Artists and thinkers coming together to promote fine crafts, innovation, and honest sustainability.

The best and brightest artists and thinkers coming together to promote fine crafts, original thought, and honest sustainability.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekly Featured Artist & GIVEAWAY: Jef Spencer

I am very pleased to introduce a fab Etsy seller who is just getting off the ground. Jef is a super talented woodworker, and I thought his work would be a great contrast to the way femmeeee stuff we are all used to seeing in Etsy-land. He also happens to make AMAZING pens...and who isn't a sucker for a snazzy pen. Snazzy pens make me feel important.... I digeress.....
Name: Jef Spencer
Business Name: Refined Pallet
        The Basics:
        Jef is a woodworker and craftsman as a hobby and for enjoyment. He specializes in small boxes, usually with through dovetail joinery, incorporating various exotic figured woods. Jef believes that wood is beautiful in it's natural color so he rarely use stains or dyes on his projects. Instead, he prefers to just let the natural colors shine!

        Refined Pallet got it’s name from how Jef started out gathering supplies for his projects. In his “real life” job, he runs a warehouse where there is a constant supply of extra pallets. He noticed that from time to time there was some really great wood used in the construction of freight pallets. After a little effort to take them apart, Jef found a free source of materials for setting up a wood shop. Of course, the projects created are small to accommodate the limited supply of usable wood, but he was amazed at the quality of material that could be recovered. From there, Jef has expanded his recovery efforts into looking for materials in other places that can be recycled into something beautiful. Old furniture, cabinets, visits to antique and thrift shops and of course cutoffs from local cabinet shops now make up the majority of his supply sources. Jef amazes his family and friends with what he creates out of materials rescued from the landfill, and I'm sure he'll amaze you as well!

        1. What five words best describe you?

        Creative, Humorous, Thrifty, Approachable, Honest

        2. What five words best describe your work?

        Unique, Elegant, Useful, One-of-a-kinds, Recycled

        3. What was the very first art form you fell in love with, and, do you still do it?

        Ever since I played with the tools in my father’s garage I have been a wood worker through and through. I have dabbled a bit in other forms of art but I always come back to the joy of creating something beautiful out of fine woods.

        4. What was your very worst ‘real’ job?

        Not necessarily my “worst” job but I took a major pay cut!! The day that I was of legal age to be properly employed my parents made me pass my lawn mowing business to my brother so that I could get a “real” paycheck. I ended up as the butcher at the nearby Fuddrucker’s Restaurant.

        5. Is artwork your full-time life? Or, if not, are you planning to make it that way? If so, what’s your favorite part about being a full-time creative?

        Spending time in my shop is currently a passionate hobby. The items that I create and sell are done so to share my craft with the world and to keep my hobby a self supporting endeavor. Someday I would love to make it a full time obsession but until then, I turn out my mini pieces of artwork one at a time.

        6. What do you think is the single most important thing you could tell an artist just starting out?

        Do it for the love of the process. If you are in it for the money you are in the wrong business. The time spent in creating your pieces will bring you joy, any income is just gravy.

        7. What is your favorite way to distribute your work (craft shows, online, galleries, etc…), and why?

        I currently use Etsy and word of mouth to distribute my work. Facebook has turned out to be my best method of promoting when I have new or interesting items leaving my shop. Eventually I will start to entertain the realm craft show or galleries when the price is right.

        8. What are your five favorite blogs and/or websites? - My Online Woodworkers Community – Website for my other obsession
        From there it’s mainly news sites and other local interests. I do browse for other art information but there is nothing that I have bookmarked for regular reference.

        9. Favorite artist?

        Leonardo da Vinci – A very well rounded contributor to society. Not only was he a great artist, but a thinker, scientist and inventor.

        10. Guilty pleasure?

        My other obsession – Geocaching. Short explanation is using Billions of dollars of government technology to find Tupperware in the woods. Check it out at

        ~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~
        Jef has generously offered a $25 gift certificate for use in his Etsy store to a lucky one of my readers. He says the winner is also welcome to use it towards the custom pen of their choice (fountain or rollerball). Like one of these:

        TO ENTER: 
        • Go to Jef's Etsy page. Find your very favorite item. 
        • After that, come on back and leave a comment below telling us what your favorite item was and why (the 'why' is the part we really look for when deciding on a winner... so be creative!).
        You may enter only once. The contest is open until 4pm Pacific time on the Monday following the original feature (so it's open for about six days). Winners will be posted on Tuesday morning, along with the new featured artist's piece. If you have any questions, please contact me, not the artist. 

