Loss of daughter inspires Holly Springs man to create in her honor
A mourning dad uses wood from old tobacco barns to make new masterpieces and in the process honors the memory of his daughter. The tables and furniture made by Daniel Arnold, founder of Ellie Acorn Design Company, allow other families and friends to gather around and make new memories.
“I’ll never stop woodworking,” Arnold says. “This is my passion project, and I’ll be here for the foreseeable future.”
It is a passion that started young. Arnold grew up in Harnett County going with his mom to craft shows.
“In those craft shows, I would see all the artists have their art on display, always in a creator environment,” he says.
Arnold met his wife, Lindsay, in his woodworking class when he was at Harnett Central High School.
“As she walked in, I asked her to sit by me, and we’ve been together ever since,” he says. Their daughter, Autumn, is 5 years old.
They were expecting another daughter, Ellie, in 2015 when they learned a diagnosis that no parent ever wants to hear.
“We learned early on that there were complications in the pregnancy. We were aware that the circumstances were that she was not going to make it,” Arnold says.
A diaphragmatic hernia, a rare heart complication, was fatal for Ellie on Thanksgiving Day 2015. That served as motivation for Arnold’s next project.
“I’m not associating my daughter’s memory with sadness. Instead, I’m using my daughter’s memory to give me that motivation to go out and live the life that I want to live,” he says.
Arnold left his job working at SAS and founded Ellie Acorn, a custom furniture company where he builds tables and barn doors using reclaimed wood, primarily from old tobacco barns.
He collects the wood himself even if he has to hang from the rafters of a barn. A portion of every sale goes to the Cherub Foundation, which helps families with babies born with a diaphragmatic hernia.