You can own a one-of-a-kind piece of handcrafted furniture by one of Cleveland’s premier contemporary-furniture designers AND help hurricane victims at the same time.
You can reach the auction from a button on our home page at hgrinc.com or go directly to the landing page here to read about the arts organization that will benefit from the auctions. To learn more about 44 Steel’s desk, click here. For info about Rust, Dust & Other 4 Letter Words’ lamp table, click here. For info about 3 Barn Doors, click here.
Help hurricane victims recover, and gain a conversation piece for your home or office.
(Q&A with Jessica Brown, owner, Wood Thingamajigs whose shop can be found on Facebook and at www.woodthingamajigs.com)
How did you get involved in woodworking in the seventh grade?
The students in my school were given the choice between wood and metal shops or cooking and sewing classes. Given that I had already learned to cook and sew from my Mom and Grandmother and having spent countless hours watching my Dad do various carpentry projects around the house, the obvious choice for me was to give the shops a try. From the moment I walked into that wood shop and smelled the delicious wood aromas, I knew I had made the right decision.
What equipment and main tools do you have in your shop?
Delta Table Saw and Planer
Kobalt compound miter saw
Jet band saw, drill press, dust collection system
26” Shop Fox dual drum sander
Various Dewalt, Craftsman, Ryobi, and Porter Cable power and hand tools
Assorted pipe and bar clamps
How and when did your business, Wood Thingamajigs, come into being?
Every year my then boyfriend (now husband) and I exchanged one handmade Christmas present. For Christmas of 2015 my present to him was some wood letter tiles spelling out various important words for us and our family. I spent countless hours in our garage and our attic hand making more than 100 tiles. After Christmas, we posted a picture of my handiwork on Facebook, and one of our friends said I should start a business making them. I decided to give it a try as a business in April 2016.
Why the name?
After thinking about starting the business for a while and asking other people if it sounded like a good idea, I decided to go for it. We were sitting on the couch one afternoon throwing around ideas for a name for the business. In the brainstorming, it was asked “well, what will you make?” Wood stuff, wood items, wood thingamajigs.
What types of items do you make? What is a “pet novelty?”
We make everything from outdoor yard games to furniture. Our pet novelties consist of feeders, furniture-style dog crates, cat trees, and leash holders.
What is the largest or heaviest item that you have made? What is the smallest? What is the most special or unique?
The largest and heaviest item that we have made so far is a custom, solid-cherry 12’ 3” dog crate with four separate compartments. This was co-designed with our customer and made to match her existing dining room furniture. The piece we made is used not only as a dog crate, but as a buffet or sideboard. Our smallest product is a hand turned, exotic wood wine bottle stopper. The most special is definitely the wood letter tiles that started this whole adventure. One of our favorite things to make is a cutting board. We like to integrate different species into the boards into unique designs. We love walnut, but we also use maple, cherry, paduak, and purple heart to name a few.
Who are your customers?
We have a broad customer base consisting of everyone from brides to businesses.
Do you have another fulltime job?
Yes, at this time I do have another fulltime job as a purchasing manager for a local additive manufacturing company.
Why did you join the U.S. Army, for how long, what did you do for them, where were you stationed?
I grew up in a family where nearly everyone served. I knew from a young age that it was something that I wanted to do. Right after high school, I enlisted in the National Guard as Military Police. A few years later, I applied to and was accepted into West Point. After graduating, I served at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. All together I was in the military for 16 years.
I see you are from Massachusetts. How did you end up in Ohio?
When I left active duty, I was married to a man who was from Northeast Ohio.
How did your current husband’s love of woodworking start and is the shared interest one of the things that brought you together? What is each of your roles in the company?
Jason’s love of woodworking also started at a young age working with his father remodeling an old farmhouse. He likes to remember the first time I showed him my limited shop when we first started dating. It is a fond memory for him. Our mutual love of woodworking brings us together. A few years ago I had surgery, and as I was healing and able to move around better we decided to make a project together. It was our first joint endeavor. It is lovingly referred to as “the project” in our family. We have had a few people ask to purchase it over the years but the sentimental value is priceless. When it comes to the business we share responsibilities for our orders. I tend to manage more of the business side of it, as well. We love to sit together and brainstorm the next project or the next step in expanding the company.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Our inspiration is found in a variety of places. Sometimes the grain of a wood catches your eye and says it needs to be an end table. Other times walking through the wood mill we will see a slab that just begs to be made into a bar top. Our inspiration is to be able to live a life where we love what we do and love going to work every day. A place where the work isn’t work. The cliché if you love what you do then it isn’t really work truly applies to our company.
What is your artist’s/maker’s philosophy?
“A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.” Louis Nizer
I met Rebecca Rak and Mike Gemmer when they were shopping at HGR to find equipment for a good cause: The Lodi Family Center, housed at its current location in 6,000 square feet in the former Lodi Elementary School since 2014. Mike’s background is in IT software and teaching. Rebecca’s is in social services.
This Medina County family center offers a safe social place where peoples’ needs can be assessed and met, including adult programming for those over 55, a food pantry, Project Learn, a personal-care shop for nonfood items, parent support services such as cooking and nutrition classes, a toy shop for kids where they can “purchase” items with coins earned for doing their homework and going to counseling sessions, a study hall, a craft room, a playroom with a puppet theater, 10 laptops and one desktop computer, and an auditorium with a screen and projector.
Coming soon to enhance the robotics and tech club is a Makers Space with a science room, lab and arena for robot battle-war challenges, a wood shop and a metalworking shop. Students will earn coins, as they do for the toy store, to buy supplies, such as aluminum and mother boards, to build robots. Also in the future is an Internet café.
To date, Rebecca and Mike have bought shopping carts, Bunn coffee makers, a paper shredder, cabinets, a dolly and a wind tunnel for the science lab from HGR.
According to Executive Director Rebecca Rak, she began the Lodi Family Center to fill a need in the community after working for 12 years for Family First’s resource center. She was trained in crisis intervention, stress management and as a victim advocate for battered women. She then worked as a liaison with county police departments to help bridge people and connect them with agencies, counselors and resources that can help them. She currently works part time as a dispatcher for the Brunswick City Police Department and the rest of her time at the center.
The family center served 1,404 people in 2015 and an average of 40-60 kids per day this summer. In one week this month, 42 families used the food pantry.
Where does the funding come from? Everything is donated with the exception of small grants that supplied the pool table, filing cabinet and television. There were 121 volunteers in 2015 who rotated to serve and support the center’s needs.
For more information, visit The Lodi Family Center’s Facebook page. The center is open Mondays and Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for adults, Monday through Thursday 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. for children up to high-school age and is available on Fridays to church, home schooling and community groups.