Despite their detailed products and massive output, Crosby and Taylor is a small, family-owned metal working business in Oregon. It's owner, Deborah, stumbled into the industry after falling in love with a craftsman (and becoming one) over 25 years ago. Together, she and husband Jim started a family and a life together as they built one of the most reputable pewter businesses in the world. This month, we are excited to show off our first ever pewter coffee scoop designed by us in partnership with them. Read what Deborah had to say about the business, the future, and of course, making the Death Wish coffee scoop.
How did you start your business?
In 1981, at the age of 22, I rode a greyhound bus for three days and three nights to travel from Virginia to Oregon to begin my Master’s in French Literature at the University of Oregon. In my Comparative Literature class, I met Jim, a 35-year-old hippy/craftsman studying Italian Literature. A friendship was born and soon I was accompanying him to his "day job” - selling adjustable wooden lamps at craft fairs. (Back then the term was “craftsman” not maker). I thought it was a very odd way to make a living but I was also intrigued. By the time I had earned my Master’s I was hooked on both Jim and on his lifestyle so I hit the road and started to sell his lamps at craft fairs. I met a young couple with a tiny pewter business who were ready to move on to something else. I paid them to share their knowledge, their skills, and their accounts with me. I became a pewter smith! I loved it immediately! Before I knew it, I was producing and selling as much pewter in one month as they had been in one year.
What has kept you going after all of this time?
My first-born is now 32 years old. I still find her as captivating and entertaining as I did on her first day of life. My pewter business is like one of my children. The parts of it that are the same are still comforting - like pulling out a familiar mold and casting it for hours or like sanding a mountain of freshly cast products. The parts of it that are different are still exciting - like creating a new product or meeting a new buyer.
What is a day at your studio like for you?
Ideally, I get here in the dark of the wee morning, crossing my fingers that the guys at the Brake & Alignment Shop across the street already have their bay doors open, casting a bit of comforting light on me. I slip into my little office and check my e-mail, always excited to see what has transpired since I retired the night before. I generally try to lay out new orders before I can get distracted since my manager likes to get our shipping done first thing. Unlike me, he likes to keep a schedule. After orders, I might work on a sketch for a new product or talk with a new client.I might hit the sander and get some production work done. I might talk to our graphic designer about a new promo piece we need. I might start casting. Who knows?! Every day is different! I am incapable of doing the same thing in the same order two days in a row.
What was the process like making the Death Wish Coffee spoons?
- It was completely surreal. We have almost never had a designer present us with the drawings for a project. It is usually up to us to listen to a client’s wishes and then create something from scratch (which is sometimes like throwing darts at a dart board in a dark room). We took one look at the design that Thomas [Death Wish Coffee, Art Director] had rendered and we were blown away by what a perfect match it was for pewter. It shouted out to be cast in metal!
Although we cast the scoops from the same two molds, no two scoops turned out exactly the same. Subtle differences in the casting and finishing made each scoop its own piece just like no two cups of coffee will never be exactly the same! We cherish these differences knowing that they are proof of the artisanal nature of the piece.
Outside of your business what are your hobbies, interests?
First and foremost, I have an obsession with Jim, our children and our grand-children. I envy the cultures of yesteryear when extended families all lived on the same property. I simply cannot get enough hours with the littlest ones! My brain never stops. When I am not working in pewter, I want to be making things all the time - mostly using paper and fabric and sometimes combining them. I love reading and look forward to long airplane trips so I can dig into the piles of reading materials that I collect for such times. I also manage to squeeze in some weight lifting and calorie burning into my crazy life. World travel used to be at the top of my list but I have lived on the Bosphorous, scaled the hills of Gibraltar and descended into King Tut’s Tomb so my passion for that easily diminished with the birth of our grandchildren. My epitaph will be - Never enough time!
What is the future of Crosby and Taylor?
Good question! I have a different plan each day!
The custom coffee scoop is now available. Purchase it here.