Makers ~ Mark Baker & Leigh Medeiros ~ Exeter

Artist’s name: Mark Baker + Leigh Medeiros
Shop name: Rhode Island Rustic
Blog: same

1. Tell us about your work: 
We make sustainable home goods and decor that are unique to Rhode Island's geography and culture. Mark is a carpenter, and uses reclaimed pallets and found branches for our trays, phone docks, benches, altar tables, and hooks. I use indigo dye, which is plant-based and therefore more eco-friendly, to create eye-catching "ocean blue" designs on tea towels, napkins, pillows, table runners, scarves, and more.

2. Is there a story behind the name of your business? 
We wanted "Rhode Island" in the name because when we first launched we were just making the wood products and all of the wood was found locally. Also, we want to sort of elevate the word "rustic" to be more aesthetically considered than the usual fare.

3. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer/maker? 
Mark and I met in art school in the 1990's. I continued to work in the arts over the years as an exhibiting artist and gallery owner, among other things. I also support artists and writers through my freelance business, All Creativelike. After art school Mark went on to study woodworking at the North Bennet Street School, and later work as a builder then a furniture maker.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration? 
Two places. Rhode Island's amazing natural beauty, and those who take discards and repurpose them into something beautiful.

5. How long have you been in Rhode Island? 
I grew up here. Mark's been here for 10 years.

6. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island? 
For one, the size of Rhode Island promotes a sort of intimacy, allowing everyone to feel more connected. If you meet a fellow Rhode Islander and talk long enough, chances are very high you'll have at least one person in common. On top of that, we have amazing natural beauty, eye-catching historic architecture, killer restaurants, a great art community, and excellent proximity to Boston and New York.

7. Favorite place to take out-of-towners? 
So many places! But first and foremost I'd say Block Island. There I'd recommend Clayhead Trail, Winfield's restaurant, the labyrinth on Corn Neck Road, the Historic Society, the Farmer's Market, drinking/dining on the lawn of the Atlantic Inn, walking down to the Bluffs, swimming at Mansion Beach, strolling through the shops, mudslides at The Oar, followed by dancing at Capt. Nicks.

10. Any advice for new/wannabe makers? 
Don't get too far ahead of yourself. Keep the big picture in mind, but focus on the small steps. Just put one foot in front of the other and stay steady as you go. Also, don't get so lost in the creative work that you ignore the business parts. Keep records; know your costs; pay your bills on time; and get support if you need it. The business end is the foundation that supports the creative work.


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