August Roundup

August: suddenly everything is different.

Everything feels like it's moving so quickly, here's a few things that made us slow down this month.

Songs We Danced To

Shimendōka

Shimendōka


A tropical escape for your ears.


Lip Gloss

Lip Gloss


Perfect for getting ready in the morning.


That Life

That Life


A new favorite from an old friend.

Stories That Moved Us

The White Lotus

The White Lotus (HBOMax)

There's no one better than Jennifer Coolidge. Trust us, you have to watch this show.

Tampopo

Tampopo (HBOMax)

A "ramen Western" from legendary director Juzo Itami, a must watch.



The City We Became


N.K. Jemisin's stunning prose takes our breath away with every sentence.


Our Fave WOC Owned Book Store
The City We Became
Women Who Run With The Wolves



Women Who Run With the Wolves


"She honors what is tough, 

smart, and untamed in women."

Our Fave Locally Owned Book Store

Textiles, Tactiles, and Tasty Treats


Creature Comforts


We can't get over this stunning line out of Queens, NY. We've been sending their Instagram posts back and forth all month, drooling over their design.

Aime Leon Dore
Aime Leon Dore
Yew Yew Shop



The Little Things


The sleek design of this stunning ash tray is checking all of our boxes. 
Yew Yew Shop



Soft and Supple


Two words: buy this. 

Thesis Skin
Thesis Skin
Missoula Community Gardens


Garden Gatherings

Fresh zucchini was abundant this year and this was by far the best thing we made with it.  

Zucchini Pasta Salad

Causes We Care About

Sisters United

Empowering Indigenous women, children, and communities.

Sisters United
Die Jim Crow

The first record label for formerly and currently incarcerated musicians.

Die Jim Crow
August 31, 2021 — Mackenzie Reed
Portraits, Vol 5: Stella Nall

Portraits, Vol 5: Stella Nall

PORTRAITS, VOL 5
STELLA NALL

Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

In the newest issue of PORTRAITS, I had the pleasure of talking to Stella Nall, a Montana based multimedia artist and poet. Stella is a mixed race Indigenous woman and a first descendant of the Crow Tribe. Stella is a bit of a local legend in the Missoula art scene with her work being showcased at the Art Mobile of Montana, The Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and other public and private collections. Stella is also one of Missoula’s favorite baristas at Clyde Coffee. Apart from her artwork, Stella is in a band called Cry Baby, find them on Instagram @crybaby.the.band for all their updates. We commissioned a piece of original artwork from Stella earlier this year as we updated and reinvested in our Land Honoring statement here at APORTA Shop. We are head over heels in love with the art that Stella created for us and when you shop in store or online, you will receive a print of her art with every purchase. 

APORTA Shop: Tell us a bit about how your art came into fruition. I know you studied Printmaking, amongst other things in college, how did you know/decide that this was the future for you?  

Stella Nall: I have been drawn towards art making for my whole life, my parents are both very creative and I was exposed to all sorts of art growing up with them. The path that I took to get to where I am now is a bit long and winding, though. When I was initially considering careers and applying to colleges, I actually envisioned myself going into fashion design - which feels a little wild to think about now, but I was pretty set on it. At the time, the art which was most influential to me was regalia. My mom is a really talented beadworker and made all of our powwow outfits when I was a kid, and I have always been interested in clothing construction and design. I wanted to make sustainable clothing which incorporated some of my favorite components of contemporary and historical Indigenous fashion (beadwork, elks teeth, jingles, leather, ..!). I was also very interested in creating outdoor apparel and gear, particularly for skiing, climbing and mountain biking, with similar design nods to my culture. I felt a lot of pressure to go out of state for higher education, and applied to Pratt, Parsons and Cornell for fashion, and Colorado State University and Utah State University because of their outdoor apparel design programs. The scholarships that I received for these places were not enough to enable me to go without accruing a frightening amount of debt, so I kind of froze for a bit and didn’t know what to do.  

The summer after high school passed and I had pretty much decided not to go to college, when a friend of my parents who now works making ski backpacks in Bozeman mentioned that she went to the University of Montana for their costume design program, and used the design and construction knowledge from her time there to form her business. I went to Missoula with my mom later that week, and after checking out the costume department I decided to try it. I applied like two weeks before classes started but was able to enroll. Pretty quickly though I realized that the program was not for me, and I ended up being rather miserable. I developed severe anxiety and depression during this time too, and struggled to find a connection to Missoula. After my first year I decided to drop out of school, and moved to Alameda, CA. I was really lucky to land an internship with a textile startup there with some of the most inspiring and kind people I have met, and it changed the whole way that I thought about the world, especially regarding art.  

They were really encouraging and included me in their conversations about their business, and treated me as an equal the whole time - which was so powerful, and helped me to see myself as a capable human. They took my art seriously and I started to for the first time too. We frequently took trips to Oakland, San Francisco, and other neighboring places to see what artists and designers were up to. We went to art museums, pop-ups, studios, and even a graphic design conference that Adobe held. I began creating art in a serious way, and at the end of my time there I felt like a completely different version of myself. I am still so grateful for my time there, it really changed my life I think.  

After a few months though, I realized that I missed the mountains and my family and the friends that I had made in Missoula, and decided to reenroll in school after all - but this time in art, psychology, and creative writing classes. It was a completely different experience. I still struggled with mental health, but it was more manageable because I was doing what I loved and had tools to help me through it. I felt connected to the faculty and peers, and the art community of Missoula. I was given my first mural opportunity through the art school, and fell in love with painting on a large scale. I met the friends who are now my bandmates in CryBaby, and became involved in the Indigenous community in Missoula. I started working at Clyde Coffee, where my coworkers became very good pals, and the manager and owner were incredibly supportive of my art and gave me opportunities to show it there. They encouraged me to have music shows, art pop-ups, and to do creative projects for the business. I felt really safe to show my work there because I was surrounded by supportive people who care about me, and after that I started showing my work at other businesses for first Friday events.  

