Prologue by Mary Ratcliffe

I have been a making things all my life. I grew up between Toronto and Lansdowne, Ontario; in both places my father had shops for wood and metal working. I possessed a natural inclination towards making things and loved following my dad around the shop and learning from the knowledge he had to share. The first thing I can remember making was in March of 1996, it was a small side table I gave to my brother as a gift. Held together with nails and glue; and finished with some fabulous marker drawings, this table was - unbeknownst to me - the start of something big.

 The first piece of furniture I made as a kid. Side table, March 1996

The first piece of furniture I made as a kid. Side table, March 1996

Eleven years later I was preparing to start at OCAD University and had aspirations of becoming an architect. However, the summer after the third year of my degree that I decided architecture was not for me. While working at a firm I realized: the project timelines were to long, design features were often squashed due to budget concerns and it was way to easy to get lost in the details of building code. I was lucky to be working at a firm that also produced custom furniture and industrial designed for some clients. I enjoyed this work immensely and threw myself into the details and practical design elements of furniture design.  

When I finished my degree I found myself a job on an 'Environments Team' at a well known graphic design and branding studio. The novelty of the commercial design environment soon wore off quickly and I was eager to find something new and different when my contract ended. At my next job I found myself working in an environment I adored. I was a designer/maker at a custom art studio which produced commissions for one of the largest and best known interior design firms in the country, we also did work for other designers and private clients. My role there was to work on concepts and to development manufacturing processes. Once an idea had been selected I had a hands on role in the actual fabrication of the project. At this point of all the jobs I had held this one was by far the best. 

When I left this studio I was not sure what my next move was going to be. While I felt like I had figured out where my passions fit into the design world I had no clue about how to find another job that fit with my skill set. It was during my search for something new that people started asking me to make things for them. Before I knew it I didn't have time to look for work because I was to busy working. After a few months of this I came to realize that I was an entrepreneur, I had made my own job, and had embarked on a trial by fire to create the job I knew I wanted but couldn't find. 

 Starting on one of my first projects - December 2013

Starting on one of my first projects - December 2013

After almost two years of creating custom work for unique clients I have decided to produce my own collection of work. This is the start of my journey and I plan on documenting my journey here. If I have learned anything in the last two years of work its that being an entrepreneur is full of trials and failures, lessons and revelations, successes and opportunities. There is a huge community of people out there willing to help when and where they can and people looking to learn amongst peers. This is the beginning of a new edition to my story as a craftswoman and I’m excited to be able to document it here.