Erica Witbeck, Versatile Operations Manager

At Swedish restaurant Broder Nord, right up the road from Versatile headquarters, Erica Witbeck took some time out of her busy day managing schedules to share her story with me. Learning about Erica and what it means to be an “operations manager” was not only interesting, but complex.

Erica started with Arciform — Versatile’s sister company — 4 years ago as their purchasing manager and 2.5 years ago she transitioned into the operations manager position for Versatile.

Erica Describes the Difference Between Two Roles

“As purchasing manager, I tracked inventory, scheduled delivery drivers and managed usage of the paint booth facility. Now I manage people more than product.”

Erica has a unique background, having studied sculpture and printmaking at PNCA in addition to art history and chemistry at PSU.

Her father’s doctoral studies and subsequent university assignments lead the family throughout the Midwest. Erica grew up in a variety of towns from Nebraska to Indiana

Erica’s father is a botanist, and currently works in environmental risk assessment. Her mother recently retired from respiratory care, having previously worked and studied in phlebotomy and emergency response.

It’s clear that Erica’s parents have passed on a level of education that plays out in Erica’s career today. She remembers illustrating cell structures of plants for her father’s textbook as an adolescent and realizes, spontaneously, how this is at work in her career today.

“My father had my brother and me do illustrations for his journals. I learned the vascular systems of plants at a young age,” she remembers and then realizes, “I now understand why wood makes sense to me.”

Erica Witbeck has always loved materials. She talks of the different ways wood behaves when it is kiln dried vs. air dried and how different wood treatments or product applications can behave in a variety of scenarios. Her chemistry studies have helped her out more than once in this arena.

A Typical Day at Versatile Wood Products

I ask her about a typical day at Versatile and she says, “It all starts with the schedule. This can last from around 2 hours to the good part of my day, depending on how many hiccups there are.”

She must check-in with the shop, the drafting and design teams and with the sales people. Each department plays an important role in the production of a job. The life cycle of a job can complete in a matter of weeks, or be years in the making. This wide gamut of timelines and people involved is why “the schedule”—or more commonly know in the construction industry as The Gantt Chart—tends to be the driving force in Erica’s day.

Erica must have her finger on the pulse of each job so that she knows when it is time to call a production meeting, facilitate each department’s needs, or help lay out next steps. It is up to her to determine when it is time to call in more carpenters, or to notice if there is an equipment limitation that may hamper capacity; for example, “Do we need to buy more glass cups to take on that huge window job? How many jobs can start milling simultaneously, and how does that affect pacing?”

“It’s not just hours and bodies, it’s activities,” Erica says when she describes how she thinks about each job. “I don’t want to send anyone home and I also don’t want there to be more work than the shop can handle at one time. It’s like playing chess with the people and pieces on the board.”

I can sense the pride and confidence in Erica’s voice when she talks about the historical aspect to Versatile’s work.

Versatile, A Trusted Go-To That Is Fluent in Custom Historic Buildings

“As a custom wood manufacturing shop, we’re not always going to be the first choice for every job. But with our expertise in historical projects, we’re known as a trusted go-to that is fluent in custom historic buildings.”

When I ask what her favorite part of her job is, she says,

“It’s the pride in making. The thought and intention that goes into creating the products that we do is exciting. I like making something tangible and enduring. We have had doors come to us for restoration or reproduction that have lasted 100 years and now we’re making them to last 100 more. There’s something very satisfying about that.”

Erica tells me a bit about her home life with her two children, ages 6 and 9. She compares them to bear cubs and the garden she’s created from a yard that used to be nothing but dirt. “Gardening brings me peace. I don’t listen to music or podcasts when I garden. That’s my time to hear my surroundings. To connect with my neighbors and to feel the dirt.”

Before we wrap up our “Fika” (coffee-time as the Swedish would call it), Erica says, “There’s a 3rd aspect to my job that’s pretty interesting. It’s a surprising part, that I didn’t realize would be so fun for me.”

It’s Data

“What is it?” I’m curious.

“It’s data.”

Using Versatile’s internal project management program, FMYI, QuickBooks and Excel, Erica works to organize statistics from each job into charts that can be used to analyze and provide meaningful insights.

“We may have jobs that feel incredibly challenging. The emotional story may be that the job was terrible, but if we make room for that challenge, the analysis may reveal something different.”