        IMPORTANT: If you want to be contacted (if you are the winner), you need to leave your email address in your comment (I suggest spelling out the @(at) and the .(dot) to avoid spam from internet crawlers, or you may also leave your Etsy screen name, if applicable. If you don't leave either, you need to check back and contact me by the Friday following the contest ending to see of you won, and will need to email me (see Winner's Box in the upper right sidebar).
        Bonus Entries- **You can earn an extra entry for each of the following: Follow my blog and/or follow me on Facebook. Both links are on the right-hand sidebar. Just make sure you note that you did these in your comment below!**
        Please note: The winner is chosen by me and the featured artist based on your make 'em good! We make no claims that the selection is random:) It is between you and the featured artist to coordinate the getting of your loot. I make no personal guarantees about time-frame for delivery, value, or condition of the winning item.
        ~~~~~~~~~~ Last Week's Winner: Melissa (she wrote actual POETRY!!!) ~~~~~~~~~~


        virtueknits said...

        This was my favorite item because I love the thought of using a beautifully made box to keep special things. Keepsakes make me think of memories...this could even be described as a memory box.

        Rhonda said...

        I must say I like this item the best:
        Rare Birdseye Pine and Gaboon Ebony Jr Gentlemens Fountain Pen with Titanium
        My BBF (of a quarter century) has a hubby who owns a cabinet biz and while that's his bread and butter, his passion is fine funky furniture. His B-day is in October and I always try to find some special wood-related to give him. This 'wood' totally rock his world!

        sparklingsisters said...

        My favorite is the Small Wenge and Curly Mahogany Dovetail Keepsake Box. Jef does absolutely beautiful work! Very nice feature, Illana!

        Melissa said...

        Love the Small Wenge and Curly Mahogany Dovetail Keepsake Box because of its simplicity and clean lines.

        Cindy said...

        I love Classic Fountain Pen Segmented 3 Woods with Black Hardware. The pattern reminds me of so many lovely things. My faux crocodile shoes, spiral staircases, etc. Thanks for the giveaway.

        cindyhinckley at msn.

        Jingle said...

        My favorite is the Jr Gentlemans Fountain Pen Black with Black Titanium. My husband is actually going into his first year of teaching next year (well, first year with his own classroom and all) and I have been looking for a wonderful little gift to give to him to celebrate his first day. This pen would be perfect! He absolutely loves fountain pens and he carries a moleskine with him wherever he goes. This pen with his little book would be constant companions! Thank you so much for introducing me to this wonderful shop!

        jinglesells at gmail dot com

        Jingle said...

        I am following you on Facebook!

        Linda Kish said...

        I love the Unique Small Eclectic Keepsake Box for Jewelry, Love Notes or Whatever because it is such terrific workmanship and it reminds me of the box my son made for me in wood shop which was submitted to the county fair and won a monetary prize as well as a blue ribbon.

        lkish77123 at gmail dot com

        Wehaf said...

        My favorite item is the Small Padauk and Birdseye Maple Keepsake Dovetail Box. Not only is the workmanship excellent and the choice of complementary woods stunning, but something about this piece seems really rich and full to me - this is truly a box worthy of holding one's most precious possessions.

        I also appreciate the details Jef gives in his item descriptions regarding the woods used, their origins, etc. It is obvious that he not only knows what he is doing, he loves it.

        urchiken at gmail dot com

        AmbreRose said...

        Wow this shop is amazing. There are so many beautiful pieces, wow. I really like the different color wood pieces in the Classic Fountain Pen Segmented 3 Woods with Black Hardware. ambrerose(!at)aol(dot)com

        T said...

        Majestic Jr. Rollerball Pen - Crimson with Crystal Inlay, Rhodium and Black Titanium because it reminds me of a melted red jelly bean!

        goldenpondstudio said...

        I love the handmade journals they make me think if i had one of them that i would be able to draw stunning and wonderful new jewelry degins whenever the mood strikes me.. i would feel more worldly as well which in turn would boost my self confidence which would lead me to ask for a promotion which would then lead to me becoming independantly wealthy..ergo i must have one!!

        susanna june said...

        My favorite is the Mini Handmade Leather Journal, English Saddle Brown. I love the leather jacket with the tie to keep it shut. I love that it is something I could tuck into my purse and pull out when a thought strikes me and I can write it down.

        zannajune (at) gmail (dot) com.

        Samy said...

        What a fantastic giveaway! I love the handmade journals and the boxes but this is absolutely sunning-

        I am fascinated by fountain pens and this is the most beautiful one I've seen. The wood is gorgeous and shiny, the pen looks so well made, and it is a unique treasure that I would cherish forever.

        Thank you for this opportunity. :)

        samyrocks92 at msn dot com

        erin said...

        My favorite item is the "George Washington Dollar Gentlemens Fountain Pen with 10k Gold". The reason I like this Awesome pen is because I am fairly certain that using it would make money fall magically from the sky. What other reason do I need besides that? :)

        illana Burk said...

        Thanks for all your entries! Voting is now closed.