What a crazy summer. I can’t believe in a few hours it will be August. I have a lot to do this month. I am the August artist of the month for the Bennington Arts Guild. I should be set up but I am not. I will go in and do that on Tuesday. If your in the Bennington area Friday, August 5, 2016 stop the Guild from 5-7 for my artist reception. We are a month away from the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. I have a lot of work to do. I have been playing with the barn board. I managed to make a cool table. The picture sucks but it looks cool in person. I have been experimenting with different edge techniques. I tried to use roofing nails. It was an interesting idea that took way too much effort and would require hundreds of nails. Sure It did not work out so well, but I am going to try to use really thin sheet metal as an edge cover instead. When I use pine sometimes the finish is absorbed unevenly or sap leaks and you need to cover that or it looks unprofessional. Speaking of unprofessional i have decided that I will name my pieces instead of numbering them. I am lazy so I will be naming them after songs I have written so I don’t actually have to come up with new tittles. Like i have a crazy red and black splotched thing with lots of holes and a few burn marks, it’s called “consequences have consequences” which happens to be a song I wrote a few weeks ago for 50/90. I am calling this scrap wood enterprise “The Furniture Remix Project” because I am using lots of different pieces of furniture and what I do is a kind of tactile remix. It’s giving a new identity to old pieces of wood. it’s a fresh perspective on old and damaged pieces. Onward!
So? It’s July which means I have a ton of work to do. I am the Featured Artist for the Bennington Arts Guild for August, and I have to get some major projects finished so I have a nice full booth for Garlic Fest, I also have some small events to prepare for so the last thing I should be doing is writing a blog post but what the heck. I have some cool new pieces I am working on. I got 5 boxes of frame corners from a closing frame shop. This morning Jess walked down to our local bakery to get breakfast and Jen, the proprietor asked if I would be into some benches, so I walked down this evening to check them up. They were in the basement which is cool, since I like to go into closed off places. They come from a meeting house in Wilmington, Vermont, they are leather and wood and they still have the seat number medallions. In a word they are awesome. I hope I can do them justice and everybody who passes through Bennington should visit the Bakkerij Krijnen. Not only do they have awesome food but they are super nice too! What else? the 50/90 challenge starts in a few hours. I want to participate but I have so much work to do in the workshop. which means I will probably write 90 songs in 90 days as I do like to constructively procrastinate. Not exactly. I will write a few songs just because it’s fun and it’s a good exercise in creativity which helps my wood working too, or at least that is the story I am telling myself.
I was lucky to get a pick up truck load full of barn wood two weeks ago. I have not made anything yet but it is some really lovely stuff, with lots of character and history. Wood is constantly changing. It loses moisture and shrinks, it absorbs moisture and expands. One of the cool things about working with wood is how it can be altered by its environment. What is nice about this selection is there are several wide planks, 12″ 13″ and 14″ and there are several boards over 6′ long. Wood like that can be difficult to come by. There are sections that are unusable because they are too dry but a majority of the wood is usable. There are 3 short 4″x 4″ posts, one piece that is 1″ thick, and the rest of the wood is planed to 3/4″ or 1/2″ thick. I am excited about working with this new wood.
I also came across some nice pieces of pine last week. I am rip cutting one of the pieces in to 2″ wide strips to use for a frame in a table that I am working on. My table saw does not work so I am using the circular saw to make my cuts. I have gotten pretty good at making straight cuts but there is occasionally a board that is a little wider or narrower. When that happens I just clamp them together and use a hand plane until they are the same width.
I am working on my bio and artist statement for the Art’s Guild. I always struggle with those kind of projects. I live in Vermont and I work with wood sums it up for me, but I need more than that. Honestly I have trouble self identifying as an artist. I am getting more comfortable the longer I do this but it still feels weird. If I want to sell my work wholesale I need to get over that. So no more putting it off. I will finish my artist statement this week.
I have been busy in the workshop trying to build inventory, find new places to sell my work, and come up with new and fun ways to get my business noticed. I took a big step and submitted my work to the Bennington Arts Guild. It was a simple process and I was able to pass the jury process. I left 3 pieces in the gallery to display and one has already sold!. I brought in 7 more items on Sunday when I went in to work my gallery shift. I am excited to have my stuff in a proper shop again. Now when a potential customer at a show asks where my stuff is available I can tell them that my stuff is available in the Bennington Arts Guild Gallery store or my etsy shop.
