Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Woodlot - Made in Canada Series

The Woodlot is a creative Canadian duo that focuses on turning fallen and found wood into unique accessories and home decor accents. Each piece has so much character and is inherently precious. Well, turns out, so are the people behind them. We wanted you to hear directly from Darren and Jessie about the passion and process that go into The Woodlot. Enjoy!
We (Darren and Jessie) have always dreamed of one day living in the woods. Darren and I met when we were in high school (20 years ago - eek that makes us seem old) and ever since then we spent most of our holiday weekends and vacation up near Owen Sound where his family has a cabin. We loved the area so much and we started looking for property, and a few years back we bought a 25 acre bush lot, our little bit of heaven...
The Woodlot all began with a button. Two Summers ago, Ani, a great friend, asked me if I could make her a button. She is an avid knitter and said it was nearly impossible to find nice wood buttons. She knew we had loads of wood from our woodlot to work with. I figured I'd give it a whirl. We've always done our own renos - Darren is pretty handy (kind of an understatement) and he has always encouraged me to tackle any project I'd like. So he set me up with the saw, drill press, sanders... and so it began.
I have a degree in psychology and two small kids, so to sort of fall into woodworking was a happy surprise. I had no idea I would like working with wood so much. I started slowly, unsure of some of the bigger machines, but now I am pretty comfy in the workshop.
We make everything by hand (even though we do use power tools). Whenever we are at the woodlot we roam around and look for fallen trees and branches. There are 25 acres, so never a shortage.
Darren does most of the big cutting - he is a chainsaw pro. We had one maple that fell 5 years ago and we wanted to take it out, but it was in the middle of the bush with no real path out. So, Darren cut it into slabs with the chainsaw and we carried it out board by board. No need for a gym membership! It turned out to be really pretty wood.
One of the things I LOVE about what we do is that there is all this fallen wood just waiting to be turned into something. There is so much pretty wood out there and it is really enjoyable to work with it. It is relaxing, interesting and it teaches you. It is amazing how much you get out for working with your hands. It is fabulous and the bonus is that we get to create something pretty.
Something that was really important to us  when we started was keeping things all natural. No chemical finishes, no varnishes or poly. We wanted to make items that are safe for kids (we also make toys) and pose no damage to your health. As a result we use only two finishes: pure tung oil (a nut oil) and all natural beeswax polish. I was lucky enough to meet Priya last year (Priya Means Love). As we were talking about her rockin' skin care products (which I use all the time! They are also conveniently sold at Freedom Clothing Collective), we started chatting about wood finish. We now get our beeswax polish from Priya; it is handmade with love and it smells divine. Most things we make are finished with beeswax; some things, like coasters and buttons, we finish with tung oil for an extra seal.
Our kids are still pretty little and it is funny to see them get involved. They are always wanting to help with anything that we are doing in the house. Nessa loves to sort - when we make ABC blocks she LOVES to sit and organize them. Lochaln is all about buttons.  It is funny to hear him say, "You makin' buttons mommy?" He is two and adorable. Nessa started school this year and she is becoming more aware of the world around us. The other day she said, "When I grow up I'm going to make buttons just like you, or maybe I'll be a rock star!" Ah... and so the story goes....
It has been a fabulous year and we are looking forward to learning and growing with our little business. Thank you Freedom Clothing Collective for taking us in.