Michelle Allen didn’t expect to follow in her father’s footsteps, but here she is, working in wood (albeit with a different twist).
Her dad, George, is a local woodworker, creating cabinets and furniture and such.
“Dad is my woodcutter and he does the staining,” she said. “So, I guess I am keeping up a family tradition although it was never intended, it just happened.”
Allen makes signs and things through her company, Backyard Country Creations. She holds sign making classes and does custom decor work.
She’s been doing it for about three years now although she could never have predicted this would become her vocation.
“Never in a million years,” she said laughing. “My artistic background is photography.”
Be that as it may, she’s become pretty handy at painting signs on stained wooden boards and more importantly, guiding others through the process with her classes.
The process is relatively simple. She has “about 100 to 150” sign stencils to choose from depending on the season. Once the stencil is chosen, it’s attached to a wooden board and the letters/symbols removed. Then acrylic paint is applied and a variety of techniques used depending on the desired finished product.
“It’s like applying nail polish,” she said. “Multiple thin coats.”
But there’s another aspect to the classes.
“I feel it’s a really good opportunity to meet lots of people,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people from working at Cardinal Cafe.
“I started holding classes as a ‘night out’ for people but the fundraising aspect of it has really skyrocketed.”
Which brings us to last Friday night’s class at Oso Hall.
“Rural Frontenac Community Services (RFCS) contacted me,” she said. “I’ve done some other fundraisers, like for St. Andrews.”
In fact, one of her students on this night was Louise Moody, RFCS executive director.
“RFCS is raising funds toward the United Way Kingston, Frontenac Lennox & Addington Campaign,” she said. “It’s very fun and I’m making a gift for my new grandchild.”
Allen does a variety of items, including mugs and such. This past summer Smart’s Marina contacted her about putting some merchandise in their store and she said that worked out quite well.
But it’s clear she enjoys the classes and fundraisers.
There was a wide range of ages in the Friday night class. Allen recommends that kids be at least around 11 years old and/or be supervised by an adult because of
“I did one for a gymnastics club in Perth and had about 10 kids,” she said. “I haven’t done a birthday party yet, but I’ll consider it.”
The class on this night was predominantly female but Allen had an explanation for that.
“It’s hunting season,” she joked. “All the guys around here are gone.”
But she’s just fine with a girls night out class.
“Get your girlfriends together, a bottle of wine and we’ll do it,” she said.
You can contact Allen through her Backwoods Country Creations Facebook page.