In 2019, just a few weeks on the heels of their 40th anniversary, Pat McDonnell and Barbara Contini, the husband-and-wife team behind Nicasio Woodworks, showcased their Wedded Wood products, an array of bowls, trays, small tables and vases, at the 44th annual American Craft Show in San Francisco.

​Now those gorgeous products are available at Terrestra, the downtown Mill Valley shop at 30 Miller Ave. that husband-and-wife owners Ray Kristof and Amy Satran describe as a “museum store without the museum.” McDonnell and Contini, a former consulting firm president and former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, respectively, told the Marin Independent Journal that “they have individually always appreciated beautiful wood but it wasn’t until six years ago that they became serious about woodworking.”

“Most of our work involves highlighting the art that is already in the wood,” McDonnell told the IJ about their Wedded Wood line, which creates mergers between two varieties of distinct walnut trees, the Claro Walnut and the European Walnut. The wood they use is largely reclaimed from trees that are lost during storms or removed for purposes of local land management, landscape upgrades, or orchard recycling.

The merging of California and European trees results in complex and beautiful patterns near the graft line. The primary pattern that one sees, as the  two trees mature together, arise from their  different growth rates. Because the Claro rootstock grows much faster than its European top, requires that each year’s growth ring, at the graft, must curve ever more horizontally to find their partner’s.  

The couple says that Wedded Wood products have become extremely popular wedding and anniversary gifts since each piece so visibly demonstrates the best aspects of a good union: “that together the individuals can achieve much more than they could do separately, that each continues to grow in a manner consistent with its own heritage, and that the visible bond between them celebrates the complexity, beauty, and strength of that union.”

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