Made from architectural elements and repurposed materials, the art from Burnt Barn Studio is food for the eyes. Often featuring iconic images and vintage elements, pieces range from functional to decorative and are created in Valatie, NY by mother and daughter team, Betsy Gorman and Anita Bernadi. With Betsy working as the primary designer and business manager while Anita works as a creative advisor, there’s no shortage of idea when it comes to the pair. Most recently, the studio has introduced a line of whimsical notecards. We caught up with Betsy via email to learn more about Burn Barn Studios and what she and Anita are up to next.
Self Made: What inspired Burnt Barn Studio?
BG: I have always been drawn to the beauty of all things lovingly worn by time and use. My shop name takes inspiration from a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai. After watching his barn burn to the ground Mizuta Masahide wrote the haiku, "Barn's burnt, now I can see the moon." It reminds me that with every challenge, every transition or setback there are opportunities and glimmers of divine grace. And, within every discarded or abandoned door, window or fragment of crown molding lies a storied canvass, itself a symbol of strength, resilience and optimism. I love the synchronicity in that.
SM: How did you learn your craft?
BG: I have a strong background as an artist and maker and was a jewelry designer before switching gears to work with architectural elements. A simple artistic imperative has always permeated my work; a pleasing visual composition and a pop of the unexpected in the form of texture or color. I am a self- taught wood worker and now navigate a large wood shop filled with a wonderful range of electric saws and routers, power and hand tools, sanders, grinders, clamps, paints, brushes and finishes.
SM: What are some of your favorite parts of being a maker?
BG: I love the freedom to rift with my art and the mediums I interact with. I love that I can work late into the night and then take a two hour hike the next day. I create my own aesthetic and my own hours and that’s a beautiful thing.
SM: What keeps you inspired?
BG: Nature and all things outdoors.
SM: Are there any routines or rituals you follow that help keep you on track?
BG: My days always starts the same; meditation, coffee and time spent outside-usually with my dog, Puddy. Most days are split between creating (either in my wood shop or in my studio) and the business end (social media, web research etc.) I have a Spotify premium account and stream music that fits my mood. The Lumineers are a steady reliable for high production days!
SM: Who are some of your favorite independent designers/local brands?
BG: JSKY Dyes, The Binderie, Kelly & Co., Lisa Cogdon, Emma Repp, and Cara M. Hanley.
SM: If we came to visit you, where are three places you would insist on taking us and why?
BG: My studio is minutes from Main Street Valatie, home to some great eating and shopping spots. I love the Sandwich Shop & The Valatie Bar and Grill (both featuring locally sourced and organic meats and produce and Valatie based Tierra Farm products), Great Finds (a beautifully curated mix of clothing, home goods, jewelry and treasures) and scenic walking trails that meander along Kinderhook Creek. I am minutes from the quaint town of Kinderhook and the more bustling towns of Albany and Hudson and an endless loop of walking and hiking trails that meander through beautiful Columbia County.
SM: Are there any new projects/products in the works that you would like to share with us?
BG: I just introduced notecards to my product line. Still a work in progress but I love where this is going. One series features images of my completed works and the other series is of embellished vintage photographs that have a decidedly irreverent tone. They are both incredibly fun to create and will be a focus for me going forward.
The work of Burnt Burnt Barn Studio is available at Great Finds, Sanctuary Home in Beacon, Arlene’s Artist Supplies and Albany is Pawsome Public Art Project in Albany. You can shop their website where they also list their upcoming events and show.