Jackie Heintz, this month’s Cloverdale Farmers’ Market vendor profile subject, was born in Newfoundland, Canada.
She only lived there until she was three months old, as the family doctor wouldn’t allow her to fly to the U.S. until then, but you might say that her affinity for wood began in early infancy, as Newfoundland is well-known for its forest products industry.
Moving with her family to California, her introduction to woodworking came as a child while helping her dad with his furniture making and carpentry projects.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cal State, Los Angeles in studio art and participated in many gallery shows, working in both wood and bronze. After becoming unhappy with the “art world,” she moved around in a lot of jobs — getting a certificate in landscape design and construction, establishing a pest control business, getting a general contractor’s license and working retail at Lowe’s.
Along the way, she also kept her hands in the wood game by building high-end outdoor furniture and working with local cabinetmakers carving details on cabinet doors, for example.
In 1998, she moved to Cloverdale — I visited her wood shop recently, which takes up a good portion of the house’s two-car garage.
Jackie joined the Cloverdale Farmers’ Market in December and sells cutting boards, utensils, toys and fridge magnets, all made from food-safe woods, mainly maple and cherry.
She sources her wood from a lumberyard in Windsor, but the wood itself comes from all over the U.S. A block of maple that she showed me was from Vermont.
Some of her tools would be familiar to any handy person; a band saw, for example. Each block of wood that she chooses to work with is rough cut with the band saw after taking into account its shape and thickness.
Sometimes, she lays out templates and gets many spoons or other utensils from a particular block.
She uses specialized handmade carving tools that came all the way from Lithuania that enable her to shape each spoon and also to execute intricate designs. (These tools were so lovely that I wanted to take them home, even though I would not have any use at all for them.)
One important difference between the cutting boards she sells at our market and those you might see on sale elsewhere is that she doesn’t use any glue to piece together larger boards and also uses a finish that is organic and, most importantly, food safe.
A lot of her products, like the magnets in particular, are embellished with designs that she burns into the wood. That technique is especially attractive on cherry wood, as the heat turns the wood a beautiful red color.
Jackie began her business after many years of making items for friends and family. Big Mountain Forest Products is named after Big Mountain, a 2,675-feet peak west of Lake Sonoma, where she has a cabin that offers 360-degree panoramic views.
She told me that she might move up to the cabin full-time sometime in the future. In any event, we are happy to have her as a part of our market for as long as she wants to participate. If you’ve not yet checked out her booth, come by and say hello. The market is every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the empty lot next to Plank Coffee.
Karen Allan is the manager of the Cloverdale Tuesday Farmers’ Market. She’s rarely seen without Cora. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.