Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In depth, Artist Dean Robertson

Tennessee Cedar Earring by Dean Robertson
Dean Robertson, a Washington based member of Fine Wood Artists kindly offered to talk a bit about himself and his work creating and selling his his wood jewelry.

My name is Dean Robertson. The name of my business is Forestlife Creations.  I am a woodworker and  bone/ivory carver, amongst many more skills that I have. 

I have been making things since I was about ten. I like to keep my hands busy. My skills didn’t really develop till I moved into the Alaska wilderness to learn to live like the old Native Americans, or maybe it was Grizzly Adams. Either way I spend eight years learning to make most things the Northern Natives used to make. My specialty was bone, antler and ivory tools and hunting weapons.

Eventually I moved south again. Not finding satisfaction working as a carpenter I signed up for Wood Boat Building School, The Wood Construction Center of Seattle, Marine Carpentry division. During the two year program I learned to make use of the amazingly exotic wood scraps in the recycle bins. I was making toys for kids, gifts for people, and wood pendants for my wife. 
Custom Hair Rods by Dean Robertson
 The pendants seem to have been a hit since her friends and relatives starting asking for them. My wife was a beaded jewelry vendor at farmers markets at the time, so I decided to show my wood pieces too. They turned out to be quite popular, so any time the teachers weren’t looking I began making jewelry during class.

It was not long before I discovered earrings are where it is at, so I went into production. I scored some used tools through a tool swap and set up shop in my garage used the wood from the schools refuse.

The rest is history. I’ve been making wood jewelry now for over two years with over six thousand pairs of earrings sold. I sell at markets and fairs. I’m represented in about 30 stores in 7 states and I sell on Etsy.
California Buckeye and Epoxy Earrings by Dean Robertson
 I think I have really found a way to express myself artistically and make a living, following my passions. Since I began I have tried many different products and often introduce new ones, going with the ones that sell best. I have found many creative ways now to come by reclaimed wood, or buy bulk quantities of end cuts from other wood workers. I feel this is a sustainable way to run a business and to bring the beauty of nature to the public the way I see it…

In the future I would like to expand my business to 100% wholesale and let go of the markets, but for the time being they are a really great way to get yourself out there and network.

I’ve always believed in following my dreams and see no reason why one could not. There is always a way.


More about Dean can be found in his Gallery

To purchase his work, visit his Etsy shop

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