Red Deer resident Jessa Pellerin found out pretty early in life that she had an artistic flair and a natural skill for woodworking.
To that end, folks can check out what she’s been working on of late via ‘Heart & Key’ Custom Signs Made With Love – an exhibit showing at The Hub (4936 Ross Street) through to the end of December.
“I do everything from the restoration of furniture, I build furniture, I do custom vinyl signs. I also do some light word-working, some upholstery as well. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades! If I can fix it, I’ll do it,” she explained.
Showcased in the exhibit are a number of beautifully-crafted signs – ideal for gifts or for just warming up pretty much any interior. Much of what she creates comes from either recycled or ‘up-cycled’ wood as well. It all works towards her being able to both play with colours and also customize her works to fit with specific tastes.
Pellerin has lived in Red Deer for many years, but originally hails from north of the village of Rosemary which is located in Southern Alberta.
She recalls being a creative kid – always interested in making things and even fixing things.
“My parents put me in all kinds of sports growing up – everything from ballet to rugby – and it was just not my forte,” she recalled with a laugh.
“Then I got a little bit older, and it actually all started for me in about Grade 10. I went into a shop class as an elective course. I was the only girl with about 20 boys. At first I was terrified, but I also had two brothers so I fit right in. I was just another one of the ‘boys’,” she added with a laugh.
“My shop teacher, Dan Johnson over at Hunting Hills High School, took me under his wing and taught me all of my skills,” she said. “I loved it,” she added of what they covered in that class.
“It was honestly a passion from the get-go.
“I also have to thank my dad, because he is so incredibly handy. He had me helping him in the shop when I was younger. He had an oil tool company, and I’d be in there with him teaching me how to put things together. On the weekends, we would spend time in the garage,” she said, adding that power tools and drill bits were often what she might receive for gifts. “And even for college, when I convocated – he bought me my first saw!”
His belief in his daughter’s abilities has never wavered.
“My dad, last summer, dropped off a 1995 ride-on lawn mower and said, ‘All it needs are spark plugs, a belt and new tires. Here you go’. And I fixed it,” she laughed. “It’s kind of fun.”
Ultimately, woodworking in particular proved a terrific means of flexing her artistic and creative muscles. She loved learning about all the different types of wood, about various cuts, dovetail joints to the art of staining wood. “We did pretty much everything. It was great,” she said.
“The best thing about Dan is that he gave us room for creativity. He would say, ‘What do you want to do?’”
For Pellerin, it’s all a fabulous means of self-expression.
“It’s just everything that I get to do. I get to create – honestly, in the middle of the night I will get an idea. I’ll wake up and I’ll have to write it down. I have a notepad beside my bed,” she added, smiling.
“Or I’ll see something. I’ll be in Home Depot joking around with the employees because I’m always in there – they know me by name now!
“They’ll be like, ‘What are you working on today?’, and I’ll say how I’m planning this or that. And they will say, ‘You know what’s really cool – and they’ll show me an idea.”
Pellerin studied health sciences and worked in that field for a time, coming home to hone her skills in the evenings after a long day. “Right now, I’m a stay at home mom so I can mainly work on this,” she said, referring to her art.
As mentioned, the exhibit runs through to the end of December. Her ‘First Friday’ opening was held last week, and Pellerin said she was looking forward to meeting folks and chatting about her work.
“Just getting to meet people from every walk of life, people who appreciate the same things that I appreciate, and of course having all the people I love in one spot.”