Frequently Asked Questions:
First and foremost, we would like everyone to know that we are not some huge multinational corporate conglomerate preying on Pagans. Dryad is made up mainly of three people, who all happen to be Pagan: Paul the artistic arm of the business; his wife Suzanne, who makes things go; and Nyla, who handles most of the customer service and everything else. In addition, we have folks who help us with everything from editing to mailings and trades shows.
We rent space and fulfillment services at The Kea Group, a Vermont warehouse, and we work with several artisans around the world and the USA to make our products. Everything is made and finished by hand – except maybe the magnets! All Dryad Design products are designed, and most are carved, by Paul and all are products are his original artwork. We do not replicate existing artwork.
We honor all the many and varied paths to Spirit. We created this business to serve spirituality and connect to ancestral heritage. For all of us the primary motivation is service, connection to spirit and to share with others of similar passions. We love what we do and the spirituality we serve.
How long does it take?
This is the classic first question we hear from most folks, and it is also one of the more difficult to answer! I recommend you visit our slide shows to see works in progress. Our stock answer is 300-500 hours. The real answer is that is varies tremendously! Lilith, for example, involved three years of research and interviews with devotees, as well as hundreds of hours of meditation and ritual. She required a tremendous show of commitment before she was willing to give Paul the image of how she wished to be portrayed. Then the carving took another several more months of constant work. We’re grateful that Paul lived through carving Lilith! She taught him invaluable lessons along the journey. Paul says: “She saved my life.”
On the other hand, a piece like our little Venus–-a perennial favorite - came together from conception to finished original in less than a week. Yes, that was unusual and NOT the norm! Another interesting example is Drawing Down the Moon. This piece is especially dear to us. It has moved many who have seen it for the first time to tears when they understand what it truly represents. Paul became very frustrated with this piece because he could not reach in properly to do the detail on the man’s face. He became so angry he almost destroyed it. Suzanne begged him to let her “make it go away.” She wrapped it tenderly in some fabric ad hid it in her closet. Years later, Paul bought a new tool and said, “Do you still have Drawing Down the Moon.” She said yes, and within a week it was finished and off to be molded.
Each piece also represents the countless hours Paul spends in the woods, allowing the universe to dance images and thoughts through his mind, endless drawings to get the composition just right, photo shoots to ensure the pose and attitude are aligned with his vision, and much time spent in ritual and prayer. All of that is an integral part of the creative process, which is why it’s impossible to say how long a piece generally takes to create. We can only give you a glimpse of all that goes into each and every piece in our line.
Do you know…….?
This is usually followed by the name of a carver, often somewhere in the USA. The answer is probably no. Paul does not like to travel and is mostly self-taught. So chances are whoever it is, though they may be spectacular carvers, would probably be unknown to Paul.
Where can I buy…….?
We get this one quite often. If we show it on our web site you can buy it from any of our Authorized Dealers. We recommend that you first go to our Store Locator and see if there is a local storefront you can support. We strongly encourage you to support your local merchants when you can. They provide so much to the community and are a wealth of information. None of these people got into the business to “get rich quick.” They do it because they love and believe in what they do. Please support them! Every little bit makes a difference, and these are wonderful places to make connections, take classes and open your mind to new ideas and experiences. Paul would not be the man he is today without all the hours he spent talking with Verna Barry, a marvelous crone at Unicorn Bookstore in MA. Do not underestimate this resource in your own growth.
If that is not feasible, you can call your local New Age/Craft Store and request that they begin to carry Dryad Design and offer to pay in advance for the item you want! That one works wonders!!! Another option is to go to our Online Authorized Dealers and choose a vendor that way. Again, any of our Authorized Dealers, whether a store front, fair & festival vendor or a web site, can order for you anything in the Dryad line. So, even if you do not see it on their site, don’t despair. ASK!!!
Where does Paul get his ideas?
When we first moved to our present home, we hired Patrick Mac Manaway, a Geomancer to go over the property. At that time, we also met our now neighbor, Ivan McBeth, Shaman/Druid/Author, who accompanied him. One of the first things Patrick mentioned was that a very powerful vortex had started to open in the upper floor of the garage. We had not even begun to move in yet. The upper floor of the garage is where we had planned, and is now home to, Paul’s art studio.
Truly each piece is a co-creation. Paul works with a deity to understand their energy, their mythology, their traditions, and the ways in which they have been worshiped through time. Then through ritual and meditation he waits until he gets a very clear image of how that deity wishes to be portrayed today. Our spirituality is not static; it is always evolving. Paul honors that.
Occasionally, someone will give Paul an idea that catches fire and bursts into manifestation. But usually several planned projects are on a low boil at all times. The one that moves forward is the one that Paul is most inspired by at that moment. Some ask if he ever runs out of ideas. That would be a flat no. He has more plans and ideas than he could ever manifest in a lifetime of work. No worries on that front!
One thing that inhibits his creativity is trying to carve “to make money” or to make a deadline or “meet demand.” If he is not carving form a place of devotion, it simply won’t flow. That is why past attempts at custom work have often been literally painful for him. For Paul, carving is a sacred act that cannot be rushed or ordered about, no matter how beneficial that might be!
One deity that took a long time to create was Brigid. For nine years she was the most requested deity. It took nine years before Paul finally found the image he felt honored her many and complex facets. So, demand or requests are not always the motivation. The inspiration and integrity also has to be there--and none of us can control that!
