Wood Elements

 As for me and my house, we weren’t allowed to use certain words growing up. But in Jackie’s house, you’ll hear wonderful, Mary-Poppins-esque words like "spurtle" and "dibble".

These are both items that Jackie makes out of wood for the kitchen and for the garden, respectively.
When I think of wood-working, I think of little old men carving horses on their front porch. Not only is Jackie not a little old man, he ain’t carving horses either. Does his work even include carving? Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth.

I noticed that you were a "featured seller" back in August of ’09. Did you see a huge increase in any of your shop’s aspects as a result of that article (sales, views, added as favorites)?

Yes! There was a definite bump in sales. For that month, our orders tripled over our typical sales per month. That bump carried us into the Holiday Season and I’m certain is still responsible for an increase in the number of people who view our shop and "favorite’d" us.

It also piqued my interest that you have started an Etsy shop with your grown children. In this day and age where so many families are divided, it is so refreshing to see a family united. What would you attribute the success of your family to?

We are a family divided—geographically. We are in Tennessee, and the kids are in Louisiana. In our household, it’s always been "acceptable" to create. As the kids were growing up, we were always making art together, collaborating on the same sheet of drawing paper, so it was natural and it was encouraged. And permission to be creative was not required.

We actually introduced Etsy to our children, and it took a while to convince them to get involved. We are still in the "exploratory" phase of figuring everything out. We may come up with some wood turned item that will be available exclusively to the family store (The Johnson General Store | www.etsy.com/shop/workagencies)

With all of this dibble and spurtle making, do you still have time to do the other things that you love? And what are some of those things?

Not much! We both have full time jobs, and Sally is pursuing her master’s degree at this time and will be finished soon. Things that we like to do, when we have time: Sally likes to knit, sew, and garden. Jackie likes to draw and paint, listen to music, and occasionally we will sit down together and watch a movie, most of the time at home.

Is there any cutting/carving involved in wood-turning or is it just simply allowing the grinding wheel to do all of the work?

In wood turning, the grinding wheel only comes into play for sharpening tools. In woodturning, unlike most woodwork, the tool remains relatively stationary while the wood spins at a high rate of speed on the lathe. Most of my woodturning is done at 3200 rpm’s (rotations per minute). That translates to 53 revolutions per second (I do not recommend that lathe speed to everyone!) Carving off the lathe is done by some wood turners in addition to other decorative embellishments such as wood burning and painting. I have done some carving but not on a regular basis.

Did you have immediate success with your Etsy shop?

We made our first sale 18 days after we opened our Etsy store. That first sale, we later discovered, was because one of our items, a maple wooden biscuit cutter, was featured in a blog at "the kitchn." Click here to read the article.

Of course we were very excited, and that sale only served to encourage us, as did the sales that followed. So we consider it a success. We are very honored by the fact that nearly 900 people have taken our products into their homes all across the US and several foreign countries.

Paper Pot Maker for Planting
What an encouraging read! Personally, I love the fact that it was the older generation that had to encourage the younger generation into online selling. That is a feat in and of itself!

One thing (but there are several!) I think we can all learn from Jackie’s successful shop is to find a few things that you do and do them well. You don’t have to be a variety show to earn top sales numbers, as showcased in Jackie’s shop.

Click here to go order your own dibble, spurtle, rolling pin, or one of the many other beautiful wood-turned creations that Wood Elements offers.

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