Work

Schon DSGN Pens in workshop

When you first see a Schon DSGN pen, you have to pick it up. The bare metal cylinder commands the landscape of a coffee table like a tiny monolith. A curiously pleasing screw action opens and closes the cap, an enticement for endless fiddling.

Depending on which metal yours is made from — aluminum, titanium, brass or bronze — the pen is either surprisingly light or formidably heavy. It looks like some mysterious James Bond accessory. Once uncapped, it looks like the Platonic model for all pens ever created, descended like a stray lightning bolt straight from the desk of Zeus.

 

Brass Schon DSGN Pen

There is something paradoxical about it. Perhaps it’s the simple yet stately design. Perhaps it’s the satisfying feel of solid metal in an item that is usually no more than a petrochemical trifle, destined for the wastebasket.

It is this ponderous pen, a favorite of our Work collection, that has brought us to the Schon DSGN studio today. But it turns out there is a lot more to this maker. Ian Schon is an engineer with some revolutionary ideas. His portfolio includes an impressive collection of retail products and machine parts that he has independently designed, prototyped, manufactured, and brought to market. He keeps production as local as possible, even when it means designing machine parts and processes to circumvent typical methods of mass production. This “systems level approach to product design” is his response to a retail world inundated with mediocre goods and dubious branding. Schon goes the hard route to prove a point — that integrity matters, even in something a basic as a pen. How radical.

Multicolored Anodized Aluminum Schon DSGN Pens

 

“I like to make ‘physical interaction designs’ that are interesting,” Schon tells us. His screwtop pen is a prime example. “I don’t want to make something and then just put it on a shelf.”

We are standing in Schon’s home studio, on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brookline, Massachusetts. This small but fruitful workshop is the vessel in which Schon sets out into uncharted territory again and again, designing his way from one step to the next. Myriad parts and prototypes — from watch faces to custom pen cartridges to unexplainable metal plates, diagrams and pieces he simply refers to as “bits” — cover most of the available surfaces in the room.

Schon digs through a series of drawers in his workshop, eventually pulling out a small box. Inside is his latest edition — hefty pens made from stainless steel.

“This is the new hotness,” says Schon with a smile. He is an engineer at play.

Maker Ian Schon

 

With his exuberant explanations and that confident grin, 26-year-old Schon gives the quirky impression of a boy genius. But he is no poindexter, mind you. Factor in the light-footed energy of a competitive cyclist, then add the keen gaze of an engineer who possesses a powerful raw intelligence, a command of his craft, and an unbridled creative spark. He is driven by a cause. When he talks about the challenges he faces as a maker dedicated to “Do It Yourself,” his passion nearly boils over.

Schon DSGN studio

 

A collection of artwork adorns the walls of Schon’s workshop, all of which speak to the dynamic forces at work in him. There are complex geometric patterns, which Schon programmed on his CNC machine as he was learning to use it. There are DIY flyers from various friends’ bands featuring original punk artwork. There’s a still-life drawing of a bicycle part, drawn by a tattoo artist friend. The crowning piece, mounted above his antique lathe, is a print of a laughing skull, wearing a bike cap that reads “Can’t Stop.” Below the skull, a banner that reads “Don’t Wanna” completes the sentiment.

Bike Banner

 

Indeed, Schon doesn’t ever seem to stop. During our two hour visit, he doesn’t sit down once, even though he has just biked here from across the Charles River. Not only is he eager to tell us about his work, he enthusiastically demonstrates various processes for us on the customized machines in his workshop.

Schon works on his entrepreneurial projects in his free time. He is able to fund many of his projects out of pocket. This is thanks to his “day job,” working as an engineer at Ideo, a global design firm located in Central Square, a hub of Boston’s tech scene. He cites this advantage as a huge privilege for a maker, one that he is grateful for. Schon seizes upon all of the opportunities his talents bring him to take a stand in the world of product design, pushing the limits of what it means for a brand to be authentic.

Schon DSGN pens

 

What does that mean exactly? Consider the pen. Schon needed a lathe to prototype his design. He had a hard time finding one, and no one would let him use theirs. Rightfully so, perhaps; he had no formal training. He was not enrolled in a metalworking class nor was he employed in a machine shop.

