A Day In The Life of Amelia The Hedgehog + Best Of The Web

A Day In The Life of Amelia The Hedgehog + Best Of The Web

There are very few things (maybe nothing) that lift me up like animals do. Whether it’s a rough day, week or month, it’s hard to stay too sad when you have a furry friend by your side. So whether it’s watching this video over and over or delving into one of my favorite animal feeds on Instagram, I love heading into the weekend with a little pick-me-up. And today, that pick-me-up is a fuzzy feeling we can all take with us, courtesy of Amelia the Hedgehog. I discovered her feed through our #DSPetStyle challenge and have been hooked ever since. Amelia and her mom, Sophia (a photographer based in Vancouver), are sharing with us a day in their lives. Get ready for some cute overload. Until Monday, here’s wishing you all a safe and happy weekend. xo, grace



    • I am in love with this Instagram feed, Chasing Textures. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s amazing.
    • Chelsea Fuss’ new website is filled with beautiful florals.


    • Recipes:


Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt

Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt

Floral designer and prop stylist Frances Harjeet isn’t afraid to use a little – or a lot – of color in her decorating. This small apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, CO features tons of her signature saturated blues, which we couldn’t get enough of in A Victorian Home With Countless Treasures. Spending less than $8,000 on a revamp consisting of new paint, hardware, furniture, and finishing touches, Frances had a blast getting crafty while making the space feel fully styled. “It was an excuse to do some epic thrifting and Craiglisting,” she says. “I love to treasure hunt, and this project gave me a good reason to scout all around town for fun and affordable pieces.”


The 1912 Italianate building with interior Craftsman detailing gave Frances the perfect jumping-off point for composing an eclectic mix of the things she covets. Wanting to create an inspired and relaxing space with boho touches, Frances found opportunities around the home to showcase the character and cultural offerings unique to Denver. Playing cards, coloring books, and board games in the apartment offer some homeward-bound diversion, while lots of magazines for reading on a comfy velvet loveseat make spending time indoors refreshing. Just three blocks away from an art museum, the apartment pays its respects with handmade touches and art books scattered about, too. Frances welcomes guests with open arms, and is happy to see them enjoy the made-over pad just as much as they enjoy exploring her beloved home town. —Annie


Photography by Tara Bielecki


DIY Marbled Clay Hooks



As my necklace collection grows, I find it gets harder to organize them in an effective way. I’ve used a standing necklace tree in the past, but most of my necklaces are too long for it so they rest on the dresser and become tangled.



I’ve really liked using these DIY clay hooks instead – I hung them at the perfect height above my dresser and keep my favorite necklaces on it. Or, you can always hang it by your front door as a key rack instead. Kathleen Ballos











-Oven bake clay (in two colors)


-cutting mat


-clay roller


-strong glue


-tin foil




-paper (with printed hexagon)


-balsa wood (about 9 ½” by 3”)


-metal frame loops


-parchment paper


-craft knife





Step 1: On the paper, print out or draw a hexagon that is about 2 ½” across (from tip to tip). Draw a 2” by ½” rectangle extension centered on one side of the hexagon. Cut out.




Step 2: Knead both colors of clay to warm them up and roll into snakes. Twist the two colors together and knead together until marbled.




Step 3: On parchment paper (over the cutting mat), use the clay roller to roll the clay to a thickness of about ¼”.




Step 4: Place the template on the clay and use the craft knife to cut out three of the hexagons.




Step 5: Place the three clay hexagons onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and curl the rectangular extensions over to form a hook. Place a piece of rolled up tin foil under the hook to support it. Bake according to package instructions. Let cool.




Step 6: Glue the clay hooks onto the balsa wood, measuring to keep them centered.




Step 7: Press the metal frame loops into the balsa wood (or glue in place if your loops aren’t hooked).












