Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cold Picnic

Cold Picnic is a new unisex jewelry line by Peter Buer and Phoebe Sung, born out of an attempt to carry on the tradition of storytelling through symbols, inspired by 1970s arts & crafts, ancient cave paintings, African textiles, and Native American history. The result are pieces that are charmingly raw and very wearable.

This necklace (in ink-printed hand-cut cream scrap leather from a local bird toy factory strung on vintage coil, hung from vintage mixed chains) would be the perfect casual bow tie substitute, worn over a buttoned-up club-collar dress shirt.

Peter Buer had approached me as a fan of The Dandy Project asking if he could get my thoughts on his jewelry line. Somehow I found a kindred spirit in him, both moving to Boston from overseas and trying to find inspiration to create beautiful things in historically rich yet decidedly un-fashiony Beantown. Let me share with you the little chit-chat I had with Peter and Phoebe about Cold Picnic, Boston, and bird toy stores.

This coiled bib necklace made from vintage chains and findings would make for a more restrained bow tie substitute, or as a subtle detail over a white t-shirt in the summer.

Tell us about your line: what you make, your inspiration, your techniques.

Cold Picnic is made up of a lot of narrative pieces. We've been getting our inspirations from images that tell stories - the carvings on eskimo bows, african cave paintings, native American symbols, ceremonial weaving... and a lot of the books we got our research from were 1970's craft books we found at library book sales.

What is your background? What do you do? What got you started on making jewelry?

Both of us have fashion backgrounds. Phoebe got her first degree in sculpture before getting a second one in fashion design, and Peter studied art in England before coming to America to get his fashion design degree. We worked a little around New York and Boston before we decided to go into jewelry. It was a nice break from apparel - it's more self sufficient - there's no need for pattern drafting, sample makers, fits, etc. It's a bit more spontaneous and organic.

What role does living in Boston play in your creativity?

We might never have gone on our library book sale kick if we hadn't lived in Boston, which has really amazing libraries. Old textbooks and how-to craft books are so inspiring. We really just kept collecting them until we couldn't not make stuff! Also we didn't have a ton of people we knew in Boston so we had lots of time at home to make things! Hopefully now that we're moving to Brooklyn we'll be able to keep up the pace!

Men and jewelry... your thoughts on this?

Our first collection had some unisex pieces, but they were pendants, and it still didn't feel that natural - at least to Peter - to wear them casually. For our second collection, we really wanted to incorporate pieces that men could wear every day, and without it really feeling like a statement. Its not fun when one of us gets to wear our stuff every day and the other is left out in the cold. The cave painting cuffs felt like a natural way to go.

Nearly all the pieces are unisex, but I thought their hand-printed black ink on cream-colored suede earrings in the shape of thunderbirds

and arrows were very interesting.

I find it interesting that you source some of your materials from bird supplies stores. What got that started?

We always wanted to be an eco-friendly company, and even started out using scrap leather for Fall 2010, before we ran out and couldn't find the quality we wanted from remnants. For Spring we had almost given up on sourcing scrap leather–it was difficult enough finding the perfect color and weight–when we contacted a local factory which just happened to manufacture bird toys. They showed us a few leather qualities but each was too dark, or too stiff... finally the owner took us to a back room with boxes upon boxes of scraps, all different shades and sizes. Many of them were absolutely perfect so we just dug and and sorted through the ones we wanted. He gave us a few empty boxes to carry them out, charged us by the pound.

Anything exciting coming up for your line in the immediate future?

We going to be doing the Brooklyn Flea this spring and will have loads of flea-only pieces. We hope to do a few fairs around New York and Philly this spring and summer, and may try to do some of the West Coast fairs soon. We're also going to be designing the aprons and a small line of home goods for the store Emily Thompson Flowers in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

This unisex leather printed cave painting cuff would look great layered with other bracelets and a watch.

A similar leather printed cuff, but in a wider version, this time inspired by textiles and patterns.

GIVEAWAY: Cold Picnic would like to send one of you, dear readers of this blog, a leather cuff from their new line (your choice of design, in either the wide or the narrow style, the last two photos posted). All you have to do is fan both The Dandy Project ( and Cold Picnic ( on Facebook and for verification, e-mail your Facebook name to thedandyproject(at)yahoo(dot)com. The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced soon. Contest is open to all readers of The Dandy Project, worldwide.

EDIT: And the winner goes to... (It's a joke, I know.) Ruud Saerens of Belgium! Ruud, you will be receiving an e-mail shortly. Thank you all for joining.

Cold Picnic's site
Cold Picnic's online shop


Michele said...

I really like this a lot! I love the materials used. My favourite is the thunderbird earring, would love it more if it were a necklace though:D

Brandon said...

Nicey nice! But I want a necklace now!

Giancinephile said...

Very interesting pieces...

lei ann said...

these are beautiful leather pieces! even if i don't win the leather cuff, those thunderbird earrings i might have to get ^_^

Mike said...

I actually like those bracelets a lot but can never really find decent ones in stores since my wrists is relatively small.

Ruud said...

Yay, thanks Izzy for the cuff! Hopefully it will be arriving in Belgium soon, can't wait :-)

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