Adirondack wedding decor

Despite taking a break from shows/festivals this year and limiting custom orders due to my current job, I was excited to help create custom pieces for an Adirondack wedding this past October. I met this sweet couple at Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks last year during Columbus Day weekend while I had a booth at the harvest festival there. From barn wood signs to cupcake stands to a custom cake stand, it was such a breath of fresh air to get back to my roots and to work for this amazing couple. Hard to believe I’ve been in business for almost a decade; it’s been a reflective fall as I’ve thought about how the job and my skill set has changed over the years!

The bride recently sent me a few photos from their wedding. More to come!

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Posted in Reclaimed wood

Pallet wine bench w/ matching end tables

Last year, I was traveling almost every weekend in the summer and fall due to a heavy show schedule. It was wonderful to meet new clients/friends, reconnect with old ones that I usually only see once a year, and sell some pieces. But it was also an unrealistic schedule to maintain as I traveled and worked weekends, then spent the week days rebuilding inventory for the following weekend’s show.

After nine years of doing shows/festivals in New England, NY, and PA, I have decided to take the year off and not do any shows. Yep. None. Nada. Zilch.  I thought I would be nostalgic about it, but at this point in my life, I’m just really excited to have weekends and holidays off. I’m reminded constantly to have more balance in my life in all areas. This is the start of executing that.

So…as a huge work project is wrapping up soon, I’m starting to take orders for late summer and fall.  I recently built my biggest pallet bench so far: a three-seater for a lake house in Cambridge, NY for wonderful clients I met at a fair last fall. After dropping off the bench, they then asked for matching end tables. (Signs of a happy customer!) One of the great things about working with pallets is how sturdy they are for small or large projects!

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Please contact me if you are interested in having a custom piece designed out of pallet wood, barn wood, or other reclaimed materials. Most orders will be completed in 4-6 weeks.

Thank you!

 

 

Posted in bench, pallet loveseats, pallets, Reclaimed wood, rustic decor

The “Flitch-n-Stitch”

I haven’t taken much time recently to build non-custom pieces, but yesterday, I did it out of necessity. Somehow in the past year, I turned into an antique sewing machine table hoarder. How that happened, I have no idea.  The many iron bases I was storing for future projects were taking up precious shop space now needed for larger projects.  There was also this huge slab of cherry with a flitch in it. When I say huge, it was 9 feet long. A bit tough to store upright with the 8′ shop ceilings along with all of the other slabs and barn wood.

So, I took the circular saw and got to work.  Seven feet of that slab was going to an outdoor bench project, and that left me with the two foot flitch section. It just happened to fit perfectly on one of the sewing machine table bases (not all sewing machine tables are the same height, width, or depth).  I painted the rusted iron base black, sanded and lacquered the flitch, and attached the two with bolts.

It makes a great end table or beefy little bench!  I love it when things work out.

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Posted in Reclaimed wood, rustic decor, rustic table, Wood slab

Farmhouse Window

With a little patience and the right materials, you can turn any old window into an antique mirror:

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Posted in Reclaimed wood

Escape

Happy New Year, friends! I know; I have been M.I.A. for most of the summer and fall (and now winter…where does the time go?!). Besides having the most busy show year ever with events almost every weekend in various states, I was pouring every last bit of energy, time and resources into a special project in Vermont.

For years, I have dreamt of owning and operating a bed and breakfast. I bought the books. Researched. Traveled to the Caribbean, looking at properties to invest in and calculated the risks. And I then landed in the place that always felt like home; the one place in 38 years that brought me peace and healing. The place that never failed to foster my creativity, no matter where I was in life.  This is where Nature Calls, LLC was birthed years ago. Where it grew. Where it morphed in an entirely different direction this past year.  And for once in my life, I didn’t overthink it. I just trusted the process and went along with it with blind faith. I was stripped down to the core, and now God is rebuilding what was left after being refined to that painful extent.