An Eclectic 1950s Ranch House For Family and Furry Friends

An Eclectic 1950s Ranch House For Family and Furry Friends

After immigrating from Brazil nearly two decades ago, Patricia Kohlhepp landed in Monterey, CA, where she met her husband, Allen, a market researcher specializing in qualitative research. After stints living in Washington and Georgia, the couple returned home to sunny California and settled in Corte Madera in Marin County. Nestled in the foothills of Mt. Tamalpais, they found and renovated this 1950s three-bedroom ranch, close to parks, bike paths, waterways and their daughters’ schools. As a previous school teacher herself, Patricia’s natural desire for all things creative is what led her to start her own textile business. While raising a family, Patricia also runs Wanderluster Bazaar, which sells one-of-a-kind products made from vintage textiles she sources globally. Just like her products, her home is awash with eclecticism. Rather than sticking to a singular style or trend, Patricia’s interiors are accented with mixes of classic staple pieces from across the globe.


Cultivated and colorful with surprising pops of color around every corner, the family home is anything but precious. On top of running the vintage textile shop Wanderluster Bazaar, Patricia opens her home up to dogs of all kinds (although mostly pugs) through her dog walking and boarding business, Wanderlust Dogs. On any given day, their 2,500-square-foot ranch home is filled with family and dogs, including their own schnauzers, Maggie and Samba. “Yes,” Patricia laughs, “I am the crazy [dog] lady!” Due to this, the renovations the family embarked on when they first moved in made for a chaotic and exhausting few months, which is just the way Patricia likes it. “Everything happened pretty quickly, because I like to move fast!” she says. “We had great contractors and sometimes it felt like a zoo with our dogs, the contractor’s dog, our chickens, and all of the materials strewn about the yard, but it worked out.”


The home offers great views from its location on a small hill, plenty of privacy and some of the only redwoods in all of Corte Madera. Although each day can be a bit of a whirlwind, the family couldn’t be any happier with the outcome and to have a cozy, welcoming space to call home. “Now I’m ready to move and do it all over again,” Patricia half-jokes. –Sabrina


Photography by Matt McCourtney


Life & Business: Gail Davis

Life & Business: Gail Davis, Design*Sponge




























Breaking points — they come at different times for each of us, but they all come with the same feeling: a certainty and pit in your stomach that says, “it’s time.” Gail Davis, founder of GMD Interiors, knew her time had come after growing fed up with her mundane job and corporate life. This revelation set her off on a blazing path to becoming an interior designer — and fulfilling her dream of carving out a more creatively stimulating life for herself.


Her current success doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows Gail. Even as a child, she had a penchant for pretty things. She credits her grandparents’ home with kickstarting her curiosity about design. Their landscaping, in particular “…made you want to discover the goings on [inside],” she recalls. Years later, a job at Saks Fifth Avenue’s corporate headquarters introduced her to the wonderful world of visual design and the miraculous makers that crafted the beautiful store and corporate office. “I want to do that,” she thought.


In retrospect, these moments lit the way for Gail; instilling in her the confidence needed to pursue the satisfying career she has today. Since becoming her own boss, she has learned a thing or two about self-management, making time for herself, and the sweet success that comes with a happy client. Read all about these lessons and more after the jump. Enjoy! —Garrett


Photography by Crystal N. Davis




Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?


I wanted to feel fulfilled and wanted to make an impact on the way people lived. I was burnt out… and desperately needed to make a change in the direction my life was going. I grew bored with corporate [life] and decided that my creative voice needed to be expressed.




Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work?


I first learned about interior design from my grandparents. It was, and still is, a delightful visual experience visiting their home. My grandfather’s landscaping was meticulous. The approach to the house made you want to discover the goings on [inside].


How did you discover what your field was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?


I discovered the official name of “interior design” whilst working in corporate at Saks Fifth Avenue. It was the visual team that was headed up by the late, great Randall Ridless. He and his amazing team would create these warm experiences throughout the store and corporate offices of the executive team.


What was the most difficult part of starting your business?


The most difficult part of starting my business was selling myself to potential clients, but once they understood the vision and witnessed the drawings (along with the fabrications and furnishings) they were on board. Interior design is all about packaging not only the product, but the relationship you create with your clients.


Life & Business: Gail Davis, Design*Sponge




























Photo Above: Interior designer Gail Davis’ workspace


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?


