To all artists — both beginners and veteran artists — who wish to explore some new projects or join other like minds to create art, there is a business in town to facilitate that process.
Meandering Maker, with the theme, "Creating fun here and there," moved at the beginning of the COVID season approximately one year ago to 160 NE Seventh St. — next to Cooper Electric. As a social-oriented craft business, COVID created a challenge for owners Jeff and Jodi Kerr, as they adjusted to the new building and the status of COVID restrictions.
Jodi explained that with the initial shut-down from COVID, opening classes back up has felt like starting over in some ways.
Jeff added that many local business models have changed in response to COVID, including their own.
"We went to doing a lot more take-home kits during COVID than we ever had before. Someone can buy a kit like that, take it home with the paint and paint it at home," he said.
Jodi stated that they love getting people together, and their business is very social-oriented.
"It's been a journey," she said of their beginnings and how their business has evolved. "We started out doing at-home classes for people, then we grew to bars and restaurants."
She added that initially, they focused mostly on sign-making classes. The Kerrs had a small studio at Home Beautiful Oregon, then one year ago, they expanded and needed more space. Their business includes custom signs and classes and instruction on making signs, furniture upcycling, personalized laser-cut signs, and ceramics. They also create several kits for customers, which can be assembled at home.
"We cut the stencil, and we do the hard part for them," Jodi explained of the new laser-cutting portion of the business. Jeff creates stencils and custom signs in the back portion of the shop. They also have their new kiln in the workshop space in back.
When making or instructing other artists to make signs, Jodi indicated that she likes the sign to mean something to the customer and to be personalized.
"It's easy to go make something, but I like it to look a certain way or evoke a certain feeling," she added. "I like it when they can visualize it and we can make that happen. That is my favorite part."
Jodi has a background as a journalist and worked for the Statesman Journal in Salem when her children were younger. She was a community reporter and enjoyed hearing people's stories. She did not get to finish school before she began her family, and later went back to finish through Oregon State University Cascades. She originally wanted to be a forest ranger, and in the process of finishing her degree, she discovered that she really enjoyed putting things together and facilitating.
"I wasn't sure how I was going to use that, but that is kind of what I wanted to use," she said of her additional college classes.
Jodi made her first sign shortly after she finished school, and although she did not like the results, she enjoyed the challenge of making it better.
"I just really enjoy the 'how to make it better.' I think that is what drives me, is I really enjoy bringing complicated things to people and trying to teach them how to overcome and to go with it. I enjoy that."
Although she does not think of herself as a crafty person, she loves helping people achieve a certain look or to help them create something that they like.
"I think I approach things from, 'What is their story, what do they want out of this or what is their drive?' If I can put those things together, I feel like I can help achieve what they want, and I really enjoy that. That is where my heart is," Jodi explained of her passion for her work.
Meandering Maker is also the only dealer in Central Oregon to offer Iron Orchid Design transfers and stamps. They also carry Wise Owl Paint and transfer papers.
Recently, the Kerrs added ceramics to their services. They started to research the feasibility of bringing this aspect to their business in December, due to several requests from customers.
"It's a big jump, but it is one more way to create that, and we are happy to be able to offer it."
Upon looking to purchase a kiln, they discovered that kilns were difficult to obtain due to COVID, and there was a long wait to find one. They found a used Skutt with a used body and new electronics. Skutt is a kiln that is built in Portland.
Jodi recently began taking ceramics classes at Bend Central Oregon Community College campus to learn the basics of ceramics.
"That has been fun, going to Bend once per week to figure out the basics has been really fun, and it's been nice to be able to go back to the roots of why I do what I love," she said.
She and Jeff feel that the bisqueware opens a lot of ways to create projects. They offer small classes and groups upon appointment, with their first workshop at their studio on April 18, with Rae Holton of StarrFlower Studios. Participants can create a mug for mother for Mother's Day in the Mugs for Mom Workshop.
In addition to classes in their studio, the Kerrs can also do customized workshops at other sites.
"We will travel, too," stated Jeff.
He added that they can go to homes or private venues and bring kits and stencils with them, as long as they put orders in advance.
Recently, Jeff and Jodi worked with the Kids Club in Prineville to decorate 80 Easter eggs and delivered them to the Regency Village Assisted Living and Carriage Place.
Owners: Jeff and Jodi Kerr
Address: 160 NE Seventh St.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Call for an appointment for a class or special session.
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