The Potter & Woodsmith – Nature Inspires Handmade Art

A small budget and an empty new home fostered the birth of “The Potter & Woodsmith” – a duo of artists who, while filling their own home with handmade art, decided to turn their passion into a full time business. Sara and Steve Kozak (the couple behind the business) renovated their tiny garage into a ceramic studio to begin creating their on-of-a-kind pieces.

Potter and Woodsmith MugsUsing reclaimed wood and ceramics, their art takes on a personality all its own. Many of their pieces begin with a stoneware clay body. Then elements of different wood types are added in to create the handles of a coffee mug or roof of a birdhouse, to name a few.

The inspiration for their craft and tools of their trade can often be found right in their own backyard. Much of the wood used in their pieces comes from nearby tree trimmers or local businesses that throw pallet wood away. And while nature helps supply their craft, it also is one of their greatest muses, Sara says.

 “Nature reminds us that perfection can be found in imperfection. We love looking at our work and being able to tell by an asymmetrical edge or slight variation between two like pieces that they were made by the human hand.”

Potter and Woodsmith Birdhouse

In addition to their passion for ceramics and woodworking, the Kozaks love seeing how their work grows throughout the years. They welcome feedback from customers, as they recognize that each piece is a part “lifelong artistic journey” and that they will always have more to learn.

The Potter & Woodsmith will be displaying their pieces at the Canandaigua Art & Music Festival, July 18-20. Their work can also be found on Etsy at their personal address: www.etsy.com/shop/potterandwoodsmith.

Ms. Sticks, Life Story on a Stick

Every person has a story, but how often is it really shared visually? 

Debi prepares the wood for a story

Debi prepares the wood for a story

 In 1996, Debi Hitter, known as Ms. Sticks, hit upon a novel way to display an individual’s  life stories when she was hiking in the woods of North Carolina  collecting branches.  A friend showed her how to do woodburning, and that opened a door into a new art form for Debi.

Each stick is custom designed

Each stick is one-of-a-kind

She began crafting “Life History Sticks,” walking sticks decorated with the stories of people’s lives…the names of offspring, place  born, hobbies and favorite sports teams…pictures of the sentimental details of that person’s life.  Her sticks are often given as gifts for hallmark occasions such as 50th birthdays or retirment parties.  But not always.

She created one Life Stick for a man who had 12 children.  Many of his life’s momentous occasions took place in a car… closing a bridge when his RV broke down in the middle…losing the family’s luggage off the top… getting stuck in a blizzard and having to leave Mom and the kids in the car to go for help.  Imagine all this captured on a walking stick!

Eagle Scout Sticks commemorate a landmark

Eagle Scout Sticks commemorate a landmark

One of Debi’s popular items is her Eagle Scout Sticks on which she engraves all the badges a young man has earned, along with other reminders of his youth.  Her sticks are also used by cancer survivors to inspire healing, stories which Debi shares on her website.

Each of the Life History Sticks is personally customized and typically take 2 to 3 weeks to complete, but she has a large assortment of one-of-a-kind pieces at her shows as well.

Debi invites everyone to come down to the Canandaigua Art & Music Festival to be a part of the artists’ and musicians’ lives and worlds and to  have a great time!

Log Lamps, Award-winning Woodworking

What began as a way to cut costs in a middle school woodworking shop class turned into a profitable hobby for Michael Tari, entrepreneur and artisan behind Log Lamps, a woodworking company that will appear in the Canandaigua Art & Music Festival.

Hickory Lamp

Hickory Lamp

“I taught in Sodus and we were short on funding during the 70’s, so I had the kids bring in fire wood which I taught them how to turn on the lathe to create wooden lamp bases.  One seventh grader’s parents were getting divorced and his father took the lamp.  Then the Grandmother took it from the father.  Next thing you know, they’re in court over the lamp.  I thought, ‘If they’re going to court over one of these lamps, there must be a business in this!’ ” laughed Michael.

Today, in addition to the log lamps which all have 3-way outlets, he also creates beautiful waterproof bowls that need no care for life.  He fashions these items out of standard woods as well as exotics such as plum, cherry, apricot, red oak and birds eye red oak.

Bocoti, bloodwood & walnut salad bowl

Bocoti, bloodwood & walnut salad bowl

Michael sells his products primarily at festivals throughout New York State and can proudly claim having won “Best in Category” at the Naples Grape Festival in 2008.

The Canandaigua Art & Music Festival looks forward to welcoming Michael Tari and Log Lamps to the show.