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Bridge & Burn

Meet the Maker: Katie Davis of Ponderosa & Thyme

We loved spending the day with Katie Davis, the floral mastermind behind Ponderosa & Thyme. She's shared her thoughts with us on where she draws her inspiration from, how she stays cozy during a gloomy Pacific Northwest winter, and what makes her homebase of Salem, OR magical.

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Katie is wearing the Ash in Copper Twill + the Davis in Black.

As a creative, what drew you to floral design specifically as your chosen medium and what do you love about it? 

My family moved in with my Great Grandmother to care for her during the later part of her life. Every year she would plant a garden with sweet peas, green beans and strawberries, and right alongside the food she would plant flowers. Sunflowers by the green beans, and pansies near the strawberries. She taught me to balance the practical with beauty. She had survived the Great Depression and she understood that beauty brings hope. We need hope to live. 

I was always drawn to flowers. The clover and dandelion spoke to me as a child; each branch and bloom had a personality to me. That feeling has been carried on into my art, flowers are whimsy and wonder, and they also show us the fragility and brevity of life. I love the way flowers challenge and inspire me. They build a bridge between people, a way to have a conversation, and for me, that’s even better than the art itself. 

Especially in winter when there is less vibrancy in plant life, how do you stay inspired and get creative? 

I love the change of the seasons and the different challenges they bring. Currently, I’ve really been enjoying my winter floristry a lot.  Winter allows us to see the structure of things, bare branches and open skies. Lots of contrast. This time of year I find myself enjoying more minimal and muted designs. I love the permission to get cozy. I love to make myself a cup of tea, get cozy and make something that inspires my imagination. 

 Where do you draw your biggest sources of inspiration?

 Inspiration often comes to me when I’m immersed in nature, and always when I have time to be still. I love architecture, especially in Italy and England. I draw a lot of color inspiration from ancient and heirloom textiles, as well as tile mosaic and stained glass and mud plastered walls.

Keeping up shop in Salem, OR you struggle like all of us Pacific Northwesterners with the dark, cold and rain. How do you stay cozy through winter?

Gosh, yep! It can be hard to live in a place that’s as cold and damp as Oregon. I used to REALLY struggle in the winter season. A couple of years ago I led a retreat in Scotland during the Autumn and while I was there, I noticed that all the locals wore lots of natural fiber layers. Soft linen undershirts, and cozy wool sweaters, and usually a big scarf or shawl and hat too. SO cozy. 

My friend Duncan made a fire every single morning and night of the retreat, and we drank warm tea all throughout the day. I never remember feeling cold, even though the temperature and climate was exactly the same as home.  As an native Oregonian, I grew up resisting using an umbrella or raincoat- thinking I’d just tough it out like most of the other Oregonians I knew. In Scotland that wasn’t a thing! 

Starting immediately, I decided I’d make a fire every day, and wear layers of the yummiest clothes I could find, and last winter was the best winter season I can ever remember! I think when you're cozy on the inside, everything around looks and feels just a little bit more golden.

Katie is wearing the Easton in Navy Corduroy + Ada Burgundy Plaid.

What do you love about your community in Salem? What would a weekend out around town look like for you?

During really any day you can find us checking in with the team at my husband’s donut shop (Bigwig Donuts!), shopping at our local health food store (I’m an unapologetically crunchy mama), walking around the Bush park gardens or getting drinks at our friend’s bar if we get a night off. 

Lots of our friends have started businesses near downtown, and even in the same building as us! It’s been really fun to live and work near our friends, it kind of feels like we grew up together. We all started with little seed dreams, and now we’re supporting each other as our dreams grow bigger and bigger! 

Katie is wearing the Ursula Burgundy, Vale Light Natural, + Easton Dark Earth.

We know that education is a huge driver of your work. Tell us what led you down the path towards curating workshops and retreats for people from literally around the world?

I love people, and I love helping budding artists understand their own creative process. Over the last several years I’ve had the incredible opportunity to teach florists and creatives across the globe, and now I’m bringing it all home with workshops and online education hosted in my downtown Salem classroom. It’s really a dream come true.

