Tiny House Project: birch railing and joist accents

I finished up work on my first tiny house this past week. What a fun space! Clients I had met at a show over the summer hired me to create pieces for their new tiny house on a creek in upstate NY.

Given how obsessed I am with the tiny house movement and the amazing location I was working at, well…This. Was. Awesome.

By far, my favorite project was the birch railing for the loft/sleeping area. Not only did it give me an excuse to use my lumberjack tool (a.k.a. “Big Red”), but I got to design and build something I had never built before out of local birch from Arlington, VT.

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I went back to tie in the birch railing with birch joist accents.

LOVE.

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Posted in Reclaimed wood

Warehouse Cart Dining Room Table

Sorry for dropping off recently. I am struggling to write, to be honest. It’s a lot easier to just upload a picture of something I make on Instagram and choose a hashtag (says the woman who swore off Instagram for years).  Most of my days and nights these past months have been devoted to working on a huge art piece (more details on that next) and I’m only now resurfacing.

But in the meantime, this was a project I completed last week. Took an antique warehouse cart that my friend found for me, ripped off the rotten planks on the cart, treated the sides and poles, gave the iron a coat of matte black paint, and then build a tabletop and new shelf out of barn wood from that precious dairy farmer in the Adirondacks who so graciously let me come and get as much barn wood as I wanted this past year after his 200-year old barn came down in a storm.

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It’s been a gut-wrenching ten days since losing one of my best friends. After returning from her funeral in Texas, I was thankful to have this project to distract me.  As people gather around tables tomorrow with family and friends, it’s a reminder to give thanks for the people you love/loved and who love/have loved you, whether there are empty chairs at the table or your “cup runneth over.”  Because love is a choice. What a great gift to have been loved by this friend and to have also loved a friend so deeply in my lifetime. We had gone through hell and back together, and both knew we weren’t easy to love in many of those valleys, but we did so unconditionally. We never hesitated telling each other, “I love you,” no matter how hurt or broken or vulnerable or upset we felt. Those ended up being our last words to each other.

These words from Louise Erdrich meant a lot to her:

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

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Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Give love and thanks and laughter in abundance…not just tomorrow, but every day.

Thankful for each of you!

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Green Mountain Sleds

I tried not to throw a tantrum when I walked into Home Depot a month ago and saw Christmas decorations. Yes, I love Christmas; it’s my absolute favorite holiday for many reasons. But I also like Thanksgiving and adore fall and don’t like to blow past those times of the year in lieu to get to my favorite season. I like my seasons and holidays compartmentalized. (I may or may not have some OCD tendencies…)

Which is why I usually don’t bring holiday items to the summer shows. But one of my friends told me two years ago that she looks for Christmas items even at summer shows,  so with her voice in my head, I started to bring holiday decor to every show. It started with the Wood Peeps. And she was right. People wanted holiday stuff all year long. Go figure.

So then it morphed into something bigger: the green mountain sled. There’s so much that I love about these sleds. I found something to do with that beautiful old, red, barn wood from the green mountains of Vermont; no two sleds are alike; you can use them for multiple seasons/holidays. AND the small ones are great for the wood peeps.

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Each sled is made 100% from reclaimed wood: barn wood, pallet slats, barrel staves, birch logs, and more…

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Available at Vine & Branches Gallery (Bennington, VT) and via custom order!

Prices range from $25 for a small sled to $79 for a large one. Can be ordered with white lights and Vermont greenery.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Adirondack Chairs

It’s not uncommon for tractors to drive up and down the mountain. But for a tractor to come right up to me with an old Orvis Adirondack fish chair in its bucket, then drop the chair in front of me like an oversized red dog presenting me with a toy, well…that was a first. And an inspiration.

My neighbor had that chair for a long time and literally loved it to pieces. Dilapidated as it was, it survived its descent to my driveway.

“I thought this could be a prototype for you!” She said before heading back up.

Immediately I knew that I would be making one of these for her to replace the one she parted with. She’s looked out for me and been an incredible neighbor this past year; a fish chair was a good start at a thank you to her for her selflessness. I’ve never made a fish chair before. Wanting it to be entirely out of reclaimed wood, I went on a hunt around the shop and barn to see if I had enough lumber to build one of these.

