Lisa Flournoy builds furniture – furniture made from reclaimed cypress logs pulled from the swamp. In her workshop you will find sections of cypress logs polished to a lovely matte patina, some turned into mirrors, birdhouses of all sizes, a bookcase, a table waiting for assembly.
Flournoy never imagined she would be building furniture for a living. Having always lived in a house, she found herself in an apartment in Orlando, Florida, without ample storage. Suddenly she had to think about finding multi-functional furniture. Unable to find furniture she liked, she started making her own. Friends liked it and she began making a little here and there. After a drunk driver left her with a broken neck she felt she had to leave the corporate life “After a couple of years, I just couldn’t take being boxed in anymore. She returned to Prattville, Alabama in 2009.
It wasn’t easy when she first moved back. “There’s not a lot of work in small towns”, and she took whatever jobs she could just to make ends meet. But Flournoy found herself repeatedly helping her brother, Jim, owner and operator of Old River Sawmill, at the sawmill. “When I first started going out there, I kept seeing this big pile of scrap that he would burn. It was what was cut off the logs and he couldn’t use it so he was just burning it. I asked if I could have some of it and that’s what I started using to create some small furniture and décor pieces.”
Flournoy has been building furniture for about 15 years but only in the past 6 years has it grown to support her. While she still utilizes some of that scrap, Flournoy also uses cypress boards that the sawmill produces as well as timber from old homes or rivers that she and her brother reclaim. But cypress is her favorite. “It’s light, so I can move it around easily. I try to build things that I can handle by myself. And the colors from the North Florida swamp are so much prettier than the wood pulled from our swamps around here.” she explains. “The minerals in the mud and water give the wood beautiful color – blues, green, reds. Our swamps tend to give it a pinkish hue – more watered down.” Flournoy likes to say that her job has required her to be a chemist, scientist and artist, but with a dash of fairy dust.
Now she is travelling to Atlanta, Georgia once a month for the Scott Antique Market, where she sells her ready-made pieces. This show has been good to her. “I get a lot of work from it. “ Flournoy says. “I sell a lot of the pieces I bring to the show, but most of my work these days is custom.” It seems her customers love the cypress as much as she does. She supplies picture frames and mirrors and other small items to a florist in Prattville, limbs to a taxidermist in Auburn, and currently there is paneling being supplied for a new restaurant in the Atlanta area. People are taking notice.