Inspiration in the Studio

Artisan Spotlight :: Nate Ricketts

This month’s artisan spotlight features Nate Ricketts of Nate Ricketts Design. The way Nate uses natural materials in his designs and his beautification of earthly treasures is inspiring. He is also an inspiration in his dedication to his community and beyond as he has worked to give back in the midst of the pandemic. We can’t wait for you to learn more about Nate Ricketts and his work!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an artisan who, for the past 20 years, has created high-quality art pieces from nature’s most interesting materials.  I have always been enamored with Victorian-era Seashell Applique Mirrors and collectibles from Europe.  I started making my own seashell mirrors while in school and selling them easily in my hometown of Newport Beach, CA.  I was always so impressed with the craftsmanship of the era, and how the pieces still hold their charm and appeal after hundreds of years.  From those first mirrors to my current work, I make it a priority to create pieces that will stand the test of time and be appreciated for centuries to come.

Who are your biggest influences?

I would have to say the countless seashell applique artists that came before me are definitely a major influence, but the single biggest influencer of my work was the amazingly talented designer, Dan Marty.  I worked for Dan for many years, and he was influential in honing my artistic eye to a finer design aesthetic.  He tragically died in 2014 of an aggressive brain tumor just as he was reaching status as a superstar designer in Hollywood.  I am also a huge fan of the work of Christopher Marley of Pheromone, and the marvelous Objet de Curiosite who both use nature’s wonders so cleverly in their designs.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue your artistic dream?

Nearly every year  of my early 20’s, I embarked on a new and different career path.  Still, I always kept my artistic drive to create beautiful objects and spaces. It was always a “hobby” I maintained on the side simply for the love of it. Until the day I asked a good friend, what was the secret to his success? That friend told me to pick one thing and stick with it.  Thank God my 26 year old self was wise enough to choose the career path I loved the most: my art.  Thank you, Steve Riggs, for your wise words.  They changed my life.

Describe your creative process.

Every day I am so inspired by the natural and wondrous creations found on our planet. I can easily lose myself in the intricate and unique patterns on a seashell or the complex structures found in crystals. It is within nature’s details that I begin my creative process. So much of my work is inspired by the mediums themselves: seashells, corals, crystals, and stones. My sea-life pieces unfold organically as if plucked from the ocean floor. I am always creating an underwater fantasy as each piece evolves into its own personality. Likewise, my crystal work reflects the more rigid and organized structure of the minerals themselves. I find myself accentuating the clean lines of Selenite Crystal, and emulating the almost floral arrangement of a Quartz Point Crystal cluster. My process begins with the material itself, and as I mold that element, the intention becomes to create an object that feels like its components formed over millions of years in a cave underground in order to finally become this beautiful piece of art that it was always meant to be.   

 

What is your favorite medium/material to work with and why?

Of all the materials I have used in my art, Selenite Crystal is definitely my favorite.  Selenite a gorgeous, clean, luminous white stone. This crystal has the ability to be rough and organic while simultaneously feeling clean and organized.  There is nothing else quite like it.  In my work, I continuously open up these huge crystal ‘logs’ to get to the gleaming, pristine center.  This newly exposed layer is what gives my pieces that impeccably clean look that cannot be found elsewhere .  I never use a saw to get into the crystal this way. I prefer to quite  literally crack them open, a process that is an art form unto itself.  I “listen” to each piece in order to discover how to rightly expose and unearth the beauty within. This is the key to extracting the most beautiful pieces of crystal to use in my artwork.  As a wondrous bonus, it is said that the specific crystalline structure of Selenite harmonizes with angelic energies.  My studio has since been filled with a wondrously gentle calming vibe.  It is truly a special stone and a pleasure to work with.

What current trend are you following?

Crystals are quite popular right now so I’m definitely enjoying the trend.  Since I’ve moved to Joshua Tree, I’ve transitioned into a modern, minimalist mood.  My current work has become very clean and structured.  I try to honor the materials in each piece, allowing them to speak for themselves; to create pieces that are as bold and awe-inspiring as the elements with which they are made.  I try to mold every piece into a strong, quiet structure that can make a bold statement even as the only thing in the room.

What is your proudest accomplishment as an artisan?

