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 paintcutpaste.com 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!