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What's new at the market: Whimsical Woods shares their story
Finally, my chance to interview Val and Nancy Jackson of Whimsical Woods! Val has been a fabulous board president for four years and given countless amounts of time to all that happens behind the scenes of the Sequim Farmers Market.
Val started making birdhouses in California back in the early 2000s. He made them as a fundraiser for their church’s annual harvest festival.
“It has been over 10 years since we started doing this,” Nancy said.
People made suggestions like “make toad homes” so Val did but found “nobody wants toad homes,” he said. “I guess they didn’t want toads in their homes.”
Also, in Silicone Valley, Calif., where they were from, “there were no logs. If you wanted to cut down a tree, you needed permits or licenses,” he said.
“In 2000, we bought 15 acres here, sold one to the bike trail and now we have 14 acres,” he said and they clearly have lots of logs on their wooded property.
So I asked how they found the farmers market.
“We were in town and we went down to check it out. We met with Mark (Ozias, former market director) and were juried in unanimously. Our first year was 2008 and we were well received, we had lots of fun and it grew from there,” Val said.
I asked about his product line and what is popular.
“Gnome homes are the most popular, then the birdhouses, gnome windows and doors, fairy homes and suet feeders are very popular. We make our own suet!” he smiles. They make gnome homes from 12 inches to 6 feet.When I asked Val about his history with gnomes, he said, “I think we have similar personalities, we like to have fun, be outdoors and we like beer.”
When it comes to inspiration for these very creative woodland homes, he said, “Inspiration originated from old childhood story books, I haven’t copied it from anyone else, I have received suggestions from customers. When we travel, whatever we find when we go scavenging at beaches and in the woods can make the houses. People bring us all kinds of stuff, pine cones, moss and more.”
Also the shape of the wood can dictate the way a house comes together. Val said, “When you are making things, the shape of the wood and the personality of the log send you in the direction, the log doesn’t talk to you but it’s like getting dressed, you put something on and see what looks right. The log is the canvass, what we put on is the paint.”
I asked why a person would buy a gnome home. Val said, “Because they already have some gnomes but they don’t have a home!” plus “Every gnome needs a home!” and “There’s no place like gnome!”
Nancy said, “Some people see it as garden art.” Val added, “To some people they come by the booth and they smile, it just happens, it’s light, humorous, entertaining, it triggers imagination, reminds them of their youth, when they were read stories.”
The Sequim Farmers Market has played a huge role in the success of Whimsical Woods. It has increased their business and they have met so many people who have become their good friends.
Nancy said, “People from other art shows have come and invited us to participate in their shows.”
Another big boost was an article in the Costco Connection about their business that came out in 2008. They highly recommend other artisans try their luck at the market. They are active recruiters of new vendors at the other shows they go to.
When I asked Val what he enjoyed about the market, he said, “The manager!”
Nancy added, “He enjoys meeting people and finding out where they are from. Val is like the Sequim ambassador, he loves to tell people all about Sequim and the market. He loves to meet all the people.”
Val adds when people come to the market they leave with an impression of what Sequim is like. “They remember Sequim by their experience at the market.”
Some funny things happen to gnome enthusiasts like the Jacksons. They have gnome license plates on their cars. On more than one occasion they have had people pull up beside them and take a good long look. “They expect to see gnomes driving the car,” Nancy chuckles. They also get positive feedback from folks giving them thumbs up and honking. Val is trying to devise a gnome hat that sits on top of the car roof.
They have an extensive website, they ship all over the country, they do custom orders and no order is
too big they tell me.
Go to the website to shop and read the blog www.whimsicalwoods.net and search for Whimsical Woods on Facebook. “Birdhouses are an ideal gift for Christmas, no one wants another blender,” said Val.
Come at Halloween and see Val dressed up in his gnome pajamas.
Bailey Bryan will be singing original and cover tunes on July 26. The open mic crew will be there on Aug. 2. Live music is from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each Saturday.
The Sequim Dog Park and the Rotary will be with us in the Community Booth on July 26. The Rotary will be back again on Aug. 2 with the Greyhound Rescue Association.
The Free Family Fun booth will be hosted by Olympic Nature Experience on July 26 and the Boys & Girls Club on Aug. 2.
See you at the market!
Sequim Farmers Market
Dates: July 26 and Aug. 2
Hours: Saturdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Downtown Sequim, Corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street
Contacts: www.sequimmarket.com; email@example.com; 460-2668