“No one would really teach me, so I kinda had to go on my own,” says Schon. “You’ve gotta be in the trenches to make innovation.”

He tracked down an antique industrial lathe on Craigslist, purchased it, and spent the summer restoring it. Then he learned to use it and began turning prototypes in his spare time. Eventually Schon would get more formal training at the scientific instruments facility at Boston University, but he was his own first teacher.

Ian Schon works on his lathe

 

“Let’s run a part on it, it’ll be fun,” says Schon. He fires up the lathe, which he approaches like a an old friend. In a room that includes powerful computerized manufacturing equipment and a large industrial metal press, the lathe seems almost quaint. He grabs a pen, explaining the finer points of polishing aluminum with red rouge over the din of the machine.

Polishing a pen

 

Schon’s final pen design was contingent on the condition that he would be able to produce every part of it with his own two hands. Hence, a metal cylinder with screw threads, which can be turned entirely on his lathe from raw stock. No internal spring action, and no pocket clip. A simple custom screw locks the cartridge in place. Nothing requires outsourcing of material, parts or labor.

Metal shavings and lathe

 

“People design themselves out of the equation,” Schon explains. His goal is to prevent what he considers an all-too-common phenomenon. Manufacturing methods and material choices are usually tailored to meet profit-driven, lowest-common-denominator industry standards. The archetypical example is the ubiquity of products that bear the phrase “Made in China.” For Schon, it’s a red letter that indicates a failure — a failure to prioritize local production, and to preserve the integrity of the product. It means the design has become an orphan in the world, reared not by it’s parent, but by strangers in a factory, far, far away.

“It’s hard for me when people say ‘made in Boston’ or ‘made in America’… what does it really mean ‘to make’, anymore?” he asks. “When I couldn’t produce [the pens] by myself anymore [due to increasing demand], it was about finding a way to produce them in America… and still capture the spirit of what I put into it.”

Ian Schon holding pens

 

This meant nailing down a production process that fit Schon’s final blueprint, his budget, and his ethos of keeping it locally and authentically made.

Eventually Schon found a Massachusetts shop that agreed to produce small-batch runs of his pens, in between runs of the high-volume products that sustain their business.

“They’ve got big machines to pay off, right? And I have to be respectful of that, I have to be respectful of their time, and make it work for both of us,” Schon explains.

Schon took the same “systems level approach” with his “certified slammed” bicycle part a few years back. The piece became its own brand, piggybacking off of a cyclist blog and creating its own micro-culture, all known by the moniker Slam That Stem.

Slam That Stem headset bearing covers

Photo courtesy of slamthatstem.com

The niche part is a result of Schon’s natural tendency to innovate. A common pain felt among competitive cyclists is a limitation in bicycle design. The issue lies with a minor piece called a headset bearing cover — a metal washer that seals the joint where the handlebars fit into the bike frame. It is crucial for keeping dust and debris out of the joint, which must remain accurately spaced, sealed and lubricated to perform properly.

A typical headset bearing cover is over an inch thick. For serious racers, who raise their seats high and crouch as low as possible over their handlebars, every millimeter counts. Schon designed a cover that is only 1.9 mm (or .075 in) thick, and weighs a less to boot. It’s the best option on the market for racers who want to get as low as possible (or “slammed,” according to the devotees) without an expensive custom alteration.

But once again, Schon hit a hurdle. He needed access to an industrial metal punch called an arbor press, fitted with a custom stamp, to produce his design. The stamp alone would cost him upwards of $15,000.

Ian Schon and his bike

 

“So how do you get around that?” Schon asks us. “You’ve gotta do that weird engineering thing, you’ve gotta make your own tool. Then you’ve gotta convince the stamper to put it in their machine. You can’t just design, and say ‘make this part’ — you have to find a way to make it, too.”

Schon tracked down an arbor press, purchased it, then learned how to use it. He went ahead and designed his own stamp for it, then made that, too. For three years, he used it to punch out the part by hand. Eventually, he found a machinist at a shop in Detroit who was willing to attach Schon’s stamp to one of their presses and stamp out Schon’s part in between shifts.