The biggest lesson I have learned is [to] follow through and under-promise. If the [suppliers give] me a lead time of 2 to 4 weeks, I will tell my client 4 to 6 weeks. This way, if something goes wrong I have given myself a cushion to work with. Conversely, if the product arrives earlier the client is happily surprised.


Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?


One of my failures was in assuming my rug salesman understood the layout of a chevron pattern on my client’s steps. When he came to measure, we laid out the carpet the way both my client and I wanted it. When it was installed on the landing, he decided to turn the pattern on its side, creating a zig zag. The rug had to be ripped out and re-laid. [Since then, I have been] overly communicative in my dealings.


If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?


I’m stumped! There is so much that I could/would do:


-An additional yoga class


-Linger in a showroom at [New York’s] D&D, the A&D or at 200 Lexington


-Enjoy quiet time in the park, sitting on the bench sketching


-Enjoy an extra hour of sleep as I seem to get so little of it


Life & Business: Gail Davis, Design*Sponge




























What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?


The biggest sacrifice is quality time with my family. The biggest misconception is that folks think when you are in business for yourself, you have all this time to spend with your loved ones, and that is not the case. You are incessantly grinding to [take your business] to the next level.


Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?


My greatest success is when a client arrives for the final reveal and they are in tears at the transformation. It makes up for all of the anxiety and delays that a designer experiences during the process.


What business books/resources would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?


I am a part of an amazing organization called Passionistas Inc. It is a dynamic, supportive group of entrepreneurial women who share resources and their love of their businesses.


Has failing at something or quitting ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.


I have learned my most valuable lessons through failing. I’ll go back to the placement of the chevron rug pattern on the client’s stairwell. It was a valuable lesson in that it taught me how to look for a swift resolution as well as to always clarify my expectations for each job with the surrounding team. I was so disappointed with myself for allowing something [as] minute as rug placement direction [to] take over the project and cast doubt with my client.


Life & Business: Gail Davis, Design*Sponge




























In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?


The top three would be time, money and resources. You need to master at least two of the three. If you can master time and your resources, money will find you. You must know how to deal with people and work effectively with all types of personalities in this world and industry.


What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?


Instagram. I like to see what people have posted throughout the night, and I look for inspirational quotes to get my day started.


What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?


The most daunting task of being my own boss is staying on top of all the nuances, i.e. work orders, work rooms, installation dates and keeping track of which client requires more hand-holding. You can have five hats on at any given time, however, you must take deep breaths, remain positive and have a sense of humor.




Her Story: An Interview with Executive Producer Kate Fisher



Three episodes into Her Story, a new online series about love and dating in the trans and queer communities, I heard a line that resonated so strongly with me I had to stop, rewind and hear it again. Allie (played by Laura Zak) is explaining to Violet (played by Jen Richards) why an incident involving her high school newspaper changed her life forever. Her newspaper exposed a story of abuse in her school and led to the end of that behavior and real change. It was that moment that made her, “realize the power of a true story well told.”



I think a lot about stories, truth and vulnerability here at D*S, namely because they’re all issues that affect the way we feel in our day-to-day lives, and by sharing them, we’re able to create places that feel safe — places that feel like home. But I often think about how many people’s stories are left out of movies, music, television and publishing. These people are either not given the chance to tell their stories in their own voices, or their stories are deemed in some way too different to be relevant to the “mainstream.” As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I care deeply about hearing stories from all people who identify as LGBTQ+, but as a human being, I know that these stories are important not just within our own community, but the community at large. At the end of the Her Story series, Allie says, “Our great disservice is not just to those we’ve excluded, but to ourselves, for our world is less rich without their stories, their laughter, their voices.” Celebrating and embracing all of these stories and voices is what we believe in here at D*S, and today I’m so excited to talk with the executive producer of this incredible new series, Kate Fisher.




Kate, along with co-executive producer Eve Ensler, director Sydney Freeland and writers Jen Richards and Laura Zak, worked together with an amazing crew to create this series, which debuted last week online. Today, Kate took time out of her busy premier schedule to talk with us about how this series came to be, what filmmaking has taught her about life and work, and what we can all learn from people sharing their stories in their own voices. Read on to learn more and click here to watch all six episodes of Her Story online for free. xo, grace







Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?



