interview & giveaway: earnest efforts woodworking

you may remember my gushing about an artist couple N and i met at a local art festival – they’re rick and heather from earnest efforts natural woodworking, and they make the most amaaaazing art out of trees: beautiful boxes and magical spirit shakers that will make you swooooon!

N checking out the earnest efforts booth at the kings mountain arts fair last month

i’ve scored an interview with the artists and they’re giving away a spirit shaker and a rattle to my readers (one winner for each) so read on to learn more about the art of wood and enter for a chance to win a lovely handmade piece!

my interview with heather of earnest efforts

jen: can you tell us a bit about how and when you came to find the gift of your woodworking craft?

Heather: Earnie Efforts (aka Rick) has been selling his woodworking wares at the Eugene, Oregon Saturday Market (the longest-running outdoor, handcrafted marketplace in the US) since the 1980′s. I, Ellie Efforts (aka Heather), joined the Market in 1994 with my fiber arts. In 1998 we got to know one another, fell in love, and married in 1999. Earnie was an apprentice cabinet maker to his grandfather and continued working in wood to supplement his family’s income. I tell people that I not only married him out of love, but the fact that he had a woodshop – I had wanted to work in wood since I was little.

"Earnie & I in our booth at the Saturday Market"

jen: i notice that each of your pieces clearly has resonance with the spirit of the wood from which it was created. how do your natural materials inform your work?

Heather: If you could crawl inside Earnie’s head and see the world through his eyes, you would know that he doesn’t see driftwood on the beach… he sees boxes. Each piece of wood has it’s own personality, story and destiny. We don’t just see wood or trees; we see life on many levels. I think we forget that wood is still living long after it has fallen to the earth and will continue to live on long after that box we made is discarded and goes back to the earth. This is also why it is so important to us that we maintain the integrity of the wood with a natural beeswax finish. We want you to be able to feel the warmth of the wood, not a plastic coating so often used in “preserving” wood and we want the wood to return to the earth clean.

"Earnie cutting up driftwood on the Coquille River - note the top left piece of wood has been chewed by a beaver"

"River Alder Box - chewed by a beaver"

jen: my daugher and i just love making music with the spirit shakers and rattles we’ve purchased from you! can you tell us a bit about how they are created (like, what’s inside?) and why you call them spirit shakers?

Heather: The spirit shakers are very special to us on many levels. Earnie & I scavengers and hoarders (in a good way) – we don’t waste anything. When he cuts the boxes, the heart of a box becomes another box, a rattle, or a spirit shaker – until all that remains is kindling for our house wood stove. I’m going to leave the spirit making a little bit of a mystery for you, but inside are copper BBs. We call them spirit shakers because we have witnessed that the essence of the living tree continues to live in on in the wood and within us as we touch, make music, and meditate with the wood.

(these are our earnest efforts rattles & spirit shaker - isn't that purple one AMAZING?! no dyes or paints - that's the natural color of the wood!)

jen: how can parents and teachers help inspire children to begin working with wood as an art material?

Heather: Taking children to meet artists at art festivals is a wonderful way to introduce children to art in all of it’s forms. When children can touch, smell, feel and see artwork with an artist they can ask questions and process in a way unavailable in books or online. We meet children at every festival who are interested in woodworking and we encourage their parents to seek out woodworking classes at community colleges or art centers since so many schools are closing their woodshops.

"Earnie cutting a box on our 1953 Boice Crane bandsaw"

jen: is there anything else you’d like to add?

Heather: Take care, be good & kind, and don’t forget to laugh. :)


Oregon-Myrtlewood Spirit Shaker & Maple Baby Rattle/Teether

earnest efforts is so kind to offer one spirit shaker (left in photo above) and one rattle (right in photo above to two readers who enter the drawing. the rattles are beeswax coated and completely safe for babies to chew on. heather says, “these are representational photos – they are not the actual rattle & spirit shakers we are giving away, as we will chose beauties with lovely sound for the winners.” oooooh, and they’re all so lovely!

i will use a random number generator to choose TWO winners (one for each) this thursday evening, october 20, at 9PM pacific/12midnight eastern.

how to enter: comment on this blog entry and let us know your favorite type of tree AND the age(s) of your child(ren) — incase you are a winner, the child’s age is how i will know whether you should receive the baby-safe rattle or the spirit shaker. please be sure your correct email address is associated with your entry so that i can contact you if you’re a winner. (comment link is up there on the left, under the date of this post. i’ve gotta move this at some point…)

two winners were chosen! thanks to all who entered!

please do yourself a favor and check out earnest efforts’ awesome etsy shop to view and purchase more of their wares. (think: holiday shopping!) and be sure to “like” earnest efforts on facebook.

good luck, woodchucks!


printer friendly printer friendly
  • Jessica Jernigan

    My favorite type of tree is oak, and my daughter is 5!

  • Vanessa

    Thanks for the offer. I don’t know much about trees..
    I would say oak. And my daughter’s 3.

