One’s an accomplished woodworker who makes armoires, fun toy storage and an out-of-this-world play set, all of which look and feel like they came from high-end stores.
The other is a talented baker who makes a miniature garden cake complete with rows of tiny marzipan vegetables and white picket fence one day, a gray coconut opossum cake — slinky tail and all — the next.
Eric and Sandra Denneler have been happily married to each other, and feeding off each other’s creativity, for the better part of two decades. Their individual and combined efforts continue to delight family, friends, co-workers and readers of their blog, ProjectDenneler.com.
Anyone lucky enough to know Sandra, an art director at Wichita State University, has been awed by her baking savvy. Whether making cake-less birthday creations for their 10-year-old son, Gus (a rocket ship made from various candy bars) or designing Halloween costumes for their 5-year-old daughter, Bea (a purple popsicle), Sandra’s creativity is never-ending.
“I like that the kids see us working on things, and yet it surprises me how unimpressed they are with what we do, “ said Sandra. “They think every parent makes a sock monkey cake or builds a rocket ship play set.”
Eric, assistant manager at Tree Top Nursery & Landscaping, has tried a variety of projects, with great success. He built almost every piece of wood furniture in their house, including built-in bookshelves, multiple beds, a kitchen table and upholstered chairs, plus concrete countertops and a wood deck. And yes, he built a crazy-cool rocket ship play set for their kids.
“Every project we take on is totally new,” added Eric. “And with every project, there is something I would change, but that’s just part of it. The important thing is to just try.”
The couple works well as a team. Sandra developed the logo for Redbud Pediatrics, and Eric did the interior design. Many of their projects at home are a collaborative effort, as well, although the process sometimes takes awhile to gel.
“I come up with the ideas,” Sandra said, “and Eric makes it happen. He always tells me ‘no’ first; then a day later, he’ll say, ‘OK, this is how we can do it.’”
The Dennelers involve the entire family in the creative process. Every fall, they take on a new landscape project at the elementary school. They water and weed it all summer, teaching the kids to take pride in their hard work.
Even their business cards are extraordinarily fun: Each card has two varying images showcasing the couples’ creations. The headline? “We make & do fun stuff.”
The Dennelers make & do fun stuff, indeed.