maker stories: object & totem

by Stacy Anne Longenecker

I’ve been trying to get Object & Totem’s pieces in the shop since July. I love the earthy, rustic vibe of owner Julie’s pieces, and I’m a huge fan of any speckled glaze, of which her collection has plenty. Amidst planning her wedding (complete with potted succulents as favors — the pots were handmade by Julie, of course), creating a line of exclusive necklaces for Anthropologie and continually crafting pieces for her product range, Julie is in high demand these days. I’m still chasing her down, so in the meantime, you can find pieces inspired by the nuance of artistic rituals and meditative processes for sale at Shop Pretty Mommy and on Julie’s website. — Stacy (A big thanks to Redfield Photography for taking these wonderful photos!)

The full interview continues after the jump…

1. You live in Philadelphia. What’s your favorite local spot to frequent?

When I have time, I love to go to the Headhouse Farmhouse Market on 2nd Street and check out the local in-season produce and talk directly to the vendors. It’s a way more pleasant experience than walking through a freezing grocery store where I’m bombarded by 20 different kinds of tomato sauce.

2. What’s your absolute favorite thing to make from your product range?

I suppose there’s no one thing, but I do enjoy the parts of each process when I can just go on autopilot and zone out into the nothingness of making. Hand building is a newer thing for me, and I love that there’s no way to speed up the process; it forces you to slow down a bit.

3. If you had to be surrounded by one color forever, what would it be?

Only one color? I’d probably choose white in that case. I read about a man who lost the ability to see color after an accident, and it altered the sensation of eating because he would see not the redness in an apple but dark grey, which wasn’t as appetizing. I’d rather be blind and have my memory of color instead.

4. What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to?

The Ashokan Reservoir in upstate NY. I got engaged there last year, so of course there’s sentiment attached to it, but it’s really a peaceful walk, especially during sunset — there’s complete stillness on one side and beautiful greenery on the other. The walkway cuts right through it, so it almost feels like two different movie backdrops, but you’re experiencing them both simultaneously in complete silence, which is a nice break from urban life.

5. Who is your favorite artist or craftsperson?

I’ve had many, but these days, it’s a close tie between Agnes Martin and Patrick Dougherty.

6. What era/decade are you most inspired by, in terms of design and lifestyle?

Post-WWII minimalism. I think it’s especially interesting to see its interpretation in the present day where there are so many modes of communication and ways to access information. I find there is too much design concerned with being excessive in the idea of trend, and [I] prefer when an idea is distilled down to its essence but still maintains a human element.

7. What’s your favorite tea flavor?

My mom makes this great Korean Cinnamon Tea where she boils cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger slices in water with brown sugar and serves it with soaked rice and pine nuts. Hot or cold, it’s so refreshing after any meal.

8. Do you have any pets?

Yes. We adopted a silver tabby cat four years ago when we first moved to Philadelphia and named her Nico, after the singer. And then we discovered a couple years ago from a visit to the vet that she was actually a “he,” so now it’s Niko after Nikola Tesla.

9. What’s your favorite book? OR What’s the last book you read and liked?

The last book I read that I really enjoyed was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I love to run because there’s a moment when you cross a threshold of pain and it begins to feel relaxing where you’re not just running, but you’re kind of entering this new way of thinking about yourself and your body.

10. What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday night?

Any evening I can spend with my husband having a great conversation or listening to a good story with friends over a great meal is priceless. It’s pretty ordinary, but after a long week in the studio or in front of a computer, those kinds of evenings are really appreciated.

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