Salvaged Stools, Baby Wraps, Porch Swings

Host Jill Wagner travels the country on a quest to find talented craftsmen who still make incredible items by hand. In New Orleans, Ross Lunz shows Jill how he takes street signs damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and turns it into unique furniture that captures the spirit and resilience of the city. In North Port, Alabama, Jill meets Jessica Tuggle, a woman who weaves baby wraps with hand dyed yarn, allowing mothers to wear their babies on their bodies. Finally, Jill travels to Las Vegas and learns how Tom McGrady puts his heart and soul into beautiful wooden porch swings.


Ross Lunz – Skimmer Studio

New Orleans, LA  |  Salvaged Stools  |  Website

When you look at all the things Ross Lunz has pursued in his life the words, danger, risk, passion and compassion come to mind. From his time on board commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea fishing for salmon in Russia and Alaska, to using his carpentry skills to help Kobe, Japan rebuild after a devastating earthquake, to his search and rescue efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and his many years working as a firefighter in the NOFD, every experience, every trauma he witnessed comes through in his craft. Ross Lunz takes the burned up, discarded objects, remnants of disaster or simply the wear and tear of time, and turns them into both functional and sculptural works of art.

He holds a BFA in Metalsmithing and Painting from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, and an MFA with a focus on Metalsmithing from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Jessica Tuggle – Weaving Alabama

Northport, AL  |  Baby Wraps  |  Website

As a young child, Jessica sat watching her mother weave on her loom. It wasn’t long before the she started making potholders. Then her mother taught Jessica to work the loom, and she was hooked, seeing how she could create woven hand towels that were not only beautiful, but also practical.

When Jessica started her business, she already had one prized piece of equipment—her mother’s loom. Over the years, she added several other looms, and when she no longer had enough space in her living room, Jessica found the perfect location to house her creative spark. The little shop that evolved out of a love of weaving is tucked away in a distinctive building in Northport, Alabama—the Big Red Dog building. The shop is directly under “Rusty,” the giant dog!

Today, Jessica creates handwoven baby wraps, lovely carriers that allow mothers, fathers, grandparents and other caregivers to keep baby in the safest place possible in loving arms with baby’s face visible to the carrying adult. Baby wraps are meant to mimic positions of holding baby in one’s arms. Babywearing is said to promote bonding between parents and child, and with baby so close, baby feels secure, able to see, hear, touch, smell and be in synch with the rhythm and movements of her caregiver.

In addition to creating her exquisite and practical wraps, Jessica shares her passion for her art by teaching others to learn how to weave.

Tom McGrady – Las Vegas Swings

Las Vegas, NV  |  Porch Swings  |  Website

Ever since he was a young boy, Tom McGrady wanted to be a woodworker. He became an apprentice to a Quaker artisan, as well as, a musical instrument maker in his native Pennsylvania. But life called him away from his mid-Atlantic roots into the world of fine art, managing galleries in Nevada, Hawaii and California, and he put his furniture-making dream on hold.

Then one day, he sat swaying on a porch swing with a friend, and in an instant the passion he had for working in wood sparked, once more, and he knew exactly the type of furniture he would make. He spent hours doing research, designing, and building a few porch swing prototypes, and finally, he took the plunge. After 25 years of selling the paintings and sculpture of other artists, Tom decided it was time to sell his own art—beautifully-crafted, functional, backyard art—the porch swing. In 2003, he quit his gallery job and launched his own business.

Tom hand-selects each piece of the best woods—Black Walnut, Cherry and White Oak, taking five to seven hours on this step alone. After he crafts the swing, he spends hours painstakingly finishing the wood resulting in a warm, rich patina with ultimate protection from the elements. His swings feature the finest finishes and hardware. A perfectionist, he inspects each swing with a magnifying glass before he signs his name to his product.

On his website, Tom says, “I take a lot of satisfaction and pride in my work. My hope is for those who purchase my Porch Swings feel the same joy and pride in owning one of my Swings as I do in building them.”


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