Friday, April 17, 2009


Dave Stanbrough of
Grizzly Mountain Arts

I confess, I have fallen in love with Dave ..........
and his spool knitters!
Don't get me wrong! ... Dave is happily married to
his soul-mate JoAnna ....... and I to my soul-mate Chris.
Dave and JoAnna together create beautiful
fiber art tools - tatting shuttles, crochet hooks,
lace bobbins, thread winders,
needle cases, niddy noddies, etc., as well as
incredibly beautiful jewelery
and baskets.

Dave's incredible woodwork and artistry is exquisite
when it comes to the spool knitter he creates.

Giving the spool a theme and adding to it with
its own matching tool, the care and attention to detail
to make sure that all features compliment each other overall
making a very pleasing result is Dave's special touch.
And it is so easy to see why they are so much in demand.

When I asked Dave if I could do a post about him and JoAnna
(JoAnna's profile to be brought to you in Part Two -
on my Crazyhaberdasher blog) , I was thrilled when they
accepted. Dave gave me a personal account of how
he came to this very creative time in his life.............

"......I joined the Navy at the age of 17 during the
Viet Nam War and became interested in the culture
of a sailor's shipboard life and the history that went
along with it, including the artform of scrimshaw.
The term "scrimshaw" is said to be derived from ole
English slang "scrimshanker" which means a
"waster of time" or in the case of a sailor on long
voyages "one having a lot of time on his hands to waste".
Sailors did NOT just do ink etchings of palm trees and
hula dancers on whales teeth! They actually spent many
hours making useful and intricate items to take home to
their wives and lovers that included yarn swifts,
needle cases, crochet hooks or knitting needles...... so
you might say that sailors have been involved in making
sewing notions and fiber tools for a long time."

"Since my Navy years in the late 1960's, I have mostly
piddled around with scratch and ink scrimshaw on
bone and deer/elk antler. When I retired from the US
Fish and Wildlife Service in 2002, JoAnna and I moved to
the Oregon Coast, rented a beach cottage and became
beachcombers and artists. I also started doing scrimshaw
art on the various ancient fossil mammoth and walrus ivory
that was legal to buy and sell, and import and export.
We joined the Yaquina Bay Artist Association and helped
staff the artists cooperative gallery located in Nye beach
and we also started doing the various art/craft show
venues during the tourist season."

"It was during an art show that a lady asked me if I could
make her an ivory tatting shuttle? She left me with one of her
plastic clover shuttles as a model. She was so thrilled with
her ivory shuttle she told me that I should start
offering them to collectors via Ebay auctions, which I did.
I expanded that to include wooden shuttles with ivory
and mother-of-pearl inlay and carvings. As my
customer base and contacts grew, I began receiving
requests to make other types of fiber art tools such as
lace bobbins, crochet hooks, needle cases, threadwinders,
lucets, etc. The list kept growing and spool knitters
was also added in the last year or so."

"After a couple of years on the rainy Pacific coast,
in 2004 we moved to the dry side of the
Cascade Mountains in central Oregon and had our
retirement home built near the base of the
Grizzly Mountain and took on the business name
of Grizzly Mountain Arts. We still travel back to
the coast to do art shows in May and November."

"I do not do mass production of any one thing. I simply make
what I feel like making and put it up for auction. I have been
invited to many fiber art siminars/conventions to sell items as
a tool vendor but I do not carry any inventory of fiber tool
items to sell. I simply make an item and sell it as fast as I
make it. I rotate the types of items I make .... doing shuttles
for a while, then hooks for a while and then bobbins,
spool knitters, etc. The number of items I make for
auction is slowly dropping as I agree to take on more and more
custom made items by order. I do not do custom made items
that sell for less than US$50.00. If I did, I would be
flooded with requests for US$5 bobbins and thread winders. I
have to be very selective about what commission work
I take on so that it does not dominate my creative time
and take away time from the other mix of art media
JoAnna and I do."

"In addition to the fiber art tools I make, JoAnna and I work
together in making ancient ivory jewelery, ceramic jewelery
and stitching pine needle baskets, which are decorated with
either ivory, ceramics or wood burn etchings (pyrography)."

Dave and JoAnna

"As you can see, the spool knitters are a small part of what
I do. I have found them very interesting to make and
their size does offer me a little more surface area to work
on with burn etching and inlay work or carvings. They are
similar to duck calls which I also turn on my
mini lathe and like the duck calls, they can be
decorated up in a number of ways. When I first
started looking at the spool knitters, I thought to
myself at that time "these look just like the bottom portion
of a duck call, only with knitting pins inset around
the hole where the reed call inserts". So basically,
to make a spool knitter, I turn a fancy duck call and
add the knitting pins."..................

Above - Dave's wood burn etchings.
Included among the woods and materials Dave
uses for his spool knitters are - cedar, maple,
olive wood, walnut, and tagua nut.

To see more of the Grizzly Mountain Arts
exquisite pieces click here -
Grizzly Mountain Arts
Grizzly Mountain Arts Blogspot
Good Dirt Jewelery Etsy

I will be continuing with JoAnna's story in
Part Two
on my other blog - Crazyhaberdasher - soon
to be posted. I will let you know when.


I want to thank both Dave and JoAnna for
affording me their time and generosity
and help in enabling me to put this together.



Grizzly Mountain Arts said...

Marian, What a wonderful article! Thank you so much for doing this. We really appreciate it! :)

Lace-lovin' Librarian - Diane said...

Marian, I love your article! Dave and Jo are two of my favorite artists. I love collecting and using Dave's tatting shuttles. Some day I hope to win one of his spool knitters!

crazyhaberdasher said...

You are very welcome Dave and JoAnna!

crazyhaberdasher said...

Hi Diane! ...... thanks so much and some day I would love to own one of Dave's spoolknitters too!
.... and some tatting shuttles, and crochet hooks, and needle cases, and .........!

TattingChic said...

What a great tribute to a fabulous fibert tool artist and his lovely wife! I have purchased some of Daves BEAUTIFUL tatting shuttles and I have to say they are unequaled in their beauty and quality! I consider each piece I've purchased from Dave and Joanna to be a treasured work of art...and work of heart.

Clyde said...

What a wonderful article. I do not think enough nice things can be said about Dave and Jo's talents.

crazyhaberdasher said...

Dave and JoAnna are a fantastic couple.....doing the profiles for both are were a joy!

Itsy said...

I'm lucky enough to own one of the knitting spools pictured.It's beautiful. I'm looking at it right now as I'm reading about the artist. Thanks for a great article.

crazyhaberdasher said...

Hi Itsy! have such a treasure!

Helmi said...