“That’s the only reason why [Slam That Stem] is able to exist,” says Schon, proudly standing next to his arbor press. He was able to sidestep a huge start-up cost, go into production, and keep the retail price at only $22, while maintaining full control of the project.

“That’s American ingenuity, that’s that special sauce, that’s what makes American makers special, because we’re scrappy as fuck, because we can just get in there, and figure out, and say ‘ok what’s the loophole? What’s the way that I’m gonna nail this?”

Ian Schon and watch faces

 

We arrive at the heart of Schon’s ethos when he reveals his latest project — handmade watches. Schon shows off the timepiece on his wrist — a handsome, simple design, noticeably unmarked by any logo or branding, just like his pens.

“This watch was made here,” he says with a gleam in his eye. “Like, in this room.”

Inspired to try his hand at making another “everyday use” item to follow his pens, Schon ordered a quartz watch on eBay, took it apart, and then reassembled it to see how it was built. Not long after he made his own watch case and a dial with a 3-D printer. It was only the beginning.

Watch faces on desk

 

“I wanted more, I wanted that tick, I wanted the mechanics,” says Schon. “What if I could make a watch entirely from scratch, I thought. So, I got to it.”

Schon reworked his case design to fit a mechanical watch movement (as opposed to quartz), so he could begin building the individual components. After three years of trial and error and many redesigns, (indeed, there are at least a dozen iterations of watch faces strewn over Schon’s work table), he began to arrive at a prototype that he would be capable of building.

“I created this watch and many more in between — many, many, many more in between,” he says. “I’ve just been diving super deep into this trying to figure out what I can make of it. I’m all over the map with how I create these.”

Each redesign required Schon to try new processes with his machines, particularly his CNC machine. Schon spent months writing the code to “draw” his watch case and other components on the computer.

CNC machine

 

“I had to develop the process,” he says. “There’s no book on it. You have to be really frickin’ creative and you have to use your engineering brain.” Once again, Schon had to design his own proprietary tool, this time for his CNC machine. He points out a custom mounting plate on the CNC table and asks us not to photograph it.

“It’s my special sauce,” Schon says with his grin.

Schon reiterates a that key element to maintaining control of the project is limiting the design to what is practical. Many watch design elements require specialized manufacturing that isn’t typically available in the States, or is otherwise cost-prohibitive, even for big companies. He points out certain details, like tiny, hair-thin sticks of metal decorating a commercially produced watch he has nearby, as examples of this kind of heedless design. Then he holds up his own watch face again to illustrate his point.

Watch face prototypes

 

“If you look at this watch… I have drilled dots [marking the hour] — because I know how to drill things. If you design with what you know, you can produce it and you can make the parts. And then your design lives — it makes it to market and it’s made in Massachusetts the way you ethically wanted to create it. You have to know your limits and your boundaries. The reason why [a company] says ‘oh it’s so hard to manufacture things in America’ is because [they’re] not thinking about it the right way.”

Schon explains that the watch world is enormous, full of behemoth companies, generating millions and millions of dollars a year in revenue. A lot of that revenue is based on brand image and stance, but not much scrutiny is given to the actual manufacturing behind that identity, at least not enough, according to Schon. He cites a prominent American watch company, who proudly boasts “made in America,” as an example. At best, he explains, they are simply assembling their designs Stateside, but not actually making the components.

Ian Schon and Paul Jackmauh

 

“They have the value I have, from a marketing standpoint, right, but not the guts. They’re not actually making it. You’re paying for marketing, and that’s sad, that’s something that hurts me, as someone who cares about goods,” says Schon. “This watch thing is an exercise — to say ‘dudes, you can make it in America, but you don’t want to, because it’s hard.’ …If you’re crafty about the design, you can produce it in America. And that’s where I’m at.” For him, the watch project is a social statement, a challenge to the status-quo.

“I just want to be there to set an example. I love competition. I want to encourage other makers to think that way, because it just strengthens their brand.”

 

 

Watch faces on desk

Schon plans to have ten finished watch prototypes — all already at various stages of completion here in his workshop — by December. Rather than hastening his design to the production stage for the sake of efficacy, Schon is focusing on completing a design that he is capable of producing himself, that he will be able to scale up locally.