I also did an internship with the Radius Gallery, and that experience was very formative for me too. The owners were incredibly kind and answered my questions about artist gallery relationships and what it could look like to be a working artist. I learned how to document artwork properly with them, how to keep an inventory, price work, safely ship it, and so many more things that I think really have helped me get started with my career.  

The last big thing that I can think of which felt like it solidified the possibility of really working as an artist for me was a residency that I completed through Open A.I.R. at Home ReSource. They provided me with support, the materials of my dreams, and a great place to work. The other artists in residence ranged from established artists, to other people like me who were just starting out. The experience was really eye opening, and the conversations that I had / connections I made there really helped me to take myself seriously as an artist! After the residency was completed I was invited to join the Western Montana Creative Initiative’s Indigenous Art Advisory Committee, which I am currently part of and so excited about. I am also now working with the Art Mobile of Montana, which feels awesome for similar reasons.



AS:
What designers and/or artists have inspired you historically? Recently?

Stella answered this question beautifully and gave us an absolutely incredible list of local and far away artists that have inspired her throughout her life. I have done my best to compile their websites or Instagram pages and I highly encourage you to look through them as they are all incredibly talented.

SNMagda BoreyszaJon CarlingIshii NobuoMichelle SummersErica LordAdara SanchezEllen Von WeigandJames Black (Black Marrow Tattoo)Courtney HassmannAnastassia ZamaraevaElizabeth Jean YounceJulie BuffaloheadMolly Murphy AdamsCourtney BlazonDoug Turman, Kenzie Olson, Jules Lucero, Mary Leona, John Isaiah PepionBear Fox ChalkChrista CarletonJeffrey Gibson, Raven Clark, Sarah Conti, Joshua BachaChien Nie, Charlie Draws Carrots, Anita Moore-Nall (my mum), Abby French, Mary Ann TestagrossaDaphne SweetAgnes Cecile, Aubrey Pongulelert, Monica BringsYellow (APORTA Shop Featured Artist), Steve KrutekDayna DangerCrystal MoeryBeth Lo, Jason Clark, Rose GreenbergStephanie DishnoBruce KittsMirtle MakesKrissy Ramirez, Jim Bailey, Andra Jenko, Salisha Old Bull, Lady Pajama, Christine SuttonJo Big MountainJamie Okuma, Alasdair Lion, Kammi PilatiRio WeberCathy Weber, Michelle Louis, Cassie Loretta SmithBarbara Kuebel, Barro Alto, Elisa UbertiCooper Malin, Molly Rivera, Sukha WorobLane Chapman, Brooke Armstrong, Mimi MatsudaBe Thunder CreationsTrey HillAnomal Press (Sold at APORTA Shop), Drake GerberOotsipskii Pikuni BoyHaypeepAshe WalkerMichelle PostmaDani Clauson, John Buck, Jessica RouxDG HouseElias Jade Not AfraidAdrian ArleoTwo Hold StudiosJulie HarbersB. YellowtailBen PeaseStudio ManoBeyond Buckskin, John Casey, Reinaldo Gil ZambranoSunshine CobbThundercliffe Press, Brad Allen, Elizabeth Dove, Catheryn Mallory, Jennifer Comb, Theo EllsworthNicholas GalaninJohn MurieJuane Quick-To-See SmithNancy Erickson, lots of others too !! ! !! :-)


AS: How do you feel that Covid-19 has impacted your practice? Have there been any upsides?  

SN: Covid has been difficult in a lot of ways, but it actually has been pretty beneficial for my work. Being forced to minimize social interactions left me with lots of time for the studio. My day job shut down for the pandemic, and is still closed for renovations, so I have for the first time experienced working full time as an artist. I am not sure I would have been brave enough to make the leap yet on my own, but working full time on creative projects has been going well so far, and I am grateful that I am able to do it!


"I think that sometimes when people think of Indigenous art they think of it as dated or something of the past, but that isn’t true."


AS:
Your art is so modern, but has a sense of nostalgia as well. How do you balance your ancestral background with your connection to the modern art aesthetic?

SN: Some of my work draws from techniques and knowledge from my culture, and some of it I developed based on aesthetics or to speak to my own experiences. I am Indigenous, but I am also living and working today and exposed to modern art in the same ways that other artists are. I think that sometimes when people think of Indigenous art they think of it as dated or something of the past, but that isn’t true. Artists practicing traditional art today should be seen as contemporary, they are living and making work today. Knowledge from my ancestors and our traditions inform my work, but I also have a degree in fine art, and the knowledge and experiences from my time in higher education are equally influential I bet.  

Most of my work is not what would be considered traditional to my tribes, but I do incorporate some imagery and techniques from my culture, such as beadwork and elk’s teeth. For example, I often combine beadwork or other culturally significant processes with two dimensional forms of art-making that I learned elsewhere, such as printmaking, painting and illustration. By tying traditional processes and aesthetics to techniques that the viewer may already be familiar with, I hope to expand the amount of people who are interested in engaging with Indigenous art forms. I also hope that this work will challenge the existing stereotypes and expectations that the viewer may hold regarding what Indigenous art should look like, and help foster the understanding that Indigenous art is contemporary art.

Reflections, 2021 (example of beadwork on illustration)

AS: How are you practicing sustainability in your work?  

