Good times and bright lights, that’s where our new Meet the Maker interviewee began carving her place in the art world. It’s kind of an unconventional form of art, and it seems to be just the way Aubrey A of Neon Bear Woodworks likes it. Let’s follow her as she lights the way through her journey into creativity.
When you first see Aubrey A, the last thing you think of to describe this petite maker is “bear.” Our aprons, which can fit just about any body type, received a little bit of help from this bear. “I had a good friend’s mom tailor my Hudson apron a bit for me,” she explains. “The one-size-fits-all fits just a little bit better and isn’t as long on this body that’s 5’1.”
When you also see her first works, you won’t have her pegged as a woodworker either. She started out at 20 years old, making neon signs out of glass tubes. “I can make that stick of glass light up in just about any color.”
Aubrey seems perfectly happy just following her passions and having her output define her. It’s a good thing, too, because it seems that like many creatives, she has ideas dancing around inside her head all the time. In 2019, she saw something that made her want to try her hand at something different.
“With regards to getting into the wood/resin craft, I saw a table or board on Instagram and thought that I wanted to give it a try,” she says.
Thankfully, as different as wood is from glass and resin may be from light, Aubrey’s tried-and-tested skills in sign making helped her with her new passion. “I’m combining what skills and materials I know or use in signs, combined with a graphic design degree, and incorporating them into my wood/resin pieces.”
I often find myself thinking, “I wonder if I can make one of those.”
Whether working with glass or wood, Aubrey likes to capture light. With her woodworking, the results are more whimsical looking. Does this whimsical inclination have anything to do with her memorable working name, Neon Bear?
“When my partner and I first got together, she noticed that I slept like a baby bear, apparently,” comes her amusing explanation. “Paws up or an arm covering my forehead when I’m sleeping. Since then, she’s called me ‘Bear.’ Also, it’s the California state animal, and we met only three weeks after she moved to California from Boston.”
As Aubrey had only begun woodworking in 2019, we wondered if she felt intimidated venturing into the business aspect of it. She gives a light answer that belies her focus and determination. “Woodworking is a hobby that now happens to generate a little bit of additional income. I’m currently a designer (and printed graphics installer at times) for a major, nationwide specialty films and printed graphics company. I am grateful to be a part of such a forward moving company and want to be with them for as long as they’ll have me.”
My must-haves are comfortable work boots and patience. And sour gummy worms.
With work she clearly cares about and a hobby that she enjoys fully, it’s surprising that Aubrey can still pinpoint which parts of what she does fulfills her the most, but she can, and she can even do so in graduating levels of awesome. “What feels good is making my ideas into sketched concepts, and then making them become an actual, real thing, whether it’s a sign, a charcuterie board, set of coasters, or table, etc.,” she emphasizes. “What feels great is when family or friends smile upon seeing something that I’ve made. What feels fabulous is helping other makers succeed in their art/projects, whether it’s answering their questions or making templates and molds for them.”
It sounds like Neon Bear is just getting started. And she has plenty more ideas of how she wants to grow as an artist. When asked what’s next for her, she replies, “I expect to incorporate more CNC use in my projects. I also really enjoy helping other makers do their thang, so more template and mold making for other makers in the near future.”
Keep your light on, Aubrey.