Debra Prinzing

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Behind-the-Scenes of a Country Gardens photo shoot

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Creating a magazine story involves a lot of moving parts.

Last year, I worked with a huge team of talented people to produce a feature story for Country Gardens magazine called “Art by Hand,” which appears in the current Summer 2012 issue. Editor James Baggett had the original vision for this story — and he asked me to produce and write a group of short profiles that together tell the story of craftspeople and artists whose work is inspired by the garden, wildlife and nature.

Our starting point was Dirt Couture, the online garden emporium started in 2010 by Cindy McNatt. Many of you know Cindy for her daily updates called Dirt du Jour, which is a fun, g0-to site for all the latest gossip about plants, books, people and trends in the gardening world.

Cindy suggested several of the artists whose work is featured on Dirt Couture, and since photographer Laurie Black and I are now both located in the Pacific Northwest, we decided to focus on three folks in Oregon and Washington. We photographed their portraits and work last July.

Last September we headed to Southern California for a visit to Cindy’s gorgeous garden and the world headquarters of Dirt Couture (aka, her kitchen table!). Pulling together all these separate pieces and making them into an 8-page feature for Country Gardens was way more work than just visiting a beautiful garden and spending 24 hours photographing it. But I love teaming up with Laurie and her husband Mark King, and things always seem to have a good flow when we’re on location together.

So you can read the story here — or, better yet, pick up a copy at the newsstand. Laurie’s photos are amazing (and PS, she also photographed the cover of the same Summer issue to illustrate my feature about The Herbfarm Restaurant’s Basil Banquet. That’s another fun story!).

Here are my favorite out-takes from “location.”

Bob Denman of Red Pig Garden Tools in Boring, Oregon, is one of the country’s last blacksmiths making hand-forged gardening tools and implements. You can learn more about his work here:

Bob and Rita Denman, of Red Pig Garden Tools

Love this old-timey sign!

You can see the actual forge-marks on these hand hoes. Rustic beauty!

Artist Blenda Tyvoll uses mixed media to cover her canvases with soulful trees, inspired by the Oregon farm where she and her family grow Christmas trees! Check out more of her work here.

I love this little gallery I styled with Blenda's canvases and her collection of paint-chipped stools.

from left, Blenda studies her collection of tree-inspired paintings as Laurie Black and Mark King capture the shot.

Potter and artist Marybeth Sommers of the Seattle area has adapted the traditional Raku method to create bird houses and bird feeders. They are charming! We photographed Marybeth and her work at the Dunn Garden in Seattle. Thanks to the folks there for making that happen! Marybeth’s studio is called Ring of Fire Pottery.

Here's what happens when the showers arrive in the middle of a photo shoot! That's Mark King, holding a rigged up photographer's stand with an umbrella clipped onto it. Just to keep our subject Marybeth dry while Laurie take her portrait.

A sweet vignette of Marybeth's bird feeders in the colorful Dunn Gardens.

Finally, we spent a day with Cindy McNatt, creator of Dirt Couture. Visit the site here and learn more about all of these artists, plus nearly 100 more artisans and crafters. You won’t be disappointed!

Garden Writer friend Julie Bawden Davis (left) visited Cindy McNatt (right) and me (center) during our photo session. It was fun to reunite with my SoCal girlfriends!

Laurie King, a dream of a photographer to work with!

Dirt Couture's canvas harvest trug - perfect for gathering flowers and herbs.

The end! Now we’re busy planning all the stories to be created this summer for 2013 issues~