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Q&A with d&mShop Artist

November 17, 2014

An eclectic selection of products from local artists are always available in the d&mShop, an entrepreneurial retail laboratory run by Design & Merchandising students that operates online and in pop-up form in the URBN Center lobby (3501 Market Street). Products range from jewelry and accessories to apparel, gifts and home goods, featuring one-of-a-kind items from skilled students, faculty, alumni, and artists and designers in the Philadelphia region. Artist Bradley Siegel is a craftsman and recent Product Design alum whose unique hand-turned wooden pens are popular d&mShop items. We spoke with Bradley to learn more about the craft of woodturning and his practical product applications. Click here to see more of Bradley’s work for sale and the full d&mShop selection, and to learn more about specific hours of the next pop-up shop, which will open just in time for holiday shopping from December 1 through 6 in the URBN Center lobby.

How did you start working with wood?
I have been doing woodworking since elementary school. No one in my family is a woodworker, but my grandfather was always fixing things, and I spent a lot of time at his house as a kid and was always around power tools. So I took the knowledge I learned about tools from him and transferred it to wood.

Why pens?
I have always liked fancy pens and when I bought a lathe in high school, I realized I needed something to make on it and for starting out, pens were cheap and pretty. As I got more experienced, I stopped with the cheap pens and moved up to the fancier pens, some of which are on sale at the d&mShop.

What program were you in at Drexel?
I just graduated from Product Design this past spring. I was in the first graduating class of the major.

Did you use the facilities at Westphal to make your product?
No, I do all of my woodturning at home. I had never taken a woodworking class until I took Woodturning Techniques last spring.

Are the pens sold anywhere other than the d&mShop? Do you take special orders?
Yes, I have a website,, and I do take orders. I also have cutting boards, serving trays and turned pepper mills on sale at Earth, Wood and Fiber in Newtown Square, PA.

Do you work with any other types of materials?
Another common material for pens to be turned from is acrylic. There are also some acrylic-coated materials, such as woven carbon fiber and there are blanks that are 85% stone. I have also tried turning naturally-shed buffalo horn, but the smell was so horrific I had to stop, and never tried again.

How would you describe the creative community at Drexel?
I really bounced a lot of design questions off of some of my professors and peers and found their input helped me better my craft.

What’s next?
I just purchased a new lathe a few weeks ago, allowing me to turn even larger bowls. After I get it set up and used to it, I want to dive back into bowl making and learn more about segmented turning, which I played around with a while ago, but my old lathe limited what I could do so I want to restart exploring that creative path.