reclaimed wood

wood working

This past Christmas we were able to create a few handmade gifts. There is something really rewarding about investing your time and hands into a special gift for someone. I love using my hands to create art, whether it is through story-telling (photography) or hand-lettering (my etsy shop). And looking back over our busy December (and November for that matter), I guess I found it hard to say "no" to certain projects because I love the process of creating.

Jonah and I are likeminded when it comes to being creative. I met him in college and we ended up majoring in the same creative field. I love knowing we can share ideas and critique each other's projects (when asked, ha!). And this past November, in the middle of my hand-lettering busyness of wrapping up commissioned pieces, Jonah had an idea for a Christmas gift for our parents. Wood pieces have always held our interest and I had my first experiences working with wood this year with a few lettering pieces—some I painted and some I burned. After our experience with reclaimed wood (I blogged about recently) we were fascinated with not only the look of this wood, but the stories behind it. Jonah wanted to create some wood pieces as gifts and use specific wood in them.

The backstory:

My parents live in NY in farm country (far from the city) where barns and quilts are in large supply. Growing up in NY, my mom was skilled in many areas of homemaking, including sewing. She had a special love for quilt patterns and loved to travel to see the handmade quilts of the Amish. My parents also live in an old farmhouse that has a large barn on their property. It's no longer a home to cows like it was years and years ago, but it's pretty and has been kept up through the years. There were old pieces of wood in it (over 100 years old) and, knowing this, we asked my parents if they'd bring some of it up to us when they visited over Christmas. They didn't know we'd be using it for a gift for them!  

Originally when Jonah was going to make this piece for them, we had conceptualized the design of it (with quilt patterns) and planned to use some wood we had on hand. But once we started talking through it, we realized how much more personal and meaningful it would be to use wood from their own property. If ever they were to move, they'd be able to take with them a small part of the home they lived in for so long. 

The second piece he made was also a square wood piece with a quilt pattern on it, but it was for his mom. His parents live southeast of us in Georgia, and for her wood piece we headed to his grandma's house (the house his mom grew up in) and he foraged for wood from the barn on their property (it is falling down). His mom was there and wondered what in the world Jonah was doing with old wood, but we managed to avoid actually answering what we'd use it for! This wood was even prettier because it had some original paint on it, giving it a lovely green color and as it turned out, the wood he pulled from the barn was actually wood that was used on the old porch on the house. Knowing the wood was original to the house she grew up in was definitely a special detail. 

I am always amazed at Jonah's ability to learn a new skill so quickly. It's challenging and rewarding working with wood and perhaps he will grow in this area down the road. We are thankful to learn and grow in the gifting that God has given us and this past year it seemed to be so many different creative areas poured on us, we are excited to see what is next. 

Here are the lovely finished pieces and my hard-working, creative husband. I'm so proud of the beautiful work he created! 

the one for my parents with original barn wood from their property. 

the one for my parents with original barn wood from their property. 

the one for Jonah's mom with wood from the porch of her childhood home (the pieces with the green paint).

the one for Jonah's mom with wood from the porch of her childhood home (the pieces with the green paint).

wood stain art, a Christmas gift

It's been a really busy holiday season for us. My little shop kept me busy working on commissioned pieces as well as adding more work to sell at a little market I participated in. At Thanksgiving my brother-in-law, Brent, asked us if we'd be able to create a special piece of art for his wife for Christmas. He showed us some samples of what kind of art he'd like and asked if we'd be able to create something like it. It was a wood stain art, and not having much experience (um, any) with stain + wood, we were a little nervous to agree. So we agreed to try out a smaller sample of wood to see how it'd turn out before committing to the whole thing! Brent wanted the wood to be a little more unique than the lumber on hand at Home Depot, so we began our search for something more rough cut.

Thankfully we found a local source that had piles of reclaimed wood. Literally there were piles outside and inside of the shop to choose from! They were really great at helping us find the perfect wood for our project, an antique heart pine from a mill that was in south GA (over 100 years old!). We used a small sample of this wood to test the whole process, and it turned out beautifully. It gave us the confidence to create the full piece, so we ordered the final, large scale piece for the project.

It was intimidating, but fun creating this piece! Initially Jonah and I didn't know who would actually create the final art, but in the end it was me. Jonah had his hands full with a wood project for my mom and dad (a Christmas gift for them using old barn wood from their property,  I'll share more about that soon!) I was the one to create the piece—my first wood stain art! Because of the history of the wood, I chose to put a magnolia on it and keep it all very southern. The staining process was probably the quickest part of the whole project, and the hardest part was choosing the flower and sketching it. In the end, I love that this piece has so much history wrapped up in it. We managed to keep the piece a big surprise for my sister-in-law, and she was so thrilled to receive it! Such a fun gift to create this year! 

the transferred sketch to scale on our final wood piece. 

the transferred sketch to scale on our final wood piece. 

mid-project staining.

mid-project staining.

the final piece!

the final piece!