Erica Witbeck recalls the whale watching center in Depoe Bay Versatile worked on last summer and how it was their first time working with salvaged redwood. “We had our concerns, but it ended up coming out really well. It left us with a high-traffic, historic project to put in our portfolio. Through the data I could see by every metric that the job was a success.”

Finding trends and patterns that lead to solutions brings Erica’s analytical mind to the table. I’m left with the thought that analytical thinking may actually be more prominent in artists than we realize.

Celebrating the Towne Storage Job

Towne Storage

Towne Storage -208 windows, 455 sashes, 13 building phases (spanning October 2016 through August 2017), 81 deliveries to site, 4,752 pounds of lead sash weights, 5,967 square feet of insulated glass units and 1.2 miles of Simulated Divide Lite (SDL) bar applied and we’re finally ready to celebrate the Towne Storage job!

It was a perfect night for a celebration. As you will see from these pictures, we’re very proud of this work.

Back in March of 2016 we heard the news that the 101 year old, historic Towne Storage building at 17 SE 3rd Avenue would be renovated and expanded to include creative office space. Versatile Wood Products was proud to be the go-to custom window supplier.

Working closely with Bremik Construction, we built and installed 37 transom windows, 8 sash-only units and 163 classic windows. On Thursday August 24th, 2017 Versatile celebrated the completion of the project.

Our evening was filled with laughter, comraderie and cheers for a job well done. Below are photos from start to finish:

The job began in October of 2016. Bremik took out all of the old windows, boarded each window with plywood and commenced masonry repairs on the south side and the unsalvageable openings. As they worked we got started on designing and building. First up was the sash-only repairs the new energy efficient transom windows to match the original style designed by architects, McNaughton & Raymond.

Anna—an Arciform designer—gets some hands-on product cross-training, and Henry is an apprentice. Here they are running profiles on the exterior SDL bars. They did this for a few days yet just made a dent in the total quantity needed. Jeff, our mill foreman, made sure that materials were run in the right order and maximum yield from the lumber was attained.

Sashes are stacked on top of each other while the glue dries. We use a time-honored technique to put the sash together with a classic construction, mortise and tenon joint. Mortise and tenon joinery has been in use for thousands of years and remains the gold standard for high quality joinery.

What’s the difference between a frame and a sash?

Sash is just the square that the glass is attached to. The frame is the jamb that goes in the opening. The jamb includes the sill and is what the sash are seated inside. (More on this in another post!)

Henry, Thor and Matt use deep in frame construction, which the sash will next be fitted into. The process requires teamwork and precision, because a perfect fit for both the sash and the masonry opening depend on accuracy.

Product design is more than drafting. Here our designers Rex Vaccaro and Curtis Nagel, inspect their prototype. They make sure the sashes operate smoothly and all of the elements come together as drafted. They also make sure the frames will work with the openings in a very irregular old building. The design team met regularly with Bremik to strategize about installation needs as site conditions evolved. This required flexibility and responsiveness throughout the course of the project. With the seasoned experts from Bremik as our installation partners meant that each piece fit perfectly when it arrived on site.

And now it’s time to celebrate Towne Storage…

We’re done! Our last load delivery deserves a photo.

We don’t mind a beverage or two. Richard points to other buildings on the horizon that Versatile has worked on.

A view from the top.

Product designer, Alan Ford says there’s no better spot to sit than an open window.

The future is bright.

For more historic Versatile Wood projects, visit http://versatilewp.com/historic-buildings/

Jeff Vasey, Versatile Wood Products Jack-of-All Trades

Jeff Vasey of Versatile Wood Products
Jeff Vasey of Versatile Wood Products. Behind him sits a 100-year-old “mortiser machine.”

As a train filled with lumber roars by, Versatile Wood Product’s mill foreman, Jeff Vasey, takes a break from his normal duties to share his story with me. Jeff is the longest-working employee for Versatile and started with the sister company, Arciform, in 2001. Beginning as a field carpenter, he worked with a small team of four carpenters who built the original Arciform building in North Portland off Skidmore Street and Interstate Avenue. The business owned by Richard and Anne DeWolf’s quickly outgrew that location.

Train tracks off North Randolph street, Portland, OR.
Train tracks off North Randolph street, Portland, OR. Photo by Christopher Dibble

“Arciform outgrew the original shop right away,” says Vasey. “So they bought a second building in the industrial area off North Randolph Street.”