What do you love most about your work?

I view my work as twofold. Art and teaching. My art gives me something to teach, so I love it for that. I love that I learn something new every day from the flowers I get to work with. Nature always gives me something to keep exploring. When it comes to teaching, I love helping people discover their passion as a creative, and I love exploring all the ways to translate an idea, with color, with flowers, with words and then eventually with teaching.

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Learn more about Ponderosa & Thyme on their website or follow Katie on Instagram.

Meet The Maker: Vince Skelly

Here at Bridge & Burn, we're inspired by those in our community who look at things from a different perspective. No one better fits that description than woodworker, Vince Skelly. Vince is inspired by the old and ancient and how he can transport those concepts into the present through carving all of his work from a single block of wood. Read more below on Vince's approach to his craft, what drew him to woodworking, and his love for his home-base of Portland, Ore.

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Vince is wearing the Russell in Black Wool layered on top of the Sutton in Toffee Corduroy, + the Bradley pant in Slate.

What drew you to the world of woodworking? How did you get your start and what do you love about the medium?

I was drawn to woodworking from an early age. Our house was filled with lots of handmade things like an antique Stickley rocking chair and small carved figurines that looked prehistoric. About 10 years ago I discovered the artist JB Blunk and became obsessed with his large abstract wood sculptures. I started experimenting with wood simply because I was curious about the subtractive sculpting process. I learned to love carving wood with a chainsaw because you can remove lots of material very fast.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Handcrafted modern - carved from a single block of wood. I draw on relationships between ancient building forms and their similarity to contemporary architecture and furniture. I like to think they fit in with The Flintstones because of the show’s midcentury-modern/caveman vibe.

What is the process for creating your work? How does a concept start, where do you draw inspiration, and on average, how long does it take to create a piece of work?

I usually start with a loose sketch or idea in my head. I’ll rough out a form with the chainsaw, refine it with hand tools like a Microplane, then allow it to dry out as much as possible before sanding and oiling it. I’m inspired by primitive objects and megalithic structures. I like how ancient stools and prehistoric tools look perfectly placed in the modern world. It might take 8-10 hours to finish a simple piece, but that could be spread over 2 months.

Vince is getting things done in the Wallace Utility pant in Ochre, Sutton in Navy Gingham + Emmett in Indigo Herringbone.

What do you like about being a maker in Portland? 

I like that there are lots of resources available for makers. It feels like everyone is always willing to share knowledge and collaborate. We also have some great craft and tool shops.

What’s something people wouldn’t assume about your craft?

That my sculptures are carved from solid blocks of wood. I don’t use joinery to assemble them together. Often when people see one of my sculptures that has legs, they assume it’s assembled. I’ll flip pieces upside down to show people that they’re actually one block of wood. 

Walk us through your perfect Sunday. (Where/what do you eat? Where do you hang out? etc.)

Head straight to Spielman Bagels on SE Division. Buy some tapes at Mississippi Records. Run into friends. Go to Goodwill. Skate. Make dinner and sit by the fireplace.

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Follow Vince Skelly to learn more about his work or visit his website here.

 

Bridge Burners Vol. 18- Sarah Wolf of Wolf Ceramics

Creating Bridge & Burn required a leap of faith. Founder Erik Prowell quit his job as a software developer, lit the proverbial match, and threw it—burning the bridge of working for anyone else behind him. With no formal training, he trusted his smarts and his strong work ethic, and took the plunge. In that spirit, Bridge Burners is a series showcasing people who are taking a similar leap. This month, we chatted with Sarah Wolf of Wolf Ceramics

What was your first foray into the world of ceramics? Did you always know this was a career you wanted to pursue?

I definitely didn’t know that I would find my way to a career in ceramics! I always loved making art and had the good fortune of having a mother who was a professional painter and parents who encouraged both creative practices as well as math and science, which I also enjoyed. I was attracted to making objects that are useful and functional, from sewing my clothes, to making beach forts and knitting hats.

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