What does it mean to make it in Portland? Usually people think of the phrase “making it” the way Frank Sinatra did when he sang, “NY, NY...If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere...” He wasn’t referring to making a handknit sweater or a ceramic mug. No sir-ree-Bob.
Then again, Frank didn’t live in 2013 Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Had he done so, he might’ve been in an entirely different NY state of mind. Nor did he live here in Portland, where something handmade, handheld, heartfelt and homespun is often what making it is all about.
People are making things all over Portland. They work alone and together, in communal spaces and at home in garages and basements. They sell on etsy or on their own web storefronts or in retail shops in various Portland neighborhoods. Some are from Portland (or Oregon) originally, but most are from elsewhere – bigger places, smaller places, other medium-sized cities. Some came here randomly, most came deliberately. All of them stay because they want to. They like it here.
And we like that they make things here. In that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of some of the Portland makers we like. They make things out of wood, paper, fabric, clay, steel, with or without the help of big or small digital or mechanical machines, old or new technology and techniques.
- Studio Moe–makers of wooden furniture (by transplanted tango-dancing New Yorker Andrew Moe)
- Delia Furniture–steel furniture, custom made or not, rugged but sleek
- Phloem–Ben Klebba (and family and friends at Beam & Anchor), strong angles
- Altura–elegant wooden furniture that transcends its Northwest origins
- Denali–live edge wood and other furniture
- Revolution Design House–Boxcar planters made of solid wood by Joe Gibson; ceramic hanging Bloomer planters from Zoe Umholtz
- Arborela–steel structures for people and plants, made to last outdoors forever
- Hail Mary–mosiacs by Mary Topogna (for outdoors or in)
The list is decidedly non-comprehensive, and begging to be added to.
- Who do you know who’s making things in Portland?
- Which person, place or company should we visit next?