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New Year, new goals and new plans

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Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that 2018 is now just a memory. I guess there is some truth to the saying “Time flies when you are having fun.”  Last January, we made the decision to focus on what we lovingly refer to as “shows”. These can be arts and craft shows, fall festivals, and holiday markets. We hit the ground running, doing two shows in February, and didn’t slow down until the rains ended our run in early December. We learned a great deal and met so many wonderful people, and while we will continue making our rounds, this year we have made a different New Year’s resolution. The goal for 2019 is to get our online stores really going. We’ve spent most of the day adding to our Etsy store and then started focusing on our store found right here! I’ll be honest, all this technology comes with a steep learning curve, but we have had so many people ask about ordering our products online that this is our number one priority! So if you haven’t checked out our shop, please do so–and keep checking back. I promise that you will find new unique items being added weekly (maybe even daily when I figure everything out).

 

Wine A Little, Laugh A Lot

One of the very first pieces we ever made was a wine rack made from China berry. When we saw the slab, we knew immediately that we would turn it into a wine rack because the wood was naturally in the shape of a wine bottle.

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Recently a client asked us to make her a custom wine rack. She wanted a larger and darker slab of wood. Fortunately, I have a screened in porch jam packed with various types of wood, and we were able to find the perfect black walnut slab just aching to become a wine rack.

While we did have to sand a little more wood off the sides to get it to really look like a wine bottle, the natural shape was very close. I am hoping that we start a fad of wooden wine bottle shapes wine racks.

At the same time that we were making the custom wine rack, we also started playing with wine barrels. Our original thought was to create lazy Susans. However, the moment that we realized that we couldn’t decide what side of the barrel top/bottom was prettier, we knew we had to come up with another idea. Therefore, we started making massive trays out of the tops and bottoms of wine barrels. We only use red wine barrels because the wine stains the inside a gorgeous purple red, while the outside is an equally gorgeous oak.

These trays have become one of our best selling items–so popular that we haven’t had one to take to our last two shows. So maybe we can start two new trends!

See The Light

When we first started talking and dreaming about making ILYM Reclamation Design a reality, I think Randy and I both envisioned us making lots of tables, book shelves, benches, and other types of furniture. Although we have done several custom tables, lately almost all of our custom work involves lighting. It is probably because, unlike with tables and benches, we can take several different types of our lights to the various arts and craft markets that we attend as vendors. Our lights are always a draw to the customers because they are so unique and are honestly works of art. Randy even made a special display to help showcase our lights and is now working on a new and improved display so that we can spotlight the various styles even better.

We met one of our clients at the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival when they noticed our cedar slab chandelier. Although they loved the look, the cedar was just too rustic of a wood for their kitchen.  For our consultation, we took pieces of black walnut and cherry to get a feel for what they wanted. They quickly chose the look of black walnut, and we were able to find the perfect piece that highlighted the different shades, grains and character that black walnut so often features. During the consultation, they also asked us to create pendant lights to replace the builder grade canned lighting above the bar in their kitchen. While they were the ones to suggest chicken feeders, we decided to dress them up a bit by adding the 10 inch circles of black walnut as cover plates. They hid the holes left by the can lighting and also tied in beautifully with the chandelier that we hung over the island.

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During this same time, we were contacted by another client who asked us to create a light from an antique ladder that she had used for years as a linen rack. While we often use the old fashioned light cages with our lighting, I thought they would be too bulky with the ladder and wanted to come up with something different and more feminine. I had seen the vintage glass insulators used as light shades and decided that this was the perfect project to try them. The client agrees!

ladder light
I love that Randy was able to use the original pulley when wiring the ladder.

The client then asked us to create a light for her foyer that would somehow tie in with the new light in the kitchen. Since we were finishing up the chicken feeder pendants for our other client, I suggested using a chicken feeder for her project–but we would flush mount it and also include a glass insulator to complete the look.

chicken feeder flush mount

Although Randy would probably rather be working on tables, benches, and other larger pieces, the lighting projects are quickly becoming my favorites. I love all the different looks that we can create with wood and old found objects.

 

Let the River Flow

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Several months ago, Randy started watching videos about using epoxy with wood. At the time, it was more of a simple curiosity. Then people started asking him about the process. As a result, Randy decided to try his hand and see what happened. As you can see from the above picture, his first try is absolutely gorgeous.

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While some people fill the epoxy to the same level of the wood, we decided to leave it a little lower so to mimic a look of an actual river bed. An added result is that the epoxy really highlights the inverted live edge. I also like the contrast of the very old wood (over 100 year old curly pine roofing underlayment) and the very modern and shiny look of epoxy.

Since we were so pleased with the first try, we then took a piece of cedar that we had already planed and sanded and added a touch of purple epoxy.

I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% sold on the epoxy look, but Randy really wanted to try it. I am so glad he did because it does add a more modern look to the wood that we already love.

 

Welcome To The Dog House

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We are dog people. As our introduction states, we have four furry babies. We’ve adopted from the local humane society, a local rescue, and we even rescued one of our pups from the parking lot of a local grocery store. Needless to say, we do not go out looking for designer breeds. (Ironically, however, it appears that the dog we most recently adopted is a Vizsla, but that is a whole nother ball of wax). Randy often refers lovingly to our mixed breed dogs as mutts. We, therefore, call our latest design the mutt feeding station. The top is made from black walnut, while the legs are pieces of poplar siding from an old barn, and the supports are ambrosia maple.

I absolutely love this piece. We never stain black walnut, so I decided to just use Randy’s oil mixture on all of the wood. Even though they are very different types of wood, they work really well together. It is sturdy, beautiful, and truly one of a kind. While we have decided that we will begin to make several pet related products, every single one will be unique and distinct–just like the dogs for whom we are making them.

