Long-time CL Family Member 'Twas Once a Tree is in the spotlight this week!

Owner Mark tells the story of his business...

‘Twas Once a Tree is a local woodworking business that started out as a hobby of mine and has grown into a dream that is coming true.  I originally started out by focusing on building fine furniture some 30 years ago.  That still is my true passion, but the smaller pieces that are featured in Celebrate Local have a special place in my heart.

I was “discovered” by Heidi Maybruck, at a local pop up art market and the rest as they say, is history.

What do you do when you aren't busy creating your unique pieces?

My other day job has been in manufacturing management for many years.  I have a keen understanding of the need for value to customers.  I have built the craft side of the business around this ideal, that we should provide a unique product, of high quality, at a fair price.  I am always looking for ways to speed up production, improve quality and increase speed to market with innovation.

Tell us a little bit more about your creative processes...

The skill sets that I use in the shop range from mastering the use of century old hand planes, to the most recent purchase of computer controlled cutting equipment.  A great satisfaction comes to me in transforming an already beautiful organic medium, such as rough piece of lumber, to a useful and unique art form that is appreciated by my customer.  My satisfaction comes from the fact that someone thinks highly enough of a piece we have created, to purchase it and take it home. It is like a little piece of me has been given out.  On some of the products I make, I literally control the design and manufacturing process from the fallen tree to the finished product, even supervising the cutting of the log at the sawmill.

How has being a part of the CL Family helped your business grow?

We have expanded to other venues, as a result of the exposure from Celebrate Local and as such, have added other members now to the business to help in marketing and in production as the need arises.  I want to be careful in not expanding too quickly, as I still want the emphasis on value, quality and the handmade nature of the products we produce.

What is your favorite piece?

Some of the favorite pieces that are featured in Celebrate Local would have to be the Ohio shaped cutting boards and the Ohio shaped coasters.  Each is unique.  We have mastered the process to a high degree of satisfaction.  Our finishing process of the butcher block cutting boards involves a 12 step process that yields a sensuous feel to the board.  

What do you think the future of 'Twas Once a Tree looks like?

We strive always to bring innovation to the product line, building on what we have learned from our past successes (and failures).  Recently we introduced Ohio shaped folding tables, reminiscent of the old TV table.  Ours are made of solid oak and feature engravings of buckeye leaves on them.   We are also expanding and improving our line of Ohio jewelry that we introduced last year. We are always looking for ways to feature the shape of Ohio as our customers are very passionate about the pride for Ohio.

The challenge remains in front of us, in how to continue to gain controlled growth while maintaining the craft nature.  I still want to get the same enjoyment and satisfaction for what I do.  I am striving to maintain the dream of what I truly love to do and not have it become mundane.  I don’t ever want to lose the appreciation of the God given beauty of the medium, that ‘twas once a tree.