Quirky P.E.I. wood artists expanding to include shop

Wood artists Lenny and Heather Gallant of St. Georges, P.E.I., are expanding the country workshop for their business, Birdmouse, to include a showroom and store — something they're calling a Quirkshop.

Birdmouse has been making art, furniture and installations from reclaimed P.E.I. wood for the last five years. The two moved back to rural P.E.I. from Edmonton to chase their dreams after Heather had cancer. 

"For how far we are out in the country, we get a fair amount of people coming here expecting Birdmouse to have a little store, a little showroom," said Lenny, "and we really just have cats and a garage!"

The couple has carved out a corner of their workshop for living space.  

'Step up our game'

"To step up our game, we're taking a third of our workshop and we're transforming it into an interesting, small quirky store out in the middle of the woods," Lenny said. 

They'll be featuring other offbeat products — don't expect red braids or lupins here — in the Quirkshop, including handmade ukeleles, painted signs and Island-made prints and T-shirts. 

"We wanted to make a place where you can shop for your weird friend," Lenny laughs.

The couple has launched a crowdfunding campaign for their renovation through Kickstarter, and are already halfway to their $6,000 goal, but say even if they don't reach it they'll go ahead with the shop.

They plan to open in June. 

'Gives it that extra value'

The Kickstarter page features a detailed breakdown of how the Gallants plan to spend the funds and what donors will get, ranging from a necklace to a large piece of custom artwork. 

The couple started reclaiming furniture as a hobby several years ago — using discarded pieces from an alley in Edmonton. They enjoyed it and people wanted it.

"The only difference is we don't have an alley — we have a whole province to pick from!" Lenny said. 

They've even been given an entire 200-year-old P.E.I. farmhouse, and have been slowly dismantling the wood trim and floors with crowbars, using it in their work.

"It just gives it that extra value — it's got a story that just sits in it, you know?" Lenny said, noting customers are enchanted when they're told where the wood comes from, and happy to take home a piece of Island history.

'Pretty close to the ground'

The couple even has a plan if their Kickstarter raises more funds than their goal — they'd love to add a septic system.

"We live pretty close to the ground here," he said of the couple's rustic life on three hectares in the woods. They have installed electricity but now have only a composting toilet. 

They emphasize, they are doing what they love, realizing after Heather's bout with cancer that life is short. 

"We decided not to essentially chase the buck but to put ourselves first, chase our dreams, and hopefully the bucks will try to chase us," he said. 

They're proud their little business has kept them employed and fed — sometimes, just barely — and hope the shop is the first of many developments on their property. 

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