In 2005, my son Patrick went to help his grandfather for the summer. Together they designed and handmade a USA map using recycled license plates. It took most of the summer. It hangs in our shop today.
The map got so much attention my father started making different items with recycled license plates as a hobby. He is known around town as the old guy with all the license plates. He was 80 years old at that time in 2005.
In 2007, I was laid off. The company I had worked for over 20 years closed. I couldn't find work in a corporate office so I took a large pay cut to start working as a caregiver. I was still sending out resumes hoping to get back into the corporate world. I was in my 50's nobody was hiring.
After a few years of caring and the loss of a very special lady I had taken care of, I just couldn't stay in that field of work.
I started going to my dad's second-hand shop he was older than some of my clients and I wanted to spend time with him. He slowly showed me the ropes of how to make things using license plates. I learned how to use a band saw, sander, and other hand tools. Working with metal and learning to handcraft items didn't come easily to me. There is a lot of cutting with tin snips, pounding and sanding. The plates are dirty, working with wood is dusty, but I found myself enjoying working with my dad. I didn't miss corporate America at all. I had even stopped sending out resumes.
My parents leave for the winter. I committed to running the shop while they were away.
When they returned months later. I had an Etsy Store and a website. I had done quite a few craft and art shows. I have made enough to live on for the winter and even had a little saving.
When my parents returned they offered their help in opening my own business. I was given an area in the front of his shop to do the work and his customers.
I opened License Plate Heaven in May 2011.
Where license plates get a new life and so did I.
In October 2013 my son, Patrick finally moved back to Michigan. He had moved out of state to find work. He now is my right hand at the shop. My father comes by the shop daily he turned 90-year-old in 2015.
We have 3 generations learning and working together making recycled license plates into art.