Welcome to TMR Originals! We are Tim & Heidi Ranney of Philomath, Oregon. Originally from Colorado, we have been in the Pacific Northwest for the last 20 years, and have fallen in love with the temperate rain forest we now call home. We are creative people with terrific imaginations, and we really enjoy brainstorming together on our current shop projects. With today’s social focus on recycling and re-purposing, we’ve taken up the challenge of creating artistic items utilizing otherwise discarded components. Our whimsical sculptures are designed to bring a pop of color to your office, porch, hearth or yard. Please take a few minutes to review our artwork and feel free to contact us if you are interested in any of the items on display. Thank you for stopping in to visit us!
We made the front page of the Corvallis Gazette Times on Sunday August 17, 2014!
For Heidi and Tim Ranney of Philomath, it all began with a broken shovel. Heidi asked Tim to use his welding skills to turn an otherwise garbage-bound tool into a piece of art. “I asked him to use it to make me an owl,” she said. Tim, a skilled welder, didn’t flinch. He used the scoop end of the shovel as a body, used pieces of other tools to create the face, and presented it to Heidi. She painted it and posted the finished work on Facebook. “I got such great feedback from all over, we decided to do more,” Heidi said. The Ranneys’ whimsical creations — made from kitchen utensils, tools and everyday household items — have become a source of joy and additional income. Their story is similar to that of many local artisans who sell their original handmade pieces at shows around the valley. There’s a show to display their wares almost any weekend from March through November. Stamina’s essential “I do about four shows a year,” said Janelle King of Corvallis, who merged her passion for gardening with her skills as a graphic artist and joined the growing number of mid-valley individuals shopping their art at the fairs and crafts shows. King makes painted cement bowls and garden art patterned from the leaves in her own garden. She picked up the idea after visiting a tour of gardens in Corvallis. Fascinated by leaf cuts embedded in cement that she saw on the tour in 2011, King took a class to learn the process. Once she decided to add her painting skills to the work, her creations became desirable. “Gardeners told me they had never seen them painted before,” said King, a native of Australia. “Painting them sets it apart. Every one I do is unique like each leaf.” As shows sometimes have as many as 50 different booths, being unique enough to stand out is a necessity. So is having stamina. It can be hard work bringing material in and setting up for a show. King calls it the most difficult part of what she does. Vendors such as King and the Ranneys, whose pieces can be heavier than most, get a good workout just setting up for shows. As a result, many local artisans limit their appearances to the mid-valley. “We show on the weekends and try to make sure that we hit shows that are within an hour’s drive,” Heidi Ranney said. Molly Alexander takes her recycled wax candles to as many as 12 big shows a year, but she also tries to keep the commute short. “It’s better to do something that is close to home because packing things in and out can be a lot of work,” Alexander said. Setting up awnings and tents is time-consuming, so vendors usually arrive very early to prepare. Most bring their own food and drinks for the long days. Shows can run two to three days or more. The good news is that the load is almost always lighter coming home — that means a vendor had good sales. Sales, of course, are important. But one thing most of the artisans enjoy about the shows is the interaction with other vendors and customers. “You get to know the other people at the shows,” Alexander said. “It can be really enjoyable just talking to the vendors.” Heidi Ranney said it has to be fun. “If you aren’t enjoying it, then it’s not really worth it,” she said. Changing careers For most, it is worth the effort. A source of added income and an outlet for creativity are initial draws to the shows, but some have used the work as a springboard for a career change. Linda Herd has been creating jewelry using metals, stones and beads since 1997. When she moved from New York to Albany in 2001, she needed a job. “I couldn’t find work in my field,” said Herd, who holds degrees in German and architecture and a master’s degree in urban planning and design. She had success in New York selling her jewelry, so she decided to give it a go in Oregon. Herd applied to the Corvallis Fall Festival and launched her new career. “I used to go to four or five shows a year but I only do one or two now,” she said. Instead she has joined the Galleria Calapooia, an artists co-op in Albany’s Flinn Block. “Working with other artists has helped broaden my creative skills,” Herd said. Most mid-valley artisans are driven by the art. But some use it to do more than just create. Alexander and her husband, John, work from a studio on their property in Jefferson. Everything they make is entirely from recycled or reused material. “Every component is made out of something that has already been used,” Alexander said. “I get most of my wax from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Albany. The cut bottles we fit them in are mostly old wine and whiskey bottles we get from restaurants or friends.” Alexander said that in 2013 she was able to recycle more than 1,000 pounds of wax to make her candles. Putting together a candle is a 10-station process from cutting recycled scrap wire for use in the decorative process to smoothing the bottle edges. They visit recycling centers regularly looking for material to use in their creations. “We beg them for stuff,” Alexander said. The Ranneys are recyclers themselves. All of their items are made from old tools, nuts, bolts or other material they can find around the home. Heidi Ranney said they scan farm estate sales for material and take donations from friends. The results include lobsters made from post hole diggers, wrenches and slotted spoons, bumble bees made from bowling balls and dogs from box springs. “Tim does all the welding and I do the finishing,” Heidi said. “We get a kick out of seeing people at the shows. Our work always seems to make people crack a smile.” Customers are the key for everyone, and King said appreciation for the work is meaningful. “I love the immediate feedback,” King said. “It’s enjoyable to watch their reactions to the work and get their comments. A lot of them come back.” Pricing problems Herd said pricing is difficult. She said the art at the shows is always respected by the residents of the mid-valley, but it’s hard to sell when they see the price. “People have been led to believe you can get almost everything for $5, and they don’t always understand why things are priced the way they are,” Herd said. “They have to ask themselves if it’s worth buying something uniquely created by a local artist.” Artisans don’t mass produce. They turn garages, dens and basements into studios. And they take time to get each piece just right. “I have a studio space in the cellar of our house where I get to work with torches, hammers, saws and all kinds of loud and exciting things,” Herd said. Designing and creating a piece of jewelry can take as little as an hour or up to two days to complete. King can finish the basic form of her cement leaves in a few hours but they have to dry for up to a month before she can paint them. They then have to sit for another month before they are ready to sell. For the Ranneys, once the design is done, their combined efforts can complete a project from welding to painted finish in three to five hours. With fall approaching, now artisans are gearing up for the holiday sales season. “We usually go through Thanksgiving,” Heidi Ranney said. “Then we get a hiatus in the winter.” That doesn’t stop the creative juices. Artisans build up inventory in the off-months. It’s time to prep for another year on the circuit, which starts again in March. “It’s a good feeling to create what we do,” said Alexander. “It can be hard work but we like doing it.”