OH HAPPY DAY. I had enough to build two. A fish chair for her, and a chair for her wife, a yoga instructor in a nearby town.

My take on the fish chair resembles a barracuda more than a Battenkill trout, but…

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I’m not big on following step-by-step directions. Even IKEA instructions frustrate me. (Yeah, they’re all pictures. I know.) Learning to build these was the exact way my brain works best. Study something tangible, and then try it out for myself without any plan of my own or paper in front of me.  I’ll never be a fine carpenter because of this (and, well, because of my aversion to all things mathematical, but that’s a different story). But for how my brain is wired and the line of work I do, this works.

In the middle of the craziness with shows and constant traveling these past few months, doing a fun build was downright…fun. And reminded me why I love doing what I do.

 

Some customers have asked about custom chairs for the spring. Besides traditional Adirondack chairs, pallet chairs and barrel stave chairs, I’m happy to make any kind of chair you’d like!

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

The Wine Table

One. Last. Show.

I ran two full marathons in my life: sheer euphoria and pure hell wrapped up in a not-so-tidy 26.2 mile package. This show season reminds me of the months of training for those and then running the races. Except this time, I’m limping across the finish line.

The weather has made this show season particularly rough. That, coupled with having the bright idea of signing up for shows every weekend for two months straight has left me pretty weary. I know that when I don’t listen to God and pump the breaks on my life, He tends to step in and intervene. That seems to be the case this week.

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Wind gusts from yet another tropical storm whipped through Harvest Fest at Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks last weekend, causing huge pallet racks to break free from their zip tied places on the grid wall and sail in the direction that gravity deemed. I just happened to be sitting under the ones that took flight and now have the bruised imprint of two 3-foot pallet racks across my back and a jacked up left arm where another piece of agony art went careening into my unsuspecting wrist.

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While unpacking my trailer yesterday morning, a groggy bee rallied one last time to sting me multiple times in the left palm.

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I then removed a tote from the trailer, and, forgetting it had poured the night before and my tarp has a hole in it, poured a gallon of water that had collected on the tote’s lid down the front of me until it pooled in my boots.

During life seasons like the one I’ve been in recently, it would be so easy to sullenly sit in a corner, licking my wounds from the ramifications of doing life my way.  I have to remind myself to see the joy in each day and be thankful for the little things, even while in the throes of refinement. That my boots will dry. That I’m not allergic to bees. That I’ve had the chance to travel around the east coast and meet some incredibly talented and awesome people.  That while I have this weird protrusion on my arm, I didn’t break it.  That the pallet rack missed my neck by a few inches. That I’ve had this huge internal growth spurt at the age of 38.

And instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you find yourself smiling at the poignant encounters with others. Like chatting with a 6-year old girl at your booth about school and then giving her a pencil holder full of pencils, to which she responds by rooting through her bag of black and yellow eggs that hold prizes from an egg hunt, cracks one open, and hands me this glittery plastic ring in exchange:

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Or how antique windows and doors keep showing up on my driveway from a kind-hearted neighbor who knows they are treasures to me and lugs them over from all around the area on my behalf.

Or how friends save random pieces of this or that for me to incorporate into a pieces, like this wine table that was inspired by the small metal glass holder you see underneath the 167-year old barn wood table top. Another friend has been on the hunt for sewing machine bases for me, so when I got this antique Singer sewing machine table from him (complete with the sewing machine), I took it apart, painted the base, added a barn wood top along with wine bottle racks I’ve been saving for the right piece, and added the glass holder underneath. It’s like a mini wine bar. Perfect for this last show. It rolls. And it won’t fall off grid wall. And it’s a reminder to celebrate the end of a growth season on Monday, no matter what this weekend holds.

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Find the joy in the little things.

