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Sticking to It: Handmade Gifts Led to Commercial Enterprise | Culture & Leisure

Last Christmas, 10-year-old Hutch Robertson knew he wanted to give his grandfathers on both sides of his family something special. He didn’t want it to be something bought in a store or made in a factory. But what would it be?

Throughout his young life, Hutch had spent many hours and days away from the family farm. And then he realized he should do something for his grandfathers that would share both his love for them and his love for the outdoors.

He decided to make walking sticks out of them. With guidance from his father, Hutch learned to use a pull knife, which has a large blade and two handles that you hold and pull down to shave wood.

“Then we used a sander to sand it down to get it really smooth,” Hutch said. “Then we have it polyurethane to protect it and give it a bit more vibrant color.”

That Christmas, Hutch was delighted to give her handmade gifts to unsuspecting family members. He said they were very curious about what they were getting.

“They didn’t really know what it was,” Hutch said. “They were probably expecting a t-shirt, or something. They got something that was completely wrapped that looked like a pole. They didn’t really know what to expect. It was a little weird, their reaction. They didn’t know what they were really getting.

And, to some extent, Hutch didn’t realize he was discovering something he would so love to do. Enough that he continues to make rods and now sells them at the Mebane Makers Market alongside his family’s produce stall.

“My dad, he was like, ‘Maybe you could sell them and make a good profit.’ I thought about it and decided maybe I could, and it really helped when we went to the farmers market, especially the Makers Market, last month was the first time I used to sell them. It’s a lot of fun and I like doing it.

Hutch sells his rods for around $15 each, and he’s sold about four of them.

Hutch, who will start sixth grade in the fall, said he made six or seven walking sticks. He said he’s been honing his skills and, if he’s not in a rush, could probably do eight in a week. He uses sugar gum or tulip poplar wood for sticks, which he and his father collect from their property. He said he was looking for sticks that have knots that fit people’s hands.

“I think it looks very nice and it gives it a bit more grip, and it helps it stand out more.”

In his spare time, Hutch enjoys working with Legos, driving his quad and playing with the animals on the family farm. He has an older sister who sometimes helps make the canes, and while he appreciates her help, Hutch admitted he’s unsure of her motives, especially when she declined his offer to cut her in her legs. profits.

“I told her I’d give her $1 for everything I sold, and she’s always like, ‘No, no, no.’ It’s really weird because she and I fight a lot, and I get a little nervous when she tries to help me.

Hutch said he plans to continue making walking sticks and expects that as his skills improve he can add carvings to them. He said he would continue to sell on marketplaces, but may add an online component.

“I might like to branch out and make little wooden swords or little wooden guns that little kids could play with,” he said. “And maybe make sculptures with wooden blocks.”