My proudest accomplishment as an artisan occurred earlier this year, when COVID-19 upended our lives. I started a Sample Sale, selling Nate Ricketts product samples and donating proceeds to Feeding America. With schools shut down and unemployment on the rise, I know a lot of people need food assistance and Feeding America is an excellent organization to deliver that relief. The response from my clients and community was amazing, and we have given a sizable donation I am proud of. I know giving to the community has made a large difference for Americans who feel hopeless this year and don’t know where their next meal will come from. Sometimes it helps so much just to know that someone cares about your situation.

Thank you Nate for showing us the beauty within the earth’s natural materials!

Artisan Spotlight :: Louise Gaskill

This week on our Artisan Spotlight we are pleased to introduce you to Louise Gaskill of Louise Gaskill Company! We admire Louise’s work and even have one of her chandelier’s hanging in our studio. Her one-of-a-kind lamps and pendants are true works of art. As we head to furniture market in High Point this weekend, a stop at Louise’s showroom will certainly be a source of inspiration.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue your artistic dream?

I spent many years in a software sales position with a weekend interest in refinishing furniture. The refinishing interest introduced me to gold gilding techniques which eventually morphed in light design and construction.  When the software company I worked for consolidated offices back to its Toronto headquarters, I took my hobby full time.

Who are your biggest influences?

I am always inspired by beautiful glass, particularly the vibrant shapes and colors from Mid century Italian designers like Seguso and Barovier.

Describe your creative process.

Glass selection is almost always the starting point for my designs which in turn dictates the style and scale of other components.

What is your favorite medium/material to work with and why?

Without doubt, gold and silver leaf.  I spent a lot of time “perfecting” the application and tone of my finishes.   I think it is one of the most important design elements in my pieces.

What is your proudest accomplishment as an artisan?

Traditional Home did a feature article on me several years ago. Even though it has been several years since the article, I continue to be absolutely thrilled.

Thank you Louise for sharing your beautiful talents with the world!

Artisan Spotlight :: Windy O'Connor

This week on our Artisan Spotlight we are featuring native-North Carolinian artist + designer, Windy O’Connor. Windy’s work is always fun and makes us smile! Her fabric and wall coverings are filled with color + pattern and infuse an artistic touch to any room. Not only does Windy design fabulous textiles, her original art is spectacular, too!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Eastern NC near Fort Bragg. I never realized how much growing up in such a diverse community had affected my life until I became an adult. I had friends from all over the globe and many military brats as well. I so appreciate the exposure to so many cultures as a young girl. It truly broadened my view of the world.

I have one sister who is very creative and also an artist. My mother is an artist as well. However, I grew up singing and performing in plays at the Fayetteville Little Theatre. I loved musical theatre and all of the lessons I learned about putting yourself out there and being willing to fail. I was the kid who signed up for everything! I wanted to do it all and I am so grateful to my parents for supporting all of my extra curricular activities!

Fast forward, I am a happy wife, proud mother of two very creative and independent young adults and I feel like the luckiest girl I know. I try my best to live one day at a time while cherishing each moment juggling a home, family, friends and a business.

Who are your biggest influences?

The world inspires me daily. My faith inspires and guides my work. I also love studying art and art history. There is so much to learn!

I have always been obsessed with the work of Cy Twombley, Picasso, Joan Mitchel, Basquiet and Willem De Kooning. Seeing and studying their works in person is a soul moving experience. I am also obsessed with Kim Simonsson’s Moss Children and everything about Damien Hirst.

We recently featured a Southern Studio designed chair for the Green Chair Project seen here upholstered in Windy’s Mossy Blues fabric.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue your artistic dream?

I realized that I wanted to paint for the rest of my life when I started taking painting classes and workshops. My brain was doing full on gymnastics! It is an amazing feeling and I love the fact that there is no end to learning and creating.

Describe your creative process.

It is difficult to describe my process because I don’t really think about it. It is more of an action than thought. I am an intuitive painter and I wake up with my brain full of ideas and never enough hours to create everything that I want make. So, part of my process is scheduling what I want to create along with commissions for clients. Then, I get to work.

This guest bath in our Southern Living Inspired Home featured the Metal Stars wall covering and is adjacent to the bedroom below with Metal Stars window treatments and a bolster to complete the neutral bed.

What’s your favorite medium/material to work with and why?

My favorite medium and material to work with currently is paper. It takes more time to sculpt paper into objects and create dimension but, I love the journey.