SN: I try to limit the amount of new materials that I purchase for my work, and whenever possible I use recycled or found objects. I try not to throw away pieces that I see as mistakes, and rather paint over them or deconstruct and reconstruct them into something new. Home ReSource is a great source for finding materials for my projects - most of the wooden panels that I use are made from donated hollow doors from there! I also often use scrap wood that is discarded from hardware stores or construction sites (with permission from these places of course!). I am always experimenting with new processes and surfaces to try to find more conscious ways of creating. An idea that I have been thinking about lately is to take apart the wooden delivery pallets that are left behind grocers and restaurants, and stretch canvas over them to create a surface. I am excited to try it out!

Two Heads are Better Than One, 2020 (example of sustainable painting, using donated house paint and a wooden door from Home ReSource)

AS: Do you feel that your Psychology background feeds into you art? Vice versa, do you think art has fed into your understanding of psychology?  


SN: My background in psychology is more apparent in some bodies of work than others. I think it is particularly evident in my large scale abstract paintings. I’ve started referring to them as ‘process paintings’ because they act as a venue for me to work through my feelings. Each of these pieces stems from an experience, emotion or impactful time in my life. I begin by thinking of the very first memory of the matter, and then work forward through all of the thoughts, recollections and emotions up until the present. I work on a given piece until I feel as though I have thought all there is to think about it, or at least until I have found some sort of peace within myself about it. When I first started making these pieces I viewed them through the psychoanalytic theory as a form of sublimation. I initially thought of them as a way to disappear my emotional pain. They can still be viewed through this lens, but I now see them a bit differently. Rather than to dissipate anxieties and sorrows, I look at these paintings as a way to enflesh them into something that I can see and touch. By giving body to difficult emotions, they become more tangible, and as such are easier for me to understand.

Confections, Lies, 2020 (example of ‘process painting’)

I think that art has helped me to understand psychology better on an individual level, and it is definitely integral to my self care and managing mental illness, but I am not sure that it has significantly affected my nomothetic understanding of the field.


AS: What do you think the future of Native art looks like in Missoula? What has your experience been like in the changing demographics and culture of Missoula over the past few years?

SN: There are a lot of great efforts in the community geared towards building a more accepting future for Indigenous artists and I am excited to see them take off! The Missoula Art Museum has a gallery space dedicated to showing the work of contemporary Native artists. The Western Montana Creative Initiative has developed an Indigenous Arts Advisory Committee to advocate for and facilitate opportunities for Indigenous artists, which I am really excited to be a member of - I think great things are coming. Open A.I.R. has inclusive residency programs and does a lot to support Native Artists. Matrix Press, run by Jim Bailey at the University of Montana, brings in nationally and internationally known artists to produce limited edition prints in collaboration with students and printmaking faculty, many of which are Indigenous artists. The University of Montana’s art program offers awesome classes on historical and contemporary Native American Art taught by knowledgeable Indigenous faculty, and the Montana Museum of Art and Culture does a lot to support Native artists too. The YWCA just had an art call for their new space which prioritized submissions by Indigenous artists. The ZACC and the Radius gallery are awesome too, both places frequently show contemporary Native work and are knowledgeable and inclusive in their practices. I haven’t lived in Missoula long enough to speak to the changing demographics, but I have felt very uplifted by the art community in my time here so far, and hope that the future of the art scene will continue making progress and supporting Indigenous artists

AS: What’s been something you’ve been incredibly proud of in the last year? Gotta have a little good with your pandemic, ya know! 

SN: Two of my pieces were purchased for permanent collections in museums, and I had my poetry published for the first time! :-) I was also really excited / proud of working with you on the land acknowledgement for APORTA, thank you! 



 

 

 

 

August 05, 2021 —
APORTA Shop Roundup

APORTA Shop Roundup

A Time of New Beginnings and Old Endings; July

APORTA Team

This month brought so much change to the world; re-openings, re-closings, and re-openings again. Here's what kept us somewhere in the middle of it all:

SIGHTS

We're contemplating what it means to be an artist these days. How do you create what you want and still make a living? How do you fight for change in your work? How do you actually fight for change in your life? We don't know the answers to any of these questions; but maybe Lindy West does. 

Sampha - 100 Celsius

SOUNDS

We'll be listening to this song, and this song only, throughout the next heat wave.


Kakigōri Bar helped us celebrate our two year anniversary this month. It was nothing short of perfect.

TREATS

TOUCH

This handcrafted clothing line out of Seattle, WA is really doing it for us. 

Glitz

                                                      

At risk of sounding cliche...treat yourself. 

LEARN

The blue stars on the map below represent free community refrigerators in Missoula. If you have a few extra dollars this month, buy some water bottles and stock a fridge!

July 28, 2021 — Mackenzie Reed
Portraits, Vol 4: Laura Storgaard Pedersen

Portraits, Vol 4: Laura Storgaard Pedersen

PORTRAITS, VOL 4
LAURA STORGAARD PEDERSEN

Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

Laura Storgaard Pedersen is the creative genius behind one of our favorite Danish jewelry lines, Rosa & Linde. Laura creates truly remarkable pieces of art inspired by elements of Mother Earth that remind us to slow down and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. At APORTA Shop, we carry a variety of rings and earrings hand crafted with deep intention by Laura that we are delighted to share with our community. As a jewelry designer myself, I was so excited to sit down and chat with Laura about her creative process, feeling burnt out, and the ecological impact of the jewelry industry as a whole. 

APORTA Shop: Tell us a bit about how your brand and practice came to be? How did you start designing jewelry? How has your business grown and changed over the years? What is in the future for Rosa & Linde?  


