Skip to content

Diamonds are Forever, But This Contest Isn’t!

Valentine’s Day is almost here! If you want to get a diamond, make sure you’re sharing the &VM love.

When we get to 2000 likes on our facebook page, one lucky Amperfan will win this stunning Bertoia diamond chair.

Bertoia Diamond Chair Contest

Remember, we not only want to find a winner, we want that winner to hear when it’s his or her lucky day, so make sure that after you click that “like” button, you add Ampersand VM to your interests list.

Don’t worry it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Specifically:

1. Go to our Facebook page

2. Click on the settings dropdown menu, the little gear icon, next to the Message box

3. Select “Add to Interest Lists”

It could be you, so make sure to tell your friends! Spread the love for a chance to win a piece you’ll adore!


Craft Beer Fridays – Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout


Southern Tier Imperial Choklat stout: even better when paired with more chocolate.

With a Nor’easter on the way, there couldn’t be a better time for a new installment in our craft beer series – after all, starting Friday, we’re all going to need a (few) winter warmers to get through the snow-in!

And there’s nothing that fits cold, snowy weather quite as well as a rich stout. Southern Tier, a small batch brewery founded in Lakewood New York in 2002, has one that’s going to help me get through the weekend: the Imperial Choklat (added to their roster in 2007).

The name really says it all with this beer: you can definitely taste (and smell) the chocolate, and the creamy-smooth texture of the beer fits perfectly with the bittersweet chocolatey flavor. Hints of coffee, vanilla, and caramel add dimension to the heavy, rich brew, but make no mistake, this is a chocolate bomb.

This hearty beer would pair well with a charcuterie-and-cheese spread, or as an accompaniment to almost any dessert.

And best of all, it’s got your back if the power goes out: Southern Tier suggests adding a couple scoops of (melting?) vanilla ice cream to this sweet stout to make a boozy beer float.

Of course you do have to be careful: the Imperial Choklat might taste a little like a mudslide, but it is definitely boozy (with an ABV of 10%). But then, it’s a blizzard; where do you have to be but here, with a fantastic beer?

Happy Birthday, Alvar Aalto!

Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto, Finnish Architect and Designer

When you think of mid-century design, few names loom larger than Alvar Aalto. The Finnish architect, designer, and glassware-maker helped usher in, then popularize, modernist design concepts, and his focus throughout his career on creating a “gesamtkunstwerk,” or “total work of art” with every project (those gorgeous chairs and vases that he designed were meant to complete the stunning buildings, so every part of the whole worked together) was truly inspiring.

In honor of his birthday (Aalto would have turned 115 over the weekend, on February 3), we wanted to give our Amperfans a few pieces of eye-candy (or should it be eye-cake?), highlights from a long and prolific career. Enjoy, and please feel free to show us some of your favorite Aalto buildings, textiles, furniture pieces, and glass designs in the comments!

Baker House dormitories at MIT (detail)

A detail from the Baker House dormitories at MIT (1947-48). Viewed from above the building undulates, serpentine, from end to end.

Baker House dormitories (aerial)

A bird’s-eye view of the Baker House dormitories.

Paimio chair

Following the concept of gesamtkunstwerk that Aalto applied to his entire career, the Paimio chair was originally designed to furnish the Paimio sanitorium, a building Aalto also designed. Aalto claimed the angle of the back was perfectly calibrated to ease the suffering of tuberculosis patients.

The Aalto-Musiktheater Essen, in Essen Germany, was designed in 1959, by which point Aalto had entered a more experimental phase of his career. The performing-arts venue wasn’t actually built until 1983, seven years after Aalto’s death.

The Aalto Vase, designed in 1937, has become an icon of modern design. It’s often referred to as the “Savoy Vase,” since Aalto and his wife, Aino, originally designed it for the Savoy restaurant opening in Helsinki that year.

This wonderful video is from the current Alvar Aalto exhibit at Jackson Design Berlin. The exhibit runs through the end of this month and contains rare and important pieces from the Finnish Architect and Designer.

We’ve collected more Alvar Aalto images on our newest Pinterest board, and you can find out more about his life, including a more comprehensive list of his major works, here.

Be My Valentine Contest

Bertoia Diamond Chair Contest

Be my Valentine and we’ll be yours! When AVM reaches 2000 Facebook page likes, we’ll be sending one lucky Amperfan a vintage Harry Bertoia Diamond Chair by Knoll. Because we all know that nothing says love like a diamond.

Couple things to note about the contest:

You need to add Ampersand Vintage Modern to your “Interest Lists”. This is the only way not to miss out and continue to view our news, contests, announcements, photos and blog posts in your feed.

The solution is easy peasy:
1. Go to our Facebook page
2. Click on the settings dropdown menu, the little gear icon, next to the Message box
3. Select “Add to Interest Lists”
Done and done.

All fans (new or old) in the lower 48 states will be eligible for the contest, but it will only happen when we hit that 2000  mark. So don’t forget to “Like” our Ampersand Vintage Modern page on Facebook if you haven’t already. We can’t reach 2000 page likes without your help. Spread the word, share our page, and especially this amazing giveaway and keep your fingers crossed, and maybe you’ll be getting a Bertoia diamond this Valentine’s Day.

