OVERLAND PARK, KS (October 19, 2016) -- From doll cradles to book shelves to beautifully-crafted ink pens, Tallgrass Creek retirement community's wood workers design and create it all. The handy group which formed right after Tallgrass Creek opened its doors in 2007, set up shop in a space behind the Sunflower Bistro, a popular lunch and happy hour spot.
Recently the wood shop relocated to a sizable space on the terrace level of Bluebird Crossing that includes individual tool and work areas. To introduce their new digs, Tallgrass Creek wood workers hosted an open house so their neighbors could see where all the creative activity takes place.
"This space works so well," says resident Don Kauffman, an enthusiastic wood worker and furniture maker. "The individual work stations allow us to work more efficiently."
Don, a retired financial advisor, caught the furniture making bug when he built his first piece of furniture at age 37. His residence at Tallgrass Creek has several pieces of furniture he designed and created, including an entertainment center, large chest of drawers, and drop-leaf side table. A dining room breakfront houses wife Donna's collection of Wilton Armetale pewter plates.
The couple's four children are also grateful recipients of their father's beautifully made pieces.
"One of my sons told me the other day he doesn't have anything in his home I didn't make," laughs Don.
The wood shop is well stocked with tools residents brought when they moved to Tallgrass Creek. The group is coordinated by resident Bob Mueller and gathers together the first Thursday morning of each month to catch up and review projects. Since moving to the community with wife Jan two years ago, Bob has learned to use the lathe, a machine that shapes and smoothes wood, metal, or other material.
"I've made several pieces using the lathe," says Bob. "The wood shop is a great place to pick up tips from whoever is there working."
For the last few years, woodworkers have created doll cradles, step stools, and toy cars for the Johnson County (Kans.) Christmas Bureau which sponsors a holiday shop each December that offers new clothing, toys, and gifts to low-income families. Tallgrass Creek is located in Johnson County and residents have donated many items to the bureau in the past.
Nestled in each of the cradles is a colorful quilt and mini mattress created by Tallgrass Creek neighbors who are talented knitters and quilters.
"This year, we made 23 mattresses and quilts," says resident Lavetta Miller."We make them every year for the cradles and find it's rewarding and fun."
Tallgrass Creek's wood workers also serve as handymen to their fellow neighbors by repairing furniture and lamps, hanging pictures and drapes, and other jobs that require outside help. They have even built items for the community such as the large, magazine rack in Tallgrass Creek's library.
Many of the group's handmade wares, including beautiful wooden ink pens, are always available at Tallgrass Creek's annual crafts fair and other gatherings.
But having a well-stocked place to design, build, and create is only part of the wood shop's charm. On any day or evening, several Tallgrass Creek neighbors can be found in the shop, working and chatting.
"It's great camaraderie," says Don. "It's always a good time in the wood shop."