Mary Burrows of MB Arts makes inspiring magnets, shirts and wall hangings! What started as a re-creation of a precious ceramic handprint has become a successful family business. The joy she feels making is apparent with each and every piece.
Here’s our full interview with Mary in her own words:
How did you get started creating your pieces?
Our son didn’t talk until almost age 4. Also, my doctor recommended I try hypnobirthing for our daughter’s birth. These two experiences with my children eventually took me on a path to art and living a life that involved getting to know my inner and outer worlds in a much deeper way. Prior to giving birth to my son, I spent around 15 years in the corporate world and never really created anything other than spreadsheets. also, I really didn’t experience any art in school or create art in my own time.
Things quickly changed after reading a mothering magazine article about Waldorf education. I was happily surprised to discover that we had a Waldorf preschool in Reno, NV. I enrolled our son without knowing that I was about to do a 180 with my life.
Soon after that I accidentally knocked his ceramic hand print off of our fireplace mantel. I decided to recreate it and the next thing I knew my mother-in-law was giving her used kiln to me. A friend then suggested I start selling the small pieces I was making with stamped words. After having a ceramic hand/foot prints business and teaching art classes to children for 5 years, I decided to eventually get serious with offering my ceramic goods on etsy in 2010. I then added wholesale customers slowly each year and my business grew with my children.
A day doesn’t go by now that I don’t feel grateful for what I get to do each day. I wake up excited to start creating.
What’s the favorite part of your work/what you make?
Finding words that open my heart and then seeing how much it moves and encourages others as well. Also, creating patterns is something I really enjoy.
How do you express your creativity through your work?
Through the words I choose to include in our line and the patterns I create. Also, the simplicity of it all.
What brings you joy?
Being alive. The sunshine. Music. My loved ones, including my fur babies. Being of service to others. Connecting with others. Being in nature, especially the ocean. I know it sounds cheesy, but simply being grateful each day.
What challenge(s) have you overcome?
Eventually turning what I love to do into our full-time livelihood with my husband, Cory, joining the making in 2012 was definitely a process with lots of trial and error.
Cory and I bring different strengths to what we do. It was challenging at first having to give up some of the making. Eventually, I gave up almost all of the making with the ceramics since my breathing got really bad and I didn’t want to take any chances in case it was due to the clay dust. I now screen print all of our textiles in addition to designing our ceramics and textile lines, boxing up orders and working with all of our wholesale and retail customers.
I have to say Cory is quite a craftsman and pro problem solver and was able to really help grow our business with goods that are consistent as you can get for being handmade. Also, we moved our ceramic’s studio 4 times in a span of 4 years while we were homeschooling our children. It was quite an adventure!
Anything exciting in the works/coming up for you?
We are working towards moving to the Oregon coast with a larger studio!
What do you wish for the world?
Inner peace, freedom, connection and eating less animals and more plants.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
During our traveling adventure, we lived in the Phoenix area for 3 years and got to meet so many awesome people.
We still have family in the area. We are grateful for getting to experience the incredibly beautiful desert landscape and sunsets.