Skip Thomsen was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and from an early age was fascinated by stained glass, woodworking, general art and design, exotic cars, electronics, airplanes, Harleys, The Mighty Sierra and the Awesome Ocean. Oh yeah, and girls.
Some forty years ago, he found an inspiring glass artist in his then hometown of Lafayette, California, and learned that this person was offering classes. The glass-art passion began.
Thomsen moved to Oregon a few years later and started a glass studio there. Another few years later, he decided to combine his then-active woodworking skills and glass art, the result being pieces such as those featured on his Pandanus Designs Web Site (Link below.)
He spent a lot of time in Hawai'i from 1972-74 and was moved by the incredible splendor of these Islands. After several moves around Oregon and even some exploratory time in New Zealand, he finally relocated there (the intention was to stay) in 1993. His continued awe of Hawai'i's beauty was the inspiration behind much of his art. His studio was then in his home in the hills of Hilo.
As a glimpse into Thomsen's other varied ventures over the years, he owned and operated a large facility in the San Francisco Bay Area that was devoted to all aspects of buying, selling, and the repair and maintenance of exotic cars, vintage and newer. He designed and built successful show cars, restored antique vehicles to their original condition, and also did engine conversions. These mostly involved installing modern engines, transmissions, and electrical systems in vintage cars that the owners wanted for reliable daily drivers as opposed to preserving them as antiques or collector cars. This was all way back in the late '60s to early '70s, and another shop was in operation in Oregon until 1989.
In 1979, Thomsen built a homestead on 108 acres of Oregon forest wilderness (on the north-eastern slope of Mt. Hood), designing and building the house, shop, other outbuildings, and the alternative electrical system that ran the entire place. Friends encouraged him to write a manual on how to duplicate the electrical system, and thus began his still-operating publishing company, Oregon Wordworks. He has written and published half a dozen books on various topics over the years, as well as many magazine articles. He and his then-wife also ran a companion business there, an arts-and-entertainment newspaper with a North Coast circulation of 5000 copies.
His last four years on the Mainland before moving to Hawai'i were in the little Oregon Coast town of Manzanita, where he held a General Contractor's license and designed and built four custom spec homes and remodeled a few more. One of his houses and the art-glass in it is featured on the Web site.
While in Oregon, he earned his pilot's license and funded his flying by buying two older airplanes (4-seat Cessna Skyhawks) and using his automotive, machine-shop and electronics skills to refurbish them into nearly-new condtion. During those years, his airplanes served him well by chauffeuring his then teen son to and from boarding school, plus lots of business and pleasure flights, as well. The airplanes took him to auto auctions in California, Oregon And Washington, where he was a licensed auto dealer for many years.

In their last 12 years in Hawai'i, Thomsen and his wife, Camille have been buying old, '50s plantation style homes and bringing them back to their original grace and charm. Never a dull moment! And throughout the entire 19 years in Hawaii, Thomsen was never without at least one Harley, and he rode his bikes everywhere. He bought a few basket-cases and brought them back to as-new, keeping the best ones around for a while. The last one, a big, black, loud Road King went to its happy new owner two days before the Thomsens took their last flight from the Islands.

Their last home in Hilo was a classic plantation-style that was built in 1948 and is the first home they have ever owned that needed no repairs or updating. Now there would be time for art . . . but in their six years there, a twist entered their lives.

For those last several years, Skip & Camille had been making more and more trips to California's Bay Area to visit their kids and grandkids. It was getting ever more expensive, more complicated and less comfortable to make these trips, so as happens with many Hawai'i families separated by that ocean, they decided to start a search for a possible new home near the kids. It was a Serious Big Deal to even consider leaving the Islands.

Living in or near a big city was not an option, so they started looking at possibilities within an hour or two of the Bay Area. They found a great place in Forestville, California. Deep in the beautiful Sonoma County Redwoods but at the top of a hill with lots of sunshine, this home is three minutes from a beautiful Russian River beach, it is near the ocean, and is quiet and serene. There's a beautiful feeling of community there that reminds one of Aloha, and it is now their new home. There is a brand new glass studio behind the house, and a complete woodworking shop, as well!

Another new twist has entered into the adventure. Thomsen has always been interested in designing and building furniture and has built much of what is in their own home. Soon after relocating back to California, he got the word around and received some commissions to build furniture in the currently-in-vogue “retro-industrial-chic” style for some San Francisco clients. This turned out to be so much fun that he is now designing and building the work that is featured on this Web site. The art-glass is taking a backseat to the furniture, as the demand is just not there as it was in Hawai'i.
So now we're up to date in this goofy, if somewhat out of sequence bio. This is only because many, if not most, of Thomsen's various life adventures (experiments?) overlapped by years. For example, Oregon Wordworks has been in operation continuously since 1989 and is still alive and well; the flying years were from about '84 - '93 when Thomsen moved to Hawai'i; the homestead years were from '78 - '89; and his two mainland stained-glass studios, both in Oregon, were from '74 - '93. There were four years as a General Contractor in Manzanita, Oregon from '89 until '93, and there was another, albeit smaller, glass studio in operation there, too. The auto business was from about 1960 (!) through '89, but he continued as a licensed auto wholesaler and shop-owner from then until '93, dealing mostly exotic cars in the auction arena in California, Oregon and Washington.
Thomsen's best friend, a guy with whom he attended Berkeley High School in the '50s, still asks him, "When are you going to grow up and get a real job?"
Gee, he must be very old!
Thomsen has three kids and five grandkids. All but one of the kids live in the SF Bay Area, and she is in Arizona. Camille has one daughter and family, with two granddaughters who also live in the Bay Area.
My shop and studio are located in Forestville, California, about an hour's drive
north of San Francisco. Feel free to contact me any time during working
hours by phone or email. We can deliver large pieces.