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Save Money & Support Local Business: Functional Rustic Approach

Functional Rustic has a promo code now! Use Promo Code: save50 when you check out at Functional Rustic and save 50% on your entire order. And, as always, Functional Rustic offers FAST and FREE delivery right to your door!

Save50 Promo Code
Use Promo Code SAVE50 at www.FunctionalRustic.com to save 50% PLUS FREE SHIPPING on the entire Functional Rustic inventory of handmade rustic dΓ©cor. Valid thru 12/31/18.

I’m not ashamed to say that I am struggling to get the word out that Functional Rustic is a place to buy things – beautiful, handmade things at that! Apparently most stores use sales and promotional offers to get customers in the door – so Functional Rustic will too!

Sales and promotions are nice and all – but I am most proud of the new items I’ve created. The consistent piece of feedback that I have received is that Functional Rustic could benefit from a bit more color. It is this advice that inspired the purple, green and blue coat racks. Talk about colorful! Not only do I love the colors, but the round “hooks” are actually repurposed drawer handles. Gives them such a unique look!

The coat racks are fun to create but I promised myself I wouldn’t make any more until I sold what I already have. They are priced to sell so I will get to build more in not time. (If you want a coat rack but in a different color let me know and I will happily repaint it for you! Also, if you can’t make it to Countryside but want items you see from the pictures – let me know and I can arrange to have it delivered FREE.)

As of today, all of the new Functional Rustic items are in store at Countryside Craft & Antique Mall. The plan moving forward is to store all the new products at Countryside and pull them off the shelves as needed for craft shows. Keep an eye out for the monthly storewide sales (on top of already low prices) and receive at least 25% discounts on all Functional Rustic items.

Check out the new items at Countryside Craft & Antique Mall below!

Looking for a way to help a stranger this holiday season?

Small home business like Functional Rustic can’t afford the advertising that big retailers are able to utilize. We rely on individuals like you to help us introduce ourselves to the public. By sharing/liking posts from your friends (or strangers like me) you allow their products and ideas to be seen by hundreds more people.

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful...

Also, we also do happy a dance anytime someone interacts with our content. Seriously.

Each time Linda Schaub and Dutchll like something I published I grin from ear to ear and do a little dance. They are consistently supportive so I am fortunate to do my happy dance every day. It’s hard to say if their specific interactions increase visitors to the website – but the impact their support has on my confidence & motivation is worth more than any number of visitors. Thank you Linda and Dutch!

Some people believe it is only great power....

I also cannot say enough nice things about a woman I recently met named Anna Hitch. I met her and her husband at our last craft show and it was such a treat. Both she and her husband create beautiful handmade crafts. She works with yarn and he with leather. Anna gets a special shout out in the post because she consistently “likes” the Functional Rustic Facebook posts & she left my first review! Anna is my first non-family member to interact with my Functional Rustic Facebook so she is kind of big deal around here. Please help me say thank you to her by following Anna on Facebook and checking out her Etsy store. (Feel free to use the comment section to help me peer pressure her into starting her own website with an online store. πŸ™‚ )

Thank you for reading and checking out my newest creations. I welcome your feedback in the comments below and wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Below are a few of the items available in the Functional Rustic Store:

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Red

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.

$15.00

“Bark Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament

"Bark Spoken Here" Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.

$10.00



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Learning How NOT to Repurpose a Shutter – Functional Rustic Approach

I am well on my way to learning 10,000 ways not to turn a shutter into a chalk board!

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My inclination is to dwell on this or give up. I salvaged a bunch of plastic shutters and have high hopes of what I can repurpose them into. Making them into rustic chalk boards is on the top of my list.

Plastic Shutter
Plastic Shutter

I had some success when I first started the project. From afar the piece looked great. The blue of the shutter was quaint, the white popped and drew in your attention and the black board was distinctive and functional. But, looking good from afar is not the same as looking good.

Shutter Chalk Board Organizer
Salvaged Shutter Chalkboard Organizer.

The picture above is after two coats of white deck stain and two or three coats of chalkboard paint. All of the painting was done free hand so the lines were not at all straight. That is the “from afar” part that looks good. From across the room it is stunning but, when you get close, my skills as a novice are evident.

I am well aware that I am not a professional painter. I’m proud of what I created though. However, I made ‘mistakes’ and I am learning from them. My free hand painting attempt did not provide the clean lines I wanted so I found another approach. I put painters tape along the edges so that when I put the final coat of paint on the edges would be straight.

