Like a Picasso, Stinson Studios’ handcrafted sculptural burl art and salad bowls are instantly recognizable by their customers located around the world.
Don Stinson likes to tell the story of a customer who travelled to Germany to visit a friend who had purchased one of their carved salad bowls. “She told me that when she saw it, she said to her friend that it’s a ‘Stinson’. Her friend of course was curious to know how she knew, to which she replied because its design and wood was unique to us,” Don says with a chuckle.
Don and his son and partner, Jesse, operate their studio in the middle of the woods north of Tamworth and sell their products around the world. Jesse is proud to say that he and his siblings are the fifth generation of Stinson’s living in this area.
Stinson Studios, which opened in 1982, employs 9 people. According to Jesse, Don is the creative force of their one-of-a-kind hand carved product line which includes sculptural burls made from the knotty growths of local trees, round and square salad bowls of various sizes, cutting boards, dip and pate boards. They also make custom designed, made to order furniture pieces for customers which include such well known personalities as Stephen Spielberg, William Shatner, NHL star Mike Fisher and his wife, Carrie Underwood who received a “Stinson” as a wedding present.
Despite the economic downturn, Stinson Studios has enjoyed 30% growth in sales over the past four years. They have built their brand and market share by annually attending key, major art and craft shows in Canada and the United States and wholesaling to upscale galleries and speciality kitchen and food stores in both countries. And then there is the internet, which has contributed to their growth over the past five years.
“It’s amazing to me that we literally live in the middle of nowhere and thanks to high speed internet and IPad payment technology, we can sell our products to customers around the world and live in the wilderness in harmony with nature which speaks to our hearts and souls,” says Jesse. Customers receive three to four product photos online from Stinson Studios, make and pay for their selection on line and have their purchase shipped directly to them. The Stinsons ship smaller orders through the post office in Tamworth and larger pieces through a shipping broker in Napanee.
All of their products are hand crafted from ash, oak, birch and maple and most notably Ambrosia maple which features beautiful patterns as a result of infestation by the Ambrosia beetle. They believe passionately in the Japanese ethic that beauty is in imperfection. “What nature puts in the wood we use stays in, we don’t reform it or try to erase it,” explains Don. “We work with it so that there is a bit of Canadian wilderness in all of our pieces.”
Living their passion in in L&A. For more information visit www.stinsonstudios.ca.