Brian Mulder
craftsman

[If I’m not intentional about it I can end up feeling a bit isolated day to day.]

“I lived by myself for the first few years and after working alone in the shop all day listening to podcasts and audiobooks—getting lost in my thoughts as I worked—I sometimes would go days without seeing anyone. There have been so many days that I worked from the time I woke up until the moment I went to sleep again. That’s hard, so I’ve needed to keep planning collaborations, co-working sessions and just meet ups with friends.”

Meet Brian

Brian Mulder makes things. Heralding from Holland, MI and celebrating a return to craftsmanship, Brian is a one-man shop making everything from wooden spoons and bottle openers to drums, tables and even music.

CurlyHost partnered with Brian to make Jouer Drums, focusing on his custom cajón drums. He went on to open Mulder Studios shortly thereafter to incorporate his other wood-making skillsets.

“I realized that it would be healthy for me to make something with my hands and see the results of my work.”

“I started making cajón drums almost 10 years ago because I needed a tangible hobby. I was a community youth worker (through most of my 20’s), a role that I loved but that didn’t offer many obvious external outcomes. I realized that it would be healthy for me to make something with my hands and see the results of my work. Around that same time, I discovered the cajón drum—I saw one being played at a show and was blown away by how simple and incredible sounding it was—looked it up when I got home and thought, “Maybe I can make one of those myself?” I took all the tools that I had (at the time a hand saw, some sandpaper and a drill) and I spent a week crafting my first drum—a fairly lopsided thing that was ugly as hell but sounded pretty good. I gave that drum away, made one for a friend, sold my first one, sold some more and continued to make them alongside my full time work until I decided that it was time to take the leap and head out on my own. I’ve been self employed for the past 4 years (not just making the drums—I do other woodwork, play music and sometimes paint houses as well).”

“We connect face to face—there is something so satisfying to handing a drum that I made every part of myself to someone.”

“I do a lot of Maker’s Markets where I bring my drums and other wooden wares and get to be with people all day. That’s always the time that I feel the most encouraged and excited about what I do. I meet new friends, usually end up playing a little jam session with some kiddos and I get to meet the people who buy my stuff. We connect face to face—there is something so satisfying to handing a drum that I made every part of myself to someone. I sell my drums at markets, online and through my local music store but I love when I actually get to meet the people who will be using them.”

“Making physical items and crafting things with my hands feels so good. When I finish a drum, I’ll usually spend some time just looking at it for a while and feeling really proud of what I made. There’s a always a touch of sadness as I sell a drum and have to let it go.”

“Celebrate failure. Celebrate milestones.”

“Don’t worry if there are other folks doing something similar. You have a completely unique set of experiences, interests, tastes and skills and no one can create the same thing as you if you dare to put a lot of yourself into your work.”

“Also:
Go for walks. I force myself at some point during the workday to at least walk around the block and get some fresh air on my face. That simple action snaps me back to reality.”