Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Return of the Wood...

I'mmmm Bacccckkk!

Well folks, it's been exactly a year and a day since I last blogged. I am sorry if you felt I abandoned you, but it was not the case. Here's why.

1- I had to step back and review how I did things with my venture. Why? Because along the way, I made a few mistakes and had to recoup losses. I learned real quick that I was doing some projects at less then $3.00/hour. So I re-evaluated certain products, adjusted prices, removed some products from my lines and refocused on making new things.

 Raven on Cork Mat.

2- The refocus entailed looking into new ways of doing old things. How does one do that? With research in my case. Was my way of doing things the best way? Could it be done better, faster, less costly for me and my patrons? "Yes" was the answer I came up with. So I went out there, sought things I knew I was capable of doing and had not done yet. Then I made a list of already researched projects and ones to be researched. Sense a theme yet? Good. You'll see more of this in a minute...

3- After my lists were made, I went out (again) and forced myself to get some basic tools I needed, like carving tools, accessories for my rotary tool, etc... Not too expensive things if bought them over a certain period of time. The best thing I bought, to make things better, was a spool of nichrome wire to do my wood burning tips with. I can now burn faster and make lines on wood that rival the lines on a feather.

Wolf on Cork Mat.

4- With the help of my wonderful wife who supports me and understands my need to make things, we redid my website to make it much more user friendly. It works so far as I got a few compliments on the new look and functions within it.

5- The big one will be to relocate to a place where I can have bigger tools. Right now, I do everything with a scroll saw or cut things by hand, with no vise to boot. I would like to get a sander and a bandsaw (as well as the mandatory collection unit for dust) so I can make bigger things and smaller things faster. Since I can't really ask for donations (mind you, plenty of folks pay me more then what I ask, sure sign I'm truly undercharging!), I have to set aside a certain amount of money to be able to obtain raw materials. Since lack of space is currently an issue, I can't go out and buy a hundred of this or that and create stock well ahead of time....

6- The really big one: Resume writing on this blog. The feedback I get from you folks is important to me as it gives me new ideas on what people like to see made.

I am lucky enough when I ask questions of my peers, they take the time to answer if they can and that help is greatly appreciated.

So thank you to my patrons, thank you to my mentors, thank you to my wife, without whom sometimes I would be way overboard. Keep an eye out for new pictures of things, either here, my website or my fan page on Facebook.

Be well, be Yourself, be Happy!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wow...It's been forever since I blogged!

Hey Folks!

I have, yet again, neglected to blog about my crafts. Yes, this makes me a lazy-bum. At least in the blogging department...

In the crafting department though, I have kept busy. Wedding gifts, various necklaces, warning signs, taking inventory of my stock, planning a new look for my website, etc... In other words, I don't lack anything to do in my workshop related areas! *smile*

I had the chance to play at making wooden trivets, they came out looking great. I tried to refine my burning on cork, with no success. If I don't try, I won't learn or succeed or get better. Simple as that.

I'll leave you with a picture of one of latest signs I made for someone that has a fatal allergy... Until next time!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Still Got Wood....

Hello folks!

Let me start by saying I am ashamed. It's been two months since I blogged and for that I apologize profusely. I am blogging now so it’s all better now!

But on the other hand, I am kept very busy with orders for Yule and Christmas and will event get to vend at the Yule Craft and Spirit Faire in Ottawa on Dec 11-12th.

So, in my humble opinion, It's a fair trade off...

For quite a while now, I was shopping around for a small, solid and versatile lathe. Not having much room in my workshop, all 3 requirements are essential to me. The funny thing is I found the one I think will fit the bill by pure chance. Coincidence? Methinks not...

While being in a hardware store, a good friend mentioned he had seen one that might fit my needs so I went and had a good look at it. (see picture below)

The model above (HAUSSMANN 4-In. Mini Wood Lathe) looked ok, but I was not very enthused by it for a few reasons...

