Interview with Frank Bray of Off Your Rocker

I build and design rocking chairs, rocking ottomans, kids’ rockers, quilts and crib bedding. Custom orders are my focus, and many people send me their own fabrics and choose their own wood finishes, so the customer is always involved in the design process. This is much more exciting and rewarding than shopping at a big-box store!

How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?

I started woodworking in 2003 and developed an interest in rocking chairs when a friend brought me an antique family heirloom rocker to repair. I was hooked on rocking chairs. Later I learned to sew and found that went hand-in-hand with my upholstery work.

I’ve always been a creative person, writing, drawing and building things since I was a child.

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?

My partner Matt suggested it, because he feels sometimes I am a bit “off my rocker”! I was going to call my business “Franks Fine Furniture” but he said that sounded stuffy, and his idea was much better anyways. Sometimes you have to listen to your better half!

Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?

I mostly work alone on my customer orders, but sometimes I engage my partner Matt to help out with cutting fabrics and painting, and I am always bouncing new design ideas off him. Matt looks after my website and clerical work, freeing me to concentrate on building rockers.

It is important to take breaks from work and so I make time for simple pleasures like bike rides and day trips.

Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?

I have tried numerous venues to sell my work, including local craft shows, word of mouth, blogging, Ebay, Etsy and my website. By far the most successful venue is my stand-alone e-commerce website, where I can showcase my rockers and other items to a very large market.

What inspires and motivates you?

I get excited when I can build a custom chair for a new customer, and esp. when they received their new rocker and tell me how much they love it. Every customer’s order is different and unique, so this keeps my work fresh. It’s a great feeling knowing I’ve built an item that will be someone’s treasured heirloom

What do you wish I had asked you?

“Do you think people still appreciate hand-made quality?”

My answer would be absolutely yes! I’ve had tons of people tell me they were delighted to find my website and were happy to buy something unique and made with care just for them

Thanks Frank. And if you would like to be interviewed next, please head over to DIY Interview.

  • Passive Aggressive Lunch Notes
  • Handknit Hugs
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Crescent Maille
  • Green Love
  • Woolly Fabulous
  • Hapa Girls

Green Love

I find the best stuff in the Try Handmade Gallery! Here are some simple and satisfying bath products from Green Love.

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Green Love: I am a mom with two wonderful daughters (8 and 4 years old). My husband and I run Green Love together. We started making and selling natural bath and body products because we wanted only the best for our family and the Earth. We strive to use only high-quality ingredients that have real health benefits along with making you look and feel great! We are committed to protecting the environment and taking care of our bodies naturally. We do our best to live a “green” lifestyle and to reduce our carbon footprint. We even ride a bike to mail your packages! You can count on us to always have great customer service and great products – satisfaction guaranteed!

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  • Passive Aggressive Lunch Notes
  • Handknit Hugs
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Crescent Maille
  • Green Love
  • Woolly Fabulous
  • Hapa Girls

Happy Earth Day

US politician Gaylord Nelson, who is said to be the father of the modern environmental movement, organized the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Conceived to make Earth’s human inhabitants more aware of how they treat their global home, Nelson’s vision has grown into a yearly grassroots ritual for millions of people around the globe. Every April, on the spring equinox, we come together to plant trees, pitch-in to clean up rivers and streams, and gather at awareness-raising events.

While it’s true that the eco-health of our world is still very much in peril and climate change is an issue that is on everybody’s minds, I, ever the optimist, like to think that in the 4 decades of observing Earth Day we have gotten a little better in our roles as the caretakers of this planet. Sure, we have a long way to go, but in honour of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day I would like to celebrate the small strides that we have made in the time since its inception.

Going Green starts at home and it seems that we are rising to the challenge by lowering our energy consumption. According to government studies in Canada, residential energy consumption has actually dropped since 2004. From better insulation and windows, to more-efficient appliances, there are literally dozens of ways that you can cut your energy usage around the house. The easiest, though, is as simple as flicking a switch and turning off the lights when you leave a room. To make switching-off more fun, swap-out your boring light switch plates with something a little more exciting; like this one (above) by the sassy Miss Andee. Visit the Dandee shop for a dizzying number of designs, or to order your custom plate.

You don’t have to go any further than the supermarket checkout to see the impact that the green movement has had. In an effort to cut down on excessive plastic-bag usage, many retailers have begun to charge for plastic bags; while some have stopped offering them entirely. Consumers, it seems, have risen to the challenge. In a recent online survey by furniture giant IKEA, 96% of respondents claim to own at least one reusable bag. (Hey, remaining 4% – get with the program!) Of course, as you and I both know, one can never have too many reusable shopping bags. Add to your collection with a beautiful bag like these; made from unbleached organic cotton and printed with eco-friendly inks (above) by Earth to Gert. Using it (or others like it) will help cut down on the estimated 5 billion plastic bags that will be discarded by next year’s Earth Day.

In 1997, an international treaty calling for the significant reduction of the release of ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere was signed. Ratified by 194 countries, the Montreal Protocol is thought of as one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. In 2007, twenty years after the signing of the treaty, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment Canada both noted some early indications that the ozone layer was beginning to recover. And, there’s even more good news; according to the experts, clear signs of recovery should be expected in the next 7 – 10 years. The lovely “Ozone” earrings, pictured above, are available in the Lolley’s shop. They are Leslie’s tribute to the atmosphere and a fitting one at that, with copper-coloured Swarovski “O”s hanging from hand-hammered, oxidized silver ear-wires.

So, whether you’ll be taking part in the community clean-up in Norway House, Manitoba, or creating driftwood sculptures on California’s Stinson Beach, I hope that you have a fun and fulfilling Earth Day. I hope, too, that you will take a moment to re-commit yourself to doing your part for the planet. We have a long way to go, but look how far we’ve already come! If the task seems too daunting, just remember –

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
– Gerhard Zeiler

To find an Earth Day event in your neighbourhood, visit earthday.org (USA) or earthday.ca (Canada). Or, if you know of any great local events, we would love to hear them, too! Please leave a comment and fill us in on all of the details.

  • Passive Aggressive Lunch Notes
  • Handknit Hugs
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Crescent Maille
  • Green Love
  • Woolly Fabulous
  • Hapa Girls