ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN RUSTIC
I was terrible in shop. In fact, I remember distinctly missing multiple classes using the ol’ “period cramps” excuse. But sometime between then and now I grew up. I learned things, in school, in life and I had many experiences. I moved out, I travelled- extensively- even lived abroad, I tried different industries, some that fit within my degree and some that didn’t, and I continued being involved in ringette, kickboxing, and staying active in any way that I could. Often the only true sense of peace I could get was in the mountains, hiking, camping or just driving west, but then something changed. I got cancer. Up to that point I had many random different hobbies, talents, pastimes. I never focused on much, but when I got sick I threw myself into one. Knitting. Now you’re wondering, what does knitting have to do with woodworking? Home décor? Nature? Or even Rocky Mountain Rustic? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. Knitting focused me. I was able to sit for hours knitting and passing those long days of chemo and recovery when my body just didn’t want to handle the things I wanted to be doing. It calmed the chaos I often said. But one day, I was better. My body started recovering and becoming stronger and knitting lost its ability to calm the chaos. While I settled back into my “new normal” I had some great distractions including lots of travel and a guy that turned out to be my husband. While things seemed to be trending upward I still felt the loss of that ability to focus and I yearned for it.
One day while planning our wedding I showed Logan (that’s the husband) a picture of an abstract mountain landscape made from pieces of wood. I was captivated by it. I just wanted it. On every wall in my house I could imagine it there, I even dreamt about having it behind our head table at the wedding. But I couldn’t find someone in Calgary, in Alberta, or even in Canada that was doing something like the photo I saw. Logan soon saw how obsessive I was with the piece and casually mentioned that we could probably make it in his Dad’s shop. Cut to one month later, we were literally ripping old cedar from their family barn, tearing through old burn piles and shaping them into strips for our wedding piece. When we finished, I was in awe…even my carpenter father-in-law was impressed. What actually shocked me most about the whole process was that I enjoyed every loud sound, every splinter of the old wood, every cut, every measurement. In the midst of all that chaos I found a new calm. I was hooked – I had found a new chaos calmer.
Over the next years I spent hours in the shop playing with my Dad’s tools and learning tips and tricks from YouTube and Instagram handymen. These hours usually involve taking pieces of wood from their most unwanted form, removing endless nails, cutting, planing, cutting, and planing until I have strips of the most gorgeous wood ready for its new use. From there I usually sketch out my vision for the strips of wood I’ve selected for a piece, I sit stare at it until I’m sure I’m happy with it. Then I begin the translation of image in my mind to actual angles, real trigonometry and I cut, stain, and put this puzzle piece together one piece at a time.
Until recently I had solely focused on making pieces for friends and family. It has kept me busy and kept me happy and calm. But then another big moment happened: I unexpectantly lost my father. Not only was my father the biggest supporter of my time in his shop, but it was also our goal to start making pieces together and make RMR a real thing. My dad was one of those “I can fix anything” types, and compounded with his immense knowledge and engineering tendencies he was my sounding board as I honed my skills. He would teach me about jigs, and acute angle cutting, how to change a table saw blade and everything I missed in those shop classes I skipped. Dad was great at translating my big ideas into actual workable plans and actions. With him gone, I did not know how I would feel back in the shop not having him there to ask my millions of questions. But despite my grief I immediately found a deeper sense of calm returning to the shop, one that felt just like returning to the mountains and breathing the tranquil air there. It was in that moment I became determined to follow through on all my plans, and our plans. So today in I can say that my past experiences, travels, challenges, battle with cancer, love, and the support of my father, I’ve found a new calm in the chaos which has me using my father’s tools crafting things that I am proud of.