Laura Storgaard Pedersen: I think of Rosa & Linde truly as an extension of myself. It has become such a big part of my life and of who I am; teaching me to grow and push myself to create and give form to the things I feel within. I started out with traditional metalsmithing, a beautiful craft, because I suddenly felt compelled to work with metal. I then fell in love with bronze, its golden, warm tone and durability, and I started to form little sculptures in it’s claylike form – allowing me a freedom to create the more organic shapes I had in my mind. On this still short journey, I have found myself increasingly inspired and in coming to know myself as an artisan better and better. Having always been drawn to soft and abstract forms, I feel my truest works have also been unfolding a lot more recently. Currently I’m working on incorporating more natural elements into my craft – combining the golden and hardy metal with earthy and soft wooden structures. This is a combination so divine to me and it feels like a sacred collection is slowly coming together.  

As a current city dweller – though mostly if not solely by convenience – my studio is basically half of my living room. At least half of my dining table is often overflowing with tools and projects. I love the simplicity of it. Though I do so dream of leaving the city and moving to the forests, to a big garden and a dedicated atelier. Moreover, when it comes to the future, I suppose I have many goals; yet I also just want to see where life takes me. I would love to grow my business a bit so I can make it more of a full time livelihood. But I don’t mind slow growth, so this is something I see happening over time. I also want to branch out and maybe create other earthy arts in addition to jewelry. For now though, I feel a need to focus most on nourishing the roots of where I am.


Photography by @artofeuphoria__ worn by @linda__pappa.


AS: What designers and/or artists have inspired you historically? Recently?


LSP: Nature is always at the center for me. She is the heart in all there is and inspires every idea that I shape. I don’t often look at something and think to recreate something similar, though that also does happen, I mostly find that I am charged with creativity by just being in, and looking to Mother Nature. Specifically the warm earthy tones you find in different soils, in trees, their grain and bark, in smooth river bodies trickling over rocks, solid and sculptural. Observing Her is my greatest inspiration. Honoring Her is my greatest responsibility.  


Laura works in an incredible medium called metal clay. Metal clay looks and feels very much like earthen clay, but is made of very fine metal particles, water, and a binding substance. After molding, each piece is fired in a kiln which causes the water and the binder to evaporate, leaving solid, reclaimed bronze as the final product. On Laura’s website you can read about this process in more detail and how this particular medium fits in with her sustainability goals.


AS: How did you start working with metal clay? It’s such a unique medium and I feel like not many other people are working with it. What was the learning curve like?  

LSP: For a long time I thought I wanted to be a ceramist as I adored how you can so freely sculpt in clay. When I took a pottery class a couple of years ago, I found, however, that it wasn’t quite the medium for me. So after doing some traditional metalsmithing and falling in love with metals, I found this new path and ventured into metal clay work after buying all the necessary tools, and I started to teach myself. I love the freedom of working with metal clay, but it definitely is a very unique and different medium. Though being self taught is a beautiful path, it’s also a course often full of mistakes and growth. I have surely learnt from past mistakes and know that still, I can only go forward – which is really quite lovely. 



I came to this next question a little selfishly I must admit, I had been experiencing great creative burnout in my own jewelry design while talking with Laura and I wanted to hear how she dealt with some of these feelings. I admire her work and her craftsmanship so much, but I also recognize that on the other end of her gorgeous pieces, is a human being who has put her heart and soul into this work.  


AS: How do you deal with burnout in your creative practice?  

LSP: Not very well I’m afraid. It’s definitely one of the aspects of having your art be a business that can be most difficult and it’s something I’m working on myself. Nature is my sacred space – always, and when my studio cannot be – so I do my best to get out and soak in some natural artistry as well as to slow down and replenish my mind. Therein, for me, would also be gardening: A most grounding practice that helps me to refocus on the things that truly matter. And fortunately, because I mostly make pieces per order, with a design already in my head, heart and hands, I find this to be the perfect medicine for creative burnout; I’m still working with my hands but not under a pressure to create something new. This way I find I may nourish my creativity to slowly come back – although usually it returns in absolute highs where the ideas seem to never end. This is when I form my one-of-a-kind pieces.

AS: Tell us a bit about your design process and how your jewelry comes from idea to form.  

LSP: Usually it comes to me in creative flows, or pings which may describe it best. Sometimes I draw a rough draft, and other times I simply sit down to sculpt or carve an idea and see it unfold and change before me. My design process really is as simple as that. Though as I have mentioned, I often look to Nature for inspiration when I need it, and more recently as a material source to weave into my pieces as well. I always aspire to make a ceremony out of the entire process. To me – in part – this means being present with each piece as it comes to be, weaving intentions of gratitude and protection into its being, and finally giving them a little ritual cleanse.


"What is also important is that as individuals and consumers, we choose the material things we acquire carefully; selecting items that we know we will use and love, that will add value to our lives."


On Laura’s website she talks in great detail about her sustainability practices which is something I so admire about her work. She is so open and honest in all the ways that she is working to lessen her carbon footprint. Reading her answer to this question, I’m struck by how futile it can seem sometimes to be an individual living in a world that is quickly being destroyed by giant corporations. But, that’s what makes supporting artists like Laura so important; spending your money on goods made by individuals who care so deeply for the world that they create in is one of ways to fight back against these huge companies. Enough of my waxing though!  


AS: Talk to us about your sustainability within your line. I know there’s a lot of info on your practices on your website but tell us how you think the jewelry industry as a whole could be more sustainable and how you feel you fit into the greater scheme of sustainability?  

LSP: Unfortunately, a lot of jewelry nowadays is mass produced and not necessarily made to last – having become an interchangeable commodity for some. These things in general are the most unsustainable ways of production. Of course bigger productions also have a place, when practiced with an awareness and openness to change, but unfortunately most big corporations just don’t prioritize sustainability – certainly not before mass profit. Apart from greenwashing – a terrible issue on its own – the activism on climate crisis has done a lot so more and more companies are trying to lessen their impact as a result. “Sustainability” is a big word though, with ever so many nuances, it could be discussed to no end. I will always be open and glad to engage in conversation about it – both as an individual and as a business owner.  