First, it was lightweight. I mean, VERY lightweight. to the point I would have been afraid of the whole thing shifting while turning harder woods. This would mean bolting it to the bench and take most of my workspace.

Secondly, you can only turn a 4 inch diameter piece on this one, meaning only very small pieces could be made and would restrict my versatility with my creative process.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it only has 3 speeds. This means I have to work within the confinement of those 3 speeds. I prefer to be able to adjust the turning speed of the piece so I can practice some techniques I read about....

I was about to walk away, after making all those mental notes, when I dropped my eyes to the floor and saw the one in the picture below:

Now this model pushes the right buttons for me! Comparing with the points above:
Firstly, the base is cast iron! Hea-Vy! I tried to lift it and I needed both hands so that was reassuring as I know it won't move around while turning.

Secondly, you can turn pieces up to 10 inches in diameter. Major improvement there and you can even buy chucks and faceplates and change them within 1 minute flat.

Thirdly, the speed is fully adjustable. Nuff said there.

On top of that, it has a small light you can flex where you need the light. Never hurts to see where you are removing material...

It also has a longer and better moving rest for holding a chisel, meaning this gives you more flexibility while turning. And it only costs an extra $100.00 for all those advantages. What's not to like, huh? *smile*

Now I just need to save enough money to go get it and start making bowls, plates, plaques, tea light holders, candle holders, boxes, and many, many, many more things...

Until next!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In the workshop now... And later!

Hello Folks,

This is a quick blog entry to once again to give thanks all my patrons and the ones who believe in me, especislly Wifey who put up with a lot of sawdust and the ongoing projects coming from my workbench. Without you all, my crafts would not be out there and I would not be pushing my limits on every project.
So for that a great THANK YOU! *smile* Also, please note that as of the 1st of January 2011, most of my prices will increase. Why, you ask? Darn simple reason! Complete strangers coming up to me and telling me I'm not charging enough for my crafts is one factor. Realising that I spent so much time making things that I was paying myself LESS then $5.00 an hour, before all costs were taken into account, being another good one. Now is a REALLY good time to place an order while the prices are still unchanged and Yule is coming fast! I will be taking my business to a new level in the coming year so keep an eye out! Herne

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Festival come and gone...

Hello Dear Readers!

Another Kaleidoscope Gathering has come and gone and this means I have work, in the form of commissions, to do from talking to wonderful people that were present at the event. This year was different in a few ways:

1- Me and Wifey were able to rent a van to go to the event. The van was much needed as the quantity of things to bring was not small; vending tent, kitchen tent and of course sleeping tent, food supplies and kitchen implements, etc...

2- We were camping right behind our vending tent, which meant we saved ourselves the long and arduous packing of the stock at night and reinstalling everything in the morning right after breakfast. That one in itself was the biggest blessing of vending this year!

3- There were a lot of shaded areas, to my great delight. There was a great area filled with great pine trees which provided cool shade all day long.

4- Our new vending tent was put to the test and passed admirably. The only thing I will modify on it will be to add zippers to the back screen so as to be able to have a good airflow.

5- It was sunny until the very last day. No rain meant people moving about during the day. We managed to pack almost everything before it rained lightly on us.

6- People loved that I could make on the spot commissions, thanks to a very good friend of mine who gave me his pen torch which came with attachments. i was not willing to bring my wood burning machine and I had borrowed the pen torch as a trail this year. The pen torch will certainly make a comeback next year!

7- There was an interest this year for lower priced items. The economy being what it is this year, I had the forethought to prepare more of the smaller items like earrings, round boxes and kitchen utensils. This was very appreciated by all, especially with the introduction of signs with well known pagan quotes like "Witches are crafty people", "Pagan and Proud" and "Have you runed your day yet?". These signs were a great success and the positive feedback means I will produce more of them in the near future, so keep an eye out!