The Original DIY Project – The Airstream

Latourneau Airstream

photo via Poetic Home

So many of the trends in the DIY, vintage, and upcycling worlds are small-scale (even though they can have a huge impact). I’m talking about the hunt for that one perfect piece, or the reworking of an antique mason jar into any of a few hundred beautiful, useful items, from lighting to urban gardens. But lately, some seriously innovative DIYers are thinking big. Airstream big. Refurbishing these mid-century classics is a trend that’s really picking up st(r)eam lately, and for good reason; their sleek lines lend themselves to beautiful, artistic interiors, the challenge of living more simply is one that is appealing to more people every day (if you haven’t heard of the tiny home movement, it’s another fantastic creative outlet for DIYers nationwide), and the appeal of being able to pick up and go, without leaving any of the comforts of home behind, is perennial.

American Airstream

American Airstream – painting by Leah Giberson

Even the art world loves the Airstream. Artist Leah Giberson pays homage to this icon of American travel –check out her mixed-media paintings featuring the Airstream on her flickr site.

Southwest Coaches published this video on YouTube and it’s a must-see for the Airsteam aficionado. Filmed over 40 years ago at the Airstream Plant, the video offers a first-hand look at an era where manufacturers still believed that quality was attained through details. We love their tag line, “Where Building Dreams is our Business.”

Check out some of our favorite Airstreams (both updated and in all their original glory) here, as well as these fun facts about America’s favorite camper!

* Airstreams are the original DIY project; company founder Wally Byam built the first in 1929 in his backyard, after which he published an article titled “How to Build a Trailer for One Hundred Dollars.” After selling hundreds of his instruction-sets to readers of the article, and building quite a few trailers for friends, Byam decided to expand the operation into a full-fledged business in 1932.
* Airstreams have been upcycled into everything from permanent shoreside homes to mobile libraries to food stands!
* Byam was as invested in the community of Airstream-enthusiasts, or “Airstreamers,” as he was in his product. Starting in the early 50s, Byam started leading groups of buyers to specific travel destinations around the world (check out this fun collection of vintage images of Airstreamers at play. The Wally Byam Caravan Club still meets up every summer.
* Several campsites nationwide are Airstream-only. Some even require membership in the Caravan Club for entry!

Once Upon a Time…


It was New Year’s Eve. I decided to go low-key and have a quiet, local dinner with friends when I met my future wife. We had lots in common and formed an instant bond. It was one of the most laid-back, easy, but fun New Years Eves  I’ve ever had. After the stressful year I’d experienced, the evening was just what the doctor ordered. It would be two years until we hung out again –though we did mysteriously manage to cross paths several times, as if fate was on our side. Flash forward to Summer, 2011. We both found ourselves single, reconnected, and began dating.  Coincidentally, we were both taking huge risks to do what we loved: the two of us had jumped ship from the corporate world. Me, to begin Ampersand, and her to devote time to creative writing and to begin an MFA program. We were two creative peas in a pod.


There’s that old saying, “When you know. You know.” And after dating only a year, we knew. We  shared the news of our engagement with our parents. They were supportive and overjoyed. We couldn’t wait for our two families to finally meet. It turns out, they were so similar and welcoming to one another, that it only solidified where our relationship was headed. Working with our friend, the very talented graphic designer Jess Robash we created a post card save-the-date that would announce our good news .

Once the save-the-dates were out, we all put our heads together again to produce a formal invitation and RSVP card. We wanted a simple, classic look that was as formal as it was fun. As for our actual wedding and reception, we knew we wanted  a DIY vintage-themed celebration that would also incorporate elements from my soon-to-be wife’s love of books and writing. Our decor was personal and 100% of it was homemade–whether made in our basement, spare bedroom, or driveway. Each decorative element was a labor of love and each piece from the string orbs that hung as ceiling decorations to the framed “author bios” that marked each table was a melding of our two lives and personalities. We worked with our talented friend, Elaine Frei, founder of Urban Soiree Chicago to assist with developing the concept, layout and the day-of planning and coordination.

On an overcast, but otherwise lovely day in late September, 80 of our closest friends and family members gathered together to watch us get hitched. Love was most definitely in the air and as the guests arrived, we felt intensely grateful and calmed by the support and presence of  people from different chapters of both of our lives. Everyone gathered together to send us off into the next phase. Let the nuptials begin!


September 29, 2012, marked the beginning of our two families becoming one.


The exchange of vows (and rings) was brief, but meaningful. We wrote our own vows and were married by my former business partner and good friend, Andy Crepeau who pronounced us married by the power of Castle Grayskull and also, the State. Why am I screaming in the picture above you ask? Because my wife stepped on my toe with her stiletto heel. Nice job, wife. J/K. I don’t even remember screaming, but I do remember exclaiming “Thank You,” to everyone before I screamed.  I know. I’m a weirdo, but I was excited.


Now it’s time to talk flowers. We worked with our friend, Jennifer Allen owner of MaRKet,  a small lifestyle boutique that specializes in both vintage & modern home furnishings, interior design, and offers floral design as one of its services. Jenn has a knack for flowers, she’s been arranging them since high school.