 

(I have two of these wine tables for sale; if you are interested in one, please let me know before Thursday evening as they’ll be road tripping with me to Oyster Bay!)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Small Stuff

Vermont’s unpredictable weather followed me to Montauk for the two-day craft fair out there last weekend. Gone are the days where you wake up and check weather.com or an app for an accurate reading. I now understand why Vermonters just get up and go and embrace whatever the sky decides to bestow upon them. It’s a mix of sheer optimism and an acceptance that you know you could have sunshine, rain, hail, wind, or snow…in any season.

So when the doppler said no rain on Long Island, even with Hurricane Jose lingering offshore, I believed it. The weather people had to be right. Because I still faithfully wake up and check weather.com like it were a morning devotional. You can’t make an apple an orange.

Friday night was horrible.

First, there were the squalls. Sheets of rain driving down. Then add 40 mph winds. The rain no longer came down. It came horizontally.

Yet I still tried to set up my booth that night. I knew it was a lost cause, but first looked at it as a fun challenge. Optimism reigned. But after a solid half-hour fighting my EZ-Up tent and yelling at it that it needed a new name, the wind then played tug of war, trying to rip said EZ-Up tent out of my white-knuckled grip and into the main drag of Montauk.  I soon found myself in tears under a canopy of soggy white fabric and torn side flaps that longed to be a parachute instead of a vendor tent. The tears soon morphed into a full sob at the realization that I was only getting a small sample of Jose and Maria’s destructive power over that weekend. The four islands I loved the most and found rest and renewal on over the years had experienced apocalyptic devastation. I cried for what was. And I cried for the unimaginable situation that people I had met and hadn’t crossed paths with were facing at that moment. The suffering of others was overwhelming.

Later that night, as a few vendors and I took refuge in a glorious U-Haul trailer, the conversation took a somber turn as we sat near the opening, listening to the angry surf and occasionally checking on our booths to see what inventory was destroyed by the most recent gust, all asking each other, “How did life turn out to look like this?” The excitement of traveling for shows and the “carnie” lifestyle was long gone. I was tired of the weather impacting sales, and disappointed that I was letting it get to my attitude as well. I missed home. A warm bed. A routine that involved more than just working my butt off.

As I emerged from my tent the next day, an old man with a shocking white beard was walking through the grass near my temporary abode. He looked my way and at my truck, then back at me and gave me a thumbs up with a small smile. “Home is where your heart is.” Then he disappeared by the reeds at the edge of the bay.

Indeed, sir. And for now, that means two more weeks of shows and travel and building like mad, and then…

Sometimes life needs a …

Followed by open space. Nothing.

 

(In the meantime, life needs more small inventory that can withstand one more outdoor show in the Adirondacks that’s known for high winds and one huge indoor show by Manhattan where people can easily bring home purchased items via train.)

Trays:

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Barn wood tissue boxes:

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Tool caddies with beer openers (that also function as beer caddies):

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Note or photo holders/wall decor:

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Tin roof sign bird houses:

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If you are looking for something to do these next two weekends, come to Gore Mountain in upstate NY October 7-8 or Oyster Fest in Oyster Bay, NY October 14-15! Thank you friends, family, and repeat customers who have come out to the shows this season. It’s so uplifting to see familiar faces! I truly appreciate the love and support. I hug you all fiercely at these things because you are a reminder of home. (Ye be warned.)

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Cedar Hope Chest

It all started with a pile of 100-year old cedar siding reclaimed from a house near Stratton, Vermont that a contractor was going to use for a bonfire. (Yeah. I sorta freaked out when I heard that.)

The salvaged cedar became an accent wall.

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Then a waterfall ceiling/wall.

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And it’s in the process of becoming a custom door.

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And I had enough left to make a 5′ long cedar hope chest.

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(Every piece of this is repurposed, from the fabric seat to the super comfy memory foam bench to the cedar siding that smells incredible to the hardware to the red barn wood accent pieces.)

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This is the gift that keeps on giving. I feel like I had a few loaves and fishes that kept multiplying. And continue to do so.

And I just realized I have enough cedar to make ANOTHER hope chest.

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Cedar hope chest: please email me with the size you are interested in (between 2-5 feet) and I’d be happy to give you a quote!

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood