’Tis Death to Counterfeit is imprinted with images that celebrate New Jersey's history. 



In 1664, 350 years ago this year, the Dutch surrendered New Netherland to the British and the colony of New Jersey was born. This imprint was created from original 1776 New Jersey colonial currency, one- and three-shilling notes (property of the artist), printed in New Jersey, and in use in New Jersey on the eve of the American Revolution. 

Look for the royal colonial seal, flanked by a lion and a unicorn, as well as Benjamin Franklin's famous "Join or Die" woodcut, on ceramic tiles, plates, ornaments, and pendants.



Taken from the book, Picturesque Views of America (1873), this engraving shows a view of the Ramapo River near the New York-New Jersey border. This area has a rich history and is where Revolutionary War patriots smuggled munitions from the Highland forges down the mountain range on top-secret trails called "cannonball runs." Those familiar with the area may recognize how similar the landscape looks today — a verdant jewel on Bergen County's western border. 

Look for the Ramapo on pendants, ornaments, and plates (more coming soon!).



The Demarest Stone is one of 13 hand-carved 17c "founder stones" at the historic Hackensack Reformed (Dutch) Church. The carving contains the Huguenot symbolism of the heart and dove, "DMR" (des Marest), and "1696" (the year the original octagonal church was built on this site). The stone has come to symbolize the New Netherland-immigrant Demarest family and their descendants around the world.

Look for the Demarest heart on wheel-thrown pottery, pendants, and replica decorative tiles.



Inspired by beauty of the drawings in the Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey (circa 1933), this collection features imprints of many Bergen County structures — including Oakland's original Ponds Church (sadly, no longer in existence), the Hermitage, Wyckoff Reformed Church, and the Steuben and Samuel Demarest Houses at New Bridge Landing. 

Look for these imprints on plates, pendants, and ornaments.

Net proceeds from the New Bridge items will benefit the BCHS Museum Fund.

Custom imprints and orders available.

About the Artist

Michelle D. Novak is a native of Oakland, New Jersey, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and, for the past 19 years, the owner of a NYC Brand Strategy and Design firm, MND [www.mnd.nyc]. She resides in Manhattan in a landmarked building where Babe Ruth called home and not far from where one of her many New Amsterdam ancestor-immigrants, a former pirate, Anthony Van Saleé, arrived in the late 1620s.

She recently began to express her love of history, and New Jersey history in particular, through her artwork — endeavoring to make items that celebrate her New Jersey Dutch and Huguenot roots and help inspire future generation to explore, cherish, and help preserve their local history.

Her ‘Tis Death to counterfeit moniker was inspired by the imprint on the verso of New Jersey's colonial currency — a friendly little warning that might, technically, make her pottery illegal in eighteenth century New Jersey. (Oops.)

Michelle is a Trustee of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ) and the Genealogical Society of Bergen County, NJ (GSBC) and a former Trustee of the AIGA-NY Chapter. She is Layout Editor of the GSNJ Newsletter and Editor of the GSBC's The Archivist—which won the First Prize in 2015 from the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. She is a photographer, painter, ceramist, researcher, lecturer, and enthusiastic writer of all things genealogy and local history. She is a member of numerous national, regional, state, county, and local societies and museums, including the DAR Knickerbocker Chapter, Bergen County Historical Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, and an applicant of the Holland Dames.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from RISD, a Certificate of Genealogical Research from Boston University, and Certificate from the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh.

Contact and Custom Work   Michelle’s ceramics can be customized with images and documents specific to your family’s history. Please contact her for more information:  m@mnovakdesign.com

Contact and Custom Work

Ceramics can be customized with documents specific to your family’s history (i.e., signatures, letters, wills), historic documents, line drawings, or maps. Please contact me for more information.