Kate: I was always in love with film and filmmaking, and even as young as 5 or so my sister and I would make fake commercials and short films with my dad’s old VHS camcorder. It wasn’t until junior/senior high school, however, that I actually considered it a viable career option. As with most queer youth, adolescence hit me pretty hard and high school was a bit of a battleground for me emotionally; so I turned to film and television both as escapism and art, and really began to understand the power that good filmmaking and storytelling can have on a person (I used to joke that The X-Files saved my life, which in many ways is true). When I was 15, I started an internship at the Vermont State Film Commission where I worked for another two years, and when I was 16 and 17 I also took college classes in film production at Burlington College. By the time I graduated high school, I had enough of a sense of the industry to know that it was something that I wanted to be a part of, and the next 13 years were spent meandering towards that goal through training and working in theater, film, and event production and social activism and movement-building (with V-Day).


What inspired you to create Her Story?


Kate: The script was written by my longtime friend and current roommate Laura Zak, and activist/writer Jen Richards (also co-producers on the series). When I read it I fell in love with the story and was so drawn to how simply and beautifully it depicted the very real women that I was seeing in my own life. It created a world with so much heart and did so with a nuance that can only come from writing from a place of authenticity and experience. I read the script when I was in a place of transition myself, with regards to my career. I had just left V-Day, I had just started my own production company, and I could not think of a better project to dive into than one that was about me and my friends. So, I pitched Jen and Laura my ideas for production and where I saw this going and how I wanted to make it, and luckily they were into it. Once I came on board we were shooting just a few months later.




How did you go about choosing your cast and crew?


Kate: From the moment I came on board, there were two main things I wanted to accomplish with this series: I wanted to ensure that we could present it in full, for free (not behind a pay wall); and I wanted to use the series to prove that women and LGBTQ+ professionals in the entertainment industry are just as capable of creating high-quality content as their straight and cis (and often male) counterparts. We went into forming our team with that in mind and the end result was a cast and crew of about 80% female and/or LGBTQ+ identified professionals. We had a great casting director in Geralyn Flood who worked with us to meet our goals for those represented in front of the camera, and we were able to find crew through professional networks and contacts within the film and queer communities. While our goal was to employ as many female and LGBTQ+ crew as possible, we also were not going to hire someone solely for that reason — the quality of their work needed to be at a high level. Luckily, there are many excellent LGBTQ+ and female entertainment professionals out there if you take a second to look.



You used a crowd-funding platform to support this project — tell us about how that process went and what it taught you about community support? (Your reward ideas were so great!)


Kate: We decided to do crowd-funding for Her Story for two main reasons. First, obviously we needed funds to complete post production, but just as importantly we understood the power that can come from people being invested and connected to a project. This series was created by and for our communities and we wanted to give people the opportunity to be a part of that from the beginning. We hit our goal of $37k, which was raised by over 600 people donating from 22 countries. I think the largest donation we got through Indiegogo was $1k, so the majority was the result of smaller donations — $5 here, $20 there — from people that just wanted to support LGBTQ+ filmmaking. Now, five months later, Her Story has been released and that same community that we cultivated through the crowd-funding is with us, they’re spreading the word, they’re taking ownership and displaying pride in the work. To me, there really is no greater indication of the value of community support.


With regards to the perks, the motivation behind a lot of them was, quite frankly, to give something back while also not having to be weighed down by merchandise and order fulfillment. We really needed the majority of the funds that were coming in to go towards the filmmaking process and not towards designing, manufacturing, and shipping merchandise, so things like phone calls, tweets, videos we could all do ourselves without having to outsource product design or distribution. We’re still trying to fulfill all of the perks, and it’s a process, but we hope it’s worth it and a little more personal to people than just getting a branded coffee mug in the mail.




Tell us why it’s so important for stories about trans and queer people to be represented by trans and queer actors, writers and filmmakers?



