A prefacing note about Elements in general: a large portion about the concept of our store is based in our ability to house local goods and host local makers. We know and have had the pleasure of encountering so many talented people in and around the Birmingham area, and we wanted to create a space that local vendors could be a big part of the make up of the curation of our store.
Chapter 1: 'Trimmin' the hedges'
We recently visited TJ Beckham's shop of TJ Works Wood. This post is a product of time spent there.
It all started a little over a year ago with a TV console. Birmingham area native, TJ Beckham, saw a need in his home and built it. That's the spirit that he carries with him daily. He sees a need or a problem and he just fixes it. Simple as that. TJ grew up the son of a contractor and worked as one himself for several years which opened up the door to woodworking.
He's a tall burly guy with a beard and a shop that would make Ron Swanson proud. With woods around him, a centrally located table saw [which he says is key and absolutely necessary], a simple window AC, and just steps away from his back door you can find TJ out there, creating....."trimming the hedges" as he refers to it.
TJ-"Everybody needs their own 'trimmin' the hedges'; it's about personal space...Johnnie, I'm sure Mallory tells you to get out of the house sometimes, you're getting on her nerves..."
J- "yeah, mine is 'I'm going to dig a hole!' "
[it's all true...I send him outside, he digs holes, and I get some quiet for about an hour]
TJ-"yeah, so I grew up with my mom and my sister and I just had to go out and cut a tree sometimes. Get out of the house and get space"
His version of trimming the hedges (good for all of us) turned in to these creations: the jewelry he makes with jigs that he troubleshot for months, the cutting boards that we now use to serve our friends cheese (and act fancier than we are), live edge coasters from fallen trees, tables, and stands...all found in our store in Crestwood but made just a few miles away.
We focused mostly on his jewelry crafting : TJ goes to Woodcraft, where he can peruse through all of their scraps. The quintessential saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" rings true here. He finds interesting types of wood from Walnut to Spalted Tamarind and sees past the leftover saw dust and misshapen chunks. He then takes them home and uses premade jigs to splice the piece in to unique pieces of jewelry. No single piece of a necklace is the same as the next or the one before it. Each one cut is another finger risked. All made for you. [I was surprised to know that it's still nerve racking to run those pieces through his table saw; I was pleased to know that he uses proper cautionary measures to ensure he doesn't actually lose a finger while making these pieces.]
I've known TJ for years now. And he's always been a go-getter. Every month I felt I was hearing about a new project of his. It really is inspiring to see someone continue to pursue. Period. Whatever that may be. We don't have to stop learning just because we're not in school. You can continue to find new hobbies, new likes, new skills. And, if you're like TJ, they may just end up being lucrative. Even if it doesn't - keep making things, keep learning things, and keep working out your brain muscles. Go outside and trim some hedges...a new project may come to mind.
And thank you so much to our friend, TJ - for opening up your home and shop to us; for letting us get a peek in to how you work; and for bringing us cinnamon rolls.