By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
Lori Burkheimer doesn’t have to leave the house to take a vacation.
She brings the sand, surfboard and seagulls inside.
Burkheimer creates miniature gardens in pots, wagons, boxes and whatever container is handy. She uses succulent plants, driftwood, tiny props and anything else that captures her imagination.
The gardens are among the works of scrap art for Burkheimer, 58, an athlete turned maker of what she calls “upcycled funktional home decor.”
Anything that can be made from scrap, she makes it. Hence the name of her cottage business, Scrapwood Studio, that has taken over the home at Priest Point she shares with husband, Bill, and their three dogs.
Tennis used to be her life.
“I was good. I competed on the local tournament circuit and taught tennis for 30 years,” said Burkheimer, an Ohio native whose first marriage brought her to the West Coast after college.
“I managed the Nordstrom Tennis Center at University of Washington for 13 years.”
The tennis background helps with woodworking. “I’ve got a good steady hand,” she said.
Burkheimer sells the pieces at garden shows, art fairs and online.
Nothing goes to waste.
“The bottom of the barrel wood are my firestarters. These are the shavings from when I do planing wood, instead of throwing them away, I make firestarters for camping, hiking, emergency preparedness.”
One thing leads to another.
When the woodpile of scraps in her yard got out of control, she made the wooden collages with geometric patterns and cityscapes that fetch more than $300.
“I like puzzles,” she said, “so doing the wood collages are like doing your own puzzle.”
The wall leash hooks with Mason jars to hold dog treats and bottle openers with cap jars are her best-selling items, for $18 to $25.
“Things that are more functional have a faster turnover. things sell better,” she said.
She gets ideas from online sites such as Pinterest. “I put my own spin on it,” she said.
She even makes end tables.
Burkheimer traded her tennis racket for power tools after marrying Bill a dozen years ago.
“Sorticulture is what started it all,” she said. “I went there and got inspired when I saw the miniature gardening.
“I saw the items that went in were pretty expensive so I was like, I can make them. So for my birthday, Bill bought me a scroll saw. That was my first tool. Now the tools I have, guys are envious.”
She first used the saw to make ornaments for family members. “They said, ‘Those are really cute. You should sell them.”
So, she made a bunch and set up shop at a Marysville craft show.
“I sold three ornaments,” she said.
Undaunted, she forged ahead, full speed.
Supplies come from garage sales and lumber shops.
“l see old pallets by the side of the road and say, ‘Bill, stop. Pull over,’” she said.
“I’ve turned into a wood hoarder. I had to build a structure outside to store all the wood I collected.”
Burkheimer has no regrets about changing her life direction.
“You don’t have to stay in the lane that you’ve been in,” she said.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to www.scrapwoodstudio.com to see more of Lori Burkheimer’s work.