CEDAR CITY — Whether you want a 10-layer Bob Marley or a llama in the desert, this home carpentry shop creates 3D art that emerged after two creative people fell in love. 

Brooke Gbur, the owner of The Rusty Suitcase, shows off some of her custom designs in Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“I’m really drawn to different colors,” said Brooke Gbur, the owner of The Rusty Suitcase. “My daughter asked me what my favorite color is, and I told her it’s rainbow or tie-dye. There’s something about all the colors together. I’m just drawn to it. And I’m able to keep the variety of colors in my 3D work, which I love.”

The business started in 2009 when Gbur began buying and selling vintage clothing on Etsy. She found herself drawn to the geometric patterns and a mixture of colors. Vintage clothes held both aspects with the added thrill of treasure hunting. Often finding gems hidden away in suitcases, closets and thrift stores, she landed on the name The Rusty Suitcase, and it stuck.

In 2013, she met a man who worked for Cadillac and traveled to auto shows around the country. When he traveled to St. George and they connected, it became a partnership in both love and business, and they eventually married. She moved to Georgia to start their life together.

“My husband has been a woodworker since he was 18,” she said. “We wanted to see how we could combine our skills together by adding my love for patterns and colors and his skills.”

A custom cornhole set mimics an old school mixtape, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Brooke Gbur, St. George News

The couple began making rustic pallet wood signs, state cutouts and cornhole boards, which they sold at a farmers market two hours away in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The cornhole boards took on a life of their own and resulted in over 300 designs and thousands of orders that have been shipped all over the U.S. for the last eight years.

“We actually made two cornhole sets for a mega yacht –  the Bravo Eugenia – which is Jerry Jones’ from the Cowboys, so that was pretty cool,” Gbur said.

Following a brief move to St. George, they found a woodshop in Enoch. After broadening their woodwork to include cutting boards and home renovation projects, her husband suggested she get a laser engraving machine for further creativity.

“And I just fell in love with creating 3D art,” she said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Each 3D laser art home decor design from The Rusty Suitcase now includes six to 11 layers – something that sets apart their designs. The Bigfoot design features nine different depictions of sasquatch and 11 total layers. Different areas of each design are then stained in various colors to create the finished project.

Laser-cut home decor designs by The Rusty Suitcase are made in Brooke Gbur’s woodshop in Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

Aside from home decor, Gbur also makes keychains, earrings, ornaments and hair clips with engraved and painted leather. As for future plans, Gbur hopes to have her pieces in more stores throughout Utah and begin taking bulk wholesale orders.

Local places such as the Cedar City Visitor Center and Red Cliffs Mall have custom cornhole sets by The Rusty Suitcase. See laser designs inside Sweet Basil Thai in Cedar near Walmart and inside Cedar Sports on Main Street.

Shop The Rusty Suitcase Etsy shop at this link. Browse in person at The Cedar Depot Antiques and Craft Mall and The Festival City Farmers Market on Saturdays. Custom orders are welcomed. Follow @therustysuitcase on Instagram to stay up-to-date.

Photo Gallery

A custom home decor design by The Rusty Suitcase features a fish with a mountainous scene, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Brooke Gbur, St. George News

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