Paint Peeling

Well that didn’t work as I expected. The paint is peeling off in strips! What looked ok before, now looks like trash. Ugh.

No worries. I will try again.

Failure is proof that you tried. Now go try again..jpg

The chalk board paint is very thick – as is the deck stain. I theorize that the thickness of the paints plus the tape played some sort of factor in my peeling situation. To remedy that I will use spray paint instead ofΒ  a colored stain. The edges are taped in a straight line so there should not be any problems.

Well….It doesn’t look great, but I can totally visualize what it could look like with the chalkboard paint added on. I actually sprayed the silver paint last week but couldn’t decide if I wanted to paint the frame of the board or just keep it the natural blue color. Obviously I opted to paint it white for this project. Part of the reason I am choosing to paint it is to see if I will have the same peeling problems when they are painted next to each other like this.

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The dark one is actually red with blue painters tape on it – but the picture does not show it very well. You can see that I used tape to mark straight lines where I want to pain the chalk board. I am hopeful this approach will give me the clean lines I am looking for.

 

Moment of truth time. The shutters each have two coats of chalk board paint on them and have been dry for over 24 hours. I make sure to remove the tape slowly to prevent any of the paint from peeling off.

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Look! I found more ways that don’t work. Once again the paint is peeling off. At least this time most of the chalk board paint actually stayed on. Ugh. I don’t like it. BUT….I did learn that the color scheme looks good. Silver with white with black works nice. Also, I am able to compare how different the white is between the spray paint and the stain. They present completely differently. The spray paint is shiny and bright while the stain and matte and more of a cream color. #themoreyouknow

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Even the red shutter had some issues. Again, from afar, it looks pretty good. The videos below better demonstrate the issues with the chalk board paint peeling. The paint is very thick and because the plastic is not absorbent, the paint just sits on top and can be easily ripped off when the tape is removed.

 

What has me more frustrated than the chalk board paint peeling is that the spray paint peeled too. I thought for sure that because it was such a thin layer of paint that I would be fine. Nope. Also, I learned that the mist from the spray paint gets everywhere. That is to say, my stream of paint may be on one end of the shutter, but when the wind picks up small amounts of paint are spread everywhere. The best example is the center of the silver shutter. While the tape was still on the shutter the center of the shutter appeared silver. Not until the tape was removed did it become evident that my light mist of white paint actually significantly colored the center of the shutter.

Oooops.

 

So, I’m not sure how to proceed from here. An argument could be made that someone else may appreciate the ‘mistakes’ as creative quirks to the piece. The parts that I see as an ‘ooops’ may be the one-of-a-kind touch someone else is looking for.

What do you think? Should I try to sell it as is or scrap it completely?

What suggestions do you have to help me moving forward?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Never give up.jpg

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than a blog – Check what others already know by shopping for Handmade Rustic DΓ©cor in the Functional Rustic Store.

 

Wooden Thank You Card ORANGE

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00

 

Mini Chalk Board – Blue by Functional Rustic

The Mini Chalk Board by Functional Rustic is the fun and quirky handmade conversation piece you never knew you needed. The mini chalk board is made form repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint/chalkboard paint. Measurements: 19 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in.

$15.00

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My First Craft Show as a Merchant – Functional Rustic

Berkley Days Promo.png

Shopping at craft shows makes for a memorable day but, participating in a craft show from the other side of the table is a whole new experience.

My husband and I moved out to the country away from our lifelong suburban lifestyle in the summer of 2017. The physical move to a place I always dreamed of living inspired me to make very conscious changes to the rest of my life too.

Healthy self. Heal thy self.
Healthy self. Heal thy self.

Part of those conscious changes was focusing on what brings me joy and building the rest of my life around that concept. I find joy in being surrounded by nature, learning new things and inspiring others.

I am happy. Functional Rustic provides me the opportunity to intentionally live the life I want to live – a peaceful life. Peace and serenity, though they feel good, do not pay the bills.

Enter the Craft Show.

Craft Shows

I love shopping at craft shows. As a shopper it is exciting to see booth after booth of handmade crafts. Each booth is different and I never know what I will find.Β  Also, most of the people selling the craft actually made the craft themselves. In what other context do you have the chance to meet face-to-face with the person that built what you’re buying?

As a social person that enjoys learning, attending a craft fair is the perfect day for me. A craft fair affords me the opportunity to engage with people about something for which they have a passion. Every crafter has a story to tell; how they did it, why they did it. Seeing their passion as they share their story inspires me to seek the same for myself.

Art is not what you see, its what you make others see.
Art is not what you see, it’s what you make others see.

