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Meet Nadia: An Inspirational Wood Sculpting Badass

With some people, you just know the instant you meet them. You can just feel the energy, the magic of all the possibilities they hold in your future. That’s the way it was the day I met Nadia. 

I was at the Kailua Farmer’s Market on an overcast, slightly rainy Sunday morning. There wasn’t the usual crowd because of the weather, but the minute I happened upon her corner stall I just stopped dead in my tracks. Her pieces were just breathtakingly appealing to me. I honestly wanted to buy every single one of them! Once we began to talk, my desire to bring her art into my home just increased.

Some would probably call her a “fireball.” She is a tiny person and solid muscle. She’s also very direct and to the point, yet gentle in her delivery with an intense focus that just radiates from her fierce determination. Even with all that, one of her best qualities is that she’s always open to possibilities. You will never hear her say the word, no. No matter what your crazy half, cocked idea might be, she will take it in and you can just see her mind start playing with all the possibilities.

On that fated day when we met, I left the market with three of her Lanikai Blue Lovewave heart mirrors. One for myself and one for each of my daughters who were both expecting baby boys. She also sent me away with several complementary small heart door hangers.

Then, a few months later, I found myself in need of a mentor for one of my female students who wished to design and build her own wooden skateboard for a school project. From the second I contacted Nadia, she was on board, and thoroughly excited! She went to great efforts to be the best mentor she could and successfully guided the student, Kela, through the entire process to completion of the project. What I appreciated most was the way that she empowered Kela to think first, to make a detailed plan and then do the work. She coached Kela to complete the work independently and made sure that she was able to learn and then demonstrate her learning through each step as she progressed. Whether she would like to admit it or not, I quickly saw that Nadia is a natural teacher. Over the two month time frame they worked together, Nadia volunteered countless hours and supplies to assist Kela with her project. Their partnership ended up being one of the most successful of the entire program.


One day while at Nadia’s studio with Kela, I saw a lovely rough piece of Monkey Pod wood. I told Nadia that it spoke to me and I thought the colors and woodgrain were the most beautiful I’d seen. Her response was, “Well, sounds like that one is meant to be yours! What shall we make with it?” and then that inquisitive, excited smile flashed across her face. Over the next few weeks during my visits we would look at it and talk a bit, and it evolved into the most beautiful mirror I’ve ever seen. Nadia left the rough bark edges, and added her signature wave, then cut a simple moon from the light wood at the top. When I look at this mirror, it is a perfect blend of what I love about Hawaii. I love the rugged areas that are still ‘country’ and I love walking on the beach at night under the moon. These have been the best moments of my experience living in Hawaii, and the mirror encapsulates it all. Selling it when I leave, will surely be one of the hardest things I have to do.

All of these experiences with Nadia have just reinforced for me that we never truly know the significance that other people will play in our lives. In addition to the many ways that she has directly impacted my life, she also offers little inspirational nuggets each and every time I speak with her. Her story is one of hard work, and dedication to be able to pursue her art, and her interactions with people clearly show how her own experiences have shaped and molded her into the authentic, grounded person she is today. I’m so excited to introduce this inspirational, badass artist to you…and I’m super excited to share her art. I know that you will love her and her work as much as I do!


The interview follows:

Who do you feel most shaped who you are as a person and how?

“There are many different influential people in my life. My father, because he was so focused, directed, determined and strong.  My mother, because she would stop at nothing to allow me to follow my desires and longing to be an artist.  My professor in college, who showed me how to blend creativity and logic, and my meditation teacher, who showed me the truth of who I was inside.”

What has been the hardest learned lesson in your life?

“Owning my own business has provided the most challenging and the most rewarding lessons so far.”

What nourishes your soul on a daily basis?

“I have a morning practice of focusing and directing my thoughts towards the goals that I have for each day as if they had already been accomplished and achieved. Then, I keep redirecting my mind that way throughout the day.  Along with that I exercise some way every day, trail running, swimming, dancing, surfing, paddling.”

Can you describe your favorite way to recover and rejuvenate after especially hard week?

“That’s easy, I go surfing!”

What was the one single moment in which you felt the most loved?