Kate: We wanted to respect our communities and audience by presenting stories and characters that are real, and not manufactured by straight and/or cis people’s idea of what it is to be trans or queer. A filmmaker can have the best intentions, but if they’re telling an LGBTQ+ story without the voices, talent, and input of people who have lived that story then they are, at best, going to get things wrong — and at worst, put people’s lives in danger. There’s a lot to be said on the topic of casting trans roles in particular, and I greatly encourage readers to research the work and words of people like Zachary Drucker and our own Jen Richards on this issue.


With Her Story we endeavored to create a successful series without subscribing to that Hollywood notion that it’s okay to cast cis actors in trans roles — a system that actually puts trans women’s lives at risk — and so we wanted to model a different kind of filmmaking that emphasized authenticity. Something really incredible happens when you get diverse perspectives in all facets of storytelling, you start to see things in new ways — ways you had never considered before — and you create new ways of presenting situations and stories. We believed that LGBTQ+ representation in front of and behind the camera [was] vital to the quality and content of the work and would be the difference between our communities feeling seen, and them feeling misrepresented and silenced. Her Story was very much a collaboration between people who identified as at least one of the letters in the LGBTQ+ acronym and we were able to all bring our experiences to the table. The end result is, hopefully, a piece of storytelling that can resonate across our communities. That doesn’t just come down to writing and directing, it comes down to editing, the crew, the atmosphere on set, the ability to communicate and challenge each other and share our stories.


What was the most difficult part of bringing this film to life?


Kate: Doing justice to the script and characters, while maintaining a quality level that was up to our standards, all within the confines of a small budget was, on the most basic level, probably the most difficult aspect of creating this series. However, another challenge (which also proved to be extremely rewarding) was working with material that was very personal to a lot of people, and going through each day with the respect and integrity needed to ensure that everyone felt safe and held, while also getting what we needed to create a viable product.


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in creating this film?


Kate: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how important it is to create a team specific to a project that can cary out a shared vision. Filmmaking is so collaborative that even just one or two people out of alignment can throw off an otherwise productive environment. Which is not to say there can’t be disagreements or challenging conversations, in fact those moments are vitally important to creating the best work possible; but everyone needs to be on the same path with the same end goal and to have the same level of respect for each other and the story. This was important to me going into this project, and now even more so that I’m on other side of it (and having benefited from having this kind of experience).





What do you want viewers to walk away feeling/thinking/doing after watching Her Story?



Kate: For people in the LGBTQ+ communities I would love for them to leave Her Story feeling seen, accurately represented, knowing that they belong to a larger community, and that love is possible. For those outside of our communities, my hope is that they can see these characters as real people and their feelings as universal human emotions. Her Story at its core is very simple, it’s a love story, and if people can leave the series simply having rooted for love, regardless of who it was between, then I’ll be happy.


What are you most proud of when it comes to the creation of Her Story?


Kate: I’m extremely proud of the quality of the piece, from writing, to directing, to cinematography, to acting, to editing, to music and sound and everything in between. Our team really put it all out there with limited resources and went the extra mile to make a quality product. But even more so, I am proud of the WAY in which Her Story was made, by the community, with support from people across the globe, with respect, and authenticity.



Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your career so far?


Kate: Her Story is the first project that I’ve produced through my company Speed of Joy Productions, so it is certainly something I am extremely proud of. Up until Her Story, my work had been under and in service to other organizations or companies, so being able to produce this series, construct this team, and do it all in a way that was personal and in alignment with how I want to operate was really special (and also of course terrifying). Having said that, some of my proudest moments are very much tied to my decade at V-Day and working closely with (Founder/Artistic Director) Eve Ensler and (Executive Director) Susan Celia Swan. How I operate Speed of Joy and the work that I hope to continue to make through my company is greatly informed by the work that I did at V-Day and the support and guidance I received from Eve and Susan. So, events that I was a part of during that time, be it V TO THE TENTH/Superlove at the Louisiana Superdome in 2008, or more recently Artistic Uprising at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC last February, will forever be milestone moments in my career.




Has failing at something or quitting ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.