Also, anything bought at a craft fair immediately becomes a conversation piece. “Check out this unique table I bought at the craft show last weekend”. “Remember that day at the annual craft show when we bought that salvaged barn wood sign?” “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like that before!” “Such a clever way to repurpose those items”.

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Back to Nature Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic. Made from salvaged wood, pine cones, twigs and hand painted stones.

In addition to the stories behind each item I create, there is also a story behind how each of those items got before the customers eyes. This is the story of how I went from craft show shopper to craft show merchant in pursuit of the life I always dreamed of living.

How I signed up for the Craft Show

I created an online store on the Functional Rustic website as well as an Etsy store. However, craft shows are the most effective place to sell crafts, especially when just starting out.

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Functional Rustic salvages wood and other unique items to create Rustic DΓ©cor. www.FunctionalRustic.com

A friend of my sister, Tina, is also a creator and heard about what I was doing. Honestly, I do not recall if I initially reached out to her or if she reached out to me. What I do know is the universe worked it’s magic to put us in each other’s lives.

Tina shared that she was being pressured by friends and family to sell her art at the Berkley Days Craft Fair. Knowing that I too was entering the crafting scene and needed a venue to sell my goods, she invited me to join her.

Craft show booths need to be signed up for in advance. Most craft shows have their booths rented months in advance of the actual show. So, if you want to participate in craft shows you need to plan ahead and book early.Β 

Success occurs when opportunity meets preperation
Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.

We agreed to split the cost of the booth. From my initial research you can expect to pay between $100 and $400 to rent a booth at a craft show for a weekend. The booth size was large so it was no problem to combine our items into the same space. Also, both of us generally work alone. If I did not pair up with her I would be by myself for the entire weekend and so would she.

As far as the actual sign up, Tina handled all of that. As I understand she just emailed the coordinator and said we wanted a booth. Since it is a juried show we included some pictures of our items as well as a brief description of what we sell. Once we were approved payment was sent. The whole process was actually very easy.

Juried craft shows mean that the venue wants to preview what you are selling. This enables them to do quality control up front to ensure that items being sold are appropriate for the venue. For example: Selling nude sculptures at a children’s craft fair would be inappropriate.

Preparing for the Craft Show

I did not have to worry about creating a bunch of items specifically to sell at the craft show because I already had an inventory on hand for my online store. Instead of creating new products I focused on building my business presence online in order to later promote the craft show.

Although I was not actively working on tasks for the show itself I was always thinking about it. I can’t even count the number of times I walked past the shelves I built and tried to imagine how I could show them off in my display. I also drew out blue prints for the various ways the booth could be set up. (As it turns out I did not actually use any of the designs I thought of before hand. Ha.)

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I wanted to make sure that the set up encouraged people to engage with the merchandise and had a natural flow to it. This is an easy thing to say but much harder to actually create. Having spent years attending shows though, I had an idea of what kind of set up I enjoy interacting with and tried to replicate that.

Below you can watch Prodigy, Muscovy Duckling of Functional Rustic, helping me prepare.

I also had to figure out how to actually display my items. I create furniture and home dΓ©cor. Specifically I was selling shelves, signs and candle holders. The shelves were great at displaying the candles but when I sell the shelf I have no where to display the rest of my products. Also, how do I display my signs?

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Functional Rustic salvages wood and other unique items to create Rustic Home DΓ©cor. www.FunctionalRustic.com

In my head I worked out elaborate tables and displays I could build out of pallet wood. It was gorgeous. As I was creating the display in my mind I was provided the opportunity to participate in a yard sale. The yard sale provided me the perfect chance to field test my display ideas. Read about my first yard sale here.

I learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t work through selling at the yard sale. Building off of that knowledge I felt better prepared to actually start the build process for my craft show display.

Making the Craft Show Display

Making a craft show display is no different than making an in-store or window display. Catching the attention of those walking by is critical. I agonized over this. I researched and re-researched effective display techniques.

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The beginning stages of building my craft show display table for www.FunctionalRustic.com

I had a display all worked out in my mind …. and then I read the guidelines for the show. I didn’t even know there were rules. Ha. Some of the rules were having table cloths down to the floor, covering all your tables at the end of the night and bringing your own fire extinguisher. Theses were understandable requests but I had to make some major tweaks to the table design with my new found information.

Be sure to read all of the guidelines associated with a show before signing up. Every show has their own set of rules and requirements. It can be frustrating to have to look for a fire extinguisher or change a table display at the last minute. Also, the size of your the booths vary from show to show so make sure your display fits in your assigned space.