“You’ve gotta be so clever to do it. You don’t have a ton of money, you don’t have a ton of scale, so you’ve gotta get really creative, you’ve gotta do stuff like this, like have a little factory where you’re doing one-offs in your house. It’s a blast.”

On our way out, Schon leads us outside to show us one of his earliest and dearest projects — his bicycle. To build it, Schon apprenticed with some bike makers in Baltimore, learned to use a brazing torch, then purchased his own. He designed and assembled custom tubing blocks to build on, then built his bike. What a surprise. It bears his personal lightning bolt “logo.” He handles it with the same affectionate touch as his lathe.

Ian Schon and bike

 

“I’m here to inspire, that’s the only reason I did this,” Schon says with another smile.

It is most certainly inspiring. We came here to learn about his pens, but it feels like we’ve just taken a whole curriculum in product design, engineering, industrial manufacturing and anti-establishment maker-activism. Schon is his own one-man production firm, on a mission, designing his way through uncharted territory. He seems to be having a lot of fun doing it.

Schon DSGN pen, watch, and bike

 

Check out Schon DSGN pens here!

Filed Under: Boston, Work

Father’s Day. It’s the holiday we were born to curate. Our vast selection of keepsakes and treasures will help you give Dad a truly standout gift. Here are a dozen highlights from the Craft & Caro stockroom that are sure to inspire you. 

Groom

Manicure set, Cologne, and Shaving set

1.) F. Hammann Stainless Steel Manicure Set

F. Hammann Leathergoods has been making world-class items since 1864. Five generations of the Hammann family have maintained a standard of excellence that defines their brand. Production is still carried out entirely on-location in Offenbach, Germany. The company processes its own leather, using only all-natural tanning agents. This handsome manicure set is complete, compact, and built to last a lifetime. The Eschenburg tools inside it are made with precision, for precision performance, year after year. $162

2.) MCMC Dude No. 1 Cologne

MCMC Fragrances makes all-natural perfumes and colognes in Brooklyn, NY. Founder Anne McClain studied aromatherapy and then perfumery in Grasse, France. Anne and her sister Katie oversee the manual production of each heavenly fragrance in their line. Dude No. 1 is a refreshing take on the masculine essence. A deep base of sandalwood, Virginia cedarwood and Haitian vetiver mixes with Moroccan rose, spicy ginger and pink peppercorn. Fresh, exotic, and seductive, for the James Bond in every dad. $75

3.) Mühle Sophist Buffalo Horn Shaving Set

These masters of heirloom-quality shaving accessories broke ground in Saxony, Germany at the conclusion of World War II. Over the decades, their commitment to excellence has endured and grown along with them. This gorgeous set is a gift Dad will cherish for the rest of his life. Beautiful, hand-turned buffalo horn and corrosion resistant chrome are painstakingly finished with a high-gloss polish. Famously soft silvertip badger hair makes the perfect lather every time, for a luxurious start to the day. A classic set of tools for the man who deserves the very best. $505

 

Travel

Frost River Bag

 4.) Frost River Overland Valise Weekender

Frost River makes beautiful, adventure-ready bags in Duluth, Minnesota. Their vintage style and high-quality construction are inspired by the trail blazers, prospectors and craftsmen who first explored the Northern Wilderness. In honor of that bygone era, Frost River’s methods and materials adhere to traditional production values. Each bag is made carefully from Martexin waxed canvas from New Jersey, quality leather from SB Foot Tannery in Minnesota, and finished with solid brass hardware. The Overland Valise Weekender is a ruggedly handsome, hardworking, sophisticated travel companion that you can count on to haul more than its fair share of the load. Sound like someone you know? $300

Leather wallet and Bottle opener key shackle

5.) American Bench Craft Hammer Riveted Wallet

Brothers Jason and Chris founded American Bench Craft in 2014, to honor “the heritage of [their] grandfathers and the products they relied on.” Every American Bench Craft product is made by hand with manually-powered machines and tools in their home workshop. The Hammer Riveted Leather Wallet is the flagship design on which they ran their Kickstarter campaign. Each wallet is made from a single piece of high-quality, naturally dyed leather that is folded and riveted, not stitched together, for unmatched durability and longevity. A sharp-looking, simple wallet that Dad can count on. $74