“There have been many moments where I have felt deeply loved, but the way it happens has changed throughout my life. Today, the way it looks is when it comes from inside of me, without any validation from anybody or anything else.  And it’s really helpful to have a cat…..he adores me, even when I’m sad, tired and grumpy he’s always there to drool on me”

Can you tell us the story of the best meal you’ve ever had?

“There honestly isn’t one favorite meal.  Growing up in Europe and Australia I had the opportunity to eat magnificent food in magnificent places often and it would be impossible to pick just one as the best.  I had a German mother and her breakfasts were unreal – homemade potato pancakes, real homemade Nutela, coffee, and fresh raw cheese.”

What are you most afraid of right now?

“Stress.”

Can you tell me about a time in your life when you thought you were right about something but later you found that you were mistaken?

“Owning my own business has on occasion taught me the hard way who you can trust and who you cannot, who you can believe in, and who you cannot. There was one time when somebody asked me to teach them how I did what I did and then they paid me for it, but later I realized that they were using the knowledge to replicate my work in another place on the mainland.”

What is the best dessert that you’ve ever had and where were you?  

“Last year for my birthday I stayed in Waikiki for two days with all of my girlfriends and one of my friends brought me a chocolate, espresso, avocado mousse cake. It was a gluten, sugar, and dairy free cake that was amazing!  It was my breakfast for a whole week after!”

What do you see as your greatest achievement in life so far?

“Not giving up on my longing to make art and to share it with others.”

What has been the greatest adventure of your life so far?

“I had a meditation teacher and followed him around for a while. Boy, that was a wild ride! Part of it was what I expected, and a lot was not at all what I expected, but I wouldn’t trade what I learned!”

What are you looking forward to most in life?  

“I’m looking most forward to being so present and in love with “right now” in whatever experience is happening good or bad, that there is never anything in my mind but now.”

What advice would you give to someone who has long since dreamed of a grand adventure, but is having a difficult time finding the courage to make the commitment and go?  

“What the hell are you waiting for?  You’re going to be dead soon!”

Can you tell me the story of how you began as a woodcrafting artist?

“I got my bachelor of fine arts in sculptural ceramics with a minor in botany and archaeology. I first learned woodworking while out on archaeology digs by building the latrines and showers, and did a little bit of wood sculpture in college. When I moved to Hawaii, I couldn’t afford the kilns and the clay to make pottery, so a friend of mine gave me a bunch of woodworking tools and wood and that’s how it began, about four and a half years ago.”

Have you taken any classes or had a mentor?

“I had a sculpture class in college and worked on one wooden sculpture for about two weeks, but that was over 20 years ago! Since then, I’ve just taught myself as I’ve gone along, mostly via trial and error. And I have no shame, if I see another artist or woodworker making incredible work I will ask to hang out with them and learn from them.”

What has been the most challenging project of your life so far?

“ME.  Being a human being.”

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing your art?

“Keeping my confidence and stamina up with the ups and downs of running a business and being an artist.”


 You can view other items Nadia has available, place custom orders and make purchases from The Mermaid’s Mirror by clicking the button below:

Shop The Mermaid's Mirror Now

   Use Code NOW10 To Receive 10% Off At Checkout!

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Gary
    May 15, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Wow! She really is an inspirational badass! I love these interviews and your boutique page. Totally cool idea. There are so many awesome people out in the world. Thank you for introducing them to us. 😊

    • Reply
      Bethany Eells Porter
      May 16, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Hi Gary!
      Thank you for the comment! I’m really glad that you’re enjoying the connection between the interviews and the boutique page.
      I like buying handcrafted things for others, especially when there’s a story behind it all. It just makes it all so much more meaningful, and Nadia is such a wickedly inspirational person, I’m happy that I got to introduce her to everyone!

  • Reply
    Diana
    May 15, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Nadia’s carvings are great! I can see why you were drawn to them. ☺️

    • Reply
      Bethany Eells Porter
      May 16, 2017 at 6:59 am

      Hi Diana,
      They are just beautiful, aren’t they? I believe that Nadia’s inner beauty just shines through her art for the world to see!
      Thank you for the comment! <3

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