Paper Wedding Boutonniere - Posh Studios

I wanted to surprise my wife with this paper wedding boutonniere by Posh Studios. Cassie’s work is amazing and I wanted my boutonniere to have a connection my wife and be a keepsake. Cassie was great to work with, I sent her a picture of my shirt so she could match the color and explained that she was a writer and asked that the paper have type. I think she did an excellent job.


Picking out the ring is ALWAYS a nerve wracking experience. The ring is going to be on your partner’s hand for the rest of their life. No pressure. To make a long story short, picking out my wife’s ring was something I put off for a long time. She kept saying to me, “You’ll know, I trust you” and on the inside I was a wee bit nervous. She was right, though. I stopped into Cambridge Antique Market, spotting what I was certain would be her ring. The next day I tricked her into coming back with me to take a look. We stopped in, I casually was like, “Hey, just take a look so I can get an idea of what you’d like.” She agreed and of the dozens of rings in the case, she immediately commented on how beautiful this ring was. I asked if she wanted to try it on and believe it or not, the ring fit. Perfectly. Did either of us know her ring size before she tried it on? Miraculously, no. For me, the ring picking experience was excellent and lasted all of five minutes. Don’t be jealous.

For my ring I wanted something simple since I work with my hands all the time but I didn’t want it to be a plain boring band. I came across Adzia‘s custom fingerprint engagement and wedding bands and instantly knew that’s what I wanted. My wife’s fingerprint is engraved both inside and outside. The inside is what feels the most special to  me.


Then the party began. We entertained our guests with yard games and music. My wife’s sister is a musician and introduced us to the Brazilian Jazz band, The Jerrod Cattey Trio. They were the perfect match for our cocktail hour. We both love jazz and they brought that perfect, breezy Latin sound that was an important element to my wife who is from Central America.

We did a few passed hors d’oeuvres and watered our guests with wine and kegs of our favorite craft beer supplied by our local favorite, The Craft Beer Cellar.


Then the night fell, dinner was served under the big top…


My wife’s sister made a simple but amazing cheesecake for our wedding cake and our guests enjoyed individually plated strawberry shortcakes, my wife’s family favorite. The cake toppers were custom made by LavaGifts since they didn’t currently have the pink ones in stock. It was on short notice and they turned it around in no time.


What’s with the saw you ask? We like magic tricks. No, no. It’s a German tradition called, Baumstamm Sägen, “log sawing.” It represents a married couple’s first difficult task together. You’re supposed to have a nice small log but oh no, not us. My wife’s father is an arborist and special ordered a beautiful silver birch for this special occasion. He also called in several favors to get the beautiful antique logging saw pictured above. I think he likes me. With both our fathers holding the log, the crowd breaking into an impromptu chant of “saw that log”, and my serious attempt to stretch it out while they reset the log helped us get through it. It takes a village to saw that log apparently.

I’ve mentioned on the blog that I love to dance so this part of the night was one I was really looking forward to. We had worked sooooo hard to pull this off and it was finally time to cut loose! My wife used to be a music critic and she tasked herself with finding the DJ. We wanted to find someone that could blend our love of old school tunes and the contemporary with the aim of having the dance floor packed the whole night. There was just one rule, no cheesy traditional wedding songs. My wife knew DJ Monster Carl and just said, “trust me.”  One word, WOW. You can see from the pictures that it was pretty rocking and I wasn’t even on the dance floor the whole night but one thing I remember was the amazing energy on the floor, the smiles on everyone’s face, and at least five times where people were down on their knees and shakin’ what the good lord gave ’em.

It was so hard to narrow down the pictures to a select few because the pictures from this part of the night are truly epic.

It was so hard to narrow down the pictures to a select few because the pictures from this part of the night are truly epic.

…and the outtakes. Go ahead and laugh at us, we did.

Vintage Wedding Outtakes Vintage Wedding Outtakes

This story would not be possible without the amazing skillz, yes with a “z”, of Zac Wolf. Actually, he made this story hard to tell because his photography was amazing and narrowing the photographs down to tell this story was quite hard. Check out all of his amazing work here at Zac Wolf Photography. He also provided us with a bit of danger, The Danger Booth that is. Our guest got to pose the night away in the photo booth and he handed us a thumb drive with the nights antics before he left for the night. It was a lot of fun looking at all the fantastic pictures the next morning.

Danger Booth Zac Wolf Photography

Love is in the Air…

 …and on the web.  Our amazing wedding photographer, Zac of Zac Wolf Photography, thought our wedding was special enough to submit to Style Me Pretty. If you are on the verge of getting hitched and you’re looking for inspiration, Style Me Pretty is a fantastic resource. You’ll find wedding eye candy from sea to shining sea, a vendor guide, DIY project page, and the ability to make your very own inspiration board on their site. And stay tuned, my wife and I joined forces to bring you a photo essay that tells the story of our big day and even of  how we met. I’m going to follow that up with blog posts on the DIY projects we made for the wedding, a post regarding how we recycled some of our projects into our everyday life, and a post about why we chose to work with our vendors.

%d bloggers like this: