I tried something different this year. I have attempted several times in the past to put together an intentional release of items for the holidays. However, I was always working other jobs, and became too busy to pull it off. This year I knew I need to make it happen, and even then... I still almost made myself too busy to pull it off! Except... I did it!
The holiday newsletter was sent out, and gave exclusive access to the limited release of items. If you were one of those people that received it... Thank you for choosing to sign up, and for following along my journey! It has been quite a year of new ways that TreeBed Design is showing up in the world, and it hasn't always been easy (the last few days of getting this all put together were certainly a challenge). However, getting the holiday release out into the world reminds me that I am making progress. If you didn't receive the newsletter with exclusive access... I invite you to sign up (next one comes out in Dec, and only happens a few times through out the year)!
I hope you enjoy the new items, and keep an eye out for a few more to be added as the next month unfolds. I hope your holidays are beautiful in big and small ways!
Fall has arrived, and so has the 2nd edition of the TreeBed Design Newsletter! I am excited to share a bit about the summer… where I am at now… as well as a look ahead!
I was reading an article this morning that captured what I felt over much of this summer… “Why You Feel So Tired All the Time?” The core idea in the article, that many of us have replaced “excitement” with “anxiety,” resonated in a big way. The summer is usually filled with vacations, gatherings with friends/family, and fun things to look forward to! However, this was another summer where all of those things still needed to be measured for risk, and uncertainty. It is exhausting!
I felt this low level exhaustion trying to navigate increased orders (hooray!), supply chain issues (“it's going to be HOW LONG till I get that glaze?”), and the ever shifting landscape of our current world.
It has been an intense learning curve to be once again working for myself, and understanding HOW to do that in an authentic, healthy, sustainable way. Usually the lesson starts with the words, “SLOW DOWN… good, now SLOW DOWN a bit more”. I know this is not the intuitive answer for our ever faster world (especially when it comes to work/business). However, I have to keep reminding myself I am not trying to create what IS. I am trying to create what I WANT. Which means asking myself, “what do I want?” So when I don’t see a million Instagram follows or likes… I remember I actually desire an authentic community that is invested in what I am doing (Small is Beautiful). When my work flow feels messy and awkward… I remind myself that my creative outlets are crafts that I am learning on a life long path (I am growing). I keep asking… where do my desires draw me, and where is the joy and delight that can be found in what I am doing at the moment (even when I am cleaning buckets)?
Another helpful tool in finding a new rhythm this summer has been the telling of the #TBDstory (through my IG/Facebook/Twitter). It has been insightful to look back at what I have done in the past, and gain better clarity to where I am now. The past few weeks especially have been about letting go of the (sometimes harsh) stories I had been holding about myself, and embracing the beauty of what I did accomplish/learn/etc. During these challenging times, it has been helpful to look back at how my 20 year old self handled some really tough times, and appreciate all the tools and support that I now have to navigate in even better ways. I hope my 60 year old self gets to look back at this newsletter and do the same!
Whew! It was a whirlwind of a summer for TreeBed Design, and as places opened up… they wanted ceramics! There was lots of production happening over the past few months, as well as some design/R&D/collaboration. It is a lot to juggle for one person! Beyond the actual making of plates, bowls, growlers, vases, mugs, tumblers, etc… I was working on my infrastructure. Summer saw the return of the Vallejo Art Walk (every 2nd Friday), and I even did my first pop up event! This meant that my Vallejo live/work space needed to be ready for people to visit (which was my original idea for the space). I’ve been having fun organizing and sprucing things up to invite people in for the Artwalk, and dream into what comes next for the space (keep reading for news about Studio Visits)!
TreeBed Design has always been about creating bridges between worlds, and one of those bridges is between old and new technologies. I invested in a 3D printer this summer so that I could learn about this new avenue of creation… as well as add adaptability and independence to some of my current work flow. I am still in the learning stages of this new tool, but soon I hope to add a whole new level of creative capabilities to what TBD offers (custom branding, making my own stamps/tools/etc, and more)!
I also tackled a new version of an old skill (drawing/painting) this summer… a giant mural! The folks at Mare Island Brewing Co. asked if I could help with their new event space, by adding the original building plans of a 1934 whaleboat to a 20’ stretch of wall! Murals have long been something I was curious about doing more of, and here was my chance to dive in. I had some nervous days planning, and working through how to execute such a job (I really had no idea how it would work until I started in). However, I got in a groove once I made the first mark on the wall, and ended up being quite happy with the results! Check out this video of the process, and if you have a mural idea for your space… get in touch!
At some point this summer I realized that most everything I have made up to this point has really been R&D. I suppose this is always true to some degree, but in the early stages of learning a new craft (of which production ceramics still feels like) everything made adds new understanding. Now that I am working on TreeBed Design full time, and building the business side of being an artist… it is time to refine and settle into a bit more structure (not always my favorite ;)
In the coming months I will begin to roll out a more streamlined version of products on the website and introduce new custom pieces. It is my hope to have a mix of affordable ceramics that are easily replicated, and on hand… as well as fold in other unique offerings that are made to order in a wider spectrum. This will allow some customization of color, or surface treatments. The long term goal is to have a “community” of offerings that all feel connected, but also allow for creative collaboration!
There will be an extra newsletter edition coming in between the Fall and Winter, to highlight holiday gift giving possibilities. So look for that in Oct/Nov.
In the meantime… I am opening up my Vallejo space to Studio Visits, and I would like you to help me test the systems for that! I just set up the capability on my website to make the appointments, but it is not fully on display yet. However, this link will get you there, and you can help me with the soft opening of my studio/showroom! My goal is to create a comfortable space to visit, check out what I am working on (and how I do it), browse what is in stock (my work is meant for you to pick up with your hands), maybe have a coffee/tea to sip on, and get access to special pieces that don’t make it on the website! Come visit me soon, and keep an eye out for special offerings.
As I mentioned above, much of my work up to this point has felt like R&D. I have learned so much in the last few years about the pieces that I have been making, and so grateful that I have been able to test those pieces out in some of the best restaurants, wineries and breweries in the world (how lucky am I)! It is time to clear out what I have on hand to make room for what is coming down the line, and I want you to help! Use the discount code: (sign up for the newsletter for this part ;) on the website to receive 30% off ANYTHING in stock on the website!!! This code will work until October 22. If you know someone who might like my work… please share this newsletter and access to the code (help me grow the small and beautiful community I hope for :)
Thank you again for being on this journey with me. There are so many amazing things happening, and more to share as they unfold: new collaborations, new products, new recordings, hopefully a new studio space (does anyone have a lead on a vallejo/napa warehouse space?), and most importantly… new ways of caring for myself, and my community as TreeBed Design moves forward! Hope to see you soon, and please take care.
Mare Island Brewing Co. is deeply rooted in the story of TreeBed Design, and I am happy to call them friends... as well as instigators of new creative challenges!
In 2015 I was almost ready to let go of my ceramic studio equipment, because my energy was going towards coffee (and some music things). Ryan (co-founder at MIBC) saw some of the tumblers that I made and asked if I could make ceramic growlers. I said, "I have never thought about such a thing... I'll try!"
It took me quite some time to figure it all out, but I did... and the growlers were a hit! This also opened the door to me learning about making production ceramics, and chefs asking for different items for restaurants/wineries/etc!
Fast forward a few years and Kent (other MIBC founder) asked if I could help with their new Whale Boat Room event space by transferring the original building plans for a whale boat built on Mare Island in 1934... up onto the BIG wall of the new space! The actual boat has been donated to them and will be disassembled to be used in the buildout of the room!
I had never tackled such a large mural project and was not sure exactly how to go about it... However, once again MIBC was willing to trust and support my artistic abilities to make it happen! So grateful for folks who are not only preserving stories, but also supporting artists to create new ones.
The week I moved back to Vallejo (March 2020) happened to be the second Friday of the month, and so there was an Art Walk! I was so excited to wander downtown Vallejo and see the changes that had been going on in the years I had been gone. I had set up numerous times for previous art walks in Vallejo over the years (including the first versions long ago), and was looking forward to being downtown to participate from my own studio! Then a few days later the whole world change, and everything shut down for COVID!
Tonight the art walk returns for the first time since that shut down, and I am so excited to open my doors to people! So if you are close enough to Vallejo to come say hello... Please do!
Downtown will be buzzing from 5-9pm, and you can put it on your calendar for every 2nd Friday of the month!
Summer 2021 Welcome to Summer and my first ever newsletter! This has been something I have thought about doing for MANY years, and it is finally happening! What took so long?!? To answer that question I have to go back to the beginning of TreeBed Design, and how it started after the loss of my father. My dad was HIV positive for over 20 years (pretty rare in those early days of the AIDS crisis), and he finally lost that battle on Father’s Day 2004. My brother and I inherited his house in Vallejo, and I was able to set up a small studio space to make ceramics again.
My dad wrote a note to me when I left for college that said, “I don’t care what you do… as long as you treat those around you honestly & fairly. Besides that do whatever is meaningful to you.” I did my best to apply this to what I thought HE might want me to do after his death, and so I rushed into trying to start a business that could sustain my creative passions. I had a lot to learn about grief. I also had a lot to learn about how to apply those words of wisdom that he offered me… for ME.
