We continue our series of interview, this time with Joan Stricker from the blog Scavenger Chic, she is also one of our best contributors on 1001Pallets and she’s making very original creations out of repurposed wooden pallets. If you think you deserve to be featured in the next interview, please, drop us an email.
Tell us a little more about you? Who you are? Where are you from?
My name is Joan Stricker and I live in Maryland. Happily married to my husband of 31 years. I’m the mother of three boys, 2 of whom are married and the third in high school. Twice a week you can find me blogging at Scavenger Chic with any kind of project that happens to catch my eye.
Why do you craft?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t craft. I watched my mom as a kid do her projects, sewing, quilting, gardening… she could do it all. My dad started his own business, but he loved woodworking. When he wanted a ping pong table, he built one, when he wanted a chair to match one he had bought, he built one. With this influence, it just seemed like the thing to do, and I get so much pleasure out of it. I guess it’s in my blood!!
When I first began to make my own home, my mom and I went to auctions and thrift stores and refinished and reupholstered to fill my home with furniture at a fraction of the price you could buy new furniture. If anyone had thought about using pallets then, I’m sure my home would be filled with pallet furniture. I wish I had known then that chippy painted furniture was going to come into style, it would have saved me a lot of paint stripping.
How did you learn?
Like I said, my parents were both huge do it yourselfers. I remember as a teenager, if I needed to saw a piece of wood, I would just go downstairs and fire up the table saw. I can proudly say, I still have all my fingers. Aside from that, I also minored in art in college. Working with a lot of mediums led me to believe there was nothing I couldn’t try. One of my classes even used the arc welder, though I haven’t used it since, that would be fantastic to combine iron with pallets…
Since when are you working with pallets?
I’ve been working with pallets since 2012, when I finished my first pallet wall. I haven’t shared that one with 1001 pallets yet, you’ll just have to wait. To date, I’ve probably used over 100 pallets that were destined for the trash.
What are your can’t-live-without essentials?
In terms of electric tools, I absolutely have to have a drill, palm sander and circular saw. But don’t try to take away my miter saw. nail gun or jigsaw or someone might get hurt.
How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I would have to describe my style as rustic or shabby chic. That is why pallets are perfect for me, they already have built in character. If you need perfect wood, then pallets are not for you. I love other crafters that are into upcycling and recycling, such as Donna at Funky Junk Interiors or Becky at Beyond the Picket Fence and Angie at Knick of Time. I’m sure there are hundreds more, but these ladies are always using something old, that’s rusty and crusty and making it into something new and unique.
How is your workspace, how do you make it inspiring?
I have a great workshop in the corner of my basement which I don’t mind getting dirty. In January I gave my workshop a makeover, cleaning, organizing, and painting. You can see a bit of it here. It doesn’t have a window though, so if I’m going to be painting or need extra light, I’ll bring the project up into the kitchen. What is nice about having a dedicated work space is that I can usually shut the door to prevent the rest of the house from gathering a layer of dust.
What sorts of things are inspiring you right now? Where do you look for inspiration?
Right now I’ve been on a “vintage” sign kick. Pallet wood is the perfect backdrop to get that vintage feel without using actual old wood. I just completed a telephone sign painted on pallet wood last week.
While Pinterest is a great place to be inspired, I’ll usually be inspired by an object…what can I make out of this? That was the case with the pallet wood and bedsprings light…it all started with the bedsprings. Or I’ll be inspired by a specific need, such as when my daughter-in-law asked me to make centerpieces for her wedding or the rolling storage bin…I had a whole lot of bits and pieces and nowhere to put them.
We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
Besides being able to say, I built that. There are so many reasons to be a do it yourself-er. It can save a ton of money, especially if you’re using free pallet wood. The pallet wood bench, free, the valentine’s heart, free, the sign post, free. Things made by hand can also be personalized and they are usually made better than their store bought counterparts.
What is your favorite medium to work in?
Pallet wood has got to be my favorite but I love finding old rusty iron pieces and recreating them into something useful.
What are your tips for people who’d like to start crafting?
Start small and get comfortable with one tool at a time. Don’t be scared of tools, they are there to make your life easier. Start with what you feel comfortable with. If you enjoy painting, pick up a paintbrush, if you enjoy sewing start there…but incorporate something new into your project that’s a stretch.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Other than chocolate, can I say my nail gun. The reason that it is my guilty pleasure is that it is not really mine, I gave it to my husband for his birthday one year. Nobody gets more pleasure out of using it than me.
What is your favorite thing to do (other than crafting)?
I love a nice hike in the woods, I love genealogy, gardening, travel and spending time with my family.
What do you recommend that most people do in terms of cleaning pallets and prepping them to become something else?
I always tear my pallets apart so I have a pile of pallet wood waiting for my next project. I’ve found the easiest way to do this, for me anyway, is to take a circular saw down alongside both side rails on both sides of the pallet. Immediately you’ve reduced the number of nails by two thirds. If the pallet comes apart easily, then I’ll just take a crowbar and hammer to it. If it puts up a good fight, like most pallets, then the reciprocating saw comes out to chop off the remaining nails.
To finish, we’ve seen that you have an active blog. Since how many times are you blogging? Is that a full time job or just a hobby to share your personal creations?
I do have an active blog with only about a quarter of my projects using pallet wood or other reclaimed wood. I wouldn’t mind my blog becoming a full time job but since it doesn’t produce much income, we’ll just call it a hobby right now. I love to inspire other people with easy to follow tutorials, because if I can do it, I’m sure you can too.