Allow me to introduce you to Mike and Corie Abbott! If you’ve ever stepped foot into Dowtown Sanford’s Modern General Store, Magpies, then chances are that you’ve seen or maybe even purchased some of this talented couple’s handy work! The Abbott’s kindly invited me into their home to show off their creations and I may have overstayed my welcome, because these two are just that awesome. Mike and Corie both grew up in Florida and first laid eyes on each other in 7th grade, but because girls still had cooties at that age, it wasn’t until they both tried their hand at college that the couple started dating and a few short months later Mike proposed – the day before Valentine’s to be exact. It wasn’t long before the 2 Abbotts became 5 Abbots and a larger home was needed – and wouldn’t you know it they fell in love with the small town feel and old homes that Sanford had to offer; and here they are today, right in our town!
As a child, Mike was often found making his own things and taking things apart, out of curiosity and for a better understanding of how things worked. And then there’s Corie who grew up in a very artistic family. It was actually her aunt that inspired Mike to get into woodworking. Corie’s aunt is a talented woodworker herself and made cutting boards for the family one Christmas and after one look at the handmade cutting board Mike was inspired. Mike then learned a few basic things about safety in the workshop and how to use a slew of tools and what they each did. The kid inside Mike was elated! Mike then took his basic knowledge and ran with it, creating things in his shed and finding a new home for them in his home and others, such as his first ever creations…bottle openers. It didn’t take long before people started noticing his talent and one request after another and sleepless nights of thinking up new creations led him to where he is today. He works with some of the most beautiful wood pieces I’ve ever seen from all over the world; South Africa, Asia and the good ol’ USA and he could talk about them for days. Which makes me appreciate his work even more because as I listen to him speak, I can hear how passionate he is about everything he makes. Mike makes pieces that are raw with a touch of modern and he takes pride in his work, just as any craftsman should. “I work hard and use my hands, I think that’s more important than ever and it brings me pride to know my kids can point to something and say my parents made that” says Mike
Thistle & Grain was originally going to be Clay and Grain because Corie creates pottery pieces, but that’s not all Corie does so Thistle & Grain it is. A mash between Corie’s Instagram handle and Mike’s day job, as Grain is a direction term used in the paper industry. Mike currently works at his families printing company, but dreams of one day owning a store front and displaying all of his and his wife’s beautiful pieces. Corie and Mike’s work come together when Corie creates her hand dyed tea towles (and other things such as socks and baby onesies), nothing goes to waste when these two are around.
Each towel is hand dipped in a natural indigo dye and sometimes the wood shavings from one of Mike’s projects. She’s also experimented with stamping her towels with leftover pieces from Mike’s workshop, what I tell ya – nothing goes to waste! After the towels have been hand-dipped they are then hand-hung to dry in the Florida sunshine. And if the beauty and uniqueness of the towels aren’t enough to draw you in, maybe knowing that Corie donates 5% of all proceeds to a clean water non-profit mission in Rwanda, Africa and has been able to donate 2 wells as of today. I’m telling you they are an amazing couple. Did I mention they do all of this after a long day at work and after the kids are in bed, when you’re passionate about something nothing can stop you!