6.) Metal Shop Key Shackle Bottle Opener

Possibly the ultimate Dad gift. Simple to use, always handy for popping your favorite bottle, and entirely manly. Hand-machined from raw 304 Stainless Steel and then hand-finished, each Key Shackle opener bares unique production marks. Jon Fontane started Metal Shop in 2013 to honor the memory of his grandfather’s New Jersey machine shop. He eschews modern mass-production practices, and designs thoughtful, unique items, meant to honor authentic craftsmanship. He works out of his studio in Connecticut, in partnership with a collective of small, family-run machine shops. $45

 

Work

Fisher Space Pen, Bull & Stash leather notebook and Almanac Industries Blueprint cards

7.) Almanac Industries Blueprint Notecards

Husband and wife team Jacob and Whitney Cecil make their exquisite stationery one sheet at a time on their antique letterpress. They find joy in all things old fashioned, including attentive craftsmanship. These classic cards are no exception to their efforts. Their Blueprint series features nautical images and diagrams, including boats, rope knots and lighthouses. Each set includes fifteen heavyweight cards, hand-stamped with your image of choice. Whether Dad is the sender or the recipient, he is sure to appreciate the extra touch that these elegant cards add to the occasion. $32

8.) Fisher Original AG7 Astronaut Space Pen

Probably the coolest pen in the solar system. This is the original Space Pen, designed for use by astronauts and tested by NASA. It accompanied the crew of Apollo 7 into space in 1968 and has been used on every American space flight since, including the first moon landing. The design has never changed. The AG7 is uncannily satisfying to use. Solid chrome-plated brass and steel components lend a healthy weight to the pen. The action on the click mechanism is fluid and substantial, an homage to classic analog mechanics, akin to the pleasure of using an antique cash register or cable clutch. Fisher’s proprietary pressurized ink cartridge ensures a smooth flow, flouting all atmospheric and gravitational conditions. Proudly made in the USA, for every boy, young and old, who still wants to be an astronaut. $50

9.) Bull & Stash Leather Notebook

Oregon-based Bull & Stash is new to the world, but their rugged notebooks are destined to be classics. A staple of the Craft & Caro selection, each notebook is made from a single piece of naturally dyed leather from free-range American cows, hand-finished at a family-run tannery in Santa Croce, Italy. The thick, oiled leather forms a flexible, spine-free, water-resistant cover. The refillable paper pad is held in place with two aluminum screws, for added durability and easy replacement. Every Bull & Stash will develop a distinguished patina over the years, each as unique and personal as the writing inside. A wonderful example of an everyday item elevated by imaginitive design. $5-$50

Relax

Flask, copper shot glasses and Sportes log stove

10.) Beier-Lederwaren Ostrich Finish Steel Flask

Another standard-bearer of fine German design, Beier-Lederwaren has been manufacturing high-quality accessories since 1922. Their stainless steel flasks are built to last a lifetime. While we carry an extensive selection of Beier-Lederwaren flasks, this particular one is our favorite. Rich cow leather, expertly finished to resemble exotic ostrich hide, lends a classic, debonair look to this little heirloom. Give Dad a touch of European flair. $89

11.) Jacob Bromwell Old West Copper Shot Glasses

Jacob Bromwell has been making iconic American goods since 1819. Their first Cincinnati factory opened to supply westbound settlers with the necessities of life on the frontier. Every heirloom item is made by hand in America, from materials sourced in America. These copper shot glasses are hot-tinned according to Jacob Bromwell’s proprietary method, making them the real thing, not just ornamental replicas. Worthy of the likes of Wayne, Eastwood and Bronson. Sure to add a touch of style to Dad’s bar. Maybe he’ll even break out some of the good stuff for you. $150

12.) Sportes MITI Swedish Log Stove

For the dad who loves the outdoors, even the one who thinks he has all the gadgets he will ever need to answer the call of the wild. MITI means “log” in the tongue of the aboriginal people native to Quebec, where Sportes is located. Their ingenious Log Stove is designed to perfect a concept developed by the Swedish Army in the 1600’s. Simply quarter a medium-sized log, stand the four pieces up, then position the Log Stove on top. Lock it into place with the included spikes. Suddenly a few pieces of timber have become a stable stove, complete with cooktop and steady burn temperature. Adjust the spacing between the logs to raise or lower temperature. Pretty cool, right? Dad will think so too. (Rib eye not included.) $65

Filed Under: Events, Gift Guides, Groom, Relax, Travel, Work
11 Fabulous Gift ideas for Mom from Craft & Caro

Craft & Caro strives to be the finest purveyor of gentlemen’s essentials, but many of our fine products are beloved by ladies as well! We put this luxurious Mother’s Day gift guide together for the fashionable mom in your life.

