We are Terra and Michael Wertz, owners and founders of Terrafirma79 Designs. We take forgotten pallet wood and bring it to life with paint and give it function by creating one-of-a-kind clocks.
Mike and I are both creative. He’s a musician (lead guitar, song-writer) and I’m an aspiring writer and quirky English teacher. I’ve always loved to create and paint. Mike was stuck in an awful job at a feed mill in rural Pennsylvania when one day he looked at a stack of neglected pallets. He began to tinker around with ways to use forgotten junk and make it useable again. He bought some pallets off of his old boss and within a few months, our idea was born.
We work out of our increasingly small but quite charming 1906 home in Altoona, Pennsylvania. We design and paint amongst our living space because that’s what life dictates we do. My husband has fashioned himself a nice little workshop in a corner of our small basement. It works for us even though many people would scoff at our process; we make it work.
We both love to reuse and recycle and be practical. Plus, we’ve both grown up in working class families who had a great deal of hand-me-downs, but yet we both have an “eye” for what looks great. I grew up loving to paint; plus, I’m obsessed with color, so painting wood to create decorative pieces for our home was a natural fit for me. The idea of clocks or time pieces came to me one day because, as a teacher, I notice that students have become almost too dependent on technology. Sometimes, sadly, kids are not able to truly tell time on a standard clock, and perhaps our society is making that too easy with smart phones and digital technology. Clocks are timeless and a piece of history like handwriting; I don’t feel either should disappear.
Terra and Michael’s advice for other small businesses:
Don’t EVER give up on your dream. You don’t HAVE to work for someone else. You can find success doing what you love. You need passion and drive and persistence, but in the end, good things will come if the idea is worth it.
Check out more of Terra and Michael’s work at Terrafirma79.