I was very young when my dad came out to our family as gay, and then a few years later I learned about his HIV (after the loss of his first partner). These traumas shaped my understanding of the world (only beginning to understand the full extent of this in the last few years), and it informed how I started TBD after his loss. I had plenty of passion, ideas, creativity… However, I didn’t understand what I needed to grieve/heal in order to build a proper foundation for starting TBD. So I made mistakes. I stumbled, and got off course. In fact, I was never really clear where I was headed in the first place. I was operating out of a lot of fear (buried deep), and not fully living into all that was possible.
So as I reflect and move through this potent month of remembering (Father’s Day, Solstice, Pride Month)… It felt important to take a big step towards re-launching TreeBed Design (with love). I am making the newsletter happen now, because I have finally laid the foundation to make it happen (along with asking for support). I have used those stumbles and detours to discover/know my grief. To feel it more fully. To heal (which is a continuous process). To more fully understand the privilege I have in this journey, and be grateful for all the support I have been given. I still can’t say exactly where TreeBed Design is going (it is “TBD” after all), but I look forward to using this newsletter to tell you about where I am finding myself at the moment. My hope is that there is value in the process of sharing my work (for us both), and the stories that the work is rooted in. Sure it is partially about making and selling products/services that I design… However, underneath that it is about creating community in the shared experiences of being human.
Thank you for being the first people to witness and support this next chapter of TBD! Some of you have been watching this evolve (start/stop/pause/etc) since the very beginning… I’m so grateful for the continued interest and investment in my unfolding!
Process: I don’t need to tell you that it has been a wild year! With no in-person dining there was not much need for my restaurant/winery customers to have ceramic dishes. However, once things started opening up… I am happy to say I got VERY busy. You can interact with my work at: Mare Island Brewing Co. (Vallejo), Compline (Napa), Katz Farm (Napa), Donum Estate (Sonoma), Stone Edge Farm (Sonoma), and more added soon which I’ll post on my FAQ page! There has been a lot to learn navigating my new Vallejo work space, supply chain issues, and shifting a side hustle into sustainable full time work. The goal is to balance all of those logistic/production things with finding the energy to re-spark creativity. I discovering how do I want to be in relationship with my work (especially the work I do in my living space), and nourish/care for all the parts of my being?
Product: I have been making a lot of vases lately, and having so much fun doing so! It often feels like getting back to my ceramic sculptural roots… adding details, seeing where the clay takes me, and thinking about how the vase will be viewed/used. I love the idea that people will add their own creativity to the vase: flowers, kitchen utensils, and whatever else might fit! Summer is such a great time to forage in the garden for different colors/textures/etc to add to a vase. Each time you fill it up, a new work of art is created! Check out these new vases with the little “rivet” detail!
TreeBed Design is adding a seasonal newsletter to the mix, and you can sign up right now! My hope is to send out information about what is happening with TBD, and form a deeper connection to... my story, process, and the products being created.
There will also be access to discounts, special releases, and you'll be the first to know about events/classes/etc!
Nobody needs more email clutter, and I don't want to be another brand constantly shouting into the void of your digital world. It is my intention to add value to your connections with TreeBed Design, and better share the story of what is unfolding in my creative process... I want you to be a part of my community as I bring my creativity into the light!
Photo Story: Once upon a time (2007) I helped start a coffee house in the town of Spencer, IA... there was a presidential election going on, and that meant lots of action in Iowa small towns. We held a mock caucus to teach people how to participate in that process, and vote for the drink of their choice (I think the latte won ;)
Shaky Tree Coffee was a magical little oasis of 3rd wave coffee (more about my connection to that for another story time), music/art, and community! The news article in the photo was about our mock caucus, and we hosted events for different candidates (including one with Joe Biden's late son Beau in the middle of a blizzard). I took this photo as a part of a Flickr challenge to take a self portrait each day for a year (before IG or the term selfie existed)... this was a pretty good one.
Things have been a little quiet on the site for the last few weeks of winter, but there has been a lot of movement underneath that silence. The light is getting brighter with each spark of new energy and SPRING!
I was nudged to write a poem last week, and it proved to be a sweet little spark of a song... that has come to be a bit of a meditation for me on the last few years. It feels like I am beginning to come out of a darkness that has needed a LOT of little sparks to return to the light, and I'm grateful for all of those who have been "sparks" along the way!
There are lots of things churning behind the scenes right now... I hope you stay tuned (subscribe/follow/etc) as things begin to fly!