 

 

Come See Our Wares

It has been a little over two years since we first opened the doors of ILYM Reclamation Design, and there has definitely been a learning curve. For me, that curve has included learning about different woods, finishes, adhesives–the list could go on and on. As Randy has often said, I am the dreamer. I can see a project in my mind and then it is up to Randy to make it happen. Over time, I have learned the processes that Randy has to go through (sometimes suffer through) to make my dream a reality. Randy, fortunately, has had a leg up on me. Wood has been his passion for a lifetime, but the one thing that we have both struggled with is the business side, specifically, how to get our products out into the big wide world. Randy has always wanted to do arts and craft shows, markets, and such. I, however, haven’t always been sold on the idea.


Our first event, as pictured, was tiny. It was held almost a year ago in the parking lot of a cute farmers market. We sold a few things and had many people take our cards–and it made me realize that Randy was right. We needed to go to these types of events because social media really wasn’t working for us the way we needed it to. As a result, when holiday season was upon us last year, we signed up for several different markets and shows.

As you can see, we have worked on our displays–and continue to do so constantly. We make notes (actual and mental) of what works and what doesn’t. We have noticed that certain products almost always sells, while other products are more of a draw that result in lots of questions and our card being taken for possible custom work. We have come to realize that our entrance/booth fee is more than just a pay to play fee. It is an advertising fee. Therefore, so far this year, we have participated in three markets and shows. We have at least 6 more coming up in the near months. Our scheduled events can be found on our Facebook page.
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The most important lesson that I have learned, however, is that these events are so much fun. Although I am completely out of my comfort zone, I truly enjoy meeting the other vendors and the customers. While Randy can and always has been able to talk to and connect with almost anyone, I am learning to share our passion with people.

Going to the Birds

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A few months ago, after a long day in the shop, Randy decided to make some bird houses in an attempt to relax. He didn’t use a plan, although he did make certain the size of the house and entry hole were the correct size for a blue bird. We took them to a holiday market and sold them almost immediately. Since spring is just around the corner, he has been busy creating new ones. Even though the bluebird houses are the most popular, we have started making them in different sizes for different birds (and are always willing to make custom houses!)

I am loving picking out different stains and finishes for Randy’s creations, and Randy is enjoying a return to his past by remembering all the birdhouses his father made over the years. We have also had fun learning strange facts about birds and their houses. During the last two arts and craft festivals, many people have asked Randy why he doesn’t make his houses open easily so that they could clean them out. Randy’s answer is that the has never made a bird house that can be cleaned because birds will do the job themselves. Not that I doubted Randy, but I decided to google about cleaning out bird houses, and came upon the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918–which makes it illegal to disturb or remove nests with eggs or birds in them. It also makes it illegal to have old nests, feathers, and eggs one’s possession!

I also discovered that there have been numerous studies completed about the benefits of cleaning out bird houses. In a nutshell, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer as to if one should or shouldn’t clean out a bird house. Therefore, Randy is going to start making some houses that will open more easily so that our clients can clean to their heart’s content. However, I will be sticking with Randy’s original design and let the birds do their own spring cleaning. I have enough to do already.

 

 

 

 

Have You Been Served?

 

cedar serving trays

While Randy loves to create and craft tables, desks, and other large pieces, we have found that they really don’t travel well to various festivals, markets, and arts and craft shows. However, we still want people to “ooh and aah” over the wood with which we work. One of the new ways that we have come up with are serving trays. They can be purely decorative–such as being used as a centerpiece on a dining room table. Or they can be extremely functional. The handles allow people to carry even the biggest slab with ease.

cedar serving tray

As with all of our pieces, we strive to create truly one of a kind items. No two trays will be the same. The natural curves and the grains of the wood automatically make each piece different, but we are also taking great care in selecting unique handles to complement each individual piece.

serving trays

A Little Organization Goes a Long Way

bookshelf

 

Judging by the amount of storage options currently on sale, a lot of people must choose to get organized as a New Year’s Resolution. Last week, we did one step better than buying several large plastic containers. We created custom bookshelves crafted from cherry live edge slabs and galvanized pipes.

If you follow us on Facebook or with this blog, you have seen similar cherry slabs before. Randy fell in love with these pieces a little over a year ago, and we have used them for several lighting fixtures ( The light is up). He bought a couple on a Friday, and for the rest of the day, he regretted not purchasing the entire stack. So bright and early the next morning, we ran out and bought every last one. The following pictures show why.

 

Not only are the curves of the live edge absolutely stunning, I love the tunnels made by insects. They add so much interest and character to any piece that we create with this wood. While we take steps to make certain that all of our wood is insect free, the evidence left by past tenants really makes our projects pop.

The use of the galvanized pipe not only adds an industrial look to the rustic nature of the wood, it also allows a good many books (and Pokemon) to be displayed neatly and safely. Although I may be biased, I also think the shelving is a vast improvement to what had been previously used (see below for the before and after). We are really hoping other clients will want to try this approach. Randy would love to make a three or four shelf unit, and I think storage like this would look phenomenal in a kitchen!

 

 

 

 

Another History Lesson

SINGLE TREE LIGHT FIXTURES

Single trees were and are used on plow harnesses for mules, horses and oxen. The plow or other implement connects to the single tree at a single point in the middle and the reigns for the animal go through hooks on each end of the tree. If you are working tandems, two trees are connected with a larger tree (Picture #1).

Single trees were also repurposed as cotton scales in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

We now repurpose these farm work horses as beautiful light fixtures. Each one unique and one of a kind. We recommend the use of Edison type bulbs. Whether LED or incandescent, they give the fixture the look that it deserves.

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