More than a decade ago, former building consultant David Rauenbusch began salvaging timber from Sydney work sites to make furniture for his family. But it wasn't until moving from the New South Wales Central Coast to Cygnet, in Tasmania's Huon Valley, that he and his wife, Michelle, turned the hobby into a full-time woodworking business.
Now Phoenix Creations is known for its Soul Spoons, each whittled from recycled timber. There are slender double-edged chef spoons carved from blackwood ("one end for the pot and one end for your mouth", says Rauenbusch), salad servers from native cherrywood and soup spoons from celery-top pine.
What's behind the name Phoenix Creations, David?
We needed to show the transformation from old to new. A phoenix emerges from the ashes and is reborn into a completely new life. Similarly, we give a second life to timber.
Where do you get your wood?
Everywhere from farm-clearance sales, cricket bats and old boats to deceased estates and demolitions. The local arborist brings logs around instead of chipping wood, too. If we know the story of the piece of timber, we always include it on the tag. The second-life element really sets our creations apart.
Why do you love working with recycled timber?
So much valuable timber is overlooked because people aren't willing to put in a little extra effort. Recycling is what our planet needs more of.
What are your favourite woods to work with?
We have so many beautiful timbers in Tasmania. Huon pine has been used for generations. It's a finite resource because it grows at such a slow rate, but it works like a dream. My first salvaged-timber crush was New Zealand kauri. It's been widely used in old Australian homes.
Are your spoons for special occasions?
Many customers say, "Oh, they're too beautiful to use." But no. They're made to be used every day, over and over. They feel good in the hand. Some have a chiselled finish with a bumpy surface, and others are so soft and smooth they feel like liquid silk. Quite often the timber will have aromatic properties, too. It adds so much more to the experience of sitting down to a meal.