Meet Clare and Wayne:
Both our personal and business stories are a combination of happy accidents and a mutual habit of doing things our own way. On our first date, we dug into what we thought was the bar’s pool-table buffet. It was actually food laid out for a wake, and we’d unwittingly joined the mourners. We’re still laughing (and feeling a little sheepish) about it, years later.
Our business started much the same way. As one of Clare’s art shows closed — a collaborative installation using found, donated and reclaimed materials — Wayne offered his garage for temporary storage. While we hauled materials into the garage, still managing to enjoy each other’s company, we had the idea to do a project, our first, together. We had a lot of leftover wood from the show...so why not, you know, build a table or something?
That’s how Mutual Adoration began.
Soon after came a commercial installation job using more of this wood. With our backgrounds in sculpting and printmaking (Clare) and photography and all things mechanical (Wayne), working with wood, together, was a surprisingly satisfying transition. We both prioritize craftsmanship and love colorful, visually compelling design. This makes our work easy.
Quality and Design:
We’re not the only craft shop you know, not even the only one in Detroit. Yet, we know our quality of work and our level of design set us apart. Everything at Mutual Adoration is built by hand right here in our studio in Detroit.
Our style is contemporary, but our methods are traditional. While we use old materials and are committed to building pieces that will last, our outlook — and output — is modern. We were artists by trade before we ever picked up a saw or hammer.
How We Design:
Take a visual artist and a photographer, give them some tools and a pile of old wood, and see what happens. Actually, that’s pretty close to how we began.
Clare is the design visionary and Wayne is the good-with-his-hands tinkerer. Clare dreams it up, and Wayne makes it happen. Clare designs the pieces and Wayne works backwards, reverse engineering each product idea...from finish to start. Together with our skilled team, we turn ideas into functional pieces.
We indulge in paint and stains. We use tools the “wrong” way to achieve the look we want. We push the limits, dreaming up odd new uses for old pieces.
And when we’re done? We sand, coat, finish and polish our wood pieces with natural oils and waxes. Some items get multiple coats of polyurethane to protect them during everyday home usage. We don’t just want you to look at our products. We want you to actually use them!
What can we do with a pile of old windows? A stack of painted doors? Flooring from a long-shuttered pharmacy? How do we combine traditional woodworking techniques with a contemporary design aesthetic using materials with already-built-in stories? The experimentation and the challenge is constant and we love it.
Abandoned storefront to dining table. Flooring to photo frame. How do we do it? It’s not just a matter of picking up some wood, cutting it to size and nailing it together. The transformation process has several steps, and is labor intensive to say the least. It takes far longer than driving down to the lumber yard or home improvement store.
Take our photo frames. The wood may be free to us, but we have to process and store it before we can take tools to it. We pull nails, remove old paint, measure, cut, shape, glue, clamp, nail, drum sand, paint, sand again, stain, cut glass, include origin info, assemble, hand screen print, and oil each one. It’s a two-week process and it’s definitely not “just” a frame.
Why do we do all of this? Not just because we care about reusing and recycling materials, although of course we really do. The wood we collect is wood that you just can’t get anywhere these days. It’s from old growth trees. It’s denser, heavier, stronger and has a feel, a look, a natural iridescence that you just can’t find anymore.
What’s missing in woodworking? Color. We’re not just talking trim either. We mean washes of blue, splashes of orange, stippling of purples and reds and yellows. All while letting the natural grain of each piece show, in some ways more clearly as the color draws you closer.
We find our customers love when we add hues to our hand-made products. People like shopping with color in mind, imagining where to place and how to use each piece. It makes our work stand out, inviting conversation over where the wood originated. We love that. Continuing our commitment to reuse, we don’t buy paint either! Yes, we also use recycled paint...most forgotten cans in your garage will do. In our workspace you’ll see a wall of clear containers brimming with color, combinations mixed in house, varying with the seasons, some hues only to be seen once and then gone forever.