What current trend are you following?

I follow design trends but, not necessarily art trends. I love unusual art as a collector.  I tend to like things that I have never seen before or a new way of investigating a subject matter or idea. I love that traditional homes are becoming vogue again. I am also swooning over the quiet contemporary rooms that seem to be on trend.

What is your proudest accomplishment as an artisan?

I have had some amazing moments as an artist. Owning my own company has been an amazing accomplishment and one that I never dreamed accomplishing. One of the highlights of my career is certainly being chosen as the Mint Museum artist for the Visionary Women’s luncheon last year. I cried tears of joy when I received that call. The entire event was so stunning! I had the privilege of creating art for the invitations, the table coverings and art for the front of the Mint  Museum. That was one of the most special days of my life and certainly the highlight of my career so far. I feel so blessed each and every day to have opportunities like that one and to create for a living.

Thanks for infusing color and happiness into the world Windy!

Spotlight on Made in America

This Labor Day weekend we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of our favorite American-made manufacturers that we love to support! One of the most important elements we incorporate into our designs is quality craftsmanship ensuring our clients can enjoy their homes for many years to come.

LEE Industries creates high-quality home furnishings that are fully customizable to our designs in our home state of North Carolina.

We love using Dunes and Duchess lighting and furniture in brightly colored finishes as pops of color! These hand-turned, hand-finished pieces are always a fun addition to any home.

This Dunes And Duchess dining table and Kari Fisher  roman shades play well together in our Southern Living Inspired Home on Bald Head Island.

 

Lucy Smith‘s handcrafted metal furnishings are produced in Alabama, in collaboration with her family’s long time steel business.

Tracy Glover uses traditional Italian techniques to craft her artisan glass lighting. Each piece is handblown to order in her Rhode Island studio.

Hickory Chair is another go-to source of quality, American-made furniture for our client’s homes. These customizable pieces will become your family’s heirlooms for generations.

We hope you gather as much inspiration from these American-made manufacturers and designers as we do!

It’s just a sampling of the beautiful work happening right here in the good, ole USA!  Happy Labor Day!

Artisan Spotlight:: Susan Hecht

Our Artisan Spotlight today is on a dear friend of Southern Studio, Susan B. Hecht. By far, Susan is one of the most beautiful souls, both inside and out. Her work has appeared in many of our projects and it’s the art that adds that special layer of depth to our designs. Enjoy our Q+A and learn a bit more…

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue your artistic dream?

I was always creative as a child, drawing, dancing, etc…. whatever my muse was at the time. I didn’t actually start painting until my kids were little. Once I started though, I was hooked and never plan to stop.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I credit my perspective in painting with growing up in a military family. I was always moving, with new fresh places to explore and continually having to find a sense of home where ever I landed. I think this is why I like to paint a variety of things, although it is not so much about the subject itself. I’m intrigued by the relationships; between light and shadow, object and edge, movement and stillness and between the subject and the whole.

I want to give my art a different interpretation. I look at my subject as a way to show an unusual perspective, line and/or lighting. I like to bring the beauty of the everyday; the things we share between us, whether they evoke a certain memory or mood, or suggests a detail that can often go unnoticed. Creating this visual experience for the viewer is really my inspiration. 

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences of course, are the master painters Sargent, Sorolla, VanGogh and Pierre Bonnard. However there is so much inspiration to be found in modern day masters who’s work is around us everyday.

What’s your favorite medium/material to work with and why?

I work primarily in oils because I love the buttery quality and the sometimes surprising things that happen with them. However, I love to occasionally play with cold wax medium and use different tools to make interesting marks.

Describe your creative process.

I have a very fluid and organic approach to my work. However, I begin every painting with a written intention, prayer or affirmation of some sort. I feel that sets the tone and energy of the painting…and painter! If you look closely at the finished piece, you can sometimes see a bit of it peeking through.

What current trend are you following?

Trends? I try not to follow them unless they really spark something in me. I honestly believe that art comes from within and what works best for me is to just “do me” and to stay true to who I am.

What is your proudest accomplishment as an artisan?

My proudest accomplishment, so far, is I was accepted into a residency in France this year. I’m very excited about it, and a wee bit terrified. But, as they say, fear is essential to growth so I’m ready!

Thanks for sharing with us, Susan!  xo

NAVIGATION