Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: Visiting 12 Maker Spaces in 2017

December 31, 2017

February 2017 marked five years of UncommonGoods Studio Tours. A lot has happened here at UG since that first visit (with Anna Rabinowicz, whose Agate Coasters are still a customer favorite), but one thing hasn’t changed. Every time I enter a maker’s creative space, I learn something I didn’t know before and gain a new appreciation for their craft. Sometimes I get to physically travel to a studio, sit down and chat with an artist, and watch them work. Every now and then I even get to try my hand at making something. Other times, my experience is like yours. I get to see inside an artist’s studio through the eyes of another excited visitor, who’s taking in a new experience and sharing their own thoughts and feelings.

Our 2017 Studio Tour round-up features the experiences of several team members, including my own visits to New Hampshire, Ohio, and Maryland; our graphic designer’s look inside a Rhode Island jewelry studio; a jewelry buyer’s trip to Boston; our PR & social media manager’s serendipitous stay in Canada; the blog team’s soap making lesson in Newburgh, New York;  and even an adventure across the Atlantic, where our contributing writer met Greek sculptor George Roumanas. And that’s just a start. This year, we traveled more than ever and visited the widest variety of studios yet. It’s always tricky to pick just a few highlights from our Studio Tours, but here’s a shot at it. (Along with links to the full posts, if you’re looking for a serious infusion of inspiration!)

 

Anne Johnson and Arra David

Arra and NeQuana making a Sea Stone Splash Sponge Holder

We kicked off our 2017 Studio Tour series with a road trip to Windham, NH, and a look inside Anne Johnson and Arra David’s workshop. Anne, Arra, and their team make an assortment of cool, useful products from wood and natural stones. | Visit Anne and Arra’s Studio

 

Donna and Randall Rollins

While in New Hampshire, we stopped by the Brentwood pottery studio of Donna and Randall Rollins. Donna throws beautiful pieces, glazes them with mineral-infused glazes mixed in-house, and adorns each creation with a gemstone. | Visit Donna and Randall’s Studio

 

Suzie Thomas

“I’ve learned so much since starting my sea glass jewelry business and it all stemmed from my imagination.” —Jewelry designer Suzie Thomas

California-based blog contributor Emily made the short trip to Santa Cruz to find out what makes Suzie Thomas’s sea glass jewelry so magical. | Visit Suzie’s Studio

 

Rhonda Dudek

The Goods’ graphic designer Jess paid a visit to Rhonda Dudek, who makes nature-inspired jewelry in her Providence, RI, studio. Rhonda told us about attending the Rhode Island School of Design, leaving Little Rhody to grow her business, and returning to the smallest state in the US with big ideas and a best-selling necklace. | Visit Rhonda’s Studio

 

Patrick and Carrie Frost

Mantua, OH, a friendly small town about a 45 minute drive from Cleveland, is home to husband-and-wife glass team Patrick and Carrie Frost. The Frosts not only showed us how it’s done, they also let us give it a try. After a day in their studio, it was more than clear that, as Patrick says, “glass is magic.” | Visit Patrick and Carrie’s Studio

 

Kim Strassner and Mike Pararas

Good morning, Baltimore! A pre-sunrise train ride from Penn Station in Manhattan to Penn Station in Maryland took us to Kim Strassner and Mike Pararas’s bustling woodshop, where we got a firsthand look at how they make their personalized cutting boards and Lazy Susans. | Visit Kim and Mike’s Studio

 

George Roumanas

Emily, our jet-setting blog contributor, joked that she prepped for her visit to Athens, Greece, by watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding and playing the Mamma Mia! soundtrack on repeat. As fun her prep work sounds, Emily’s visit to metal artist George Roumanas’s studio turned out to be even more of a good time than she’d expected. | Visit George’s Studio

 

Sam Buss and Derek “Ducky” Dahl

We knew portable flip cup and mini beer pong are fun party games, but we like them even more after learning how they’re made. Marisa, a copywriter here at UG, took a trip back to her own home state to visit woodworking designers Sam Buss and Derek “Ducky” Dahl in Minneapolis. | Visit Sam and Ducky’s Studio

 

Christine Schmidt

“I make things that I want. I have an idea and I figure out how to make it. In school, I got to work with so many media from metalsmithing to printmaking. I had no idea I could invent a job that somehow uses all of those skills!” —Christine Schmidt, jewelry designer, printmaker, illustrator…

Emily took a break from traveling abroad to check out a colorful creative space near her own home base in San Francisco. The studio in question? Christine Schmidt’s whimsical jewelry + printmaking + design + painting + so-much-more studio. | Visit Christine’s Studio

 

Stephen Kitras

While this visit isn’t technically part of our official Studio Tour series, we couldn’t pass it by for our round-up. While our PR & social media manager, Jen, was in Toronto for the annual B Corp Champions Retreat, she happened to get an opportunity to take a detour to Fergus, Ontario, to meet longtime UncommonGoods artist Stephen Kitras. There, she met the Kitrases who are carrying on the family business and even got her own hands-on glass making experience! | Visit Stephen’s Studio

 

KaKyung Cho

We ventured out of Brooklyn to get a scenic view of the Hudson River and experience a new kind of Studio Tour. Not only was our visit to KaKyung Cho’s Newburgh, NY, studio junior content creator Hadley’s first-ever Studio Tour, it was also the first time we got to see soap making in action.  | Visit KaKyung’s Studio

 

Holly Daniels Christensen

Sharon, our jewelry buyer, had the honor of completing our last Studio Tour of 2017. Sharon traveled to Boston see jewelry designer Holly Daniels Christensen’s huge collection of sands from around the world. Holly uses the sand to create beautiful custom jewelry. While Sharon was there, she picked out some sand with a bit of sentimental value and gave jewelry making a try herself. | Visit Holly’s Studio

 

As always, it’s been a pleasure sharing our maker visits with you. We already have a bundle of exciting Studio Tours in the works for next year, and we promise they’ll be worth the wait. But if you just can’t wait for more behind-the-scenes maker magic, take a peek at our 2016 round-up or jump back to 2015 for even more artist inspiration. 

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