Going Against the Grain With Jerm Creationz

Many great businesses have experienced their humble beginnings in a garage, and Jerm Creationz is no exception. The business itself and master creator Jeremy Elkind, or "Jerm," are full of surprises you may never see coming. Elkind is proof that one does not need to fit into a certain mold to be considered an artist or creator. He and his workspace defy the typical expectations of artist and studio. Elkind is an artist with an engineer's mindset. He is a positive, affable person with an easy smile and lust for life.

While his main focus these days is woodworking, when we asked Elkind to tell us about it, he referred to it with the broader term "creating." His skills range from handcrafting anything out of wood to sewing, ceramics, upholstering furniture and most recently, developing a righteous organic, partially sustainable container garden in the backyard, which hosts nearly 70 varieties of different tropical and exotic fruits. This is only the beginning of the list of self-taught skills that keep his creative juices flowing. But back to the woodworking.

Elkind created his first piece when he was in woodshop in junior high in his home state of Florida. It was a wooden surfboard clock, which he says still exists. He reworked it since then and gifted it to his sister—who still has it. He graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Florida in 2007, and by 2008 he was en route to California. "I grew bored of Florida, got tired of the heat and humidity," says Elkind. "I loaded everything possible into my Oldsmobile…whatever didn't fit was left behind."

He does not currently have a brick-and-mortar location, but our Main & PCH Marketplace will soon offer a selection of his goods. He has been selling his creations on popular crafter website Etsy for close to two years and has sold hundreds of pieces in that timeframe. All of Elkind’s work is handmade by himself only with no middleman. He does this right in his garage, tucked away on an unassuming block of identical suburban townhouses in Irvine. The pieces are fully customizable, though Elkind states that most customers see his past creations on the site and want something exactly like what is shown.

Shapes and objects in nature serve as his creative influences, and he uses many different materials, including Bolivian rosewood, redwood and pine. Protecting nature is also a concern for Elkind, who believes "in reusing/reclaiming anything that I can and minimizing waste as much as possible because Mother Earth is precious." Some projects he features for sale are hand carved desktop name signs and surfboard bottle openers, which he says are tiny but time-consuming. He has built redwood planter boxes, tables, chairs, bookshelves and the ever popular surfboard dog bowl stand.

(Photo courtesy of Jerm Creationz)

Creation time varies from project to project depending on how much or little customization is required. The dog bowl stand takes roughly six hours total with shaping the wood, cutting, painting and assembling. He squeezes all this in at night, after his 9-5 day job at Glidewell Laboratories as a project manager of research and development. Glidewell is a dental lab, and surprise, surprise: His dad is also a dentist. Elkind often stays up late hours perfecting his work, and his commitment to quality has in the past caused him to tear apart a project and start from scratch.

A modern day nomad, the creator has resided in many spots. In 2010, it was our very own HB. As Elkind tells it, "If it all worked out I would still be there." He was unable to renew the lease where he was living and hence relocated. Elkind visits HB "all the time" and adds that it is his default beach when he wants to surf, join the Sunday drum circle or take his dogs Charlie and Pollywog to Dog Beach. More of Elkind's favorite HB spots are the farmers market near the pier and restaurants No Ka Oi and Sparks Woodfire Grill. Sow Cal Hydroponics is his go-to for feeding his gardening needs with any advice or supplies his heart desires.

His ideal full-time job is woodworking, along with pursuing his other "creations." He assures us that he has yet to figure out how they will unify to create his dream job, but when he attains that sweet spot, he will be satisfied. Because he is currently a team of one, Elkind admits he has had to turn down some really big projects. At present, he hopes to dial in his work schedule and figure out a way to produce more without losing that handcrafted touch.

Follow Jerm Creationz on Facebook. Join his Facebook group too.

Jeremy Elkind is a featured maker in the Main & PCH Marketplace. Shop his redwood garden planter and wood coffee table.

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