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Making a Statement

Gainesville mom puts her heart and soul into each woodworking design

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Gainesville mom puts her heart and soul into each woodworking design
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Desiree Mantas uses a scroll saw for many of her pieces, which are handcrafted and hand-painted in her garage workshop.

Dessirae Mantas is the type of person you can meet for the first time and find instantly relatable, easy to talk to, and passionate about her small business.

As owner of The Rustic Texan Workshop, the Gainesville woman creates personalized wood signs. As the mom of three boys, her time is valuable and limited, so her heart and soul goes into each design.

Mantas’ childhood showed few clues of her future woodworking skills, except for the fact that she loved to put things together. To this day, she has never taken a formal class. Everything she learned has been self-taught.

The first time she decided to make a wood sign, she walked into Lowe’s with no idea where to begin. She figured it out, though, by trying and making mistakes, and by trying again and again.

YouTube was her companion as she began to experiment with woodworking skills. One particular video showed a woodworker cutting designs using a scroll saw. “That’s it!” she remembers thinking.

But reluctant to invest in the somewhat pricey machine, she happened to mention it to her parents during a conversation. A few days later, a large package arrived on her doorstep. Its contents? The scroll saw that sits in a central location in her workshop. “That’s just how they are,” she said of her parents, “always supporting and encouraging me to pursue my dreams.”

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Dessirae Mantas taught herself how to make personalized wooden signs.

Mantas’ scroll saw cutouts are what set her apart from the other small woodworking businesses in the area, she said. Her pieces are hand-painted and handcrafted right at home in her garage workshop.

And although she enjoys creating holiday designs and personalized wall decor, the pieces she holds closest to her heart are statement pieces, larger works that allow her to creatively tell a story through a variety of designs, colors and cutouts. Clients frequently order these highly personalized and detailed pieces to give to family and friends, including their children, to show them how much they love them.

One such statement piece was requested by a client whose brother overcame incredible difficulties and is now living a different life on a better path. Mantas incorporated elements that reflected “a new start, a move to Colorado, a frequently used hashtag, a perfect quote, and the beautiful scenery this man gets to view on his hikes” to create a very special, celebratory piece.

Another wood piece was created for a mom who wanted her son to know that although his life will be full of mountains to overcome, he is as big as the mountains. Mantas spent hours creating a large statement piece with intricate cutouts to ensure that the work showed the love and support from mother to son.

“While I loved the mosaic mountains, I knew the young man would need to stand out above them,” she said. “Life will throw us many obstacles along the way, but it’s how you overcome them that matters. I always tell my boys that and I hope this sign is a daily reminder of just that.”

Creator, builder, quality control specialist, financial analyst, marketing and sales strategist, social media manager, customer service overseer, wife, friend and mom are the roles Mantas plays each day.

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Dessirae Mantas always tries to make time for her three sons (from left): Alexander, Christian  and Nico.

“But as easy as it is to do what I love, to be covered in sawdust from head to toe, to work hard to be a role model for my boys, in the end all they truly want is my undivided attention,” she said. “I can get so wrapped up in my work, in creating things, that I forget to take that extra minute to tend to the little ones that need me the most.”

So on those days, she does exactly what her sons need her to do – be present and engaged with them. There are cuddles and smiles, and the work gets done another day.

This article originally appeared in the December issue of Haymarket/Gainesville Lifestyle Magazine, published by InsideNoVa.


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