The Arciform shop space was originally only ¼ of the size it is today, and much of it was rented to other tenants. “AWOL Dance Studio would have aerial dancers hanging from the ceilings in one part of the warehouse,” remembers Vasey.

Arciform Acquires Versatile Wood Products

Then, in 2011, the merge happened. Arciform acquired the 30-year-old custom wood manufacturing company, Versatile Sash and Door (now Versatile Wood Products). The aerial dancers no longer dangled from the ceiling and Vasey played a major role in the expansion of the workshop.

Jeff’s devotion to Arciform and Versatile and his pride in his work becomes clear to me as he talks about developing the space.

“As a field carpenter, you’re sort of a jack-of-all-trades. This came in handy for me as an employee of Arciform and Versatile. I helped wire the new building’s shop-space and created a piping/dust-collection system. In addition I remodeled, built and moved equipment as our space and services expanded,” says Jeff.

Jeff explains the many types of wood Versatile carries. Versatile holds over 40 different species of wood and grades.

Jeff Vasey’s Story

“I’ve always had a mechanical-type of brain,” Jeff reflects. He remembers participating in the soapbox derby when he was 9 and 10 years old, where he won the awards for best constructed as well as best designed car.

Raised in Fargo, North Dakota, Jeff Vasey moved to Portland in 1985. I learn that Jeff is not only a carpenter, an engineer and a mechanic, but he’s also an artist.

Art brought Vasey to his wife, Vicky DeKrey, as well as to Oregon. Vasey and DeKrey met at North Dakota State University, where they both majored in art. At first living with a cousin in Washington, DC, they finally followed their favorite professor, Jerry Vanderline, who was originally from Portland, Oregon. As a result, when Vanderline moved back to Portland, he invited them for a visit.

“We toured over 11,000 miles of land on the way. Oregon was by far the most beautiful of all the places I’d been.”

It’s a familiar story to me. My own parents grew up in the flat lands of Oklahoma. When they took a road trip to the Northwest they were completely wonder-struck by the tall trees and lush greenness of it all. Perhaps it is a place that attracts artists.

However, once in Oregon, Jeff Vasey painted less and less. He got into photography, created electronic music, hiked and backpacked. He also started fixing a friend’s home in exchange for living there. After a while he learned of Arciform from a friend who worked there.

Jeff’s Work Today

As we walk through the shop, Jeff explains to me what different tools do.

“This one is probably the oldest machine in the shop. It must be over a hundred years old and is built like a battleship.” Jeff says. “It drills this groove into the window frame so you can fit these two joints together.”

He holds up two sash frame corners and slides them smoothly into place. It’s called a mortise and tenon joint.

Jeff is no longer a field carpenter because he has grown into the shop manager at Versatile. When I ask Jeff what his favorite thing about his job is, he says it’s the variety of projects they work on. He likes the details of some of the historical-style carpentry work. He fondly reflects on his days as a field carpenter.

“I miss getting to see the end result of my work as much as I did when I was working in the field. I loved getting to work directly with Anne and Richard on projects, because having the designer or architect so accessible while working on a project is a treat. It’s a collaborative process here.”

One of Vasey’s favorite woods is this quarter-sawn white oak. He holds it to the light for us to see it shimmer.

I learn that Jeff Vasey is known as the resident wood expert at Versatile. Asking him what his favorite type of wood is, he shakes his head and says, “No, I couldn’t choose just one.”

by Snow Blackwood, Creative Director of SnowBDesigns
Photos by Christopher Dibble Photography

 

Richard De Wolf Interviewed on StreetTalk Podcast

This week, Richard was interviewed by Amy Rosenberg of Veracity’s StreetTalk Podcast where he spoke about his love for vintage structures, the value of mixed income levels in controversial Historic Districts (HD’s) and why it’s important to protect HD’s and why it’s easier to maintain a building than it is to change it.

See the accompanying article and hear the interview on the Veracity website.

Curtis Nagel, Versatile’s New Drafter

Curtis Nagel

After his enlistment in the Navy Curtis Nagel returned to Texas to complete an Associate Degree in Architectural Technology. To begin his professional journey as a drafter. Curtis’ most recent accomplishment was obtaining his Master’s Degree in Technology Management with an emphasis in safety (occupational and industrial hygiene). During each of these degrees, Curtis worked full time as a drafter and buyer for an electronics manufacturing business.  The business developed devices for the disabled community that had limited to no mobility.

You’ve been brought on as one of Versatile’s Drafters. Tell us about what your areas of responsibility will be.