 

The Executive Collection

Executive Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

For the mom who means business.

The Lajoie Shoulder Tote (1) is simple, sharp and gracefully stylish. Laser cut Dutch leather, hand stitched with urban-farmed beeswax twine, gives this bag an elegant precision. A few modest accents add a touch of flair, elevating it from formal work tote to rock-star-chic fashion accessory. Built in Montreal to last a lifetime. $365

A handwritten note is always more heartfelt than a store-bought card. Think outside of the shoebox with Bohemia Correspondence Cards (2)! These colorful greeting cards from Prague are themselves a worthy gift consideration. The sturdy, bordered cardstock with matching tissue-lined envelopes makes versatile stationery for lighthearted hellos, holiday greetings or formal affairs. $32

Now let’s equip that bag with some accessories of its own. We recommend the Schon DSGN #0001 Metal Pen (3), made here in Boston. Solid, stately and classic. Its heft in the hand commands authority, just like Mom. Fabricated from your choice of silver or black aluminum, limited edition brass, bronze or titanium. Rolls Royce not included. $58

One of our Bull & Stash Refillable Notebooks (4) completes the set. A single piece of deliciously soft nubuck leather, hand finished in Italy, forms the jacket of this tough, travel ready notebook. Spine-free and very flexible, this attractive jotter is the professional way to scratch, scribble and brainstorm in the office, on the commute or in the park. Cut in three sizes, including two pocket-sized. $15-$50

 

The Vacation Collection

Vacation Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

Because motherhood is a beach.

The iconic Pendleton Glacier Park 5th Avenue Throw (5) makes a lovely keepsake for any room in the house. Its plush Merino wool is irresistibly soft — perfect for curling up on the couch, laying out on the beach or picnicking in the park. A gift to be enjoyed for years and years. Manufactured in Oregon since the 1860’s. $138

Mom can pack her Pendleton into a Revival Series Boston Bag (6) for her afternoon excursion. This historic design is tastefully executed with rugged canvas, hand-stitched leather and solid brass hardware. All the trappings of a good time can fit into this handy tote. A removable leather shoulder strap makes carrying heavy cargo easy. Buttons up or down for adjustable size, in case Mom’s afternoon off turns into a whole weekend! Proudly designed and made in Boston. (Check out designer Marie Thompson’s recent coverage in The Boston Globe!) $198

No sunny afternoon is complete without a nice cold drink! Owl’s Brew Cocktail Mixers (7) provide a fun and easy way for Mom to enjoy some DIY craft bartending. Made in Vermont from freshly brewed tea, fruit and herbs, each Owl’s Brew comes ready to mix with your spirit of choice. Add ice, give it a stir and you’re done!  Feeling more creative? Give classic cocktails a new twist or experiment with custom recipes! It’s even great on its own, as a refreshing artisanal iced tea. $10-$18

 

The Pamper Collection

Pamper Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

She pampered you. Here’s your chance to pay back the favor with some all-natural items, crafted to delight the senses and soothe the soul.

A standout addition to any culinary library, Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water (8) is filled with enough inspired infusion recipes to last all summer long! Mom will have a blast making her own garlic confit oil, peach bourbon, homemade limoncello and pineapple-mint-coconut water, to name a few. This beautifully illustrated guide even includes secondary food and cocktail recipes incorporating its luscious infusions! Another thing to look forward to next time you’re invited to dinner at Mom’s. $25

No Mother’s Day gift guide would be complete without a scented candle or two. MIZU (9) nails it with their perfectly balanced hand-poured candles. Made with 100% natural soy wax and essential oil blends. Each scent in the Mizuworld Collection captures fragrances from a particular region of the globe, like Lemongrass & Jasmine for Thailand and Fig & Olive for Greece. Yum! Brighten Mom’s world with something extra special. $22.50