What I think is so different when supporting artisans and small businesses, is that you can often tell and trust that their heart is really in it. A lot of us really do care about the Earth and do as much as possible to have a positive impact – and not as part of a marketing scheme. As I continuously express, Mother Earth is at the very core for me and for Rosa & Linde. To me it’s about doing the best where we can: As a jeweler this may mean using recycled metals and relying on renewable resources, even upcycling seemingly non-precious materials and being creative with what we have. Creating small batch or made-to-order pieces. Planting trees or offsetting our carbon footprint, choosing the greenest shipping courier... There are endless ways to look at things, and I am sure I will continuously evaluate where I can do better myself. I know though, that in this moment, I in truth feel good about where I am.  

On another note, what is also important is that as individuals and consumers, we choose the material things we acquire carefully; selecting items that we know we will use and love, that will add value to our lives. Personally, I adore jewelry’s ability to enhance and reflect, and whenever I notice my fingers wrapped in little golden embraces or my neck adorned in sacred wools, I feel all the more radiant. They become a part of me, so if I am not wearing them, it just feels a bit empty. Of course I am knowingly biased, speaking as a jeweler, but still I greatly believe in their power, and even going back to ancient times, jewelry has revered such significance and symbolism – which is another consequential source of inspiration for me; studying and imagining the importance they held for the people who wore them...

AS: What’s been something you’ve been incredibly proud of in the last year? Gotta have a little good with your pandemic, ya know!  

LSP: When Rosa & Linde came to be. Getting over my self doubts and the what ifs – just doing it and trusting in it. I had begun my journey with jewelry in the previous year, but actually opened this little love-project as a business last year. I have also come to accept and even prefer the slow growth: It’s intimate and I love that I can keep up and almost get to know each customer. Instead of feeling a pressure to sell x amount of pieces or achieve a big following, although I do still feel it, I have learnt to simply enjoy the path and scenery from where I currently am. And so, I think we can fittingly end on a beloved quote; “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu. 


 

 

 

 

June 11, 2021 —
Portraits, Vol 3: Takuya Matsuo

Portraits, Vol 3: Takuya Matsuo

PORTRAITS, VOL 3
TAKUYA MATSUO

Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

If you’ve been into APORTA Shop, you know that we carry an extensive array of high quality goods from around the world. One of our favorite places to source from is Japan. We love the craftsmanship, durability, and intention that is so apparent in the goods we source. Noelle, the owner of APORTA Shop, has developed a deep love for Japanese culture and tradition in her yearly trips to meet our makers and has fostered a community that spans miles. Finding Japanese goods and getting them to America isn’t easy, but one of our favorite wholesale relationships is with IFJ Tradings, a one stop shop for Japanese makers. We have worked with IFJ Tradings for a number of years and wanted to sit down and chat with Takuya Matsuo, the owner and operator of IFJ Tradings to talk about his work. While Taku is not a maker himself, he helps facilitate the trade between Japanese makers and a worldwide audience. Stop in to see some of the amazing makers that Taku has helped us bring to our little oasis in Missoula. 

Photo credit: DAIYO

APORTA Shop: How do you find the makers you represent and sell?

Takuya Matsuo: We at IFJ Tradings represent Japanese makers of industrial crafts of medium-scale production. The products are hand-made by our craftsmen all over Japan from scratch using traditional crafting techniques and modern machinery.

AS: What has been the response to your collection of goods in the US market? Do you think that they have had a positive reception?

TM: Our goods have been accepted by the US market at a slow pace but steadily over the past ten years. They have certainly have had a positive reception. It takes a lot of user education because the kinds of items or the way they are finished or produced are new to the market. The Japanese candles make a good example. It started very slow, but it is now being accepted, appreciated, and picking up significantly in the past several years. It requires the maker and the communicators (IFJ Tradings and its trading partners like APORTA) a lot of time and passion for introducing them into the communities that scatter geographically all over the US.


"I am a kind of bridge between the world of design/beauty and the business domain."

Pictured left: Takuya Matsuo Photo credit: DAIYO


AS: Are you a designer yourself? Do you ever want to design or are you content managing the makers and artists you represent?

TM: No, I am not a designer and am content managing the makers and designers I represent. I don’t design but understand and appreciate the beauty and functionality expressed both explicitly and implicitly in the products I market. In this sense, I am a kind of bridge between the world of design/beauty and the business domain. I am proud of being one of the communicators in the ecosystem or supply chain of the industrial crafts and their lovers.


AS: What are your goals for the future of IFJ Tradings?

TM: The ultimate goal for the future of IFJ Tradings is to pass the ecosystem, products, traditions, techniques, people (makers, communicators, and users) of the Japanese industrial crafts onto the next generation.


AS: What has been the best part of representing all the different makers on your site?

TM: It is a rare one-stop supplier of beautiful but functional Japanese industrial crafts that can never be found elsewhere. We work side-by-side with the designers, Masanori OJI and others, and the makers in an effort to reach the said goal step-by-step.

 

 

 

 

June 05, 2021 —
For Your Consideration: The Beeswax Candle

For Your Consideration: The Beeswax Candle


by Mackenzie Reed

APORTA Shop ambassador, maker, writer

It should come as no surprise that we at APORTA Shop love a good candle. While we stock candles of all varieties and ingredients, we have a soft spot for a good, handmade, beeswax candle. Beeswax has been used since the seventh millennium by Neolithic people in Eastern Europe and Northern Africa. These communities used beeswax in tools, rituals, cosmetics, medicine, and to make their vessels waterproof. Today, the primary use of beeswax is in candles and cosmetics.

