meet along the way: Dodie Eisenhauer

Women do incredible things. Here, we feature the stories of women who are a part of the Southeast Missouri community by way of living here, being from here or passing through. We hope these stories inspire you to connect with others and that they encourage you to be who you are in the world. We need you and your unique gifts.

A version of this story was first published in the December 2018 issue of “The Best Years: TBY.”

It sits just off state Highway AA in Daisy, Missouri: a white-sided house with a wrap-around, railed-in porch, complete with a stained glass window greeting visitors. It houses Dodie Eisenhauer’s shop called Christmas at Grandma’s House, where she sells her screen wire and coiled wire designs.

She remembers, however, before it was her shop, when it really was her own grandmother’s house.

The house is original, down to the stained glass in the front room. Eisenhauer and her husband, Bob Eisenhauer, think it was built between 1900 and 1910, because the foundation is made not from concrete, but from rocks at the corners of the house. Eisenhauer’s grandmother lived there from the 1930s until she passed away in 1966. Eisenhauer inherited the house in 1995 and opened her shop in it in 1996.

She recalls her grandmother being a pleasant and quiet woman who laughed a lot and played dominoes with her. Eisenhauer remembers sitting on the porch while her grandmother sat in a rocking chair, scraping an apple with a knife to give Eisenhauer applesauce straight from the apple.

She was a woman Eisenhauer is proud to have as her shop’s namesake.

“It means a lot to me,” Eisenhauer says of owning the house and using it for her business; her workshop, where she makes her creations to wholesale through her business Village Designs at Grandma’s House, is just across the street. “Some of my very earliest memories are right here. So that was really special. And then to be able to use the house for something as happy as a Christmas shop — it’s fantastic … I feel very blessed.”

Eisenhauer began as a painter in her early twenties and made her first creation out of screen wire while trying to re-screen the front door of her grandmother’s house. In a moment of frustration with the door, she made a bow out of the wire; she then took a few of them to a wholesale market intending to sell her paintings instead. Her screen wire creations, however, were the item that garnered interest.

That was in 1989. Today, she is known for her organizers and Christmas trees, which are both made out of coiled wire. She also is known for the angels she makes out of screen wire, which were featured on the front cover of the catalogue “Uno Allo Volta” in 2018, for whom she made 1,060 angels. Eisenhauer and her daughter, Jenny Turner, also create a jewelry line together, Springerlee, which features flowers made from brightly-colored coiled wire. In 2014, Eisenhauer expanded her shop to carry other U.S. artists’ work; now, she features 20 artists’ handmade creations at her store.

Eisenhauer ships her own work to more than 200 stores throughout the year. Her work has been seen on the CBS Morning Show, whose decorators purchased some of Eisenhauer’s Christmas trees from a museum she sells to in New York. Eisenhauer’s work is also featured in the Missouri Botanical Garden gift shop in St. Louis, the World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to name a few places.

“All I’ve ever done is make things,” Eisenhauer says. “When I married, my last name became Eisenhauer, and it means in German ‘metalworker.’ I said, I really know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. … I just have to keep busy. I still love what I do. I can’t imagine being any happier than just to bend wire.”