  • annette standrod

    weeping willow. I have a 4 and 5 yr. Old. I also have one due in january. Would love to have either giveaway.

  • mara dovis

    Great interview Jen! I’ve always loved willows… 2 boys, almost 2 & 4 ;)

  • Earnest Efforts

    This has to be our BEST blog interview ever. We love you Jen & N and we love your blog. It is definitely the most fun to visit and makes me want to come spend a day with you playing.

  • Shelley

    I love the magnolia tree! So beautiful in bloom! My Daughter is 3 and my son is 9 months!

  • Rachel Hirning

    Wow. What a beautiful interview and completely inspirational. I was just thinking about beeswax…trying to remember how to use it to collage beads onto surfaces. Love the wood and these artists!

    The tree I’m most drawn to as of late are the soaring aspens – that grow in all kinds of twisted and contorted ways. The leaves are falling off of them now. In the fall, they look like gold medallions dropping from the sky. I have a little boy, age 11 months.

  • Brennan Williams

    My favorite kind of tree is Weeping Willow because they are soooo pretty and I love to watch their branches and leaves swaying in the wind…. My daughter is 3 :) BTW, I have the pleasure of knowing Rick and Heather personally and their love for their work is amazing. They are truly some of THE best people I have ever known!!!

  • Heidi

    I love trees in general, but my heart belongs to the California Redwoods! My boys are 13 months, 4 & 5 :)

  • Renee Brown

    My favorite type of tree is Oak — I love the fun things we do with the acorns we collect. My children are 4 1/2 and 6 months.

  • Kaylee

    My favorite trees are crepe myrtles…love the colorful flowers. My kids are 3 and 1.

  • Maria

    My favorite tree? Depends, if it’s just for the “looks” of it, I love the weeping willow. Love the way it swoops down. If you ask me what kind of tree that bears fruit that I love to eat? That would be a mango tree! I grew up and in a tropical country and I’ve been missing it since I migrated to the US about 17 yrs ago. I only wish that a lot of people could actually see a mango tree, it is a beautiful tree with pretty interesting looking flowers that has a citrus-y scent. I have a 3 and a 5 yr old that I think would love one of those shakers. That purple shaker by the way looks very pretty! Wonder if that was made of purple heart wood?

  • domestic diva

    My favorite tree is a sequoia.

    I have a 3yo and a newborn.

  • Sally

    I know everyone things of them as trash trees because they can be so invasive, but one of my favorite trees is the Russian Olive tree. Its pollen smells like summer and takes me back to my childhood. I have two boys, 3 and 1. Love your blog!

  • Pauline

    Maria, you think the way I do (well, if you mean the looks of the tree…or if you mean the shape of the tree…or if you mean the flower/fruit of the tree…) :)

    I have to say that Sequoias are pretty awesome, but truthfully I’ve never seen one in person. I think the Elm tree is pretty awesome. :) Wild Cherry Trees have a special place in my heart because I know Tiger Swallowtails like them.

    My son is 5 and could shake the shaker for sure, but I also have a few new babies in my life whose parents would appreciate FULLY a rattle like this.

  • Sheri Weistaner

    My favorite tree is the Aspen – I miss it terribly since I have left Colorado. I love the beauty in the Fall and the way you can hear the wind move through the trees. My son is 18 but I am a therapist for children and adolescents – ages 4-18 and I would love to have one in my therapy room! Thank you for the giveaway.

  • Laurie

    Favorite tree: weeping beech, kids age 2 and 4.


  • molly

    Favorite tree is the sugar maple, beautiful in the fall and makes my favorite breakfast (or anytime) topping! Kids are 5, 4 and 1. (PS. I just met a good friend of yours and she was saying, oh a friend of mine has a blog you might like and I told her I already love your blog! Small world.)

  • Terra Tominelli

    My favorite tree is a Aspen Tree! It reminds me of my childhood and sitting in the cool weather staring and day dreaming watching the Aspen Trees move. They are so beautiful in the fall. Terra

  • Carol

    I bought 3 of these boxes in northern WI for my kids – each box of drawers had a secret drawer – way cool

  • Heather N

    I love almost all trees. Sigh. It is true. I love the rustling of the leaves on summer nights and the beautiful colors in the fall (I live in the Midwest). If I had to choose, I would say maple trees because of the fall colors. I had a redbud in my yard, though, that was dubbed “my” tree because I was so found of it. I also had a spruce that we named “Bruce”. Haha. I have a daughter who is 5 years old. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Morgan

    Red dogwood is my favorite tree as well as jap. Maples. I have 18 month old twins and one who is a week away from arriving! :)

  • Kelly DeSousa

    Great interview and beautiful work! My favorite trees are orange trees, my baby boy is due in February and I teach children ages 4 to teen.

  • Cindy

    Favorite tree is the apple – my kids are all grown up but I would use the spirit shaker at school.

  • Chris

    My favorite tree is the Tulip tree. I have a 3 1/2 year old and an almost 10 month old.