wood lathe.

Here’s a peek at Caravan Pacific’s newest creation, the Sullivan. It’s a petite table lamp with clean lines and subtle curves that I have been coveting one for my nightstand since the first time I saw it. It’s such a great price, at $185, I don’t think I will be able to resist!

thrifting for a good cause: housing works’ design on a dime benefit

As the weather warms our homes go through their annual purge and renew process. Out with the old and tired! In with the new — or new old — things we will cherish. Those of you in the NYC area may want to make some extra room for a new item; Housing Work’s annual Design on a Dime is coming up on April 25th. Featuring curated vignettes from designers like Evette Rios, Sabrina Soto and Lara Spencer, the proceeds from the event benefit Housing Works new development in Brooklyn, the Hull Street Residence for homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS. As you can see from the photos above, last year’s event was chock-a-block full of swanky items from lamps, rugs, and even hefty pieces like couches. Early birds with deep pockets can buy tickets to the opening night reception ($200), and the rest can shop on Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 125 W. 18th Street. Click here for more information and tickets.

Photo by Joshua Kirstal.

no brainer mother’s day presents: birchbox for the garden

Have you tried Birchbox yet? It’s a subscription gifting service, where for about $10 a month you receive a little box full of goodies — mostly beauty product samples customized to you — in the mail. The startup has been taking off since its founding a couple of years ago, and now is branching out into the gifting space. What better time to give it a try than for Mother’s Day? We would love to get (and give) their limited edition Birchbox for the Garden — though it should be retitled Birchbox for the Wannabe Gardener. Inside is a small collection of lovely spring scents and treats: There are mini jars of jam from Sarabeth’s, TOCCA’s Crema da Mano Luxe, and L’OCCITANE’s lovely Jasmin & Bergamot Eau de Toilette. The lucky plucker will also get a seed kit, a flowery utility knife and handy tote bag. Best of all, it arrives prepackaged up in a beautiful box for only $32 (valued at $87). Take a look at Birchbox.com today (and be warned you might just find something cute for yourself, too).

giveaway! get to know mudshark studios & win a ceramic oil cruet

This giveaway is now closed

As a ceramic artist in Portland, OR, I began to hear about Mudshark Studios from friends in the clay community a few years back. It wasn’t until they began producing lighting for Rejuvenation (I used to work for them) in 2011, that I really fell in love with what they were doing. I had always been curious about ceramic production work and slip casting, so I decided that I had to learn more about the company and what they did.

Mudshark launched in 2006 and has been making waves in the design world since, not only attracting commercial clients like Kohler and Ann Sacks, but also working with individual artists and designers from all over the country. Co-founders Chris Lyon and Brett Binford set up the studio with a goal to educate others on product design, clay manufacturing methods, and provide a high quality finished product, while designing work of their own. Today, in addition to Mudshark, both artists pursue their personal creative interests in other businesses, like the Portland Growler Company and Bretton Sage Designs.

I caught up with Chris and Brett recently and thought it would be a treat to see what happens in their studio from day to day. Here’s a look at the magic of Mudshark…


Plaster molds are made of the original object, and slip is poured inside to make the desired shape.


Once a mother mold is created, Mudshark can make several molds to produce numerous items at once.


Each slip cast piece is finished by hand to clean up the seams and any imperfections that come through the process. In some cases the pieces are trimmed by hand on the potter’s wheel.


Once the cruets are cleaned up and leather hard, they are bisque fired before being glazed and fired a final time.

And just like that, you have a hand-made piece of Portland goodness, in the very functional form of an oil cruet.


Want a chance to win one of your own?
Hop on over to Brett’s design site Bretton Sage Designs and check out his olive oil and balsamic vinegar cruets. Then, come on back to Shelterrific and leave a comment telling us which one is your favorite. On April 1st, we will select a winner at random (no foolin’!) and send you the oil cruet of your dreams — compliments of Mudshark Studios and Bretton Sage Designs.