Friday, July 20, 2012

The CraftStar Community Collection: Michelle Greenwood

The CraftStar Community Collection:  Michelle Greenwood

The CraftStar:
My CraftStar Video:

This is not my day job.
I wake up at 6:00 each morning and rush to the port of Baltimore. There, I spend 8.5 hours of my day processing vehicles and paperwork for a major logistics company.
After an hour’s commute, I pick up my five year old son. We go home, I clean a bit, I cook a bit, I try to get him to eat. My hubby usually works late. As those of you with children know too well, a five year old is a handful, so between chores and childcare, I rarely manage to squeeze in anything else. 7pm sharp is tubby time; 8pm sharp is bed time. After that, I’ve got perhaps—if I’m very lucky--two hours to burn before I pass out.
And that’s just what I do: Burn.

Pyrography—wood burning--was all the rage in the Victorian era, and continued to be popular right through the fifties, but somewhere in there it became… stagnant. When it’s not relegated to a child’s pastime, pyrography is locked into a formula: bald eagles, horses, slices of wood with the bark still on. Now, don’t mistake me! Children’s crafts and bald eagles are just fine. But, it’s almost as if we’ve forgotten that pyrography can be anything else. It’s as if we’ve forgotten that pyrography is a tool, and NOT an end result.

I’m trying to change that, one piece at a time. I love using unconventional themes, techniques normally reserved for other media, woods and shapes you don’t usually burn. I’m creating MY art, and pyrography is just the tool. I try to remember: I’m only limited by the flammability of my canvas.

My Three Favorite Listings:

I really like making spoons. They’re useful, and they’re a novel surface to work on; every spoon is a slightly different size, shape, and consistency. Though I enjoy working with beech wood spoons the best, mostly I use pine; pine is affordable, easy to care for, and quick and easy to work with.
Dia De Los Muertos Spoon Set:

This is an exceptionally fast and fun design to do. The sugar skulls, or Calaveras, are easy to execute: they look so complex, but the complexity actually makes them very forgiving. All of those details can hide a lot of little “accidents!”
I love the slightly macabre look of the skulls. I love the flamboyant merriment of the flourishes that adorn them. Most of all, I love the symbolism suggested by this design: the inextricable nature of life-in-death and death-in-life; the acknowledgement of our mortality, and our celebration in spite of it.
Also, Epcot's Mexico pavilion is probably my favorite place in all of Disney. That might also have something to do with it as well. ;-)

Cthulhu Spoon Set:

Perhaps my favorite design to make on the pine spoons is the Cthulhu. I’m a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and of horror, mystery, and weird fiction in general. If you aren’t familiar with the story of Cthulhu, visit Project Gutenberg for a full online copy, and give it a read:
Pine lends itself well to the Cthulhu design. The ease with which it burns makes the curves of the tentacles simple to achieve. It’s naturally pale, and darkens beautifully, yielding a particularly rich contrast. And it gives a nice texture, which enhances this design’s otherwise flat expanses of black. A design like the Cthulhu would be a nightmare to do on bamboo (which doesn’t shade well, and has strong grain that“pulls” the pen), and wouldn’t show up as dramatically on beech wood, but on pine—a pleasure! Cthulhu is by far my favorite design to execute.
Steampunk Spoon Set:

I really enjoy Steampunk. Bustles and corsets, waist coats and top hats, a twist of sci-fi, a dash of exotic adventures…Steampunk takes everything awesome about the Victorian era and ramps it to 11. Incorporating Steampunk—a genre heavy on brass and leather—into woodcraft isn’t the easiest endeavor. This spoon set was my first, and so far my most successful, attempt at doing so.
This pattern is excruciatingly time-consuming; each spoon takes nearly 2 hours to complete. The teeth on the gears are tiny and difficult to execute; they’re so close together that, instead of staying crisp and pale, the pine tends to sear, darkening and“blurring,” between them. If I’m not careful, the pen will gouge into the soft wood, creating a line that’s far too thick and deep for such a precise design.
So if it’s such a pain to make, why am I including it in my favorite three listings? Just look at it! That’s a neat looking spoon! In fact, I like this design so much that, in spite of the difficulty involved in creating it, the Steampunk Gears spoon is easily my all-time favorite product.

Items on The CraftStar that I love – my CraftStar Collection:

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