Bring a touch of the exotic to Mom’s morning routine! Wary Meyers Soap (10) is beautiful, festive and fragrant. Made with love by a funky pair of interior designers who left New York City for the rocky shores of Maine. Their dazzling all natural soaps sport bold, playful scents like Beachy Coconut, Grapefruit & Clementine, and Cedarwood & Vanilla. A gentle glycerine-based formula makes these soaps soothing and moisturizing, with a luxurious smoothing finish. $14

Thorn & Bloom Artisanal Botanical Perfume (11) redefines high-end fragrance. This premium line of all-natural eau de parfums is hand crafted by certified natural perfumer Jennifer Botto. Natural botanical ingredients create more nuanced and authentic aromatic profiles than conventional perfumes can achieve. Each intricate scent is inspired by Botto’s childhood memories of her family’s farm in upstate New York. A truly precious treasure to share, made just down the road in Somerville, Massachusetts. $65-$199 (Full interview with Jennifer Botto here.)

There you have it, friends. Eleven inspired gifts to help you show your mother just how special she is. The only thing left to figure out is how to out-do yourself next year.

Mother's Day Gift Guide from Craft & Caro

Filed Under: Boston, Gift Guides, Groom, Relax, Travel, Work
Bull & Stash featured image

A Companion for Life

Whether you know it or not, you are a writer. Every living, seeing, hearing, feeling, breathing person is a writer. YOUR brain is capable of an incredible alchemy. It can distill insane volumes of raw sensory input into singular events called “experience.” It can instantaneously code that experience into written or spoken symbols called “language” and transmit it to other receiving minds! It works like magic. I write “I ate chicken cacciatore at Donna’s last night” and you suddenly see chicken cacciatore in your head. You see the tablecloth. You smell the marinara. You hear the din and clink of restaurant patrons around you. I was there, now you are there. I put it in your head. Did I manage this through some trick or spell? Some hypnosis? No, I used something more powerful: the written word. I put words on the page, which project entire worlds behind your eyes. It is this unique ability to transcribe our rich, swirling sensory experience into words that elevates our species. Everyone has this ability. You might think your words and experiences are insignificant but you would be mistaken. Everyone has something interesting to share. The most mundane experience is novel to new eyes. Your words become part of the reader’s live experience, which he will share using his own words, and so on down the line. It is easily taken for granted, but it is an incredible power. All you have to do is put pencil to paper.

Bull & Stash notebooks

Such a sacred, primal craft demands tools deserving of the act — tools equally as elemental, as enduring. Enter this quintessential Craft & Caro item. A single slice of plush, naked leather, folded over a small stack of pure white paper. A little untouched landscape awaiting the creator’s hand. The notebook is a sensory experience in itself — gorgeous leather, soft to the touch, richly tanned, with that pure, earthy scent. The pliable material happily conforms to your grip, your pocket, your bag or briefcase. No hard edges, no stiff spine, no cardboard or pleather veneer to tear or crease. In fact the notebook improves as it journeys with you. The leather distresses gracefully, absorbing the same moments and impacts that you do, so you weather together. The lines on your weary brow, the dust under your fingernails, the myriad scuffs on your notebook beside you all become fine layers of detail in the experience you share in the pages. Take notes. Make lists. Sketch the birds, sketch the mountain face. Draw maps. Chronicle your hike, your traverse of the high pass, your ride on the commuter rail. Write a poem for the pretty girl in the seat across from you. This is her stop. Do you fold it up and give it to her? Keep a journal. Capture the suspense, the romance, the heartbreak.