Kate: There’s a Mary Oliver poem where she says, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” It’s a quote that I have above my desk, not out of heartsickness, but rather to remind myself that every major failure I’ve had or mistake I’ve made has ended up benefitting me in some way, whether it’s in making me realize what I am good at, or what not to do in the future.


When I was 17 I was so convinced that acting was the way in which I wanted to tell stories that I went to London to be classically trained and spent almost four years working toward that goal. It was like a case study in self destruction, I believed failure was not an option and was so driven by that fear that I didn’t clock that I was miserable, and I never asked myself if I liked acting. It took trying very hard, failing repeatedly, and being constantly unhappy for me to finally sit down and examine what it was that I wanted to do. Quitting acting scared me to death, I felt like I was losing a community and an identity, but it was also so liberating and it led me straight to finding what it was I liked and was good at. It’s still a constant journey, I’m still making mistakes and I’m extremely hard on myself when I do, but those experiences for me have ultimately all had value. I should emphasize, though, that this is not the case for everyone, and my being able to move through these failures and mistakes is very much tied to the support I have from the people in my life and the inherent privilege that I have as a white cis person. I’m very aware of that, and very fortunate and grateful to be in a position where I can overcome some of my more spectacular mistakes.


What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?


Kate: If I’m being honest, it’s Instagram; it’s a guilty pleasure. I love photography and I love seeing what people are seeing, what they think is interesting, who they love, what they think is funny or beautiful or meaningful. It’s a fascinating look into people’s minds that I can’t really get enough of. Plus, so many of my family (blood and chosen) are scattered around the globe, so being able to feel connected to them through their images is important to me.



What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss (or creating a film) that isn’t obvious?


Kate: One of the hardest things, but also one of the things I love most, is working with so many different personalities, finding the common ground, and then creating an atmosphere and system of communication that establishes an environment of mutual respect and allows us to create art together as a team. Film is so collaborative, and there are so many strong personalities in this industry that just the act of making everyone feel heard and valued can sometimes feel insurmountable — however, when it happens it can lead to incredible things. As the producer, it’s on you to not only create and facilitate that space for people, but to also embody the work ethic and personality that you want for any given production. You have to lead by example and be a lot of things to a lot of people, and that can be exhausting and difficult, but also rewarding.




If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?


Exercise more, I really need to get on that.



Is there a quotation or saying that inspires you and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?


Apart from Mary Oliver, the other quote I have above my desk is actually a Rumi poem. In producing I’m constantly thinking longterm, down the line, making sure everything is set for tomorrow. It can be difficult to remember to stay present and enjoy the moment I’m in right now. Rumi kind of has a way with words (come to find), and I was given this sheet of paper with this poem on it almost 12 years ago and it’s stuck with me:


This we have now


is not imagination.


This is not


grief or joy.


Not a judging state,


or an elation,


or sadness.


Those come


and go.


This is the presence


that doesn’t.


– Rumi, tr. Coleman Barks



Seeking & Accepting Help From Others


As creative, hands-on people, there’s an incredible amount of pressure to do things ourselves. That mindset may be what got you to where you are: accomplishing goals you set for yourself, turning a passion into a job, or building your dream home bit by bit. As a result, you now feel invincible. You might have even made yourself a needlepoint or woodblock print that says “I can do anything.” But can you, reeeeaaaaally?



There are a lot of things that we need. We need websites! We need to give our employees health insurance! We need a 60-second video pitch for Shark Tank! It’s not easy, but it’s time to learn how to seek and accept help. You’re the best at your thing, and you rely on clients and customers to need you. Now it’s time to go need someone else. A paintbrush is a tool and so is an accountant. Use both to create beautiful work. –ADAMJK




Seeking & Accepting Help From Others


Identify Need


Try It Yourself


Be Objective


Give Up


Find Help




Accept It


You Did It








Adam J. KurtzAdam J. Kurtz (better known as ADAMJK) is an artist and author of 1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion. His dark (but optimistic) humor comes to life in an offbeat line of gifts and small trinkets. Follow him at @ADAMJK or in real life (he lives in Brooklyn because of course he does).








