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WOODWORKER

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Sue Jennings and her husband, Stan, did not start out as woodworkers. When they met in 1984, they were working underground in West Virginia's coal mines. The mines closed a year later, and, after several other types of jobs, Sue and Stan decided in 1990 to pursue a dream they both shared—woodworking. And so began their business, Allegheny Treenware (http://www.spooners.com).

Says Sue Jennings, “Our interest must have been born into us. My father was a contractor and Stan's was a sawmill operator. When we met we shared a dream of being woodworkers from the very beginning.” Both are self-taught woodworkers, learning by what she calls “lots of trial and error.”

The Jennings have received many honors at the craft fairs and festivals that they have attended over the years. In 1999, they were listed in the Early American Homes annual directory of top 200 craftsmen. As a result, they received an invitation to create an ornament for the White House Christmas tree as well as an invitation to see the tree.

These days they concentrate on making many different types of wooden spoons. “We made a lot of things to start with,” reports Sue, “and we kept selling the spoons that we made. Before long we stopped doing everything else but them.”

The Jennings workshop is located in their backyard in Preston County, West Virginia. Says Sue, “If we aren't eating or sleeping, we are in the shop working. We begin no later than 8:00 AM and leave the shop about 9:00 PM every day we are home.”

They attend about twenty-three shows a year, which gives them a break from the shop. Sue says that “the best thing is meeting so many wonderful people—fellow artisans and the general public.” And what she likes the least? “Being stuck at my desk doing paperwork and working on the computer, which I really don't understand but have to put up with.”

For those who want to get started in woodworking, Sue thinks a good avenue would be to take your work to some sort of venue—perhaps a consignment shop or craft show—to sell it. “The more you practice your craft, the better you will become and the more likely your hobby will turn into a business.”

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