So, what is beeswax? Beeswax is the substance that bees secrete after they consume honey. They use this substance to make their hives. Bees have to fly about 150,000 miles, stopping to visit 33 million flowers, to collect the nectar to produce six pounds of honey, which can then be converted into about two pounds of beeswax. This is why beeswax candles are often priced higher than soy or paraffin candles. 

So, why should you spend the extra money to buy beeswax candles? For starters, you want to make sure you are buying 100% beeswax candles, as some companies only use 5% beeswax and can market their candles as beeswax candles. With 100% beeswax candles, you can ensure that you are getting the most natural wax that doesn’t produce any toxic byproducts or soot when burning. Beeswax is also naturally dripless so it makes for a safer candle experience without the worry of hot wax getting all over you or your furniture! When burning beeswax candles, they emit negative ions which help to neutralize pollutants in the air. They can help eliminate dust, odors, and mold in the air which can help folks with allergies breathe easier. Finally, their natural, sweet, honey scent promotes relaxation and doesn’t create a sickly sweet or off-putting scent that other candles can sometimes emit. 

We have a lovely selection of beeswax tapers in store today. They are perfect for post-vaccination dinner parties, reading by candlelight, and every day coziness. We can’t wait to see them in your home!

A gorgeous melted mess of beeswax candles.
Photo credit Skylar Clang.

Reading by candlelight; a warm glow. Photo credit Taryn Elliott.

June 01, 2021 — Mackenzie Reed
Portraits, Vol 2: Arianna Lauren

Portraits, Vol 2: Arianna Lauren

PORTRAITS, VOL 2
ARIANNA LAUREN

Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

In our second volume of Portraits, we sat down with Arianna Lauren (she/they) of Quw’utsun’ Made to talk about her work, the nomadic nature of their craft, and the impact and importance of showing up for social causes. Arianna is a daughter of the Quw’utsun’ and Cowichan tribes, raised in Vancouver, BC, with roots in Washington, NYC, Arizona, and New Mexico. Their line of skin care and home goods started when she noticed a lack of ancestral medicines in the form of modern skin care. Apart from skincare, Arianna has launched a line of merchandise featuring original artwork. Their work is stunning and her apothecary goods are some of the most popular in the store. We carry a variety of goods from candles to infused oils, so come on in and discover what makes Quw’utsun’ Made so special. 

APORTA Shop: I’m so curious about how the different places you’ve lived have impacted your work. I know you recently moved back to Washington, a much wetter climate than Albuquerque, do you feel that your work changes or adapts to the places you live? Do you feel that your connection to the work changes with your physical location?

Arianna Lauren: I have always been nomadic, my business and I have learned to thrive when faced with any type of change. So with my most recent move back to the PNW from the SW, I got the chance to purge and make room for new amazing opportunities. It was the perfect time to reassess all my assets, inventory, and just get organized. To some that might not be ideal, I mean, who enjoys going through everything they own to make sure it has a place in their life? Since I live and work from home, moving gave me a huge perspective on what spaces and lack thereof that I could adapt to. The PNW is great for access to my plant medicines but affordability & weather wise, Albuquerque gives me so much more to work with. Unfortunately, it took me moving back up here to see the full potential of Albuquerque so it's very likely I'll be moving back very soon.




AS: What designers and/or artists have inspired you historically? Recently?


AL: I have always been super inspired by my friends and the majority of them are artists. I vicariously live through their experiences and I see that translate through my work time and time again. As of late, I've been watching my friend Hotvlkuce Harjo aka @dommivera [on instagram] turn their sketches into incredible merchandise. It really pushed me to sharpen up my graphic design skills and get my own merch line launched. With the success of my most recent Devils Club design, I've been thinking of taking it further. Another artist I'm super inspired by is Kanye West. I always feel a little shy admitting that nowadays but in my lifetime, his work in music, fashion, and pop culture, has given me immense perspective on what staying true to one's own spirituality offers. The amount of detail, research, and bravado he infuses into his everyday actions as both a  human and celebrity, influence how I carry myself as a business owner and social media figure.


"I try to walk this earth with a good heart and good mind, as my ancestors did."


AS: How do you feel that Covid-19 has impacted your practice? Have there been any upsides?

AL: Covid-19 impacted me in so many dynamic ways it's hard to focus on just one. First off, it changed how I interact with clients and customers. I used to be so deeply invested in community events including pow-wows, makers markets, and bazaars. Now I have to reach that audience through social media and online campaigns, if it is at all possible. I did lose a huge percentage of my income because I was no longer able to do retail events and since a lot of my wholesale accounts had to close their doors. It saddens me that so many people had to find other means to survive. Although I lost that income, I found alternative routes to make my ends meet, merchandise being one of them. At the end of the day I am very grateful for my supportive clientele & community.



AS:
If you’re comfortable sharing with us and our readers, what are some of the most important and valuable lessons that your elders have shared with you that you have incorporated into your business?

AL: My elders have shared so much valuable knowledge with me in my short lifetime but the teaching that stood out to me the most is remaining honest & authentic. I try to walk this earth with a good heart and good mind, as my ancestors did. That means I have to think of my impact on my nation, my followers, and the planet. I am very transparent with my journey as a business owner as well as a Native woman. This has allowed me to offer medicines through my brand that teach and inspire others to think constructively about their own impacts. The best part about Elder wisdom is that one teaching can't be reduced to a singular subject. When you're truly listening to them, their knowledge transcends.

AS: How are you practicing sustainability in your work? I know you use a lot of a native plants in your goods, I’d love to hear more about your work with them. 

AL: When I spoke of my elders’ teachings, I mentioned walking this world with a good heart and good mind. I try to live and die by that. As a business owner that creates a wide range of products, I try to be mindful of how much waste and pollution I am generating. I try to use the least impactful methods, packaging, and energy that I can but that usually comes at a cost to the consumer. That means I have to put in extra time educating my customers about the value of their purchase. A lot of my skincare ingredients are wildcraft harvested and the products come in glass or aluminum versus plastic. To me that seemed like the smartest choice for sustainability but as I grow I know it needs to go beyond that. I use renewable energy within my home, I source packing & ingredients from local businesses (when possible of course), I only use paper products when packing & shipping orders, and I am working on a refill program to encourage folks to re-use their current vessels. I also don't offer products that use the traditional plant medicines if that medicine has been over harvested or is out of season. The last thing I want to do is exploit the very plants that have sustained my career and lifestyle. 

AS: What is a social issue/cause that is near and dear to you and your work?

AL: As a Native woman who also happens to be queer, it feels like I’m impacted by all social issues especially those related to mother earth and her inhabitants. I don't think I could choose just one that I focus on more than the others. However over the last year or so, Black Lives Matter & Stop Asian Hate have opened  my eyes to the injustices that my friends face on the daily and have pushed me to use my platform to support them the same way they did during Standing Rock & Idle No More. The biggest blessing in all of this is our interconnectedness and kinship. The BIPOC has been through hell & back but we manage to remain resilient with the support of each other.

AS: What’s been something you’ve been incredibly proud of in the last year?

AL: This last year really changed my life. Again with all the movement happening in the BIPOC community, I learned to mobilize and be of service. My 30th birthday was spent in Vancouver, BC holding space at a blockade. I used my physical body & social platforms to raise awareness & funds. I also did what I could to amplify the voices of the land defenders when so many were shadow banned or silenced by the RCMP. I didn't know that just a few months later, in the middle of a pandemic, I would be marching & volunteering with thousands of people in Albuquerque, NM for the BLM. I look at these events as a monumental time in my life because it was the first time I was really intentional with my voice on social media. It seems heavy in perspective but at the time it was more than necessary.



 

 

 

 

May 21, 2021 —
Portraits, Vol 1: Michele Quan

Portraits, Vol 1: Michele Quan

PORTRAITS, VOL 1
MICHELE QUAN

Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

We sat down for a virtual and socially distant chat with Michele Quan of NYC based MQuan Studios to talk about her work, her inspiration, and how Covid has changed things for her. Michele is a talented ceramicist who makes pieces for the home and garden. She finds herself returning to ideas of impermanence and interconnection, drawing inspiration from the teachings of Buddhism and its visual language. APORTA Shop carries a collection of indoor/outdoor wall hangings that feature eye imagery and evoke a sense of wonder and wanderlust. We also have a variety of bells that are adorned with stars and celestial bodies that are a perfect addition to any space, classic or modern, maximal or minimal. 

AS: Give us a little background about how you started MQuan Studios and how you started your brand?

MQ: I don’t really think of my work as a ‘brand’. Not sure why. I get the idea, but it just doesn’t ring true to who I am and how I feel about what I do.  Summer of 2003 I left my jewelry company of twelve years and gave birth to my daughter in November. Two years later, wracked with what to do next in my life I decided to take a ceramics class. Just to start working with my hands and get some flow going.  Well, the ceramic bug got me and one class lead to 2, then 3 and then to renting a studio in Williamsburg Brooklyn. I called it Macho Studios. No heat or AC, water downstairs, a stinky forklift always running, a kiln that would stall near the end and take at least 4 hours too many to get to temperature. I was there for fours year and loved it. The second studio, which I am still in till the end of 2021, I named Princess Studios because it had heat, AC, drain in the floor to hose down all the clay dust, beautiful light and is in a quiet residential neighborhood. And the kiln fires off by 7 or 8pm. Sweetness.  Now, I’m transitioning to my studio upstate NY which is a dream come true. Sometime in 2001 I had worked with a life coach and dreamt of making ceramics in the country with a garden, compost, and trees. It was one of those if you could do anything, bar nothing exercises solely based on a daydream from a single throwing class I took in 1991.



AS: What designers and/or artists have inspired you historically? Recently?

MQ: I cannot narrow that down, but I recently watched a documentary called Leaning into the wind about Andy Goldsworthy, and the documentary Pina by Wim Wenders.  Both beautiful and inspiring.


"Covid has magnified the appreciation of community that I feel."


AS: How do you feel that Covid-19 has impacted your practice? Have there been any upsides? How do you think the world of small business/hand crafted goods has been altered?

MQ: My 3-year upstate NY studio plan morphed into a 3-month plan. Covid caused me to re- evaluate how & what I make, limited by how I can NOT make things during these times. I’ve always given my limitations their respect and due, embraced them. In my work limitations are a part of what I make and keep me focused. But this is a whole new set of limitations. 2020 was terrifying and illuminating. The world is in a huge very loud flux. So much to confront, and we cannot look away anymore. Not from ourselves or from the world. Deeply rooted racism, the destruction of our natural planet, our crumbling infrastructure, the baselessness of our economy. I could wax on. Covid has magnified the appreciation of community that I feel.



AS: How are you practicing sustainability in your work?


MQ: I’ve always used starch peanuts but hated my dependency on packing with bubble wrap. A couple of years ago, I made a commitment to use as little bubble wrap as I could. I was afraid to try something else. Shipping ceramics is not easy. I switched to corrugated cardboard and I’m proud to say I use 90% less bubble wrap than I did 2 years ago. I also take bisqueware that is not perfect and stamp it ‘MQ No Waste’, paint it, fire it and offer it at a lower price. Once clay turns into bisqueware, it’s on the earth for the long haul. So I hated throwing it in the dumpster.

AS: What is a social issue/cause that is near and dear to you and your work?

MQ: Homelessness, hunger, racism, taking care of our elders, animal cruelty, the environment. But not just these. All of them.