The yard sale let me work out the kinks in displaying my shelves and candle holders so the actual table where I display my signs and ornaments was the priority.

 

In order to capture attention I wanted to make sure I had color contrast. I achieved this by draping brown burlap over the sides of the table and placing a stunning, hand woven white table cloth across the top.

I still needed a way to display my signs though. I chose the burlap to play off of the rustic theme of Functional Rustic and I decided to use chicken wire to hang the signs off the side of the table.

I drilled holes in the side of the table so that I could attach the chicken wire with bolts. The combination of the burlap, chicken fencing and hand made table cloth really encompassed the look I was going for.

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I drilled holes in the side of the Oyster Table so I could attach my chicken wire to hang my signs from. www.FunctionalRustic.com

This look also provided a lot of texture and dimension. I’m sure there is a psychology behind why texture is effective – all I know is it works. Soft fabric table cloth, rough fabric burlap, cold metal fencing, warm wooden shelves and brightly hand painted wooden dΓ©cor. Everything about it says “touch me” which is the look I was going for.

Related to providing dimension – I needed to add varying heights too. To accomplish this I built display stands to hang my signs on. (These stands are also great for displaying jewelry and to be used as a phone charging station.) The stands were colored with either white or red deck stain so in addition to height on the table I also had color contrast.

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Multi Function Indoor/Outdoor Display Stands by Functional Rustic. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Colors are important in a good display. If I’m being honest, I continue to struggle with this. For this craft show at least, I relied on the contrasting colors of my shelves the different colors of the candle holders to provide pops of color to my display. The key with properly utilizing color in your display is to capture the attention of whoever is walking past. Contrast draws people’s attention.

Setting Up for the Craft Show

The first day of the show was a Friday evening. They allowed the merchants to come set up starting in the early afternoon. I arrived as early as possible. I needed every minute of the set up time so I’m glad I arrived early. It takes quite a bit of time to carry items from the drop off zone all the way to the booth. I did not account for carrying time when I scheduled my set up.

The biggest hinderance for setting up my display was the items themselves. The shelves are not light or fun to move long distances alone. I still want to sell them but in the future I will likely only try to sell one or two at a time instead of six of them.

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Pallet Shelving by Functional Rustic. Big storage for small spaces. www.FunctionalRustic.com

When creating your display remember that you will have to set up your display, then take down and carry out your display out a few days later. And, you have limited time to set up so, a very elaborate display may not be recommended. My shelves may look great but, logistically I need another approach.

What I found most surprising was how different the space looked than I had envisioned. I staged my items at home many times before actually arriving at the show. However, when everything was set up and the back drop of all the other booths was there – it looked a lot different than I thought it would.

 

Let the Show Begin

It is 5 pm on Friday and the doors are officially open. My display is set up but I continue to fuss with it. Move this over an inch and swap that sign for this one.

I was actually expecting a flood of people to pour into the show as soon as the clock hit 5. (This was an indoor craft show.) That didn’t happen. The experienced crafters said that the turn out this year was very low. Apparently this is usually a profitable venue but, for whatever reason, the people just weren’t coming in the door this year.

 

Having very little foot traffic provided me the opportunity to get to know Tina better. We had crossed paths a few times before but never actually had a real conversation until that day. Needless to say, I really like her and I understand why my sister became her friend. Also, I love her work.

Where as I repurpose items with the intention of giving them a new function, Tina repurposes with the intention of saving items from landfill. She turns miscellaneous items into impressive works of art and jewelry. Our crafts really compliment each other.

Despite not having the foot traffic I was hoping for, I still had the opportunity to engage with a lot of people. I also sold enough to make back my booth rental fee plus a couple bucks. I’m proud and consider it a success.

People watching is fun. People watching as a merchant at a craft fair is more fun. My instinct when I encounter someone is to look them in the eye and smile. In my day to day life this is a good quality. It’s actually a good quality in sales too but, the responses it gets when I’m in the merchant role are amusing.

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.
Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, many people smile back and/or say hello. However, people ignore vendors in a lot of different ways. Most people just do the “eyes down on the products never make eye contact” approach. Others accidently make eye contact but play it off as something across the room that has them so distracted they cannot see or hear anything else. And a shocking number of people suddenly need to examine the entire contents of their purse or pocket after making eye contact with a merchant. Did you know that making eye contact with a smiling person selling something causes the person to suddenly notice all the lint on their clothes? Ha. My favorite is, in response to a simple smile and a Hi, “uh, I’m just looking.” and then they literally turn their back to me and continue to admire the merchandise. It’s fascinating.

