maker stories

Maker Stories: Mondays Projects

by Stacy Anne Longenecker

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a thing for ceramics. I feel like they’re having a moment right now, and there’s this earthy-meets-modern trend in the air that everyone is putting their own twist on. Think speckled glazes, matte finishes, natural colors and organic shapes. Behind MONDAYS is a talented trio of women (all based in Brooklyn), each with individual styles that blend together beautifully to form one brand. Jennifer’s freeform shapes, Nina’s geometric details and Signe’s Scandinavian-inspired tendencies come together as a comprehensive collection of tableware and planters and vases. All work can be purchased on their website — these little speckled teacups are my favorite. Read on for their interview! — Stacy

Who came up with the name MONDAYS? Is there a story behind that?

Signe: Jennifer and I have been friends since grade school, and we met Nina on a Monday night in ceramics class. The three of us clicked as a team, and when we started brainstorming about creating a business together, Nina said, “It should be called something about Mondays,” and it was our “a-ha” moment. We moved into a bigger space in July and launched our company this fall. Even though we don’t take classes anymore, we make sure Monday nights are set aside for working together.

Where in Brooklyn do you live, and what’s your favorite local spot?

Signe: Williamsburg. I love the udon noodles and sushi “tacos” at Samurai Mama. They’ve got me thinking that I want to make big bowls and little plates again. Champion Coffee is a few blocks from our studio in Greenpoint, and we go there for simple baguette sandwiches and coffee. Sometimes we have meetings on their back patio when we want a break from the studio.

Jennifer: Fort Greene. Since my son was born (he’ll be four in January), I’ve spent more time in Fort Greene Park than anywhere else in the neighborhood. For splurges, I love Thirst Wine Merchants, French Garment Cleaners, and Gabriela de la VegaFeliz for gifts and Saffron for their amazing, inspiring flowers. I’ve also recently discovered the addictive kale veggie burgers at Ici, and I’m now obsessed.

Nina: Bed-Stuy. My food cravings are serious, and they bring me all over Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, but [in my neighborhood] I love to get a beer at the Black Swan, fried chicken at Peaches Hothouse, or the tamale soup at Pilar.

You all have day jobs — what are they?

Signe: I’m a wardrobe stylist.

Jennifer: I work as a registrar for the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Nina: I assist prop stylists on photo shoots for food magazines and cookbooks.

What’s your favorite part of the making process?

Signe: I like touching the wet clay. When I’m throwing on the wheel, it’s so satisfying to see and feel my hands transform a lump of clay into a vessel. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m going to make before I start. It’s a form of meditation for me. I love making a mess!

Jennifer: Improvisation and play is an important part of my process. I like it best when I’m not sure exactly what is going to happen. My background is in photography, and I was always a messy photographer, too — I like to be just slightly out of control and open to accidents.

Nina: Whatever feels most like “playing” usually ends up being the most satisfying part. Lately I’ve been dripping and spraying underglaze onto my pieces with a spray bottle before firing them. Being messy feels like my reward for having been careful and precise about the form itself. I’m a naturally messy person.

Pick one: coffee or tea?

Signe: Coffee coffee coffee.

Jennifer: Coffee, definitely.

Nina: Insane question.

Who is your favorite artist or craftsperson?

Signe: I’m heavily influenced by Danish and Swedish ceramicists, from the middle of the 20th century up until now. I’m drawn to my Scandinavian heritage. I also get a lot of inspiration from textiles . . . everything from kilim rugs to molas and Native American leatherwork.

Jennifer: Rinko Kawauchi, JoAnn Verburg, Betty Feves, the women of Gee’s Bend, Richard Tuttle, Robert Irwin . . . I spend a lot of time looking at African pottery and beaded work, as well.

Nina: Paula Greif and Joan Platt are two favorite ceramicists of mine who both do a lot of hand building, like me.

What long-term goal do you daydream about?

Signe: Sharing long, lazy meals in our very own sunlight-filled studio . . . and making that our “day job.”

Jennifer: Having a large sunny studio of our own, and no longer needing my day job.

Nina: In my dream life, I spend a lot of time traveling to places with beautiful crafts and delicious food, and the rest of my time making stuff out of clay.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you’re doing?

Signe: I have no idea! I started taking ceramics classes a few years ago as a more hands-on creative alternative to my day job. I feel like if you had asked me this question before then, the answer would have been “making things with clay.”

Jennifer: I honestly can’t imagine (which is probably a good thing).

Nina: I used to write about food full-time. I love that talking about food can bring you so close to people from all different places. But I don’t love sitting at the computer for long stretches — hearing my own voice in my head all day makes me bonkers.


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