ELKO – The skilled hands of a team of artists transform paint, found objects, old wood and other materials. These garage sale gurus have opened a side gig that fulfills their need to work with their hands.
“While it does sound like sushi, it’s not,” Asia May said about the name of the business, Wabi Sabi Designs. “It’s more of a concept, perfectly imperfect.”
Japanese in origin, the term “wabi-sabi” has developed to mean “beauty in imperfection.” It is often applied to various art forms.
Husband and wife team Asia and Colten May have always been creative and enjoy working with both new and familiar media. Their fluid paintings especially encompass the wabi-sabi concept. Now they have taken their hobbies a step further and opened an online business specializing in home décor.
“I have always had a passion for working with wood,” Colten said. “I was in construction for over a decade and I like seeing things built from scratch. I think every piece of art is that way. The start is not always as it ends. We both develop art as we go.”
“You really have to let it speak to you,” Asia said. “We like to encourage people to use found items and we give 10 percent off if they bring in their own wood.”
While the artists make replicas of some of their creations, they are always coming up with new products and thrive on doing custom design.
They communicate with clients to come up with that one-of-a-kind piece for the home or office. Soon, they hope to branch into making furniture.
In a recent haul, Asia discovered a classic 1950s television. She plans to convert the hairpin legs into something magical.
Asia creates her wood-burned designs in a drawing program and then transfers the image to wood, going over the marks with the burner.
“It’s really cool to see the design go from iPad to paper to burned on the wood,” Asia said. “A mandala takes me about three hours to do. It’s tedious but they turn out so nice.”
While some of their products are decorative, many serve a dual purpose with hooks or knobs for scarves, keys and other eccoutrement. The combination of making things that are both beautiful and basic is endless.
“I like artwork that is dual purpose,” Asia said. “I love things that are aesthetically interesting but functional.”
Most of their custom pieces take about a week’s turnaround time.
Asia and Colten recently opened an Etsy shop. They also sell artwork at Duncan LittleCreek Gallery. Soon they will be hitting the local craft market circuit with a large collection of goods.
“This is a passion more than a job,” Colten said.