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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Jill Rikkers

November 23, 2015

Jill Rikkers | UncommonGoodsOur makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Jill Rikkers, the artist behind our new Hand-Forged Cheese Set and Hand-Forged Serving Pieces.

Hand Forged Cheese SetWhen did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I was always making things as a kid. Anything creative and always busy putting things together. I grew up on a farm in New York so keeping myself occupied was part of that lifestyle.

Hand Forged Serving Pieces | UncommonGoods

What’s been the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

The most exciting thing about creating wonderful pieces of art is seeing it come to fruition. To start from a thought and or conversation, to a drawing and a piece of paper, and go on to an actual 3-D piece of art for someone is truly a wonderful feeling.

Jill Rikkers | UncommonGoodsWhat does your typical day in the studio look like?

A typical day for me is always different. My work consists of blacksmithing and forming the heads and polishing and riveting. So depending on my mood, that’s which process I dive into for that day.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I have my grandfather’s anvil that I use and think of him all the time when I look at it. It’s key in my production and reminds me of a hard working man I admire so much.

Jill Rikkers | UncommonGoodsImagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

My work appeals to all ages. My little niece just brought a set of my serving pieces into her first grade class for show-and-tell last week. So I think everyone enjoys them. And being a girl making these is also a good eye-opener for many people, especially the young ones, to see it is a possibility for anyone to do this.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

The act of creating keeps me motivated. I have to make something every day or it’s not a complete day for me. I’m a bit addicted to the creative process.

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Heather Kelly

November 12, 2015

Heather Kelly | UncommonGoods
Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Heather Kelly, the artist behind our new Planet Lollipops.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist/artisan/maker?
Being an artist/artisan came about purely by accident. I have always had a crafty way about me but after my sister opened an Etsy shop to sell hair ribbons and told me about a relative of ours that made one pillow and sold it on the same venue, I was intrigued. I enjoy being in the kitchen and decided I would make fortune cookies with custom messages. It all started there. Curiosity drove me to other custom edibles including lollipops, which we make exclusively today. The days of those fortune cookies are long gone.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist/artisan/maker?
It is particularly exciting to be noticed by big names. That what you’re doing is special enough and unique enough to get noticed; Martha Stewart, CNET–my business has received a lot of attention for some big names and creating a “wow factor” with them is great fun.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I have about 30 employees now so my day is spent managing people mainly. I am also deeply involved in customer service, sales, web development and social media. Luckily I get to apply creative license across many platforms. And they do still take my ideas in the kitchen.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
My inspiration honestly is my family. I have four boys and I want them to come up seeing me work hard and be rewarded for that. I hope that example rubs off on them and they lead productive, hard working lives and contribute to whatever career they ultimately decide on.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?
This has happened! We have donated lollipops to schools studying space and the solar system. Almost all of them start identifying the planets in each lollipop and “Wow…cool…” is almost always the first thing they say. Right before they say “Yummy”.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I have a few quotes that I keep handy. Three from others. One is my own.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
– Arthur O’Shaughnessy & Willy Wonka

Creativity is intelligence having fun.
-Albert Einstein

Creativity is a continual surprise.
– Ray Bradbury

It’s simply not good enough to just be capable of greatness.
-Me

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Matt Butler

November 2, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Matt Butler, the artist behind our new linocut prints.

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I realized I wanted to be a full-time maker when my hobby of printmaking transformed into a passion. I was working as a teacher at the time and pulling prints at night. I started to see the positive reactions my work was getting and knew I needed to make a more serious commitment to printmaking.

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

The most exciting part of going full-time was the unknown. It was thrilling taking a risk that hinged on my creativity and ability to produce work that people liked and wanted. There are definitely some days that I wish I was the one making all the decisions but in the end it’s part of what makes this fun.

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Each day is pretty different but most days start with emails/brief procrastination on the computer. Some days are spent mostly on the computer working on new designs but many are spent on my feet pulling prints.

Heart Venn Diagram | UncommonGoods

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I don’t have one single thing that is inspirational but I do have a handful of items related to printing that were my grandfather’s. He was very passionate about lettering, typography, and printmaking. I came to love these things too late to share the passion with him but my grandmother had held on to some items and tools and they are now scattered around my studio. I like to think he would approve of my career choice.

Falling Linocut | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

I’m afraid they might find it boring and not understand some of the wit involved. They might find the texture and impression in the paper nice though!

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

Do work.

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Mike Whitehead

October 26, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Mike Whitehead, the artisan behind our gorgeous new handmade Cast Iron Pans with Coil Handles.

Mike Whitehead with pan

When did you know you wanted to be a maker?

I’ve just always been happiest making, growing, or fixing something. In kindergarten I would bring scrap wood to school every day and build clunky wooden models with it in our little shop corner (can you believe they gave hammers and nails to 6 year olds?). In high school I took every art class they would let me. In college I was both the newspaper and yearbook photographer.


3 stacked cast iron pans - Mike Whitehead
What’s been the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artisan?

Easily the most exciting thing is being able to really collaborate with others and dedicate myself to it full time. Making cast iron cookware is incredibly complex and labor intensive. It takes so many additional people and skills that you get exposed to along the way. I am always learning something new whether its pattern making, graphic design, or machining.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

I haven’t had a typical day yet! I spend most of my time surrounded by vintage cast iron cookware while developing and testing new designs. If I’m not doing that I’m in the workshop obsessing over tiny manufacturing details. Our team works in an old WW2 machine shop with high wooden ceilings, natural light and a tiny view of Portland’s Willamette River.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

Yes, I keep an old Kennedy silver half-dollar that my 95-year-old godfather specifically gave me as a pocket piece when he was still alive. It’s one of the early heavy silver ones and even in the middle of winter it feels like a smooth river stone in the sun. I absolutely love how metal ages. It reminds me to slow down and take care in whatever I’m doing.

