Raised in Bend, Oregon and having spent most of her adult life in the Pacific Northwest, Cheryle has been a long-time woodworker. From the late 90’s, she and her husband owned a renovation company in Portland, where she worked hands-on performing carpentry and tiling, among other skills. It wasn’t until recently, after her uncle decided to tear down his old barn, that she got her first taste of working with reclaimed wood.
From the reclaimed barn wood, she made things like a bed frame, cabinets, and floating shelves. “You can take what looks like an old and disintegrated piece of wood that’s been weathering for ages and you send it through the planer. All of a sudden it has all of this gorgeous character. You’ve got deep textures, insect holes, black rusted nail spots, and knots. It’s beautiful!” Cheryle beams. Cheryle Moore-Suazo talks about old wood with the same awe and reverence people often save for their most prized possessions. She loves to hike in the woods with her dog and admire the trees at different stages of their lifespan. “I love looking at the decomposition of wood and the trees that are in bloom. I admire the whole process from sapling until it returns to the ground. You can look at decomposing stumps and see all their character. Nature is my zen,” Cheryle says with a twinkle in her eye.
Cheryle is the founder of a new small business in Spokane called The Art of Craft– Intrinsic Designs. She’s taken her love of old wood and craftsmanship and turned it into a business selling beautiful, hand-crafted decor made from reclaimed wood. She embraces the challenge of working with old wood, and lets its natural character shine through. None of her pieces are stained, and she uses only natural pigments and finishes on her products.
“I want people to bring my pieces into their home and be assured that each piece is sustainable, home-healthy, and beautiful, without odors or off-gassing. That’s why I only work with finishes that have the smallest amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like water based or wax coatings, and even then only when the piece requires sealing,” Cheryle explains.
Cheryle’s love of craftsmanship began in childhood. Her mother was a crafter and her father was always doing things himself, like repairing their cars or remodeling the house. Cheryle describes herself as a naturally curious child, always taking things apart that weren’t working to try to understand how they could be made to work again.
After their time in Portland, Cheryle and her husband, Gary, moved to the Bay Area in Northern California for Gary’s job. Cheryle worked for several years in facilities management caring for Google’s expansive infrastructure. When the opportunity to return to the PNW arose in 2020, they decided to move to Spokane to be closer to family in Idaho and along the Oregon Coast. It was a wild adventure, with Cheryle and Gary purchasing their new home sight unseen and moving to a city not knowing anyone!
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to close their office doors while employees worked remotely from home, Cheryle struggled to find a facilities management job in Spokane comparable to the position she’d held in California. Unlike Silicon Valley, which boasts large infrastructure to house such big teams, Spokane does not have the same magnitude of building infrastructure.
So, like many other brave individuals facing the challenges of the pandemic, Cheryle decided to pivot and start her own small business. She decided to use her passion and expertise in woodworking to found The Art of Craft-Intrinsic Designs. She added to her collection of reclaimed wood that came from her uncle’s barn by harvesting wood from other structures. Ultimately Cheryle, her brother, her sister, and Gary came to the decision to purchase an old barn to deconstruct. “This process really gave me an appreciation for the higher cost of reclaimed wood!” Cheryle chuckled.
“Purchasing reclaimed wood is costly. But I will tell you, it was a lot of work to deconstruct that old barn, and a fair amount of the wood is too brittle to be of use after removing hundreds of nails. I am fairly certain we won’t personally go through that process again, but we certainly gained an appreciation and understanding of the work that goes into salvaging old wood,” Cheryle shares.
When asked why she has such a fondness for reclaimed wood rather than working with newer wood, Cheryle first describes its challenges, “Working with reclaimed wood is a challenge. It’s often very brittle, you might have to repair it or find that it needs to be scrapped, it comes with tons of slivers, and is often crooked or warped. And it’s NEVER straight.”
“And yet, I absolutely love the character of working with old wood. I love that the surfaces are so grooved. You can see the rough saw marks and textures and deep grain from being weathered. I love the stories that reclaimed wood tells you about its life. You get to see how it has gathered all these colors and features hidden away under layers of gray over the years, and as a craftsman you slowly expose all of that,” Cheryle says with a voice of reverence.
Although she is just getting started with her business, Cheryle is eager to share her love of reclaimed wood with others. “I’ve attended a few craft fairs to test out product validation, and am working to find opportunities to sell my pieces in other local shops and establishments. Long-term, I dream of having my own brick-and-mortar shop. I would love to partner with other artists and incorporate craft food and craft beverages, which is Gary’s expertise,” Cheryle shares.
If you have questions or want to commission an original piece, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Cheryle at 503-348-4769. Visit her website at www.theartofcraft-id.com or follow her Facebook page for more information.