Now that all the camping and vending gear is put away, that my memories are filled again for another year of festing, I slowly make my way back to my workbench to clean it up and work on those commissions...

Until next!


Friday, June 18, 2010

The reason(s) I have not been present as much lately...

Hello Folks,

Boy, has it been a long time since I posted on here!

The reason(s) is/are simple: I am in a way, victim of my own success. *smile*

I have received, in the last few months, quite a few orders, both through my website and privately. This in itself is a good thing but what I need now is 48 hour days to have time to make stock for the KG festival coming in a few weeks time.

I am planning a few new items for this year as well a bringing back items I ran out of last year.

More likely after that festival I will be more able to write about my crafts...

In the mean time, be well, be good and be happy!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What makes a good craftsperson, In My Humble Opinion

I have been so busy I have neglected to Blog. *slaps own wrist* Shame on me, I know. but I am making a slow comeback to it so keep watching.

There are people out there that look at my crafts and think "I wish I could do that". What they don't realise is that they can!
What I'll do here is give you tips and insights into how I got to my current level, which I don't even consider very high yet (I know I need to practise some more with new techniques and tools).

What you see above is a decorated chopping board I did when I first started my adventures in pyrography. Why a chopping board you ask? Simple answer to that one. I got it for a very low price, it was a flat surface and was large enough to do the project I had in mind, in this case a Greenman surrounded by oak leaves.Note that before I did this project, I had never done anything as complicated, having mostly worked with full lines, dark areas and no shading practice whatsoever. Gutsy, I know!

The first thing I did was to clean the surface really well. Any bumps or notches on the wood will come back later and haunt you good. I started with rough sandpaper and slowly upgraded to finer sandpaper. I usually go through 4 different grains before I deem the surface ready to work with.After I am satisfied I am ready to move on, I then measure the surface and print a picture that fits within those same dimensions. Depending on the size of the image, you may have to give this a few tries to get it right. Even after many years of doing this, I still have to make corrections. Failure is a good way to learn by the way. Once the image is done and printed in the needed size, I then transfer it with carbon paper by tracing the lines very gently. When using carbon paper on various woods, less pressure is a lot more later. Carbon can be difficult to remove from a surface as I discovered the first time I used it: I had to sand down the piece of wood for 30 minutes to remove the pattern completely. I have not tried it yet, but graphite paper, I am told by many sources, is a better way to transfer images and is a lot easier to remove.
Now that the lines have all been transferred, I go back to the printed sheet with the image and start adding shading with a pencil just to give me an idea of where I want to go with the burning. Then I get a pice of scrap wood (way too many around according to Wifey...) and practice the various lines and shading I will need to complete the project.

After I am happy with the practice run, I then go ahead and go lightly over the lines with a small skew tip to demark all the areas to burn. Only then will I get working on the shading. This will help me to not go over the lines I made and stay well within the areas. Now when shading, the key thing to remember, just like carbon paper, is that less is more. What I mean is that the more burned the wood is, the harder it will be to make a correction, especially on soft wood. The best way to remove a mistake is to use an exacto, chip carving or razor sharp blade and scrape the area in question. This will be cleaner and much faster then using sandpaper, which will be harder to control where it stops when going over an area.

One thing I learned ealy when doing a proper image is that the tips you have may not seem like the right shape at the time. When you do dark images, it doesn't really matter. You burn a completely dark area. When you do shading on the other hand, you may need a variety of tips for each little areas you have to work on. The key is to practice with each tip in order to learn what you can do with them. You may start discovering new techniques from what you already know...
Once the project is now completed, you are ready to preserve it. I rarely use varnishes. They smell and can sometimes remain sticky for a long while. I prefer using linseed oil as it looks more natural and lasts a long time. Vegetable oil would be more recommended for things to use in the kitchen, like spoons and bowls.

After a few years of practice, I am now able to do something like the plate above with a lot more ease then when I made that chopping board over 5 years ago...

So, what will you practice on? *smile*