Makers ~ Jim Dowd & Sandra Bonazoli ~ Bristol

Artist’s name: Jim Dowd & Sandra Bonazoli
Shop name: BeehiveHandmadeLLC

1. Tell us about your work. 
We are a husband and wife tag-team duo of metalsmiths. Our work includes pewter housewares, baby gifts, holiday ornaments, ceramics, and most recently jewelry.

2. Is there a story behind the name of your business? 
We chose the name Beehive Handmade because of the associations that bees and beehives have with industry and the home.

3. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer? 
Both Sandra and I have our MFAs in jewelry and metalsmithing. We both worked for other artists for a couple of years after school before starting our business in 1999.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration? 
Our inspiration comes from so many different sources. Vintage textile patterns, traditional folk art, children's book illustrations, old tools and kitchen gadgets we find at flea markets.

5. What’s your favorite item to create? 
Spoons! We love working out the proportions, balance, feel, and design.

6. What’s your best seller? 
We made the original set of Heart Shaped Measuring Spoons in 1999. They were one of our very first products and are still a best seller today.

7. How long have you been in Rhode Island? 
We have lived in RI since we started Beehive Handmade in 1999. But we just moved our studio to Bristol from Fall River last summer.

8. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island? 
For our business, we {heart} that we can find local manufacturing partners to work with to help produce our work right here in Rhode Island. The industry here isn't what it used to be, but there are still great resources and talent in this little state.

9. Favorite place to take out-of-towners? 
It's hard to pick just one! We love tacos at The Shack in Jamestown, the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport, the beaches in Little Compton, and oysters at bywater in Warren.

10. Any advice for new/wannabe makers? 
It's difficult to answer this without sounding cliché. Being a maker is very rewarding, but it is a hard way to earn a living. One piece of advice I would share is that a mentor can be very helpful no matter what stage your business is at. Working for (or with) someone who is where you want to be in five years can be very beneficial to growing as an artist/maker.


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