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The Creators

The People Combining Art & Business in Central Oregon



Art can be something you hang on your wall—but for those who can't afford that large painting or print to display, there are thankfully other alternatives. It's nice when that artful thing you're seeking is affordable, and even better, when it's also locally made. Here in Central Oregon, practical, useful art, made by local people, isn't tough to find. These are a few of the people combining both art and business in Central Oregon.

Tularoo Soap

Tularoo Soap, made by Laura Nolan, is a whimsical yet practical way to get some art into your life. Each bar is one of a kind and hand poured into limited-use silicone molds Nolan makes. Even if you get the same mold as someone else, chances are the colors, scents or additives will be different, making each bar of soap truly unique.

"It's a small batch production process," Nolan said. "I'll lay out several designs, then fill in sections with like colors. I actually use an eyedropper to apply the color." Tularoo's designs range from sea creatures to Central Oregon nature scenes to textures such as knitted fabric. If this sounds like a time intensive process, it is—but Nolan doesn't want that to stop anyone from actually using her soaps.

"It is without a doubt 100 percent a labor of love," Nolan says of her soap-making operation. "But I'm a process-driven person and that's why I do what I do."

It might seem ironic that Nolan spends so much time making things that will ultimately disappear, but for her the impermanence is something that draws her to the medium.

 Tularoo Soap

In Bend at Bendy Dog, Deschutes Brewery & Cosa Cura


Sometimes local artists find their business accidentally—as is the case with Lisa Panzarella and Jenna Wilson, who started a leather and suede jewelry line called LoilJ. The two women have been friends for years. When their kids started kindergarten at the same time, the moms wanted the kids to have a sense of familiarity as they started something new. They designed a braided suede bracelet that could have essential oils applied, so that their children would have a scent that reminded them of home while they were in their new classrooms.

"The absorbent nature of the suede and leather naturally diffuses the essential oils," said Wilson. "We wanted the jewelry to match well and complement other pieces so it's simple and clean."

Panzarella and Wilson have been pleasantly surprised by how their business has taken off, and an added bonus to making and selling their jewelry has been tapping into the creative side of Bend.

"We've always loved the local community of artisans here," Panzarella said. "We liked the idea of developing a product that is locally made and locally supported, and we've been running into that support at local shows."


In Bend at Sol Footbar, Threads by Jill & Honest Studio

Carter Knives

On the other end of the practical-but-useful spectrum, Matt Carter's knives are pieces of art that will last for years. Carter Knives are made in the back of a school bus Carter retrofitted as a workshop, and eventually his storefront. Carter makes knives that are ready to sell, but also takes custom orders so people can get the knife they want.

"I measure the fit of your hand and make a custom sized handle to fit the size and shape of your hand," Carter said. "From there you'll decide which style you want and the blade length."

After Carter is finished with a knife, he creates a sheath designed specifically for the knife so that it will fit perfectly without falling out. The knives come with a lifetime warranty (your life or Carter's, whichever is longer) so they can remain sharp and in good shape as long as he is around.


In Bend at The Workhouse & Spoken Moto

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