LANCASTER – Candice Oxnard is a multimedia artist with a particular love for wood.
“Art is my calling,” she said. “I am a visual learner, and I like being a visual storyteller as well. I think art is like the whipped cream of life: It makes everything a little more delicious.”
Currently, she creates jewelry, wall signs, succulent pots, candle holders, holiday tree ornaments, trinket boxes and more.
Oxnard has been making art as long as she can remember. She started producing wood art about 10 years ago, where she would draw and then burn an image onto wood, color it with watercolor pencils, and finish it with polyurethane.
That progressed to working with a laser.
She began designing jewelry and other items out of laser-cut wood and acrylic in March 2020 out of her home, coincidentally just as the pandemic started. She had previously rented art studio space in Hudson and Lowell, but the cost became too expensive, especially while exploring creating different types of art.
“Wood just holds a special place in my heart,” Oxnard said. “I love the different grains and colors and how light weight it is from an earring perspective. You can leave it with just a thin coat of clear finish or you can add color with paint. Plus it’s sturdy if you want to build things like trinket boxes or tiered trays.”
She often decides what jewelry to make based on the season (such as floral for spring, bats on Halloween and snowflakes during the winter) and either paints them or “lets the color of the wood be the star,” whether it’s walnut, birch or cherry. This spring, she added a “different painting technique” that gave her earrings, succulent holders and small signs “a more weathered farmhouse feel.”
“They are really like mini canvases,” she said. “I like that that I can explore different ways to make and finish the same objects.”
Oxnard leans away from acrylic because she wants to be environmentally-friendly, but said some things (like ghosts) look really cool on acrylic and “allow you to play with how the light shines through.”
““I can get lost in creating… it’s a great escape,” she said.
However, Oxnard said “there is a lot of trial and error in going from a digital design on a computer screen to a physical object and how it comes together.”
Plus there is a learning curve for the engraving settings on the laser, with cuts not going completely though the wood, the wood charring and thin wood breaking.
She said the hardest thing about her art is the business part of selling it.
“You have to find the right price range for your customers while also making a profit so you can continue to create,” she explained. “And then you may see a version of what you are painstakingly creating at a craft store for $1. You can’t let it crush your spirit, or convince you to quit. You have to challenge yourself to keep making because it’s who you are and remind yourself that there is room for everyone at the table.”
She said she hopes buyers feel special when they wear or use something she made.
Oxnard’s other side project is as a content creator, particularly video marketing and merchandise design, for ECHO Dance Collaborative.
“I also love to sing jazz, to tap dance competitively, and be a Mom to one pretty fabulous teenager,” she said.
Originally from New Hampshire, Oxnard received a bachelor’s from UMass Lowell with a concentration in graphic design, then lived in Pittsburgh briefly before settling in Lancaster due to the school system and the proximity to her husband’s job.
“It’s a small quiet town with earnest, hardworking people,” she said.
Oxnard said she’s “incredibly lucky to be so supported in my life” by her husband of 22 years, her daughter and so many friends.
”My five-year plan is to try and get studio space again so I can be part of an artistic community,” she said. Oxnard also likes selling at festivals and other in-person events throughout the state and would like to do more of that, because “you get to meet all kinds of other artists. We can be a supportive bunch so it really is rewarding to spend time with other makers.”
Eventually, she would like to travel even further afield for shows.
She also has online events through Facebook.
Oxnard contacted as “Originate” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/candice.oxnard and on Instagram as www.instagram.com/o.r.i.g.i.n.a.t.e/.