What’s In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti

What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


As a young girl born in the U.S. to South American immigrant parents, Jacqueline Davis Moranti couldn’t communicate with the other kids in English. She turned to drawing her thoughts as a form of expression, and continued the routine even as she further assimilated into her homeland. As an adult, Jacqui tackles a range of creative projects from cartoon editorials, to high fashion illustrations, to web design and typography. Jacqueline’s blog Burgundy Whispers tracks the overlap between her professional work and personal wardrobe, as she reworks items she already owns in new ways. The practice is an extension of her studio process, where she makes lists of words opposing her ideas to tease out interesting tensions between concepts.


“We live in a world full of content, and it’s up to you to figure out how to make it your own and share your edited version with the world,” she explains. For someone who enjoys making a great first impression, we think Jacqui can cross that item off her to-do list for today. —Annie


Photography and illustration by Jacqueline Davis Moranti, portrait by Kevin Michael Smith




What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


What’s in your toolbox?


In my toolbox lives many, many pencils, HB and 4B leads, pastel papers, cold press watercolor papers, tracing papers, Cretacolor colored pencils, Wacom tablet, ink brush markers, kneaded erasers, and tons of Higgins Black Magic ink.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”


In my studio I feel very conceptual. Before I even pick up a pencil, I write down words associated with the project at hand and then think of its antonyms to help me come up with interesting concepts.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


What’s on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?


I tend to read a lot of fictional narratives to keep my mind open with new concepts and ideas, including The Chronicles of Narnia series. A lot of the books in my bookcase are reference books — as an artist it’s a great idea to create a resource of images and words to keep your mind fresh.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


How do you keep yourself organized?


I swear by Google Calendar to keep me organized and sane! Also, every morning when I wake up, I grab my notebook from [my] nightstand and write down a to-do list. I find that it helps me keep my ideas fresh when I jot them down as soon as I think about them.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?


This is a great question, especially because I’ve been working on comic drawings lately. My ideal power would be to read minds. I like to make great first impressions, almost to a point where I get really nervous wondering whether or not I actually did. Reading minds would also let me know what exactly some of my clients want.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker, or designer?


The best advice I have ever received was from my mother, and that is to never give up. To this day, I keep pushing forward no matter what the situation may be, because it can only lead to good things. My advice to other artists: stay hungry and never feel fully satiated, because someone out there might take it [the opportunities] from you.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


How do you combat creative blocks?


To be completely honest, I rarely get creative blocks — my mind is always running with ideas. We live in a world full of content, and it’s up to you to figure out how to make it your own and share your edited version with the world. This is also where making the lists helps — it helps me figure out in which order to complete ideas.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?


Pinterest and StumbleUpon are the obvious answers, but I mostly get my inspiration from news stories, music, narratives, comic book shops, and regular book shops.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why?


For me, taking a look inside the toolbox of Alphonse Mucha (when he was alive) would have been fantastic. His work is truly inspiring to me.


What's In Your Toolbox: Jacqueline Davis Moranti, on Design*Sponge


What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?


I like to make playlists of albums — if you like an artist you’ll want to listen to the entire discography! My top albums on repeat lately are, Chicano Batman by Chicano Batman, In Return by ODESZA, The North Borders by Bonobo, Ego Death by The Internet, Songs To Make Up To by Ta-ku, Soundtrack To A Death by Mura Masa, and Short Stories by Sam Gellaitry.


Matcha Tea and Yuzu Cake

Herriott Grace








A couple years ago Michael and I shot William Werner’s


Matcha Snickerdoodles for Bon Appétit’s holiday issue (they’re so good, btw)


and ever since I’ve looked for reasons to bake with matcha.


That got me to making this cake once and then again and again


which, got me to thinking that maybe Michael and I should shoot it.


