Max’s Spring Obsessions

Ever since the George Bellows retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last fall, I’ve been in an Ashcan state of mind. Known for their romantic depictions of turn-of-the-century everyday life on the East coast, the Ashcan school artists put a solidly American twist on what was typically the realm of Impressionism. George Bellows is most well known for his paintings of boxing matches, but his urban and rural landscapes, filled with beautifully belching smoke and ominous black seas, are some of the most stunning I’ve ever seen. Along with Bellows, other Ashcanners like John Sloan and Edward Hopper have been fueling my lust for a simpler aesthetic, filled with nods to the countryside and seafaring culture.

With this in mind, I’ve begun preparing for what is probably my favorite season of the year: spring. Although spring is often associated with the bright colors of fresh blossoms and the welcome return of birdsong, there is an element of the season that is more muted, even somber. From the blue cloud-covered days of April to the tumultuous nor’easters that furiously pelt raindrops on the roof, spring isn’t always sunshine and roses. Still, even these darker moments come with their own kind of romance. This spring, it’s the romance of billowing clouds and salt-tinged gusts of wind that I am courting. Ever object oriented, I’ve been collecting things here and there that remind me of spring’s more somber side. Here are my favorites. — Max

1. Barbour Coat — I’ve been dying to get my hands on one of these coats for years now. Made of a sturdy waxed cotton and designed so that liners and hoods can be attached, they’re as versatile as they are beautiful. After a bit of saving (they’re a little above my usual budget), I finally got one! The water-repellent fabric makes it perfect for the rainy days of spring.

2. Lionbrand Fisherman’s Wool — In my last Current Obsessions post, I mentioned how obsessed I was with Lionbrand’s un-dyed fisherman’s wool. After finally finishing my scarf, I’m even more obsessed! I wear this thing daily, and with the wool’s naturally high lanolin oil content, it matches the water-repelling power of my coat.

3. Marimekko Mari Shirt — I picked this classic long-sleeved tee on a trip to Finland last summer. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and sturdy construction.

4. The Milk Carton Kids — I discovered this American folk band a few months ago while perusing iTunes. I was immediately taken with their soft, often melancholic sound. Their latest album, Ash & Clay, has been on constant rotation since it came out this week.

5. Moby Dick — Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m listening to the audio book. Still, what nautical phase would be complete without this epic seafaring tale? It certainly sets the tone for my days as I ride the subway to work.

More after the jump . . .

1. Turkish Towel — I picked up this Turkish towel from French Garment Cleaners, a clothing boutique in my neighborhood. These towels, while thinner than one is usually accustomed to, dry very quickly and are lovely to look at. They also make great throw blankets and scarves!

2. Wooden Cocktail Muddler — I got this wooden cocktail muddler from Modern Anthology, a beautiful home goods shop located in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn. I’ve been meaning to start making more “advanced” cocktails (that being more advanced than vodka and sodas), and this little lovely was my first step in that direction.

3. Atlas Mason Jars — While I love a good ol’ Ball Jar any day, I’ve really been digging the more industrial, less ornate typeface on vintage Atlas jars, available at many flea markets and vintage shops. I’ve been keeping cut flowers in them all over my apartment.

4. Mojitos! — I had to use my new cocktail muddler for something, right? Mojitos are perfect because they’re a cool retreat form the heavy beers and wines I’ve been drinking all winter and a warm reminder of the summer days ahead.

1. Christian Rathbone Yarn — I picked up a skein of this yarn at textile designer Christian Rathbone’s stand at the Brooklyn Flea a few weekends ago, and I’m totally obsessed! Sourced from the Middle East, the wool for this yarn comes from sheep with a two-millenia genetic heritage. In addition to making them high in natural lanolin oil, it also (apparently) makes them quite beautiful!

2. Wood-handled Garden Pruner — I’ve been totally enamored with the idea of gardening recently, but I don’t really have much experience with it. To get my gardening hobby going, I decided the best way to start is with some good books and beautiful gardening tools. This simple pruner from West Elm Market (one of my favorite new haunts) certainly fits the bill!

3. Brass-handled Scissors — I purchased these as a Valentine’s Day present for my boyfriend at Dry Goods, one of my favorite neighborhood shops. Although they were definitely meant for him, I haven’t been able to keep my eyes (or hands) off of them!

4. Wood & Faulk Northwesterner Bag — I received one of these fabulous Wood & Faulk bags as a Christmas present, and we’ve been practically inseparable ever since. Styled like an old tool carrier, these remarkably sturdy bags are perfect for my kind of tools: a laptop and a few books!

5. Hyacinths — And lastly, I couldn’t forget one of my very, very favorite things for spring: hyacinth flowers! These little lads are everywhere this time of year and are perfect for bringing the sights and smells of spring indoors. Their amazing fragrance literally fills my entire apartment when I buy just a few stems.


omg, I love the bag. any downsides? I’ve been eyeing it as a work bag…

Maxwell Tielman

RB— Overall, that bag is fantastic! It’s insanely well constructed and it wears beautifully. The only *slight, slight* downside is that it’s a little bit heavy. I wouldn’t suggest it, for example, on a backpacking trip or a days when you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Aside from that, though, I couldn’t recommend it more highly! Love it.


Wow, loving the Barbour coat. After perusing the website offerings (and seeing they have a store in Chicago), this looks like a staple I would get years of wear out of. May save up for one myself!


I love this list! What color fisherman’s wool did you use for your scarf in the first pic?


I love this collection so much. I really like your more dark take on spring. I always look forward to spring, but living in Seattle, it isn’t all blue skies and sunshine everyday (don’t get me wrong though, spring is beautiful here).

Also, I am curious about your bag. I have been eyeing it for ages, and now my husband is needing a work bag. Does it get kind of heavy or cumbersome with your laptop and everything in it? Thanks for the awesome post. Have a great spring!


Good list, Max. I enjoyed listening to The Milk Carton Kids all morning.


so weird, I’m just about half-way through Moby Dick, dense and a difficult read, but very rewarding … mostly, a terrible hassle to carry every day on the subway!!


Cool list Max. Love the yarn and hyacinths and I adore scissors, the brass ones you gifted are lovely.


Love this list. I will have to save up too for that lovely jacket. Which one is it? I looked on the website and can’t find it. I need that hood for days like today. Ah…spring in NY!


Love the Turkish towel, I’m obsessed as well! I recently purchased some from Ella Lou, they have great colors and a large variety. Great post!