Cast Iron Grill Pan

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

They would get very excited and say, “This is where pancakes come from!”

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

See Mike's Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Teri Stratford

October 19, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Teri Stratford, the artist behind our vibrant new botanical prints, A Visual Poem, Twilight, and Firefly Festival Fireworks.

Teri Stratford

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I always knew I was an artist so there never was a “when.”

What’s been the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

The sheer joy of doing something that just makes me giggle with delight on a regular basis. Seeing people’s delightful reaction to my work and what miracle happens next!

IMG_2562

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

I might research photos online for reference of animals such as horses, turtles, geese, cats, fish in different positions; underwater or mountain landscapes.  Go over orders to fill.  Do some printing to replenish my inventory.  Or, much more fun….go collect leaves in my yard or go for a walk with a backpack to fill up.  Or pull interesting leaves from my stash and play with arrangements on my illustration board and see what happens.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I have a puja in my studio, a place for meditation.  The room vibrates with spiritual energy, the source of joy and creativity.  I am happy in this room!

IMG_2589

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

“Wow…. Mom!  Look at this?  Can I take this home?  This is really cool… ” (I actually had this happen with a 7 year old boy!)

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
“I am the vibrational energy that creates WORLDS!!!  My creativity is endless….”

Firefly Festival Fireworks by Teri Stratford | UncommonGoods

See Teri's Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Chris Dimino

October 12, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Chris Dimino, the artist behind our new Keyboard Waffle Iron.

Keyboard Waffle Iron | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist/artisan/maker?

I’ve been drawing since I was 3 and I started making additions and scenery for my existing toys that would enhance the world I was creating during play. I made things for years and had more fun doing this than anything else.

I found a great home for my skill set at the School of Visual Arts where I was able to create some of my best work, including the original Typewriter Waffle Iron. After graduation, I worked in virtually every field of design which has provided me with a valuable skill set for creating in 2D, 3D, and motion/animation. I am now circling back to what I’ve always enjoyed the most: making things. After receiving countless requests over the years from people asking if my original Typewriter Waffle Iron was real and for sale, I decided to further develop the idea and make it a real, functioning thing. The Keyboard Waffle Iron is the start of what I hope will be many creative products to come.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional maker?

The idea for The Keyboard Waffle Iron has been with me for over a decade. I actually didn’t expect this, but when I held my first sample in my hands and used it, I really loved it! So the most exciting part for me is seeing that feeling translate to customers and reading their comments/emails saying that they love their KWI.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Each day is different with new inquires, new business opportunities, new fires to put out, and new relationships to build. Around these things I work on existing opportunities, fires, relationships, and development of the brand and future of the product. I definitely keep busy.

Keyboard Waffle Iron | UncommonGoods

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I have an old drafting table that was given to me by a close family friend when I was 10 years old. It’s the place I’ve created my best work and sitting at it brings me to that younger version of myself when playing and creating were my only concerns.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

My guess is they would say, “Cool!” or “What’s that?” They would likely recognize the keyboard pattern for sure but maybe not know its purpose as a waffle iron. I’m going to go with “Cool!”

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

I have two of them, both Latin:

Ut sementem feceris ita metes — “As you sow so will you reap.” (Cicero)
and
Audaces fortuna iuvat — “Fortune favors the bold.” (Virgil, The Aeneid)

Chris Dimino | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Kristin Hinrichs

October 8, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Kristin Hinrichs, the artist behind our new Crackling Candles.

Kristin

When did you know you wanted to be an artisan?

I’ve always loved creating, but I never dreamed it would be something I would do as a career. I’m an equal right brain/left brain person.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artisan?

It’s exciting to know that others love something that I’ve spent so much time thinking about and creating. Every time I read a positive feedback, it’s like a rush of motivation. Some days it’s easy to get caught up in “Why am I overthinking this to death, what does it matter?” Then you hear someone say they love your product and it all makes sense.

Wax

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Actually, I rarely spend full days in the studio. It’s mostly at night after my day job, or during my son’s naps on the weekends. I just renovated my space so I’m really excited to be able to spend more time in there. My wax is always turned on so I can just pop in and make batches of candles as I get time.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

The common theme to my work areas are photos of my son. I started making candles the year he was born so he was really the reason I started on this path. It also keeps me focused to work hard, but also remember not to get too tied up and forget to put the wax away and go play. It’s important for me to show him what it looks like to work hard to achieve your goals.

40014 Crackling Candles

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

Mmmmm – smells yummy! Can I eat it?

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

Work hard, play hard.

Crackling Candles

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Pauline Stevens

September 28, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Pauline Stevens, the artist behind our new Recipe Towels.

Pauline Stevens | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

When my head was with full with ideas and no place to put them.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

Realizing that others besides my family and friends like my work, and were willing to pay for it!

Pauline Stevens Colletionl | UncommnoGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like? 

Opening windows and blinds, making coffee, a little music, playing around  with props and light, taking pictures, playing around some more, clicking my camera once again.  Choosing images. A little lightroom, some Photoshop, and testing.

Inside Pauline Stevens Studio | UncommonGoods

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

Not really. I love music, light, and color and feel really in spirit when I am outdoors.

Outside Pauline Stevens Studio | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think he/she would say?

“I’m hungry!”

Pauline Stevens Studio | UncommonGoods

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

Let the world know you are here and do it with passion.

What are your most essential tools?

My camera, my love for light and admiration for food.

 

UncommonGoods Tea Gifts

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