I don’t take it personally. I’ve done all of these things at some point in my life. I get it. People don’t want to be sold something. I know I don’t. That’s why I don’t try to get people to buy things. Of course, an argument could be made that me not trying to sell things is why people are not buying them. Hmmm…..

The problem is not the problem, the problem is
The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude to the problem.

People did buy things though. And many more provided unprompted praise for the craftsmanship and creativity. My ego loved it.

However, I still had doubts about the prices due to so few sales so far that weekend. So, on the last day of the show when a customer asked the price for an item I provided the listed price and added “or whatever you think – make me an offer.”

He immediately and sternly responded, “No. Your price is your price. This is the price you want for it and that’s what I will pay.” He then said he would be back later to buy it. I felt great about what he said but assumed I would never see him again after he left. Well, not only did he return he also bought TWO signs at full price. Apparently I’m doing something right!

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Rustic Furniture and Home DΓ©cor from Functional Rustic. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Another ego boost came when a couple stopped by and asked if I sold my shelves in the art gallery down the street. Don’t get me wrong, I like the shelf and think it’s pretty and very functional, but art? What an amazing compliment to receive. An art gallery is for “real” artists. Especially for someone just entering the arts/crafts scene hearing feedback like that is incredible.

People First

As much as participating in the craft show is about selling my creations and making money, it is also about introducing my brand and spreading awareness for the Functional Rustic website. This is where I had the most fun.

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A frequent ice breaker I used with shoppers was to ask if they do Do-It-Yourself projects. If they say yes then I ask about what they create. This approach enabled me to see many pictures of impressive projects from tiki bars to decorative soap to ball gowns.

Every single person that shared their DIY story did so with a huge smile & sense of pride. For a few minutes I got to share that moment with them. I smiled with them when they discussed overcoming this obstacle or gifting that craft to their loved one. Then I encourage them to go to my website if they are looking for ideas for new projects or I send them to DIY Projects of Facebook where they can share pictures and stories from their DIY endeavors.

Sell the problem you solve, not the product.
Sell the problem you solve, not the product.

For the shoppers that report not being a DIYer I ask what is something they always wanted to try. Generally I get to know them and their interests. At some point I will have the opportunity to naturally transition the conversation to telling them about Functional Rustic Tutorials. “Never did a do-it-yourself project? Now you can with a tutorial from Functional Rustic.” Promoting the craft tutorials is huge for parents of young kids. They can’t take my card fast enough when I say I have free easy crafts to do. Ha.

Not only did I get to meet many dynamic and interesting people I was also able to promote the website in a way that addressed their personal interests. Instead of just saying “check out my website” I can refer them to a particular blog post or a specific video of the Muscovy ducks.

End of the Show

I spent the weekend at the craft fair working my booth. For that reason, I was unable to shop at the craft fair or really talk to any of the other crafters. My biggest regret from the show was not connecting with other merchants more.

For some reason I thought that when the show was over I was going to have a chance to chat up some of the other people participating in the show. I don’t know why I thought that. The show is over. I’m tired. I’m far from home. I want to go and so does everyone else.

TIP: Network during the show when things are slow instead of after when everyone is busy trying to leave.

Packing everything up to go home was actually pretty straight forward. So much quicker to take apart the display than to set it up. It was also a treat to watch how seasoned craft show people take apart their displays. In a matter of minutes they have everything packed up into plastic totes and are ready to load into the car. This is not their first rodeo!

 

Overall, I am very happy about how my first craft show. I met interesting people, learned helpful feedback for my business and made a profit! I thought participating in a craft show as a shopper was interesting but, being on the other side of the table is an even more exciting experience!

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

 

Wooden Thank You Card AQUA BLUE

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00

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Procrastination is Productivity: A Functional Rustic Approach

I’m having a very productive, creative week. I love it. What I find most amusing is that I had set the goal for myself to post a blog every day this week (in addition to the 10 Inspirational Quotes). Well, that didn’t happen. Ha.

While actively not writing the posts I intended to, I built a bunch of new items for Functional Rustic. I love when that happens. The things I create when I am supposed to be doing something else are often my favorites.

I’m off to create more but here a few of the items.

Wooden Thank You Cards

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Wooden Thank You Cards.

 

 

Fire Wood Holder

Bathroom DΓ©cor

 

Salvaged Shutter Chalk Board Organizer

 

What do you think?

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic.

 

Wooden Thank You Card LIME GREEN

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00