Curtis Nagel: My main areas of responsibility will deal with documenting site specific conditions and applying my knowledge of architectural building systems to assist in drafting technical shop drawings for manufacturing. I will be collaborating with the sales, estimating, manufacturing, and other design teams to ensure my work will be easily understood and of high value.

You have a background in personnel management, avionics maintenance, architectural and mechanical drafting/design, and component procurement. What aspects of Versatile’s work and process are most similar to your previous work? What’s the most different?

Curtis Nagel: The most similar aspect that I can compare is collaboration. Knowledge is not static and must be continuously updated to assist in getting all hands on the same page. With multiple divisions collaborating projects together, we all can gain by learning the experience and knowledge from our peers and clients, working towards an end goal. The most different aspect that differs from my previous employment is with the large amount of individuals involved with each project. When I designed electronic case enclosures, there were only a handful of individuals involved from start to finish during project conception all the way to manufacturing, including principals.

What inspires you about custom manufacture?

Curtis Nagel: I consider custom manufacturing to be hand crafted and of quality work that cannot be obtained at a big box home improvement store. There are many times we “update” our homes with what is readily available but not always of the most suitable choice when seeking quality and period correct components for the project at hand. No matter what restaurant, store, landmark, building, or house that I am visiting, I am constantly looking at the design and building techniques used. I find more enjoyment out of those who take the time to understand the building components and manufacture them to suit the building properly and with quality.

Describe one of your favorite past projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

Curtis Nagel: I was in charge of developing an adaptive switch that would allow users with cerebral palsy to access switch-based communication devices. While there are many types of adaptive switches in the niche market that we served, none were of higher quality. I was able to dissect and study each of the main competitor switches to see what made their switches “special” in their brand. Overall, I found nothing that really set them apart and I focused on designing a switch that was quieter when actuated, was much more durable for the CP user who was rougher on equipment, and that used custom manufacturing techniques that did not require redundant and costly fasteners. I was able to incorporate die-cut sound dampening foam pads that reduced noise when actuated as well as when the switch recoiled.

Designing the switch using a specific blend of plastics that allowed higher impact. And since this switch was only 2.5 inches in diameter with incorporated wiring and mechanics, the use of excess fasteners was reduced by understanding the effects of bonding plastic parts together with certain solvents. The precision design work of multiple components this small was a challenge to make sure they mate properly and did not hinder functionality because that would mean our disabled users would not be able to use their communication devices.

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?” 
  1. One of my bucket list items would be to travel to the Pyramids of Giza. I have always enjoyed learning about the architecture of the ancient Egyptians.
  2. During my first year of architecture school I wrote a paper on the architecture in Greece. I would love to go see the Acropolis in person.
  3. A few years ago I used to run competitively and never made it to the marathon level. I would love to leap over that distance hurdle.

About Versatile Wood Products | Contact Us

Nicole Carruth, Versatile’s New Sales Assistant:

Nicole Carruth

Meet Nicole Carruth, one of Versatile’s new Sales Assistants. She has a degree in Interior Design from Portland Community College and previously studied art. Professionally, she has a background in retail and the service industry.

You’ve been brought on as one of Versatile’s first-ever Sales Assistants. Tell us about what your areas of responsibility will be.

Nicole Carruth: As a Sales Assistant, my basic responsibility will be to format sales quotes and estimates; I am also here to support the Sales Team whenever other needs come up. I’m excited to grow in this position and I look forward to discovering what defines the role of Sales Assistant in the future.

You have a background in interior design and showroom sales. What aspects of Versatile’s work and process are most similar to your previous work? What’s the most different?

Nicole Carruth: The aspects that are most similar to my previous work are things like writing specifications and researching materials. The thing that is most different is that I’m working in a sales department that isn’t storefront retail, which is refreshing.

What inspires you about custom manufacture?

Nicole Carruth: Custom manufacture is unique and somewhat of an art form in modern society; and I have the privilege of contributing to that.

Describe one of your favorite past projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

Nicole Carruth: Most of the projects I’ve worked on have their own set of challenges. I can’t single one out, but I know that I’ve learned a great deal from all of them, and that’s the most important thing to me.

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?” 

Nicole Carruth: I don’t know about three, but I definitely want to visit Spain someday.

About Versatile Wood Products | Contact Us

 

We’re Hiring!

