Craftsman gives discarded trees new life in St. Pete Warehouse District

- In a 1,100-square-foot space at the ArtsXchange Warehouse District, Thomas Geer is surrounded by wood: Wooden utensils, wooden tables, and big pieces of tree trunks.

Wood is Greer's primary medium and how he's made a living for the past year.

"I've always been happy working with my hands. I remembered seventh-grade woodshop, of all things," Geer said.

What he does is simple to explain but hard to execute. He takes reclaimed lumber from old houses, trees knocked down by storms or cut down, and then transforms them into living-edge tables, bowls, and even jewelry.

"You just don't understand the beauty inside of this material until you start working with it," Geer said.

He gets the lumber many different ways.

Arborists let him know about trees they're about to cut down. Sometimes he sees, and can even smell, downed trees during a random drive through a neighborhood.

Homeowners have asked him to re-purpose wood from a sentimental tree knocked down by a storm. Geer says that's one of his biggest privileges.

As his business grows, Geer hopes to teach his craft to others. Right now, his 12-year-old daughter, Rylee, is his first student. She's been practicing making bowls.

"It's pretty cool," she said. "Like, the toothbrush holder, every time you brush your teeth, you're like 'hey my dad made a toothbrush holder for my toothbrushes.'"

The biggest lesson he hopes to share is a simple one: Keep wood out of landfills.

"I was drawn to the reclaimed wood because it's tragic that it goes to waste," Geer added. "I enjoy creating things out of materials that were otherwise going to be thrown away."

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