By Paige Bowman / January 30, 2020

Inside Pitsco: National Hobby Month

In such a busy world permeated with things we feel like we must do, hobbies can feel like yet another task that just eat up our precious free time. But, having a hobby can bring so many benefits to life. With January as National Hobby Month, we wanted to share some of our coworkers’ own pastimes to inspire you!

Hobbies help us structure our time better, as we make time for the things we enjoy. They promote and extend our skill set, make us more interesting as people, and even reduce stress. Any hobby will do, whether it’s playing an instrument, creating art, or maybe making knives and pottery. These activities promote a maker mind-set, something we’re huge fans of.

As a company rooted in hands-on and lifelong learning, it comes as no surprise that we have makers and hobbyists aplenty in the Pitsco family.

  • I (Paige Bowman), User Acceptance Tester I, build computers, and remodel houses/campers (or attempt to). 
  • Tim Cannell, Educational Relationships Manager, spends time woodworking.
  • Crista Cunningham, Graphic Artist, runs Crista Cunningham Designs, which offers graphic design and photography services. She’s also an avid painter.
  • Dan Eckelberry, Application Development Manager, spends his downtime woodworking, building custom projects and furniture.
  • Annie Edson, International Sales Enablement Specialist, bakes fancy cupcakes and cakes for parties and local events, as well as for family and friends.
  • Larry Fink, User Acceptance Tester II, enjoys woodworking and builds furniture.
  • Melissa Karsten, Digital Marketing Specialist II, raises produce to sell at multiple farmers’ markets as well as keeps bees with her husband. She additionally makes a variety of wood crafts.
  • Derek Livingston, Videographer, is a photographer, most frequently covering sporting events.
  • Matt McCaulley, Video Manager, is a filmmaker with Light of Life Films.
  • Todd McGeorge, Graphic Designer, is an avid cyclist and musician and always has a woodworking or building project in the works.
  • Ruthie Muller, Sr. Outbound Marketing Manager, creates wood signs of all varieties with her husband for their business, Muller Custom Wood Signs.
  • Debra O’Doherty, Travel and Internal Public Relations Coordinator, is a lifelong crafter, making custom wreaths and floral arrangements at her sister’s floral shop.
  • Terri Spigarelli, Project Coordinator, crafts a variety of home decor items including signs, benches, and custom pieces for Spigarelli Studio.
  • Jodie Sutton, Graphic Artist, creates encaustic paintings, featured in a variety of galleries and runs J. Sutton Designs.
  • Jason Redd, Graphic Artist, is a longtime musician and can also be found repairing classic cars.
  • Lisa Williams, Print Media Center Production Coordinator, paints oil paintings.

Outside of those who are creators of physical goods, we also have many employees who play and perform music or have active hobbies such as running, cycling, and hunting.

In addition to that list of awesome talent, I want to introduce you to a couple of my friends here at Pitsco, who have each taken their hobbies to heart in different ways.

DIY Spa Set

Deidre Galloway, Customer Support and Implementation Specialist, and one of my fellow bloggers, started a hobby of making candles more than four years ago. She lived in a small condo in Colorado at the time and needed a creative outlet that didn’t take up too much space. She says the simple process of making candles lets her focus on combining colors and scents. In fact, she was able to go a step further by incorporating eco-friendly practices to her candle making by using soy wax and recycled glassware to reduce waste.

About two years ago, she added soaps, bath bombs, and shower steamers to her repertoire. “Candles are pretty simple once you get the basic process down. It’s easier to replicate results. I moved into soap so I could choose the products that had ingredients I could pronounce. Soap is much more challenging than candles and has a much higher skill level in making cold process soap. The artistic soap means you can make soap that looks more like swirl paintings rather than a bar you’d get from a store.”

She says, “As I found enjoyment in it, I thought about selling them so I had a reason to keep making them, which allowed me to expand into creating a brand.” Her brand? It‘s named after her pets! BH Candle Supply takes its name from Buddy Holly, one of her cats. After she expanded into soaps, her other cat, Ellie, bore the name for Smellie Ellie Soaps. Frankie, her dog, is the namesake for Frankie Says Relax Shower Steamers & Bath Bombs.

To her, having a maker mind-set is about creative problem-solving, perseverance, and agency. Her whim to make candles has taken off into a hobby that brings her not only peace and joy but also a business. Deidre says she wouldn’t have considered herself a candle burner before she started making them years ago. But, she said she had this support from a young age. Her family remodeled homes, and her dad is a mechanical engineer. Additionally, she said her background in theater, designing sets and lighting for shows throughout high school and college, combined with a family background in home remodeling has given her confidence to say “maybe I can do this.”  

Handmade Wares

Alan Kirby, Education Consultant, found himself on a similar path. As a pre-med major at Pitt State, he needed an escape from his chemistry labs and found himself drawn to ceramics. He founded Hippyclay in January of 2000, meaning this month he celebrates 20 years of ceramic-making! He’s participated in Pittsburg’s Art Walk since 2006, has pottery on five continents (missing only Antartica and Africa), and created all the mugs for a local coffee shop.

Then, about four years ago, he shifted gears and started dabbling in steelwork and created Coconut Empire Forge. He particularly enjoys creating Damascus steel because it is full of patterns, and he describes it as its own type of art. About a year and a half into his work, he was invited to film an episode of Forged in Fire in New York, a metal-smithing competition, which he says opened a lot of doors for him. He’s now got blades on four continents, having recently shipped his first blade to Asia (he’s only missing Antartica, Africa, and Australia).

"I’m absolutely a maker at heart. Once I get an idea, I can’t wait to get it out and make it happen. I get so excited about an idea that I can’t sleep until I get it out.” He says that working at Pitsco supports his hobbies, and he gets so excited to help equip schools with the tools they need to help get students access to unique, hands-on, creative technology and curriculum.  

To Alan, having a maker mind-set is the ability to deconstruct or reverse engineer something and a desire to know how something works. For him, this was influenced by his dad, an auto mechanic. When parts weren’t available, they had to fabricate what they needed. It’s easy to see how this works into the way he creates both ceramics and blades, because one of his favorite aspects of his hobbies is combining old-world disciplines with 21st-century technology.

For ceramics, he has both a homemade, insulated trash can kiln and an electronic, programmable kiln. For metalwork, he has a vintage power hammer as well as a modern 22-ton hydraulic press. He 3-D prints stamps to make labels for his mugs as well as printing pommels and guards for blades to make investment casts out of bronze, copper, or brass. He’s even used vacuum molds to make sculpture-like ceramic pieces.

While January is the official month for hobbies, any time is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby or just diving in deeper with your own! Allow yourself to get your mind off whatever stress you might have and find something that you are passionate about. Whether it’s working out, making something, or traveling, having it as a priority can help make you happier and healthier. Plus, what better way to promote creativity, innovation, active learning, and making to your students than to model it?! We would love to hear what you like to do for your pastime. Be sure to comment below or share your hobbies with us on social media!  

Resources:
“Six Reasons to Get a Hobby”
“National Hobby Month”

Inside Pitsco: National Hobby Month

 

TOPICS: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Culture, Trends, Activities, 21st Century Skills, Art

Paige Bowman

Written by Paige Bowman

As a User Acceptance Tester here at Pitsco Education, I basically get to play with almost everything we make! This includes testing curriculum and digital platforms, as well as occasionally lending a hand with photography. I’m an alumna of Pittsburg State University, and my free time is filled with spoiling my Welsh Corgi (Stitch), going camping and hiking, and remodeling a house, or at least rebuilding what my partner demos. If it involves learning and working with my hands, you can count me in!