Drifting Purpose a One-Woman Source for One-of-a-Kind Gifts and Home Decor

By Victoria Ford | Nov 06, 2019
Photo by: Chris Seiz

Stafford Township — Years ago Kate Warner put her creative talent to use by weaving floral wreaths and handwriting on scallop shells. That was before she discovered resin art, which she still considers her first love, ever since she found herself mesmerized by artists she saw pouring resin on Instagram and tried it out herself with some inexpensive EasyCast, to thrilling result. From there she developed a style of working with resin that achieves beautiful, swirling Long Beach Island-inspired looks that she can combine with her other endeavors as a tireless maker.

“And now I’m having way too much fun with wood,” she said.

Today, the beating heart of her business, Drifting Purpose, is her Glowforge Basic 3-D laser printer, which she acquired in March after “lusting” after it for a long time (“That’s the only word I can use to describe it,” she said with a laugh). It was originally a Kickstarter project.

“I’ve totally geeked out on this stuff,” she said. She hopes to upgrade soon to the Pro model and eventually get a CNC router.

This is her first holiday season in business with the new “toy,” so how well she does will determine which direction she heads in next.

The printer allows her to reproduce any design (from an SVG, or scalable vector graphic file) by cutting, scoring or engraving wood, paper, leather, acrylic, slate, cork, dry erase board and more (but not vinyl, which releases toxic dust into the air). Before sending the job to the printer, she prepares the file in a program called Silhouette Studio. After the finished piece comes out of the printer, it’s ready for painting, embellishing, gluing, sealing, whatever the particular project of the moment requires ­– whether a fridge magnet, keychain, set of home address numbers to mount to a mailbox or house, or wood décor for coffee lovers that announces, “It’s beginning to look a latte like Christmas.”

Her workshop, newly outfitted with cabinets and countertop/desk space thanks to the carpentry expertise of her husband, Chris, is the front room of the Manahawkin home the Warner family moved into earlier this year. Now she can spread out dozens of different projects simultaneously as she fills orders and cranks out thoughtful gifts for friends and family.

The Glowforge operates wirelessly via an Internet connection, “so when their server is down, we’re all affected,” she said. To the company’s credit, it has a strong community of users who share experience, tips and tricks, and support each other. “In the Glowforge community, so many people are truly mentors,” she said.

But the real fun is in the play and experimentation, the trial and error that help her grow.

Nowadays she uses mainly birch plywood because it cuts easily, it’s nice and soft, and it has a nice grain to it, she said. The trends in home décor seem to be wood and an overall natural, rustic (yet polished) look. She intentionally buys her supplies and parts from small businesses, often woman-owned, and organizations that support women and families; she keeps her waste low by reusing her scraps whenever possible, and donates any extra materials to her kids’ schools.

It all feeds the different aspects of her creative soul.

Currently she’s in “full-on Christmas mode,” expanding her inventory of general merchandise (as distinguished from her custom work), getting ready for the Stafford PTO’s Fall Craft and Vendor Fair on Nov. 16 and the Viking Village Arts and Crafts Show in Barnegat Light on Nov. 30, as well as bulking up listings for her website, driftingpurpose.com. In season, she can also be found at the Surf City Volunteer Fire Co.’s farmers market on Mondays. She was honored to have made the finishers’ medals for the LBI PBA 175’s 5K in September.

At art fairs, the feedback she often hears is “Your stuff is not like any of the stuff in the other shops,” which tells her she is doing something right.

“I would rather sign up for a show every day than (sell on) the Internet,” she said, explaining what drives her sales more than anything else are the interactions and personal connections with customers. Their expressions tell her what works and what doesn’t. Their ideas and suggestions are invaluable.

Thanks to those very customers, and to the network of artists and designers with whom she has built relationships, Warner’s range of products is boundless and ever-growing. On the workbench are Advent Christmas trees that hold small bottles of wine or liquor; in the hopper are luggage tags for pilots’ wives. Available at a moment’s notice are wedding details with plenty of sparkle; order up jewelry, ornaments, personalized items, decorative signs, cork coasters and hot pads (think upcoming holiday meals!). She can also laser engrave handwriting. Soon she hopes to be able to print from photographs.

Though her purpose may drift, Warner’s vision – i.e., putting out into the world high-quality, original products, handcrafted with loving care – remains in laser focus.

— Victoria Ford


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