Text by Katie Ellis
Pamela Tomlin has always had an artistic flair. “The creative bug is in my genes,” she says. After more than 20 years of living and working in New York City as a television producer and traveling all over the world, she and her husband and fellow producer, John, moved to the coastal town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. In classic New England fashion, Pamela was quick to give their cozy saltbox-style house by the water a name: “Clam Box” was the perfect fit.
She decided to make a nautical sign that spelled out the name, unaware that a blossoming new creative venture was about to begin. Using the international nautical alphabet—which allowed for pre-radio communications between ship captains by substituting flags for letters and numbers—Pamela created a sign to display outside her home. “I have always been attracted to nautical things,” she says. “I grew up on the water in Connecticut; I live on the water here [in Massachusetts], and I just love the brightness and color of nautical [design].”
In April 2020, at the prompting of a friend, she shared her sign on Facebook, and much to her surprise, she received 10 order requests that evening. Soon after, in the Tomlins’ driveway with just a table saw and top-of-the-line exterior house paint by Benjamin Moore, Ipswich River Craft was born.
With connections through John, who created the TV show Inside Edition and now produces the show This Old House, the couple had a wealth of talented experts to call on for advice as they began to create hundreds of brightly colored handcrafted nautical signs. “The team from This Old House was very instrumental in teaching me the best practices on how to make these signs,” Pamela says.
The wooden signs are completely customizable, and the cost is dependent upon the size of the frame and the number of letters or symbols you select. “Most people order their last name or boat names,” Pamela says. “It looks very New England and very coastal.” Perfect for both indoor and outdoor display, the nautical blocks pop atop the gray background and crisp white frame. The signs are also available in a flat black surround, which Pamela says looks fantastic on a home with black shutters or other accents.
Pamela’s creative ideas for Ipswich River Craft are just getting started. “We’re always coming up with new and different things, and it’s really fun,” she says. “I do this right on the water where I live, and going to work has never been so much fun!”
For more, visit ipswichrivercraft.com.