Bennington holds an annual art/crafts fair every year called Mayfest. I have always wanted to rent space to sell my work, but it was over my budget so I never got beyond researching the possibility of setting up. The Arts Guild had a space for the event and one of the cool things about joining the guild is that I got to sell my stuff in their Mayfest booth as long as I helped set up and take down the Guild space. It was hot but it was fun! I talked to lots of people about my process and how I got into wood working. I handed out a ton of business cards,and sold raffle tickets for a guild fund raiser The guild is open Thursday-Saturday from 11-5, Sunday from 12-4. The Guild is located at 339 Main Street Bennington VT 05201
This week I have been looking for craft shows to sign up for and working on ornament ideas. I cut this primitive nativity scene out of a piece of scrap wood I found. I am not sure what kind it is? It’s the same piece that I made the tree and the maple leaf with. It might be lace wood? Or a species of mahogany? I like it and wish I had more. I find primitive ornaments are a great use for scrap wood. Much of the scrap is already distressed so it really is a great fit. Not all of my scrap wood is distressed of course and I can make ornate pieces work too. That’s one of the many great things about working with wood, it cleans up well. all it takes is some sand paper, elbow grease lemon oil and time. I am also working on My Garlic Festival Application while making and perfecting a garlic ornament. The Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival. It’s a two day event that takes place over labor day weekend each year In Bennington,VT . It is primarily a celebration of garlic and food but there are lots of cool crafts for sale too.It’s a big event and it would be great if I could get in. Reading the application I learned that even craft vendors have to have something garlic themed in their display. That makes sense but I have been thinking about what I could make to celebrate garlic? Originally I was going to make a box to be used as a garlic keeper but that would use a lot of wood. I want to make something that less complicated. I am working on a garlic trivet. It will have a garlic shape in the center and I will use the same shape to make a garlic ornament. I had been having trouble drawing garlic but I have improved and will unveil my garlic trivet and ornament sometime over the next 3 weeks! Do you know of an interesting craft show, festival, flea market or event In New England or New York? Pass on the details in the comments or on my facebook page.
I did a finish coat on the stars that I am making and the water based spray paint is working well with the lacquer, at least so far. I will do one more lacquer coat and it will be time to assemble them. So far I have made 4 of these stars and I really like them. The first pair were a gift and I used stain and lacquer. I had every intention of keeping this pair natural but I really wanted to play with my new paint and since I do a lot of work with red and yellow I figured why not. I cut out ornaments this week too. I am playing with a new Christmas tree design and using negative space to work on a maple leaf ornament. Ideally using negative space wastes less wood as you have the ornament which has the shape cut out, and you have the shape which you can use as an ornament or as inlay in something else. I messed up the shape when I cut it but a maple leaf is one of those things that looks far easier to make than it is. A natural leaf has symmetry but there are little imperfections that are really hard to duplicate, so hopefully these will get better as I work on them. I am not sure what type of wood this is? I actually found it and there is some water damage. It is definitely craft wood as it is so thin. it’s a mystery. I also cut out a pumpkin puzzle and laid out a Menorah puzzle I have been thinking about. I made a small Menorah candle stand a few years ago and I really liked it, I attempted a Menorah puzzle too but the pieces were too narrow and I really wanted to use Olive Wood. I still don’t have Olive Wood in fact I think I am using some rough cut pine that I had in the shop, but I did make the base a bit wider and hopefully there is more support. Wish me luck.
It’s officially May and my cabinet does not have doors, so now it is a deep shelf storage unit with a mosaic top. I have trim that I will nail to the face and the sides and post to etsy. I was going to do some outline painting inside the cabinet, but I might not. I am working with a new type of paint and I don’t think the paint I have now is compatible with the new stuff. Looking for inspiration we hit the streets of downtown Bennington on Friday and wandered into Jays cards and gifts on Main street in Bennington VT. They were celebrating 44 years in business with a sale, 50% off all items. They reach a milestone and we get the gift! They sell a water based spray paint made by Montana colors that is used in mural work and graffiti, it comes in tiny 100 ml spray cans and it is amazing. I sprayed two of my stars yellow and two of them red and they look great! I probably could have gotten away with one coat but I missed a small spot on an edge that would have driven me crazy. I am going to use the traditional glue and screw attachment method put on some razor hangers and voila one more project completed. It is not due until July but I need to start making mock ups soon.
I had a long piece of 3/4 inch thick rough cut pine sitting around. It was in good shape with some wear to it, and a few nail and screw holes. It had been used as a wall board in a previous life and I wanted to make a pair of 3d stars with it. Before cutting I inspected it, pine is very knotty and I have found that the knots don’t work out so well when making stars. I cut it down into 5 12″x 10″ rectangles . I inspected them again and picked the 4 best rectangles and drew my star shape on each piece. I used a compass to draw a circle on the fifth piece. I cut each piece carefully on the scroll saw. I also cut out my circle. I will use the circle as the base to a pedestal table at some point in the future. I took a piece of 80 grit sand paper and sanded each star smooth. I will continue to sand to 220 grit, then I will apply a spray lacquer and attach two stars together to create a 3 d effect. For wall mount stars I will join the two stars with screws and add razor hangers to mount the star. For hanging stars I will use screws to attach the stars but I will use dowels to hide the drill holes and fishing line to hang the star. Continue reading
I was looking through the wood pile today trying to gather scrap pieces to frame out some rough cut pine for a small mosaic. I found barrel staves and slats, but the slats were too thin and the staves too curved.Then I remembered the old futon. I have had a wooden futon frame, and a collection of assorted futon pieces, waiting for the right project for almost 6 years. I have used pieces of this futon in a mosaic, as table legs, shelf slats ,and as cleats to hang shelves. I had busted up the large pieces a while ago but in my scavenging I discovered that I had an entire arm left over that needed to be taken apart. It had some nail holes, but no structural damage and it looked like it would be the perfect size for my frame. I gathered the tools needed to take its apart and started the destruction, which was much more of a hassle than I intended. Continue reading
Happy New Year! I am not the type to make New Years resolutions but I do hope to have at least doubled the contents of my Etsy store by January of 2017. I also want to be in at least one shop and do a couple more shows in 2016 than I did in 2015. I guess the most important goal is to learn lots of new woodworking techniques and have fun doing it. Continue reading