IMG_7062

Versatile Wood Products is growing rapidly and we are looking to expand our team.

Rooted in the traditions of 18th and 19th century craftsmen, Versatile Wood Products provides uniquely versatile solutions to building challenges with a focus on custom-crafted historically accurate architectural wood products. Located in Portland, Oregon, our 40,000 square foot custom wood shop tackles residential, historic preservation and commercial projects throughout the Portland metro area, including Washington High School, Coquille River Lighthouse, Union Station and the Ladd Carriage House.

Versatile offers a competitive benefits package, encourages continued education to improve your skill-set and has a positive working environment. Visit our website to learn more about our company and what we do.

Available positions:

Professional Drafter

Versatile Wood Products needs a professional drafter for residential, commercial and historic architectural products such as windows, doors, cabinetry and mill work. Versatile is based primarily in the Portland Metro area and this position is full-time.

The drafter will be a key member of our design team, documenting existing conditions and creating shop drawings for high end architectural products with a keen awareness of project specifications and how structural decisions impact the outcome. She/he will collaborate with the Custom Design Manager on residential, commercial and preservation projects of large and small scopes, including some of the most prominent historic rehabilitation projects currently happening in Portland.

Skill set should include:
– Good communication
– Critical thinking
– Pride in her/his work
– Team player
– Problem solving
– Ability to meet or beat deadlines

We seek applicants with an Associate’s Degree in Architectural Drafting or 1-2 years’ experience as an architectural drafter in a related field, with a passion to create architectural products of the highest standards.

Duties/Expectations:
– Computer proficiency in Word, Excel, Outlook, CAD and 3-D modeling programs
– Experience with KCDw and/or Enroute software is a plus
– Working knowledge of window, door or cabinetry construction is a plus
– Punctuality, meeting deadlines and managing timelines
– Verifying feasibility of designs
– Reviewing plans, specs and project highlights

Great Benefits Package:
– PTO
– Medical coverage paid 100% by Versatile
– Paid holidays
– 401k plan
– Profit sharing

Please respond to this posting with a cover letter, resume and portfolio or work samples to jobs@versatilewp.com
Qualified applicants will have a strong work ethic, professional appearance and should have a valid driver’s license and properly insured vehicle. A pre-employment drug test will be required and professional references will be verified.
Versatile Wood Products is an equal opportunity employer.

Shop Helper

Versatile Wood Products, a custom sash, cabinetry and door company, needs a professional, self-sufficient Shop Helper. Under the supervision of the Shop Manager, the helper is responsible for the cleanliness and organization of the shop. This includes maintenance and janitorial duties in and around the building, as well as assisting with entry level shop activities as needed. Some familiarity with wood shops and power tools is a plus. Qualified applicants will have a strong work ethic, professional appearance, clean criminal record and can pass a drug test.

Minimum Requirements:
– Is able to lift and carry loads and objects of up to 75 pounds
– Possesses and exhibits personal initiative to regularly work without supervision
– Is timely, organized and meets and beats deadlines
– Is able to admit mistakes
– Has pride and respect for the work
– Puts the business first and strives for the success of this business
– Is an efficient and safe worker
– Has a professional appearance
– High School diploma or GED
– Possesses the ability to multi-task and determine priority of tasks
– Responds well to direction

Great Benefits Package:
– PTO
– Medical coverage paid 100% by Versatile Wood Products
– Paid holidays
– 401k plan
– Profit sharing

Please send a resume to jobs@versatilewp.com
****Please respond only if you meet all requirements****

 

Custom Wood Shop Sash & Door Foreman

Be an integral part of the most interesting historic rehabilitation projects currently happening in Oregon as a member of our custom sash and door team. Versatile Wood Products specializes in the restoration and replication of historically accurate custom wood windows, doors, cabinetry and millwork. Our 30 year history includes work on iconic buildings throughout Oregon as well as residential projects throughout Portland. We need a Foreman for our Sash and Door Department.
The ideal candidate will possess exceptional interpersonal skills, coupled with the ability to communicate clearly and concisely with colleagues, clients, stakeholders and management.

