Teresa (Tee) Thompson
Hot Metal Mama
•Where do you live?
I live in Wilbur By The Sea FL, a tiny little spot at the end of the peninsula here in the greater Daytona Beach area. We’re three blocks wide with Wilbur Bay on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. A very sweet spot.
•Can you tell us a little about your family?
My immediate family includes my husband of 24 years Mike and my two irish terriers Gracie and Guinness. I have three sisters who I adore.
•Do you work outside the home?
My artwork is my full time profession although I actually work in my studio which is located in a large warehouse about 20 miles from my house.
•Do you have an hobbies/what do you like to do when you're not creating?
Oh my, I’m a little ADD but my newest passion is bee keeping. A friend and I started our first hive in March and added a second hive about two months ago. I am completely gaga over my girls. Bees are soooo fascinating. We harvested our first honey last month. It was a small draw but mainly mangrove honey as our hives are located along the saltwater marshes behind my friend’s house. I’m prejudiced but it was the best honey I’ve ever tasted. I also have a gypsy soul and travel whenever and where ever I can- my last big trip was a girls hiking trip on the Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu.
•What are some of your favorite things?
My fur babies, my bees, being outside, cranking up the music in the studio while welding, junking with friends.
•Do you collect anything in particular?
I’m now looking for vintage bee keeping items, I love old school papers, vintage letters, old electric fans, anything old Florida.
•How did you get your start in your creative business?
When? About 15 years ago my husband and I bought and restored a small victorian in a tiny town in Colorado. It has this fantastic old oven that is electric and coal burning and only had one oven rack. I took a welding class to make myself an oven rack and never looked back.
•Tell us how you got your business name?
My company name – Hot Metal Mama, Inc. came from my perverse love of alliteration and my odd sense of humor. It always makes people laugh and they might not remember my name but always remember my company name. I don’t think I would have the guts to go with that name now that I’ve been in the business so long and take myself so much more seriously- I think there’s lesson in there for me:)
•Is it in the genes......does anyone in your family, now or generations before create?
I come from a long line of Polish women- we’re pretty much all women on my Mom’s side. All of us do something creative – my great grandmother who lived next door to us when I was growing up could do anything- seriously. She was an extraordinary baker, cook, and she was the best needle worker I’ve ever seen. I have some of her tatting pieces that humble me. My mom was Martha Stewart before Martha served her first meal. So, I would definitely so I come by it honestly.
•How do you keep ideas coming?
Uumm- that’s a good question. Many times, an idea finds me from something fabulous found at the flea market. Sometimes I wake up with some idea itching behind my eyes and ultimately works it’s way to the surface. Sometimes, good ideas have evolved out some custom piece I was commissioned to do.
•Who/what inspires you?
•Do you have a studio or do you work in different parts of your home?
I started working out my garage, and I used to roll everything out into the driveway every day. I outgrew the garage after a couple years but still have people are local shows tell me they remember seeing me work out there. I moved into a warehouse that I rent from a friend. It’s such a fabulous space. It butts up to wetlands and deep woods. We have tons of wild life- this spring we had a hawk nest that we actually got to watch the two chicks grow and fly the nest. I’m very very lucky.
•How do you organize your supplies?
Not very well :) I have a huge rack system that holds up to 10’ X 4’ sheets of metal and most of my scraps. I have most of my tools, my MIG welder, two plasma cutters and a chop saw on wheels and can move them around the studio. I have a covered patio area that I use to cut my metals because of the ventelation.
•Do you like to listen to music while you work, if so what ?
Oh lord yes. I am the downloading queen. I have eclectic tastes- I pretty much like anything but if I had to pick a few I’d say new voices like Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. I love Willie Nelson and Toots and the Maytals. Some young new stuff would be The Heartless Bastards and Edward and the Magnetic Zeros. I have a passion for Concha Buika, a spanish flamingo singer and my newest favorite indie/folk/country singer is Mary Gauthier.
•Do you have a favorite piece of art that you've created?
Well, I do a lot of large custom work which can be challenging. I’m really tired of a large project towards the end of it but then if I happen to get to see it again, I fall in love with all over again.
•What have you learned about marketing?
I’m always willing to try anything new, particularly if it’s a free internet based idea like Facebook (search Hot Metal Mama, Inc. on FB) I still have addresses of clients from over 15 years ago and do a hard mailer once a year. I ask for internet addresses from all my new clients and email blast from my website. I have a publicist (I built her a fence for her services) and she has been fantastic to me. She’s gotten my work profiled in Coastal Living, Lexus Magazine and the Miami Herald.
•What keeps you motivated?
I love what I do. The sheer freedom to create whatever I want, to try new and difficult things- it really keeps me excited.
•Do you sell you work in any shops, or will you be in any upcoming shows?
I do sell in some galleries and I do art shows here in Florida. I’ve taken myself off the road for the last several months working on my first art in public places commission. It’s been a real learning experience and I hope to secure more public commissions in the future.
• Has your work been published in any magazines? Have you received any type of awards/recognition for your work? See above.
•Do you have any tips you would like to share?
I try to take a class or two once a year to try something new. I’m usually terrible at it but it opens the windows up in the brain. Can’t close them once they’re open.
•Tell us something about yourself that may surprise us?
I’m thinking about taking violin lessons this winter.