Have you ever seen the TV show, How It's Made? Well we took it upon ourselves to do a fun spin off of that show to show you how some of our favorite shops around the world make their awesome products. If you have been following us for a while now, you know we have a huge passion in spreading awareness of small shops and businesses that we love. And what better way to really get to know a brand then to see all the sweat and blood that goes into it? Today we are so excited to be featuring a dear friend and her husband from behind the shop - Spirit Bee Woodworks to show you - How It's Made! Please welcome the awesome and AMAZING; Allison and Ian as they share with us all that goes into their little business! We hope you enjoy this as much as we did! (P.S. The video near the end of this post is amazing!!! Be sure to watch it!)
We are so honored to be featured on Urban Cub's blog to highlight our shop and give away one of our products! Bri and Britt have the cutest kiddos and their blog is awesome in that it highlights products/shops and brings business to some really cool companies, just by taking pictures of their super cute kids! I know how hard it is to capture a good picture of a toddler, and these ladies make it look easy! Thanks for asking us to be a part of this new series and for featuring us on your blog, this was FUN!
I am Allison and my husband is Ian and we live in sunny Arizona with our, almost 2 year old daughter, Lemon. We make wooden jewelry in our shop, Spirit Bee Woodworks, out of our house during nap time and after our daughter goes to bed. We both work full time as high school teachers in an inner city school in Phoenix, and Ian teaches Special Education while I teach English (we work at the same school). We are teachers because it allows us so much time off to spend as a family and free time for our passion - woodworking.
Ian's workshop in our tiny laundry room.
We started this business by chance and it is strange where we've ended up. At Goodwill one day, I found a bag full of kids' jewelry, and in it was a hand painted, wooden bracelet that fit on Lemon's wrist (when she was about 10 months old). I posted pictures of her wearing it on Instgram and realized that it was something people wanted so after Lemon grew out of it Ian wanted to try to make one for her (that I thought I would paint).
He started off drilling wood, then read about bending it, and wanted to practice on something smaller - rings. He made some rings, gave them away on Instagram, made some more and gave them away and then we realized we could start selling them, as he got better and better at making them. He started to inlay turquoise in the rings and then rhinestones, guitar strings and now pearl; basically anything that will still look shiny and pretty once it is inlayed. We opened a shop, took custom orders and kept posting pictures and are amazed at the response we've gotten.
Natural pearl inlay in ebony wood.
Bent wood rings means that a thin piece of wood veneer is heated up (steamed in water), then wrapped with glue around itself (bending it), then shaped and sanded down to size, inlayed, coated, sealed and polished. The process is complicated and every step has to be right, or the ring is un-usable and we have to start over. My husband takes great pride in his work, the ring has to be perfect before it is sent out. It is truly a labor of love, and it makes us so happy when people tag us on Instagram and show us how much they love their rings!
This guy wakes up at 4am, when we are in school, to work on rings.
Our spare bedroom is used for finishing work.
A night in the life, at our house, making rings (set to Lemon's favorite tune):
Rings are tough, it's hard to get ahead of the game because you have to make them in a certain size, you can't just have a bunch ready to go (like, for instance, t-shirts). It has also been challenging because we work full time so that doesn't leave a lot of time for us to work on them. I try to help as much as I can (with inlays or finishing) but my job is mainly to watch the baby or clean up the house, so that gives him time to work. But, we are off all summer and are making rings like crazy, so we can get them out faster when you order them (during the school year our turn around time is usually 3-4 weeks).
Ian still enjoys making rings but wishes he had time to build a stock pile of standard sizes, even though most of our orders are custom requests. Our same tree rings are nothing I've seen before, two wooden rings made out of the same piece of wood, the same tree. We've done a couple of wedding ring sets and these are always so special to complete and send out. Our rings are awesome because they are made from something natural, are great for people who are allergic to metals and are one of a kind because you just don't see wooden rings that often.
A same tree set.
Since making rings, we've also started making teething/nursing necklaces for babies/toddlers and hope to one day make bracelets for babies/toddlers/women. Our olive wood pendants (teething/nursing necklaces) come on a suede cord and are not coated/sealed, like our rings, so they are safe for babies to have in their mouths. They are also perfect for distracting an upset toddler or for a twiddler to play with while nursing. I think they should be a staple for every mom who has a young baby/toddler.
You can find our shop online or on Instagram, and our personal Instagram pages here (mine and Ian's). You can also find my blog here, where I also try to capture cute pictures of my ever-moving toddler and write about our adventures! Thanks for your support of our small business!
Spirit Bee Woodworks has decided to give away a bent wood ring in a custom size and a teething necklace to one lucky winner!!! Simply look for this photo on Instagram @urbancub to enter! Or if you don't have an Instagram, simply leave a comment on this post to enter!
Good luck! A winner will be chosen at random on June 23rd!