And there is no end. You keep on living. So does the notebook, because its pages are replaceable. Instead of binding, a pair of aluminum screws function like rivets to hold the pages in place. More to say? A few quick turns and you can pop in a brand new pad. Mail the full one, laden with your dreams and your grocery lists, home in an envelope marked “CONFIDENTIAL.” Swiftly now — the boat to New Delhi is boarding. There is more ahead.MSCT Bullet Pencils openOf course you’ll need something just as suited to adventure to write it all down. Craft & Caro furnished this field reporter with a clever little piece of nostalgia for the purpose: the bullet pencil. Apparently, late-nineteenth century British soldiers in Africa started jamming used pencil nubs into spent rifle cartridges to write. (What a deliciously practical repurposing of two used up commodities!) It caught on. Get-rich-quick scavengers collected shells from the battlefields and shipped them back to England as souvenirs. They were replicated, then re-designed a little, so the pencil could be flipped around and stored inside the shell for safe travel. Princess Mary included these second-generation bullet pencils in care packages for her soldiers in the trenches during World War I. From here the trick made it back to the States and bam! The bullet pencil flourished in a post-war wonderland of commercial mass production. Mid-century car dealerships and industrial fertilizer companies gave them out as promotional keepsakes. They fell out of style eventually, as petro-plastics became ever more popular and the cheap disposable pen replaced the pencil. Hope you’re taking notes.MSCT Bullet Pencils sectioned

The timeless utility of this bullet pencil is inherent. A pencil nub is jammed into a metal cap resembling the actual bullet that’s at the tip of a round. The cap is threaded on both sides, so it can be screwed onto the cartridge facing either way — with the pencil encased inside the protective metal jacket or facing out, ready to scribble. Closed, it’s simply a bullet a few inches in length, easily pocketable, mess-free and non-threatening to other important equipment in the area. Pull it out, flip it around and now you have a pleasingly weighty, solid, full-sized writing utensil. Perfect for adventure. It will take the beating alongside your notebook and live to tell about it.

 

MSCT Bullet Pencils all

 

The question is not are you going to write, or even what are you going to write, but when are you going to start? Your world is filled with juicy details. Your head is percolating with ideas. You pulled out of the station a long time ago. Don’t let another mile slip by. Even as you’re reading this, you probably have something to say…

 

Bull & Stash and Bullet Pencil

Rifle Paper Co. Craft & Caro set

 

Added today in our Work collection, we present preeminent paper goods maker Rifle Paper Co.

Founded in 2009 by husband and wife Anna and Nathan Bond, Rifle has been churning out fine paper goods adorned with sometimes dreamy, sometimes cheeky, always beautiful designs ever since. Rifle uses only made-in-USA, FSC-certified feedstock, environmentally conscious printing methods and inks, and hand assembles and packages everything in their studio in Winter Park, Florida. With our love of gold and slant toward the masculine, we’ve chosen just a few of our favorites for the Craft & Caro shelves, with more to come.

 

Hello Cards

Rifle Paper Co. Assorted Hello Cards

The Hello series is meant for just that, saying hello! With a blank interior, what to say after that is entirely up to you, making these pleasantly easy to use for all sorts of things; thank-yous, don’t-forgets, you’re-inviteds, I-miss-yous. Heck, even don’t-call-me-anymores (and what a nice way to do it, too!). Four gold-stamped illustrations adorn the cover to start the conversation with the standard salutation, and matching envelopes are included. Take home a set of your favorite design, or opt for the assorted set with two of each.

 

Pocket Notebooks

Rifle Paper Co. pocket notebook set

“With paper and implement at hand, one need never be bored.”

– Monsieur Philosophe

 

That’s not a real famous quote but it could be because it’s true. These blank, unruled little notebooks provide infinite analog entertainment, not to mention utility, right from your back pocket. Coniferous and deciduous illustration stamped in gold on front and back cover against matte black on one, blush on the other, these come in twos. Jot down ideas, creative tidbits, doodle away. The possibilities are endless. Pair with a bullet pencil for ultimate pocket-readiness.

 

You’re A Fox

Rifle Paper Co. You're A Fox at Craft & Caro

While maybe not as well suited for professional correspondence, this quintessential card is sure to work on its recipient. There may be no better way to tell the Fox in your life you like his steez. Once again blank on the inside, the slate is yours to fill with the particulars of Fox’s attraction whether it’s his cunning mischievousness, natural aesthetic, or possibly his tophat and monocle (that would be great). No matter, this mail is guaranteed to elicit that elusive flattered chuckle.

 

Find this fine selection of fun and function today in Craft & Caro’s Work collection here: bit.ly/RiflePaperatCC

Filed Under: New Products, Work