A Lifelong Love Affair
Debey Zito produces fine Arts & Crafts furniture and cultivates aspiring craftswomen from the hills of Northern California.
by Laura Mays and Deirdre Visser
To find Debey Zito’s workshop you give yourself over to GPS, which steers you west into the coastal hills north of San Francisco, between Petaluma and the Pacific Ocean. As the roads narrow and become poorly paved, you notice they increasingly bear the names of apple varieties.
You pass small ranch houses, each with a quarter-acre of apple trees beside them – which, on a March day in the rainiest year in recent memory, is breathtaking, promising abundance to come. Eventually you arrive at what you are assured is your destination, push open a tall, weathered wood gate and arrive in the lovely compound of furniture maker Debey Zito and her partner Terry Schmitt. The blossoms within the gate are equally delightful, two dogs wag their welcome and the pet rabbit hops at your feet.
Zito is an expert in both the American and English Arts & Crafts movements, and is also strongly influenced by Asian aesthetics. She wields an impressive portfolio of museum-quality work and decades of grateful students. The journey into woodworking was often arduous, but she has arrived.
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