For those of you who worry about my isolating tendencies, trust me. This whole experience has taught me that (wo)man cannot live on communing with feral animals alone. As much as I loved Diesel and have been trying to domesticate the other chipmunks, spastic red squirrels, and innocent-eyed juncos, I know. I. Know. It may have taken longer than you thought fitting, but…may I gently remind you that people progress in timeframes applicable to their own healing journeys. I just hope that you extend grace, not just to me, but to others in your life whom you may feel should be further advanced on their journeys than they may be. You can’t rush the process. Leave that timing up to God. But if God is tugging at your heart, hopefully you’ll be there when those loved ones emerge on the other end in whatever condition they may be in. That’s all they need. Just for someone to be there. In the trenches. Letting them know they aren’t fighting the war alone, even if you don’t understand their battle.

Where have I been for most of 2017? Creating the largest work of art I’ve ever made. Nestled on the side of a mountain in Vermont, lovingly creating this space while wrestling with learning to love myself, and by the grace of God, through it all, continually taking another step in recovery and trying to create something beautiful from the ashes. Ironically, or not so much to my Lord, Easter Day of 2018, I will celebrate 1 year of total recovery from my eating disorder, something I haven’t known since 2000. 18 years. Something that almost killed me too many times to mention. The thought of experiencing that freedom each day free makes me well up. Driving all over upstate NY and VT to reclaim the precious barn wood and shiplap that generous people were offering and then repurposing it into functional walls and ceilings while hearing exceptional life stories from those who donated those materials and the lesson of “I create all things new” echoing in my ears. (EVERYONE has a story worth hearing if we just give people a chance…)  Developing relationships with people in this small town to find trustworthy tradesmen whose work ethic matched my own and whose craftsmanship brought me to tears. Where locals supported my dream and showed up, knowing this girl with a big dream needed a hand when she was too proud to ask for the help. Where friends from back home rightfully questioned and challenged what the HECK I was doing with my time and resources, continuously keeping me in check. And where my loving Lord kept quietly affirming in the chaos, “I have you. I’m holding you so tight. Trust in me. Trust the process. I. LOVE. YOU. Stop doubting that. STOP.”

This cabin has been in my family for years. This town is the town where our family grew up vacationing together. My parents had enough money when they were first married to either buy a pop tent or go out for dinner; I am thankful they chose the tent. That decision led to family vacations at the campground instead of trips to Disney, and it instilled something in me that I will treasure until I leave this earth. “There is pleasure in the pathless woods…” I learned early on that God wasn’t confined to the four walls of a church structure; God was living and breathing in the very canvas that He created. And from a young age, I learned that God spoke most to me when I was in His creation…just him. Me. Nature.

And now I have the opportunity to share this beloved piece of earth with others. That’s why this space means so much to me. I was given the opportunity to transform an unused space into something that others could experience, and hopefully, love. I poured my heart and soul into this living gallery in a way that I never built, designed, or created before. I collaborated with Vagabond Craftworks, a highly talented, rustic industrial craftsman who blended my reclaimed, rustic style with his high-end, Manhattan loft-meets-Montana cabin design.

And it miraculously worked.

Every slab and piece of wood was picked in person, the outcome of scouting out craigslist leads and discovering precious treasures. Every concept was poured over. Every design thought out for the comfort and happiness of future guests and the integrity of our work. Every discarded barn wood board and shiplap scrap from the dump, repurposed and given new life and turned into something beautiful.  And I couldn’t be more happy or proud of the final product.

“Escape” is truly that. An escape.

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You know you are happy with something when you want to live in that space.

The amazing photography is courtesy of Maya Rafie (you can follow her at @mayarafie on Instagram! She is an incredibly talented artist based out of Boston). The finished product is something that far exceeded my initial vision. Rustic meets industrial. Manhattan meets VT. It’s a one-of-a-kind living art gallery, available for people to enjoy if they need to get away from the busyness and chaos of life for awhile.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I trust the process. And right now, I’m the happy host of an air bnb that is bringing a small amount of joy to others and a great amount of joy and healing to myself. There is so much to do in every season if you choose to venture down the mountain, away from “Escape.” But if you need a place to hole up for a bit of time alone or with a significant other, this has it all as well.

Unwind. Relax. Escape.

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I’m thankful beyond words that I’m booked every weekend through the end of February.  I love this place, and love sharing the joys of it with others. To book your “Escape,” please visit https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20818283?location=arlington%2C%20vt&s=sWpNLqMR. Check out the discounted weekday rates if you are looking to come skiing/boarding!

I look forward to hosting you! Thanks for embarking on this journey with me.

 

Warm regards,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

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