Without additives.

Forrest Lewinger & Molly Prentiss

Our inaugural piece features Molly Prentiss and Forrest Lewinger. Molly is a novelist who received widespread acclaim for her first novel, Tuesday Nights In 1980, and has a second, Old Flame, dropping in a month. She also writes the literal best captions on Instagram. Forrest is a ceramicist and the founder of Workaday Handmade, which has become a staple of our favorite boutiques, museums, and design stores. They live in a 760 square foot former schoolhouse in the woods in upstate New York with their daughter, Valentine Joon. For our discussion, we sent them a bottle of Marie Rocher’s Emmenez-moi 2021 because we thought, well, the vibes just meshed. Valentine (who’s almost five) took some great photos for us, too.

You’re both creatives and makers and, also, parents. Valentine is almost five and you’re expecting another. How do you find the time and space to each be independently creative?

We are constantly trying to solve the equation that involves childcare, money making, and art making. As a friend put it recently, it is a wonky three-legged stool. But our individual creative practices have always been a driving force in our life, and we have tried to design our life so that we can continue to make things. This is part of why we moved upstate and into a tiny home, so that we could afford to continue to do the things we love. But it is often a struggle to maintain this balance, and we often question whether or not we should have taken a more “normal” path — ha! 

Your house looks amazing (we love your fireplace and how you integrate art pieces on the mantle). How did you find it?

We live in a one-room schoolhouse that was built in 1841, and converted to a living space in the 1970s. It has lots of quirk and charm — it still has one of the original chalkboards from 200 years ago on the wall! When we were looking at houses upstate, which was just before the pandemic, we saw many places we knew we could make work, but the schoolhouse was sort of love at first sight. I immediately fell for the swimmy light coming through the single-paned windows, the DIY 70s carpentry, the hand-tiled Japanese soaking tub, the wonderfully wonky fireplace, that we spent many hours plastering during our kid’s naps. So many of these loveable things have turned out to be liabilities, but we still love our house. Whenever we consider getting something bigger, we end up coming home and saying: “Our house is the shit.”  

We always feel like, at least for us, constraints are the key to creativity. You live in a one bedroom, one bathroom, 760 square foot former schoolhouse in the woods. What does that do to your creative process?

Molly: Constraints are my jam! I wrote my last novel in a tiny garden shed behind the house. The silence and the smell of cedar and the tiny space without any distractions was the perfect place to be entirely inside my head. 

Forrest: One of the things that convinced us we could live in the schoolhouse was that there was dedicated work space in various outbuildings on the property.  A studio is essential for me. Also coming from the city it’s not too uncommon to live in a smaller space. It didn’t feel too unfamiliar. 

Can you tell the story of how you two first met?

Molly: We met at a hamburger mixer on my first day of grad school. Forrest was a second-year at that point, so he was already a cool kid. It might sound like a corny lie, but it was love at first sight. Like, actually. I saw him across the quad and I dropped my hamburger plate. I told my friend Carmen that I wanted him to be my boyfriend. According to Forrest, he “planted himself” on a bench so that I would come talk to him. And I did! The rest was ancient history. 

What’s a typical weekday dinner look like?

Molly: We are dinner people. Fuck breakfast and lunch, dinner is where it’s at. (Forrest would not agree with this, as he loves all meals.) We have dinner together as a family almost every night, a tradition that was instilled in me from growing up in a community where we all ate together every night at 7 on the dot! Since having a kid and moving upstate, we make most dinners at home. We make simple, delicious meals if I do say so myself. Some of our weeknight staples include a salmon/fennel/olive situation, rice bowls with eggs cracked over them, Portuguese kale soup, and all varieties of pasta. Tonight we are eating salmon, gnocchi with browned butter, and arugula salad. 

Forrest: I will chime in and say breakfast and lunch are very good and not to be ignored. While they might not contain some of the heavy hitter favorite foods, they serve vital functions in a day and skipping them is denying yourself the good life.

We sent you a bottle of Marie Rocher’s Menu Pineau ‘Emmenez-moi’ 2021 because a) it’s one of our favorite winter white wines and you live in a cold place, and b) Marie, the winemaker, is a true bon vivant who names her wines after 1970s & 80s French songs and films from her youth that capture specific, fleeting moments. What do you think of the wine so far?

We immediately agreed that we love it.

Molly: It tastes like a European New Years Eve party. There’s a Prosecco flavor that brings me back to a party we hosted in our basement apartment in Brooklyn, where we only served bubbly and oysters. It’s a sunny antidote to these cold ass, depressing ass winter days. Like light that spreads and warms the whole body. It really makes me wish I wasn’t pregnant anymore so I could drink the whole bottle. 🙂 

Forrest: Molly disagrees with me on this, but it seems very slightly effervescent, which I like. I feel like when the pendulum swung to natural wines, it really swung, and you got a lot of super funky, tart, cidery stuff, but this is clean and easy. It has the interest and appeal of a natural wine without being in any way vinegary. 

Valentine: I love vinegar! 

Forrest: There’s a little bit of brine. 

Molly: Is it minerally? 

Forrest: Do I taste apple? 

Valentine: It smells like grapes. It tastes like lemons. And thumbs. 

You have to use one drinking vessel for all beverages for the rest of time. What is it?

A Workaday Handmade mug, of course! I’d opt for the cappuccino size, in terracotta, as it works well for coffee, wine or water. 

What does 2023 hold for you?

Molly: A new baby, a new book (my second novel, Old Flame, comes out in April!), hopefully a lot of love and family time, and maybe some new writing stuffed in between the cracks. 

Forrest: I’m working on a few new things in the studio beyond the typical production. Last year we opened a little store/studio/project space in Red Hook, the little town where we live, called Tobacco Silva. I’m working on a springtime show for that of some new vases that veer in a more imagistic direction. I’m also playing with scale, making some pretty large pieces. Molly has held workshops in the space and put together a beautiful array of goods beyond just Workaday stuff. The space is an attempt at melding a few of our nascent interests with the work we do as artists and make it available to the public.