We caught up with Murphy Munday of BirdieOtt and she did the impossible. Murphy turned us into wid-eyed little kids again, inspired by twigs, pinecones and rocks in dirt. Her beaver stick arrows and leather tassels turn a home into a cozy, Western saloon. Her collection and personality share something identical: total warmth.
Tell us. Tell the word! What is your name and where are you from?
I'm Murphy Munday from Brooklyn, NY. I've lived here for almost 8 years now, but grew up in Tennessee and went to school in Georgia. Was born in Wisconsin, lived in Minnesota for a while as a kid. Got engaged in Massachusetts. Married in Maine.
So, how long have you been a designer?
I've been an artist for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I would come home from school with blisters on my fingers from coloring so much… the pain hasn't subsided. I'm still really rough on my hands. Being a creator is undeniably inside of me, it's something I just need to do.
Why do you do it?
I am a maker because I simply must use my hands every day. There was a phase in my life when I though a corporate job was a good fit for me, but it turns out I am not myself when I'm not making things. So, I've made that a priority and try to make something and use my hands every day (even if it's just making dinner!)
What are you most proud of?
My favorite products are my arrows. Each one is very unique - crafted by a beaver, a turkey, an arrowhead-knapper, and me! Every stick is different in size, shape, and beaver-bite-mark pattern and I am obsessed with them! Same with the feathers and arrowheads, each piece is it's own and I love putting them together and finalizing an arrow that I think is just right, highlighting the beauty of each element included. I've always been inspired by Native American design and style as well as African crafts, so my products definitely have a nod to each culture.
As a maker where every piece is your brainchild, how do you feel when people buy your stuff?
I feel honored every single time.
What is the rocket science behind your arrows?
The rocket science behind my products is simple : get outside and look around. I love to use items found in nature - beaver sticks, porcupine quill sheds, antler sheds, feather sheds, wasp nests, sea fans, etc. I have always collected what I call “nature treasures” any time I go hiking, camping, or just spend the afternoon outside – anything from a perfect pinecone, to a local rock for my collection from around the world. I realized that I love bringing a little piece of nature into my home. Now my hope is that my craft will bring a peaceful, natural element into someone else's life.
If anyone could wear or own a piece, who would you geek out for?
This is a tough one for me… hmmm, if anyone could own a piece of mine, I would geek out if either Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes or Adele bought one. They are such powerful women, and are so inspirational to me!
Why are handmade products worth it?
Handmade products are SO WORTH IT. As a maker, I'm a part of this beautiful global community centered on being creative. People are unique, and what they make is unique. You and I could not make the same piece of artwork if we tried – because we see things differently, interpret things differently, we work with our hands differently. That's the magic of buying a handmade product, way better than made by “the man.”
If I were visiting you in 24 hours where would you take me?
OK, first off, welcome to NYC!! You made it! Come on over to my neighborhood - Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. We'll grab breakfast and a coffee at Milk Bar, head to Prospect Park for some walking and park lounging. Let's hop on bicycles and bike over to Red Hook for lobster roll lunch at The Lobster Pound, followed by a beer at Sunny's and a walk out on the pier to salute Lady Liberty as the sun sets. Back to Prospect Heights for Chuko ramen dinner. What a great day! Tomorrow we'll hit the museums!
What inspires you in general? I've always found inspiration in nature. I like colors and patterns and unfinished things – I dream of finishing them and making them my own. I even catch myself fascinated by old medical and scientific oddities.
What were you like as a child? I was a weird child . I was always studying things outside, wanting to be very independent, designing train tracks, coloring, coloring, coloring. I was very persistent – I would play on the monkey bars until I had bleeding blisters, rode my bike with a broken wrist and broke it all over again. And I had a little OCD about my clothing. My sleeves needed to be folded exactly at the right spot on my wrist and I wore the same dress every single day for a month straight! Some things never change…
Crowning achievement as a maker? I gotta say, just getting out there and doing it is really my crowning achievement. I have a deep fear of failure, and I have worked really hard to get beyond that and put myself and my artwork out there. It's terrifying and rewarding at the exact same time.