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Marcella Marie Faux Bois

American Made Since 2013

Marcella Davis

Chesterfield, Missouri
I sculpt in concrete. I sculpt the concrete over a welded steel armature to look like wood. It is an art form called ferrocement faux bois.
Design, Garden & Outdoor Living

Tell us about your business.

I checked out a book about concrete from the library. I started mixing a 1-2-3 mix and pouring it into anything I could find from the local Goodwill store. One day, I decided to try to sculpt a fish for my son. The fish kept slumping and looking very unfish-like. I thought…there must be a way to sculpt this medium and make it work. I had actually slipped down my stairs in to the basement that day because I was so excited to try to sculpt this fish. That was the day I decided that I was going to find a way to make concrete sculpt able. I found a book by Donald Tucker and read and highlighted his book until I felt I might have a chance to make this idea work. I learned how to weld, then wrap my piece in steel lath, and then apply as many as 4 concrete mixtures to my armature. My faux bois pieces are sculpted with more joy in my heart than I ever thought possible. I love that my pieces will stand the test of time and bring nature and art together for years to come for my customers.

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

My studio grew from my Metalsmithing studio into a larger section of my basement. I kept learning and growing until finally I took over one half of our basement. This studio space has full size windows and a double door that opens in to my chicken yard. The girls and I share a fountain and it is very comforting to have them huddle at my door waiting for a lap or maybe some corn. There are times I will take a break from welding and go outside to lie in my hammock, up to three of my hens will fly up and join me. I am surrounded by woods and I am a constant student of nature. I study and gather any piece of wood that I feel will inspire, teach, and motivate me as an artist. I keep a "library" of wood pieces handily nearby. My first large "turning point" piece was an Adirondack chair. I decided to always keep one in my studio. I scattered a vintage small Indian blanket over the seat and my dog Cooper, during my quiet times in my studio, will take a nap. My studio is home to my heart.

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes in many forms. I am inspired by the idea that I have found my passion at my age. I have always loved whatever art form I was working in, but nothing has felt more wholehearted to me than faux bois. I have just known that this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. I think of Georgia O’Keeffe working into her 90’s. I hope to be that fortunate. I am inspired by the people I have met with this art form, in particular Mr. Tucker. He gives of himself through his sculptures, teaching, and his concrete Forum. Marguerite, a friend in a retirement center, who has been my “cheerleader” and followed my concrete path from the very beginning. My daughter and friend, who has heard more about concrete than anyone should have to. Being a woman and working in this medium inspires me to work that much harder. Mother nature teaches, inspires, and humbles me every time. Taking her beauty, adding my vision, and sculpting a piece that brings joy to others is inspiration.

What makes your business stand out?

Hand sculpted ferrocement faux bois was popular in the 1800’s in Europe. It has become very collectable because the artists that knew how to sculpt this medium have faded away into history. There are very few artists working today in this medium. It is laborious in time, weight, skill, and vision. It is an unrelenting medium that the artist must understand what actual sculpting can be achieved at what time. Adding and subtracting concrete can only be accomplished on concretes schedule, not the artists. Each piece is one of a kind. Because of this particular medium of concrete, and the very few artists working in it today, my business has the potential to have a great future. My vision, grit, and capabilities have placed me in a unique situation of creating a business that will stand out for years to come; hopefully!

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

This will sound like an advertisement, but it is not. I found a book from Harvard Business Review Press called, “Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck.” I think the title alone represents my answer. I have dog-eared this book just as I did with my faux bois book by Mr. Tucker. Heart represents the passion that is needed to work the long hours, take chances, and belief in your tenacity and product. Smarts is self-explanatory. Guts, according to the book, is action, not inaction, and not reaction. And my favorite part of the book is about luck. “Luck-oriented individuals are that way because their attitude of humility, intellectual curiosity, and optimism…conspire with one’s relationship to coax out of the universe positive forces and events.” Besides those attributes I would suggest surrounding yourself with people that will lift you up, be a support system, a personal cheerleader.

What does American Made mean to you?

American made means embracing the idea that we can make, provide, design and build products of quality. We can decide as a nation to make a choice. Is it more important to have 30 inexpensive sweaters in our closet, made somewhere other than United States? Or even an outside bench in our garden that was made and shipped from far away? Every time we make a purchase we are choosing what is important to us. What our value system really is. Besides all of the fossil fuel it requires to send container after container across the oceans, we are supporting an economy that we have no control over. How does the other country embrace their citizens? Are the workers under age? Are they working too long of hours? Is it safe for the employees? Do we really care about any of these questions? I stop and ask myself these questions every time I make a purchase. Sadly, I am less than perfect in my response. The art of faux bois requires tools that I have a difficult time finding American Made.

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