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Chip off the ol' block

Angela Wilhelm • Jun 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Most people wake to the sound of an alarm clock in the morning. For Robin Arnold, who grew up next to her woodworking grandfather, her version of an alarm clock consisted of the sound of metal against wood. “I woke up in the morning to the table saw running in his shop,” she said, reminiscent, “just the smell of the wood, I always loved it.”

Arnold searched for scraps in her grandfather’s boatbuilding and repair shop and let her own creativity take the lead. She eventually started her own business making Adirondack furniture, until pain from arthritis overtook her love of woodworking.

After 10 years of inability to exercise her passion, Arnold says the pain has eased, allowing her to work with wood on a smaller scale, under the name Duck Marsh Studio. “Hopefully I’ll have another 10 years where I can continue with it, but I can’t carve for a full eight hours like I used to.” On a nice summer day, you could find her sitting on her deck in Port Clinton, nestled on 12 acres of land, with chickens roaming and her two dogs barking, carving away a nature-inspired piece.

When Arnold is not working as a lab courier at Promedica Memorial Hospital in Fremont, her creative eye is trained on all things nature. She peers through the lens of her camera in search of wildlife. “Lots of times my carvings reflect what photos I’m taking,” she explained, then sat at her kitchen table and scraped away layers of wood to form the shape of a bird.

Living on the north coast has had a big part in building Arnold’s craft, from the design down to the material. “It’s only by the lakeshore that you get this thick bark in Ohio. Normally you order it from out west. So far I’ve been able to get it just from here, which I think is neat,” she explained. Her usual medium is Cottonwood Bark and driftwood, found on the shores of Lake Erie.

Her pattern designs, inspired by her photography, have been published in magazines such as Creative Woodworks and Crafts, and Scrollsaw Woodworking and Crafts. She takes pride in the fact that she can produce a piece from design to a completed work of art. “I’ve always wanted to create. I’ve always had that need to make things. It’s very important to me and it’s a big part of my life.”

Arnold supports her hobbies by selling her works on Etsy.com, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. Her most popular items online are a Christmas ornament of a cardinal and a Christmas card featuring her chickens. Her carvings are whimsical, some just for show and some with practical uses, like a small box made from a tree branch, with a cheerful-looking gnome sitting atop.

The combination of found wood and inspiration from local fauna is what Robin Arnold believes makes her work stand out. “I use that as a selling point. The fact that I live in northwest Ohio has a big impact- I don’t order a lot of materials in from other parts of the country and I do get my inspiration from this area. I don’t think a lot of people realize what is here. It’s a pretty neat area.”

For a piece of unique, rustic art, visit Robin Arnold’s online shop at etsy.com/shop/DuckMarshStudio and add a piece of art, grown and reimagined just a few miles away, to your home.

View Robin Arnold's photography HERE.

View Duck Marsh Studio's Facebook page HERE.

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