BLAIRSVILLE — Wendy Shepherd sees inspiration in unlikely places — the fallen down and forgotten remains of old homes, barns and buildings.
She’s turned that inspiration into a craft business with handmade items, many made from reclaimed materials, particularly barn wood.
“I just look at it and say, ‘I can do something with that.’ I get ideas when I’m looking at the wood,” she said. “Every piece that I find, I want to reuse it.”
And for the most part, she does, creating crafts and furniture with a primitive, country feel. Her items run the gamut from small wooden stars to benches.
Shepherd, 46, of Blairsville, started Wendy’s Country Crafts in March after several years of making items for herself.
“I’ve always been kind of crafty,” she said. “Basically, I didn’t want to spend the money to go out and buy the crafts because they’re fairly expensive.”
She aims to keep prices reasonable by reusing materials, she said. Many of her materials are donated by friends and family. Some have even been found on the side of the road.
Most of her inventory goes for $25 or less. Decorative barn wood shutters cost $25. Small items, such as wooden stars and signs, range from $3 to $5.
In the past she has sold larger items, for instance a 5-foot barn wood bench, for $35.
She also takes custom orders.
Since starting production, Shepherd has been working 10-hour days, with the help of her fiance, Jason Matty, and her niece, Rachel Barron, both of the Blairsville area.
“We do it all,” she said. “It’s all handcrafted. We put everything into one piece.”
That means anything from finding the materials to sanding, planing and painting, to adding flourish with bows or berries.
She estimates some of the barn wood she has used is roughly 180 years old.
“To me, country is barn wood. There’s a lot of history behind it,” she said. “It’s laying there and needs to be used or it’s going to deteriorate.”
Shepherd also up-cycles old windows and door handles, as well as dresser drawers.
She also tries to use — or rather reuse — any leftover pieces from a project, making her small stars, for instance, from a larger item’s scrap wood.
Currently, she has a workshop and a showroom at her home.
In the future, she’d like to set up shop in a storefront in the vicinity of Blairsville, she said.
In the meantime, not unlike the materials she uses, Shepherd is making the most of what she has.
“I love it,” she said. “You can make some really nice things out of something that people could just say is junk or that it’s old.”
To contact Shepherd, visit www.facebook.com/WendysCountryCrafts.