Itsa Unique-a Hand Made Shop opens today in Seymour

When walking into Rodney “Yendor” Willman’s new shop in downtown Seymour, customers will see a variety of handmade items — from toys and games to tables, bowls and more — each one unique and locally made.

Hence, the shop is called Itsa Unique-a Hand Made Shop, located at 121 E. Third St., at the corner of Third and Ewing streets. The grand opening is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

“For now, we’ll be open on the third Saturday of the month, except for November and December, and those two months, we’ll be open on the second Saturday because of the holidays,” Willman said. “We are accepting cash payments only at this time.”

Willman said he has been working with wood all of his life. He makes toys around Christmastime every year, and adults would bring their kids over to see them at his home shop and he ran out of space.

“With the large volume of wood in my shop and in storage, there was so much stuff in there it was hard to see everything, and someone suggested I open a shop,” Willman said. “Several of my friends will have handmade items in the shop, too.”

Those friends are Bob “Willy” Williams of Brownstown and Seymour residents Ruel West, John “Big C” Canaday, Roger Pollert and Tony Schafstall.

“Me and some of my friends make wooden trains that we donate to the Home of the Innocents, an orphanage in Louisville,” Willman said. “For over 15 years, we’ve been making these for the kids.”

West said he makes 60 toys for Margaret R. Brown Elementary School every nine weeks and 60 for Seymour-Redding Elementary School.

“There are three other fellas that make toys for the schools, too, and we’ve been doing that for about six years,” he said. “I also make a few other things, too.”

Canaday made some of the wooden hearts, bowls and charcuterie boards in the shop. He also makes furniture, but they are not in the store currently.

“Mr. Willman has done the bulk of the work, and the shop is his big project,” Canaday said.

Pollert makes wooden toys and has been wood crafting for a couple of years and said he’s still a novice.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with wood but never had the equipment to do much,” he said. “I haven’t developed my skills yet for finishing, but I want to get there before I get old.”

Schafstall said his items aren’t quite as fancy as the other guys and instead of wood items he makes yard art.

“Some things I brought for the shop today are Halloween art made from an old propane tank and a refurbished wheel that can be put on a pole and will spin when the wind blows,” he said.

Williams typically makes cutting boards, Jenny Lin benches, charcuterie boards, bowls and more. His current project is a large trestle table.

“Rodney’s use of wood is unique, to say the least, and when most people would bust up the wood and burn it, he makes something out of it,” Williams said.

Willman said his nephew, Matt Findley, is remodeling a house in Madison from the late 1800s and tore the floor joists out, made from poplar and about 14 to 18 feet long, straight as can be and asked if he wanted them.

“That’s how it happens because people know I make things with wood, and when they have some left over, they’ll call me,” he said. “Some tables here with the rounds were made from a tree that was once by Immanuel Lutheran Church and given to Larry Wehmiller.”

Wehmiller, owner of L&L Lumber, Inc. between Seymour and Dudleytown, gave the tree wood to Willman, he said.

“Immanuel called Larry up and said they had some logs and asked if he wanted them, and he said yes because he makes crossties and other things,” Willman said. “It was a really nice tree that had huge limbs on it, but he didn’t have any use for them, so he called to see if I wanted any of it, and I asked him to cut me three or four rounds off the end.”

Willman said when he went to pick up the wood, Wehmiller had cut the whole tree up and had 29 rounds waiting for him to pick up, which amounted to about two truckloads.

After he retrieves wood and brings it back, Willman leaves it outside stacked on sticks to air dry in a covered area for about a year or two. Then he takes it out and dries it in a kiln, which takes about three months.

“Then I bring it in and just do whatever I can with it,” he said. “I had to build a special platform to hand plane the wood because some kinds you can’t run through a machine.”

At Itsa Unique-a, there’s a room with raw wood available for those who would like to purchase some.

Willman said he’s created a puzzle tree in the new shop and has several puzzles hanging on it now, which are very inexpensive for the kids who come in.

Seymour High School art teacher Laurie Martin and two of her students, Gabriella Parisi and Ava Cooley, painted a mural on the side of Willman’s shop that faces Ewing Street.

“There’s a human hand painted red with the word ‘hand’ on it and the rest is the word ‘made’ painted and spelled out in sign language,” Willman said.

Martin, Parisi and Cooley worked on the mural last week and just finished Wednesday evening.

Parisi, a junior, said she is in some of Martin’s advanced classes, a painting class and is a member of the Art Club.

“I’ve worked with Mrs. Martin before and this project is a really cool opportunity,” Parisi said. “I haven’t done anything like this before and it’s a big project, but I’m really excited about it.”

Cooley, also a junior, takes painting and drawing classes and had not been involved with a project like this one before, either.

As she worked on the mural, she said, “I’m a little nervous, but mostly, I’m excited to see the results.”

Martin said Willman, along with Jim Noelker who created the signs for the building, came up with the idea of the hands.

Willman’s wife of 47 years, Margie Willman, was at the shop for the ribbon/wood cutting Tuesday morning. Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson had the honor of sawing through a piece of wood, rather than cutting a ribbon.

Margie said the shop is “Rodney’s baby” and she doesn’t do any woodworking herself. Instead, her job is sweeping up the sawdust.

“He is making things all of the time, and usually people come to our house to see it,” she said. “We just have so much of it, so we thought we’d try this and see how it goes.”