Job Description:
– Establish and drive detailed custom production processes for Sash and Door Department
– Collaborate with Design and Sales Teams about custom building design and details
– Redline, edit, and approve shop drawings for accuracy and buildability
– Compile materials takeoffs based on approved shop drawings
– Manage special restoration projects as needed
– Train and mentor craftsmen and carpenters in historically accurate construction techniques
– Coordinate the activities and schedule of the Sash and Door Department with Shop Manager
– Implement and maintain safety and shop best practices

Requirements:
– 5 years verifiable hands-on fine woodworking experience and 2 years of management in a custom shop environment minimum.
– Knowledge of traditional anatomy and construction of windows/sash and doors. Ability to critically read and interpret shop drawings is a must.
– Experience with high-end materials and one-off production as well as larger custom production efforts.
– Passion for historic methods and products.
– Proficient in Excel, Word and Outlook.
– Outstanding communication, organizational and follow through skills. Must be an effective, team-oriented leader.
– Must be timely, organized and meet and beat deadlines.
– Must have cell phone, valid driver’s license and properly licensed and insured vehicle.
– Must work as a team player with Operations Manager, Shop Manager, and Design Department Manager.

Great Benefits Package:
– PTO
– Medical coverage paid 100% by Versatile Wood Products
– Paid holidays
– 401k plan
– Profit sharing

A pre-employment drug test is required, criminal background and professional references will be verified.
Please respond to this posting with a cover letter, portfolio and resume via email to: jobs@versatilewp.com
****Please respond only if you meet all requirements****
Versatile Wood Products is an equal opportunity employer.

Erica Witbeck, First Operations Manager

Erica WitbeckWe couldn’t be more excited to announce that Erica Witbeck has agreed to join the Versatile Team as its first Operations Manager. Her job will be to improve the efficiency of our entire production process to meet client goals and deadlines. To keep Versatile running smoothly. Here’s a quick interview with Erica to give you an idea of who she is and what she will bring to the organization.

  1. Erica, you’ve been brought on as Versatile’s first-ever Operations Manager. Tell us about what your areas of responsibility will be.

Erica Witbeck:

My objective is to be the organizing force for the company. I want to be sure that everyone on our talented team gets to focus on doing what they do best. We have reached a tipping point in scale where processes need to be implemented to make sure it is possible to keep everyone operating smoothly and confidently in their respective areas. We need to be able to create reasonable expectations that we can feel secure about honoring. We need to do it in a way that enhances rather than inhibits information transfer.

Identifying what sticking points there may be, and developing process-based solutions that address the concerns of a growing custom shop, are my biggest goals. This will involve developing and implementing a computer-based sales order/work order system, production planning metrics, and improving internal product flow issues.

 

  1. You have a background in local custom manufactured tile. What aspects of Versatile’s work and process are most similar to your previous work? What’s the most different?

Erica Witbeck:

The thinking and working process of makers and designers are definite common threads. There are challenges that are unique to custom manufacture, especially as it scales up to a larger production model. Learning how to control the process while never limiting the customer’s ability to have a shop create something 100% custom is a theme that has carried across my career.

The materials themselves are quite different in their behavior and manufacture. But the common threads of shop design and having the appropriate tools and safety measures are the same. The production model I came from was on a larger scale and ran dozens of projects concurrently through production. This shop has fewer projects at any given time, and they generally are made from start to finish in each phase of production before the next order is produced.

 

  1. What inspires you about custom manufacture?

Erica Witbeck:

There is a great deal of deserved pride taken from creating a thing of beauty from the ground up. I love fine materials and skilled hands and creative minds. Bringing these aspects in to harmony to make someone’s dream into a tangible reality—well, that’s just thrilling!

  1. Describe one of your favorite past projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

Erica Witbeck:

In my past life, there were SO many custom jobs and projects, they kind of blend together now. Looking back, my favorite projects were always “match this damaged old antique item that we love”. With reproductions, the challenges were not only matching the quality of the original design, but getting glaze chemistry to cooperate and make something convincingly old-looking. It was like archaeology and sculpting and chemistry lab all at once! Getting all of our experts talking and working and testing together made for some really satisfying work. Figuring out how to communicate the process (and its realities and limitations), sample it out in a convincing way, and get those experiments scaled up to an actual finished product was always very rewarding. I instantly saw much of the same intrigue at VWP, and knew I would fall in love. And I did.

 

  1. What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?”

Erica Witbeck:

  • Gracious! Such a tricky question. I’d say if I were fortunate enough to construct my life in a way to make three wishes come true, they would be:
  • Get my mom to the Czech Republic so she can see where her family came from, and share that experience with her.

  • Dine at French Laundry, just so I’ll know.

  • Write the Great American Novel. It’s all in my head, I swear!