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The Tale of the Swamp Rabbit Mantel

The Tale
Perhaps you have experienced it before- an instant connection with someone that you are meeting for the first time? You know that you are going to clique. That was the case with a special couple that happened upon Rustiques one fall day.  
Denny and Ginger Besselman were on a mission. They were looking for a couple of statement pieces to put the finishing touches on their home near Traveler's Rest, SC. Their home tells a story of their life and they were looking for a fireplace mantel and an old door that would add to the story, another tale to tell. Being new to the area, having moved from Wooster, Ohio four years ago, they weren't sure where to begin the search for their statement pieces. But they began on their journey. As with a lot of journeys, sometimes you need someone to point you in the right direction. They got the needed guidance to head to a quaint town called Landrum, SC. Nestled in the Foothills of SC, Landrum is known for antiques and unique shops. Surely they would find what they were looking for.
I am glad to say their trip wasn't in vain. After a few stops on their journey, they made it to Rustiques where I am happy to say we became a part of their story. 
After spending some time with them that day in the Design Center and getting an idea of what they were looking for, we arranged for Steve, our Project Manager/Designer/Builder, to do an onsight consultation. A custom piece made for you has to have an inspiration from something or somewhere. And the best way to understand that inspiration is to experience it for ourselves. Ginger described Steve when asked about the consultation process as "so much more than a builder. He is an artist".  She noted how he came in and sat down so he could take it all in. He sat and studied the room. He asked questions. Steve no doubt took in the fact that Ginger has an ecclectic yet refined taste and saw that every piece has meaning. He took note of the life size bike, hand-made from vintage bicycle parts, hanging on the wall as you enter their home. Denny loves to ride bikes and The Swamp Rabbit Trail known to Cyclists throughout the States as a place to ride bikes is just up the road from their home. Steve also noted Ginger's respect of history and tasteful nostalgia from the hand made antiqued ladder that displayed her grandmother's quilts. Ginger will tell you each one of the quilts has a story to go along with it. My favorite quilt is the one from her grandmother made from pieces of old clothes and other materials taken from their Ohio Farm. After talking with Denny and Ginger and taking it all in, Steve felt he was ready to design a custom made mantel and door that would finish off the story and give the Besselman's something they could enjoy for the years to come. So with the three of them collaborating on a dream and the design, it was time to do. Steve was on a mission. 
The Mantel had to be something that was unique. Ginger liked the idea of a live edge piece. So how about a 100 year old reclaimed beam from a local Welford Barn with a touch of live edge? Perfect. Keeping Denny's love of riding in mind, what about a hand-forged by a local artisan 3 layered gear made from bicycle chain. The number 3 happens to have special significance to Ginger so a 3 layered gear was perfect. The 3 finished wood boards from the Cesar's Head area that frame the fire place make Ginger think of her mother who raised two daughters as a single parent for a time. Three strong ladies.  And don't forget the history behind the area they chose to call home after making the treck from Ohio.  Traveler's Rest got it's name because it was the gateway to the Foothills. Travelers often stopped there to rest during the winter before making it up the mountain. The train was one of the best ways to get from the Upstate to North Carolina. So hand fabricated decorative corbels made from reclaimed railroad track straight from the Mid-West were the perfect addition to this truly one of a kind custom piece. 
That is the tale of the Swamp Rabbit Mantel. When asked about their experience with Rustiques and how they would rate it from 1-5 with 5 being the best, they both said a 6. From the first day in the store to the day of installation, they appreciated the professionalism, the communication, and the consideration. From the laying down of tarps to protect the floors, respect shown to the home,  to being on time, they were pleased with Rustiques. Even how Rustiques cleaned up after the install didn't go unnoticed. Seeing Steve being able to go from the design process to the finished product was impressive. They couldn't get over how they felt like they had known Genevieve, Steve's wife and installation assistant, for years. Her perkiness and enthusiasm was much appreciated. They too felt the connection that I had felt when they first walked into Rustiques. 
We are so appreciative here at Rustiques to have had the priviledge of working with the Besslemans.  I could have just wrote that we installed a mantel. The customer was happy and pleased. But I thought that isn't much of a story. There was so much more to tell. 
 Rustiques would love to hear your story and would love to help you tell it. 

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