Guest Post - Betsy from Burnt Barn Studios

Guest Post - Betsy from Burnt Barn Studios

April 27, 2019

I thought it would be a great idea to have one of our makers do a guest blog post so that you can hear from them in their own words why they love what they do.  This first guest post is from Betsy Gorman at Burnt Barn Studios.


My name is Betsy Gorman and I own Burnt Barn Studio.  I used to be a jewelry maker/designer and I loved almost everything about it. The dizzying assortment of stones, pearls and found objects were a feast for the eyes and a joy to work with.  When I made the transition from jewelry to mixed media design and graphic illustration the happy colors and the joy of being an alchemist came with me. 

Now, my medium of choice is architectural elements, vintage photographs and caches of all things lovingly worn by time and use.  In my woodshop and on my ipad I deconstruct, then I reconstruct, my challenge always being to see beyond disparate parts to create a new whole that looks like it always existed.  

I have always been drawn to hardworking parts and pieces.  When I was young my dad would greet my friends at the door, usher them into the dining room and introduce them to his carefully curated collection of bobbles and bits strewn across our long wooden dinner table.  Most were found at the Saturday morning tag sales and flea markets he would take us to.  Some were unearthed from a pile on the side of the road, but treasures all!  As they scanned the bounty he would point to one piece and ask, “Do you have any idea what that is?” My besties knew the drill and came prepared to impress him with their creative responses.  Truth is, he had no idea what most of it was but was drawn to these orphaned objects, always thinking he would find use for it somewhere, sometime.

I find myself my father’s daughter.  I first started working with vintage photographs after finding so many strays at estate sales.  There is always a table with albums and loose pics of once adored family members.  I always wondered, “where are your people and how did you come to this lowly place?” before grabbing a handful and taking them home to live with me.  I have a rotating assortment of these beautiful photographs that are displayed in most of my rooms. They are like family.  They are admired and talked to, they witness the unfolding of my life and I fully expect to meet them all someday in the great beyond.  

It was when my collection grew to epic proportions that the digital downloading and graphic transformations began. Now they are re-imagined with lively illustrations and ponderous thoughts and shared with others through my greeting cards and stationary line.      

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 down, 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 photograph lies a storied canvass, itself a symbol of strength, resilience and optimism. I love the synchronicity in that.

Betsy Gorman