Northern Michigan Shopping: After exploring careers in the corporate world and then raising alpacas, Bob Ryan is finally expressing his artistic side and pursuing his passion of woodworking. Last year, Mr. Ryan began making high luster, wooden serving boards and he sold them at farm markets with the help of his wife, Mary Ryan, under the name Barn Red Wood Art.
The serving boards were popular at the local farmer’s markets but the Ryans wanted to reach a wider customer base, so they decided to open their own retail outlet in downtown Suttons Bay. Mr. Ryan also wanted to open a store so that people would be able to see his creations in person. “You really have to feel them,” Mr. Ryan explained. “Some of the techniques for making them as far as sanding, give them a highly polished, high luster finish that people just love to run their fingers through.”
Inspired by a feature in the serving boards, they decided to call their store The Leelanau Wave. “There is a design in the wood that we always called ‘The Leelanau Wave’,” Mrs. Ryan explained, “so when we sort of rebranded ourselves this spring and decided to open a retail store in Suttons Bay we decided to call it ‘The Leelanau Wave.’” Mr. Ryan actually creates the wave in the serving boards by applying extreme pressure to the wood.
Mr. Ryan creates each serving board in his workshop in Leelanau County. He can also customize the color of the boards to match people’s kitchen or engrave them. Mr. Ryan uses local wood whenever possible and when he does use exotic wood, he purchases it from local vendors, to create a product that truly reflects Leelanau County.