Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Christine. Wood & Grain emerged after my husband, Ian, and I got married in the woods in Nevada City, California. We handmade nearly everything for our wedding, from the little details like the escort cards to the log benches for seating. The experience and the results were absolutely amazing. We had so much fun, that we thought to ourselves ‘Why stop just because our wedding is over?’
Almost immediately after we were married, we hauled our handsome cat, Connor, two bearded dragons, Ray and Mordecai, and all of our belongings from our loft in San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. Thus began Wood & Grain.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
We spend most of our free time exploring the surrounding wilderness by going hiking and backpacking. We’re new to Portland and have an endless list of amazing food carts, restaurants, coffee roasters, and breweries to try, along with an array of biking trails. Traveling, cooking, and gardening are among our other hobbies. I also write about our adventures and occasional DIYs on my blog.
What’s the most important question a couple should ask their wedding vendor?
When you see an item you like but it’s not completely right, ask the vendor if they can change it a little so that it works for you. I’ve had creative brides ask me to do custom projects that are based on an item I sell, but they tweak it a bit so that it would work for a completely different use. It’s awesome and I encourage it. Be open minded! Just because I say it’s an envelope seal doesn’t mean it has to be used as an envelope seal. I think most vendors, especially on Etsy, will gladly customize items to make it more personal. Not only do you have a happy customer, you also have an idea for an item that other customers might like.
What’s the most memorable custom item you’ve created for a wedding?
I’d have to say the first custom cake topper wood dolls I made for a client. I absolutely love making them because they have so much meaning behind them, which also makes it quite daunting. What if they don’t like them? Fortunately, I received a message from the bride when she received it, saying that they absolutely loved the dolls. It really made my day. I created something for a couple that they may keep forever. That’s insane!
What would be the title of your memoir?
Always on the Move. I have a very hard time staying still for too long. I constantly want to try/learn something new, broaden my mind and keep as busy possible.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Nature, of course. The requirement for all the items in the shop is that it has to look good sitting on a tree stump in a wooded forest.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means being able to control every aspect of the object and not having to sacrifice quality. It’s worth the effort.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My husband. He encourages me to do what I love, never gives up on me, and truly believes that I can do anything.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I’ve been making things as long as I can remember. The first thing I made on my own (without help from my parents or teachers) were Barbie clothes with my sister. We were too young to be playing with needles and thread, so we used tape and glue. They turned out absolutely hideous, but we handmade them ourselves, so it didn’t matter.
How would you describe your creative process?
When I have an idea, I usually just go for it and start making it because I’m too excited to plan ahead. Once the prototype is finished, I’ll figure out ways to improve it and make it again and again until I’m happy with it. At this point, Ian will usually give me great ideas on how to make it even better, and I’ll work on it until we’re both pleased with the results.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
It would definitely be my grandpa’s studio. He lives in Thailand and I’ve only visited him three times in my life, which has made it a real struggle to get to know him. He is a well-known architect in Thailand, but excels at anything else he puts his mind to. His studio is buried in decades worth of books, papers, and various art projects he has been involved in. It would be amazing to not only go through all of it but also just to watch him work for a couple hours and learn his process.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
It’s not actually in our possession, but it would have to be the site of our wedding on Ian’s parent’s property. With the help of his parents, we spent less than six months turning an unusable forest into a gorgeous handmade wedding venue. For the ceremony site, we made a log bench amphitheater from a recently fallen pine tree that seated all 110 of our guests. We built a terraced hillside for the reception and had the bride and groom table on an elevated platform between two pine trees. The reception and dance areas were decorated with beautiful rows of overhead lighting that looked absolutely magical at night. You can see photos of our wedding here.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
A couple hours of playing piano or taking a walk to one of our favorite local coffee shops for a cappuccino usually does the trick.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Living in a beautiful home surrounded by forests with a large garden, chickens and a detached craft studio with a woodworking shop. We’re also hoping to live in a different country for a year or two. New Zealand is at the top of our list.
Christine Collins and her husband Ian run Wood and Grain, a store that specializes in creating custom hand-stamped goodness for weddings or small businesses. As soon as Christine and Ian were married, they packed up their things and moved north to Portland with their cat Connor and two bearded dragons, Ray and Mordecai.