In order for Paul to maintain this tremendous channel of energy and inspiration that runs through him constantly, he needs to balance it with a great deal of quiet and alone time. Each morning, he and his dog head off into the woods, no matter what the weather is doing, and in Vermont, that can be pretty severe. On summer mornings we often go kayaking before work (Yes, the dog, too. We bought Bombur a kayak for his sixth birthday. Of course, one of us has to paddle, but he’s an excellent passenger and loves to swim along beside as well!). And often you will find Paul greeting the dawn on the top of Mount Worcester, where he says prayers every visit at what he calls the “prayer stone.” The image of Lilith finally came to him there, in the midst of a tremendous windstorm just before the clouds opened up. She was literally dancing up a storm.
So his ideas come from many places, including from Suzanne. He made the Tree Pentacle and the saying plaques at her request. Again, that was a fluke. The idea has to capture his passion so that it can become sacred to him. Otherwise, it isn’t worth doing.
Do you do custom work?
Unfortunately no, as the last answer indicates. He tried, but it was a painful experience for him. He has to manifest his own vision. Paul cannot, no matter how much he cares for someone, manifest his or her vision. Though Raven Grimasi gave Paul lots of ideas and material for Aradia, for example, he had to put that all away and allow the image to come through him in his own way, in his own time. Having too much input can actually inhibit the process. Paul must have full artistic license and control in order to produce a sacred object.
I want to have a tattoo made of one of your designs how do I get permission?
Send an email requesting permission to firstname.lastname@example.org and be prepared to send a picture when your tattoo is complete!
What is Paul’s Training?
If you ask him Paul will say his greatest teacher was his mother. While other kids were climbing trees and making mud pies, Paul was learning perspective and composition. He LOVED it, and he was a gifted artist from the time he could hold a pencil.
Later, he worked for a company that made ornate frames for mirrors–the kind you see in fancy hotels. When the mold would tear out, as it inevitably does at the most complicated part of the design, Paul would carve away the molded material so that there was a rose where a rose was supposed to go, etc. His very first carving project of his own design was a jewelry box top for his mother, which he carved from walnut with an X-Acto blade. This piece still hangs on his mother’s wall–though it never quite became a jewelry box!
Paul attended Minuteman Technical School in MA for commercial art when most of us were enjoying or suffering through–sometimes both simultaneously--high school. Instead of going to college, he took a job at a sawmill up the road from his childhood home. About this time, he was also learning about Wicca from a childhood friend who had been brought up through the ranks of an Eclectic Celtic Group. He spent many hours and many dollars at Unicorn Bookstore in first Lexington and then Arlington, MA.
From there he got a job as a sign carver and really refined his carving skills. He also began to sell hand-carved wands at places like Wizard Workshop in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, and Laurie Cabot’s Crone Haven Corner in Salem, MA. His dream job was to become a full time decorative carver. That job came to him while he was still in his early twenties, and he carved church interiors and statues for many years. In 1991 he was laid off and after several attempts to start a business of his own, he and Suzanne birthed Dryad Design together in 1994. Now he gets to “carve his own Gods” and do what he loves full time. He views his clients not as those who take the images home to grace their altars, but as the Goddesses and Gods themselves. For Paul, his artwork is truly an act of complete devotion.
Where are your products made?
Whoever thought we would go from doing everything ourselves in an unheated garage with hand built Latex molds (a lot like Halloween masks) and pouring Hydrostone (a very dusty mixture of Portland Cement and plaster) to producing all over the world in many different materials? Certainly we didn’t! We had very starry-eyed ideas of what our future held, firmly grounded in the concept of “Made In America.” However, when we moved from our garage to a factory in Waterbury, Vermont we learned more about reality and doing business than we ever wanted to know.
By the spring of 1999, we were making less combined than our highest paid employee who was still not earning a “livable wage” by Vermont standards. We were actually losing money hand over fist. The more products we made the more we lost because it simply cost us too much to make the pieces. We went for help and were given two options: outsource or declare bankruptcy.
We found investors to help us get started and began producing in–you guessed it–China. Before we took that step we did a tremendous amount of prayer, divination and cried quite a few tears. The answer we received consistently was to go to China. It was certainly a test of Suzanne’s faith, because the Goddess made it very clear what she wanted and it was the LAST THING Suzanne wanted to do. She said it was the only way we would be able to meet the demand for Paul’s work, which was still very strong. We needed to get the product to the people who needed and wanted it all over the world.
Since then we have changed factories in China and now work with a family-owned business where the sister runs the factory and the brother is our contact here in the states. As far as China goes it was the best we could do and we are grateful to them.
We started producing a jewelry line made in Thailand by the Peter Stone Company. Peter encouraged us for three years before Paul was convinced to try it. Within a few years it made up half our business. Suzanne has been to the factory in Thailand and she can say from first hand experience that the employees are treated very well, especially in the context of that country and its standards. Many have been with the company for ten years or more. That alone speaks volumes for its integrity. We now produce jewelry in sterling silver, gold vermeil, copper and bronze. We are continuously amazed at the artisans in Thailand and their ability to translate Paul’s designs using the carvings and drawings to direct them. They are amazingly gifted and have earned our most sincere praise.
Our magnet line is produced in Mexico, which is at least on the same continent! Our new garden statue line is made of fiber glass and comes to us from India. We are very pleased to be working with this fine organization. Happily, Northern Sun in Minneapolis produces our small t-shirt line, but even then the t-shirts sometimes come from elsewhere! We are truly living in a global economy!
It is our greatest joy to say that we are just now introducing a line of pewter that is wholly made in the USA! Hooray! They’re produced by a family-run company, which has been in business for over thirty years. We are simply thrilled and hope you will be too! Keep an eye out. We are always trying something new, so you never know what will be next. And neither do we!!!
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