When Luke Thema and Jessica Martin met, sparks flew with the sound of a band saw. Beyond their combined love of craftsmanship and carpentry, the young Venice couple both shared degrees in environmental science and family histories in woodworking. So when the couple moved in together, instead of taking a trip to IKEA, they decided to build all of their own home furniture. And from the scraps of wood left over, they made themselves some custom cutting boards, not knowing the results would soon be in high demand among family, friends and beyond. When it became clear that a weekend hobby was quickly becoming a small business, they joined their first initials to create JL Productions Custom Woodcrafts.

Crafty couple Luke and Jessica in their home studio, mixing colored resin to in-lay in wood. Photography by Evan Sigmund.

From cedar end tables and mango river wood serving trays to teak teaspoons, rugged bottle openers, a custom ladder bookshelf, an Indian rosewood clock and a rad coaster set, JL Productions utilizes only recycled wood and upcycled materials, so every piece is as sustainably produced as it is exquisitely executed. Luke and Jessica always source their wood from local carpenters and retailers, who are grateful to part with their unusable remnants and know it’s going to a creative cause. And when JL Productions needs to purchase materials from local mills, they only pull from the scrap bin of slabs which may range from ambrosia maple, sycamore and teak.

The bread and butter for the crafting couple still remains the intricate paneled cutting boards that started it all. Beginning with an assortment of wood remnants, they clean the wood to ensure that glue will bond correctly. Edge details are added—either rounded or beveled—and sometimes dramatic embellishments like aluminum bowtie accents, chevron-stripe inlays or colored epoxy resin splashes to create “rivers” (some even glow in the dark). The boards are then finished with multiple coats of food-grade mineral oil, or some sort of an organic finish if a piece of furniture, and all are burned with the signature JL brand stamp. “It is amazing to see what we start with and what we finish with,” says Jessica. “The process itself is cathartic, but the best part is seeing the end result. It is a true transformation.” 

Today, JL Productions supports pediatric cancer research by providing The Benjamin Gilkey Fund with cutting boards for guests at the foundation’s annual Boards for Bravery: A Charity Charcuterie Event. The couple is also responsible for the heavy-duty cheese/charcuterie boards at 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottle Shop. Meet the crafty couple as a vendor at the newly launched Market at the Tap, hosted by Tamiami Tap monthly, as well as at the rotating breweries for 73degreeFlea pop-up markets. Luke and Jessica also welcome the challenge of custom orders. 

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