AS: Interconnection is an integral part of your work and something that you return to often. How has Covid changed your understanding and definition of the word? How has that impacted your craft and your relationship with your work?

MQ: Community feels ever present.

AS: Is there a particular form or image that you’ve been drawn to lately?

MQ: The Spiral and the Black Snake. Rocks and more rocks.

AS: What’s been something you’ve been incredibly proud of in the last year? Gotta have a little good with your pandemic, ya know!

MQ: I’m grateful and honored to have been able to raise money and bring any kind of awareness to help others in need with the work that I love to make. 



 

 

 

 

April 05, 2021 — Portraits, Vol 1: Michele Quan
Golden milk for the winter months

Golden milk for the winter months

the taste of golden milk

By Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

 


There is absolutely nothing better than curling up on the couch at the end of a long winter day, your favorite mug in hand, as you sip something warm that nourishes your body and your soul. Enter your new favorite cold weather beverage: Golden Milk. Golden Milk is originally from India and has been consumed for thousands of years to heal a variety of ailments from coughs and sore throats, to restlessness and insomnia. 

This drink gets its name from the infused turmeric that gives the milk a rich, golden hue. Turmeric is a spice that has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and as a medicinal herb. Turmeric is full of antioxidants that can help your body fight off disease. Cinnamon and ginger are often included in Golden Milk to create a richer flavor profile and offer further goodness for your body. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that make this drink perfect for those of us who experience joint pain throughout the day, while ginger is known for its ability to help fight indigestion. 

One of my favorite activities is stopping by a coffee shop after a long day of work, ordering a hot drink, and just watching the life around me. With coffee shops and cafes closed around the country, I’ve been trying to recreate these moments of joy and reflection at home. Stepping out of my usual routine and creating these small pockets of comfort for myself has been incredibly important throughout the past few months. So, pull out your favorite mug and make some Golden Milk with me today!

Ingredients: 1 cup milk; I use oat milk because I don’t do dairy, but any kind of milk will work with this recipe 1-2 teaspoons honey, depending on your preferred sweetness ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground turmeric ½ teaspoon ground ginger

Directions: Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk together and heat until desired temperature. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

I like my Golden Milk a little spicier, so I tend to add more ginger to mine or use freshly grated ginger, depending on what I have available! To make your Golden Milk a little heftier, you can add a teaspoon or two of peanut butter and whisk it in until dissolved. 

November 27, 2020 —
Creativity during hard times

Creativity during hard times

A NEW DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.

Mackenzie Reed

APORTA Shop ambassador,
writer, maker

Picture this: you’re sitting on the couch, flipping through the Netflix titles for the one millionth time. Do you watch John Mulaney’s stand up again or do you start New Girl from the beginning one more time?


This has been me for most of the pandemic. I’ve been feeling drained and I know I’m not alone in that. It’s always hard to feel creative, but it’s been especially hard the past few months. 

 There have been, and will continue to be, many nights where I choose TV instead of working on any of my projects. With the winter months making their way in, many of us will be spending a lot more time inside, which means we’ll all have more time to work on our creative endeavors. This can feel daunting. This can feel exhausting. This can even feel terrifying. But fear not, we are here to help you create a space where you and your creativity can flourish!

I like to ground my creative practice in routine; this helps me feel at peace and creates an environment that doesn’t feel stressful. My practice starts with coffee. I make a big French press every morning to slowly chip away at throughout the day. My favorite coffee mug at the moment is the OMO handmade tumbler in marigold, it’s the perfect size for every situation.

The next step is candles. I love a good candle, who doesn’t? I keep a few burning throughout the day to create a blend of scents that help keep me present while creating. It’s so easy to get lost in my head, worrying about whatever is happening in the world around me, but I find that the scents I choose to burn keep me grounded and in the moment. I’m currently burning Smoky Cinnamon Special from P.F Candle Co and Red Fern from Wax Buffalo.

I’m a big believer in the idea of morning pages, but not so much a fan of the actual morning. I find that my creative juices flow best in the afternoon, so I have adopted afternoon pages. Morning pages is a technique practiced by many writers and creatives where you are encouraged to write three pages, front and back, full of anything you think of. You don’t have to overthink morning pages, it’s a space to get your thoughts and feelings out and down on the page.

“Morning pages are not art; they are not an outcome- they are part of a process of creative recovery.” (Julia Cameron)


I’ve taken this idea and morphed it a little bit to fit my practice better. I light a Japanese rice candle from Warousoku Daiyo and write until it is finished burning. These candles are the perfect tool for journaling, sketching, morning, or afternoon pages, whatever you need to get your juices flowing! I like to use these candles because they’re odorless, smokeless, and they self-extinguish which is perfect if I get wrapped up in an idea and I don’t want to stop. It’s also nice to not need my phone for a timer because I’m so much less likely to look at it and become absorbed in something else.

These are just a few tips and tricks to get you started on your creative journey. 

November 27, 2020 —
November featured artist: Monica Gilles-BringsYellow

November featured artist: Monica Gilles-BringsYellow

Monica Gilles-BringsYellow is an Indigenous artist based out of Missoula, MT and the Flathead Reservation. Her artwork is centered on surreal landscapes juxtaposed with images based off of historical photographs of Native American people, principally relatives and family members. Monica enjoys bringing to light the historical legacy and current lives of Native people. She works primarily with mixed media (acrylics, resin, alcohol inks and markers). View Monica's work in store and online during the month of November.



November 06, 2020 —
Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples Day

APORTA SHOP recognizes today October 12, 2020 as National Indigenous Peoples Day and rejects the incorrect teaching and adoption of Christopher Columbus. We ask that today you take a moment to educate yourself of the importance of acknowledging and celebrating Indigenous People's Day. We have put together a selection of Native owned brands/organizations to shop/support. Take a look below.



November 06, 2020 —