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A discussion about her woodworking and locally made goods.

Bethanie Kaye comes from a long line of female artists. Her mother was a stained glass artist, her sister is a ceramicist, and her grandmother was a landscape painter.

“My sister and I have always been creative. Where she is an exceptional painter and draws with such grace and ease, I have always been drawn to working with my hands. I have made jewelry, studied in ceramics, and now I work with wood as my medium.”

Bethanie taught herself how to turn by using an old lathe with even older chisels. She claims it’s her stubbornness and persistence that helped her develop her skills with woodworking.

“When it comes to learning how to do something new, I spend a lot of time reading and scouring YouTube for tutorials, until I finally get the hang of it.”

Bethanie has reached a skill-level to now be able to teach others and share her knowledge. Her enjoyment for the art comes from playfully creating the pieces she imagines up, now with a newer lathe and new tools. She’s a firm believer that supporting local artists and creatives is important for many reasons, and we agree.

“Not only are you supporting a small business, but you are injecting beauty into the world. You are giving people the freedom to create, and in exchange you receive something with deep meaning that can provide an almost ethereal feeling when it is looked upon or used in a utilitarian way.”

With a movement towards people wanting to purchase items that have been thoughtfully and intentionally made without the use of mass production. Items that will last, that have been made sustainably. Items that have been made with fair trade. Pieces that you can hold on to and notice the subtleties of where the makers hands had an impact on the piece, Bethanie is a proud collector of handmade goods, and exclaims the jewelry and ceramics as her most prized pieces. She has an adoration for the small details that are put into each piece and it’s clear she has a greater understanding for the world of local hand-made items. Supporting others seems to come naturally to her.

Her work is simple yet exquisite. Impeccably smooth it’s clear her skill is far above and beyond amateur. There is a surreal whimsy to her work, that is grounded and reflective of Scandinavian design. Each piece, whether used as a base for a table or not, looks like a geometric sculpture and without the grain or knots, it’s hard to believe her pieces are in-fact made of wood.

“I feel quite lucky to be able to work with wood. There is a natural beauty, complexity, and simplicity to it. I believe in taking something that would have otherwise wound up in a fire pit or in green waste and turning it into something beautiful.”

Including friends and family, inspiration for her work also comes from the organic way that the water has washed stones and driftwood to the shore and left them there in the most beautiful way. Her love of Constantin Brancusi’s work, and most recently Isamu Noguchi, influences how she executes her designs.

Being able to bring more beauty into the world through her own hands and hard work drives Bethanie to keep creating. Her ability to handpick each piece of wood that she works with creates an intimate connection with it through each stroke of her tools. She pays close attention to the orientation of the grain and how it will look once the piece is finished.

“A lot of the time I don’t know what shape I am making or how the piece will turn out when I stepped up to the lathe. Having the ability to create freely brings me so much joy and contentment.”

Bringing her one of a kind pieces to life for clients generates a sort of connection that “is hard to put words to.” Her mission to let her clients know how grateful she is that they find her work pleasing enough to bring into their homes, is one she constantly is mindful of. With a supportive community around her, she’s been welcomed into it with open arms.

Her enthusiasm for creating began through being raised by a strong, thoughtful and creative woman. After her mother’s passing seven years ago, she strives to create each piece with a dedication and devotion to her in mind. She reflects on how encouraging her mother was, and how that has given her an edge on being fearless with delving into things like trying a new design or a new technique.

Moreover, not being afraid of failure and also being comfortable with failure is something that Bethanie has learned over the years. Being able to find comfort and peace in something that didn’t work out allows her to keep moving and to keep growing.

Humbly she explains that to her, success means continuing doing what she loves.

“I think that success has a different definition for everyone. As long as I am able to continue making and creating, I feel successful.”

Both artistry and running a business are newly discovered to her. Coming from a background of social work, and with a degree in philosophy she considers herself fortunate to have many friends that have their own creative businesses. Asking questions and looking for help is one of the things that has been important in building her business. On her journey to discovery, she’s found that most people are excited and willing to give advice on how to do things, how to solve problems, and what to correct.

Upcoming projects include creating larger pieces that can be seen as more of a statement or an art piece for her clients’ homes. Bethanie says she won’t stop making the utilitarian items such as candle holders and bowls, but making sculptural pieces has given her a new sense of wonderment and excitement.

Bethanie Kaye Design for Merrymen Magazine Volume 5

© 2021 Merrymen.

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