So we did and it was delicious. Find the recipe below.



xo, N


Herriott Grace



Pierre Hermé’s Cake au Thé Vert Matcha, Yuzu, et Azuki

From Pierre Hermé book, PASTRIES. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York 2011, page 31. If I made this cake again, I would skip the azuki gelatin. It’s a fun component to try and the flavour and texture is interesting, but I love the cake itself, soaked in the syrup. If I were in a rush, I’d skip both the glaze and beans and make only the cake, being sure to soak it well. I’d even venture to serve it as dessert just like that. The syrup soaks into the texture of the crumb and the result is this perfect medley of citrus and tea.



    • 25 g still mineral water (2T)
    • 10 g freshly squeezed lime juice (2t)
    • 2.5 g agar agar (1/2t)
    • 1 g grated zest of unwaxed lime (1/4t)
    • 2 g grated fresh ginger (1pinch)
    • 225 precooked sweet azuki beans (1cup)
    • 3 grinds of peper mill filled with Sarawak black peppercorns

    • 300 g cake flour (2 1/4 cups)
    • 10 g baking powder (2t)
    • 25 g powdered matcha tea (2T)
    • 250 g superfine sugar (1 3/4 cups)
    • 1 g fleur de sel de Guérande (or other fine sea salt) (1dash)
    • 250 g eggs (5)
    • 50 g heavy cream (3 1/2T)
    • 100 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces (7T)
    • 100 g yuzu juice (7T)

    • 65 g mineral water (1/4cup)
    • 55 g superfine granulated sugar (5T)
    • 30 g yuzu juice (2T)

    • 240 g white chocolate couverture (8 1/2oz)
    • 10 g matcha powder (2t)
    • 15 g grapeseed oil (1T)

  • Powdered match tea
  • 1 sheet of white gold leaf (I didn’t use this, so for me, optional)


  1. Prepare the azuki gelatin. In a saucepan, bring the still mineral water to a boil with the lime juice and agar agar, beating well. Remove from the heat and add the lime zest and ginger into the mixture. Mix well, gradually incorporating the azuki beans. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Line two 4-inch-square (10 cm) gratin dishes with plastic wrap and pour the liquid into it. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set, then transfer to the freezer.
  2. Prepare the matcha and yuzu batter. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and match tea together. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic blade, process the sugar, salt, and eggs for 5 minutes. Add the cream, butter, and yuzu juice. Process for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and, beating by hand, incorporate the sifted flour mixture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C). Butter and flour an 11-by-4-inch (28-by-11-cm) loaf pan.
  4. Slice the azuki gelatin into 20 thin strips. Pour a quarter of the cake batter into the pan. Over the full length of the pan, align two rows of gelatin strips spaced evenly. Each row should be made of three strips, one of which should be trimmed slightly to fit the length of the pan. Make two other layers of the batter and gelatin the same way. There will be two extra strips that do not need to be used. Cover with the remaining batter and smooth the top.
  5. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Give the cake a quarter turn and bake for another 30 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife blade into the centre of the cake; it should come out clean. Unmold the cake onto a wire rack and set it aside to cool.
  6. Prepare the yuzu syrup. In a saucepan, bring the still mineral water to a boil with the sugar and yuzu juice.
  7. Place a shallow baking dish under the rack with the cooled cake. Dip the cake in the boiling yuzu syrup three times, placing it back on the wire rack after each time. Set the baking sheet (with the cake and wire rack) in the refrigerator to allow the cake to drain.
  8. Prepare the white chocolate and matcha glaze. using a serrated knife, chop the white chocolate couverture and place it in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water to melt; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Melt the couverture, then remove 1 tablespoon and mix it with the powdered matcha tea. Combine this mixture with the oil, then add it to the remaining melted coverture. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. When the temperature of the couverture has reached between 104˚F and 113˚F (40˚C and 45˚C), pour the glaze, all at once, over the cake. Set aside and allow the glaze to set.
  9. Dust the cake with powdered match tea and arrange the white-gold leaf in the centre (I skipped this step).






Herriott Grace


Love this building.


This place is cute.


This story is great.


I can’t wait to make this.


Love this image.


This cat pool is neat.


I think I’ll make this pizza dough on the weekend.


Have you seen our new plates? They’re sold out now (except in the smallest size) but we’ll be getting more soon.


Photos: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott



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