25 June 2012

What I've been up to lately

part three: what I, myself, have been up to lately.

So, inspired/convinced/persuaded/dragged kicking and screaming by my daughter back into the realm of the bazaar and craft show circuit, I began to think of what I could do. I needed to do something cheap and fast, if I would make any money at all.  I took stock of my materials and tools, and I had an interesting idea:  How much stuff could I make without spending a penny in overhead?

It may sound strange, but it is feasible.  I have tools, and I have a fair supply of wood, almost all of which I got for free.  I buy glue by the gallon, so I had enough for several months worth of work.  I have some old finishes lying around, so I don't need to go out and buy those.  All in all, I should be able to take a fair run at it before I need to restock with something. 

As I mentioned in my posts about my daughter's stuff, people who go to bazaars and such are looking for cheap stuff. so not only do I need to have the wood and supplies for free, I need to be able to knock them off fast.  I years past, my tool of choice for fast and cheap was the lathe, mainly because it is my favourite tool.  However, this time around I began work with another tool, my scroll saw.  I wanted to use this as a chance to improve my skills with that tool.  In time, I will get to the again, but for now, I used the scroll saw.

I also decided to use this as an opportunity to get rid of my scrap pile.  If you have ever done woodworking, you know what I am talking about.  If you sew, you have a really good idea of what I am talking about, and can extrapolate.  The scrap pile is that pile of scraps, (hence the name) that builds up in every shop.  It is that collection of pieces of wood that you cut off from larger pieces of wood, the pieces you did not need at the time, which are too big to throw out or burn, but too small to actually be useful.  Mine was getting a little out of control.  Making a bunch of small things could help tame it.   Glue also helps.  I take the scraps and glue them together, to make a piece slightly more useful.  I take the scraps from the scraps, reglue them until I can make something else out of them.  The general goal is this: when a piece of wood enters my shop, it leaves either as money, or sawdust.

So I have been making many little things out of whatever wood happens to be lying around, colouring it with some dyes I had lying around, or food colouring, or some kiddy paints.  I started by making a bunch of the things normally associated the the scrollsaw: puzzles.  I've made dozens. 

When I grew tired of puzzles, plus I was a little convinced they may not sell well- it is hard to sell children's toys made of wood in an era of xbox and PlayStation's and robots and remote control and where even shoes have flashing lights- I started making Christmas decorations.  I experimented with instarsia, which is an art of making pictures using pieces of different species of wood for colour.  In that, it is rather like making stained glass.  I have been cheating, though.  I cut all the pieces from the same piece and then colour them using dyes and stains. 

I found some patterns, and made a few creche scenes, including a few for Christmas ornaments and angels.  This can be rather dicey, however, as I do not know if the photos I found on the web come from the original designer, or if the design lies in the public domain or not.  Personally, I believe if you publish pictures of your work on the web you have effectively made them public domain, as any woodworker with a little experience will be able to use a picture as a plan, but that is neither here nor there.  I decided to try and sidestep the problem entirely by coming up with a few of my own designs.  I will try and have Younger sell some ornaments of Saints to Catholics.  I've been taking photographs, or downloading classic paintings, statues and stained glass off the web and using them for my plans.  They are actually turning out rather well thus far. 

I began with a few St Patrick designs, because, after all, who doesn't love St Paddy?

No details on the small faces.  The wood I'm using won't hold such fine details.  My first design. 

A big Patrick with a small one for comparison.  The large Patrick was an experiment, just to see how a large one of a different design would look.  I did carve some facial features.  

Other designs came from paintings or stained glass windows.  Here's a picture of Durer's Praying Hands.

And here's my version.

Feruzzi's Madonna of the Streets

My attempt.

St Cecilia.

My version.

St Mary.  I don't know the name of this picture.

My attempts.

I'll keep on working with a few more designs. WIll any of it sell?  I have no idea.  I have always been lousy at pickign what people will want to buy.  I think some Catholics might like the idea of having some saints hanging from their tree, but I don't know.

One last point:  as far as not spending anything, I may have hit a wall, as far as the scrollsaw is concerned.  It goes through blades rapidly, and I am nearly out.  The manufacturers say a blade should last a couple of hours in use, but I have never seen one that will go beyond a half hour in use.  After that, it becomes dull, tears, binds and burns the wood.  So either I buy some new blades (I can get about a dozen each of the two kinds of blades I have been using for about five bucks per pack) or I stop with the intarsia ornaments, and pull out the lathe.


Puff the Magic Dragon said...

That particular personification of Our lady is

Our Lady of Grace

LarryD said...

Those are very nice. I hope you sell out.

Of course, when I say "sell out", what I really mean is, I hope all your products get sold. I really don't want you to become a sell-out.

Vox Cantoris said...

If you can put a tulip in St. Patrick's hand with the crozier you could sell him to some Dutchmen in Kinkora.

Teresa B. said...

You should contact the various Atrium's in the archdiocese. The program uses items like these.
One Atrium is at Our Lady Immaculate in R. Hill, St. Benedict's in Etobicoke and St. Justin, Unionville.
Or you could contact St. Michael's University as they teach the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and find out if they know places that you coluld sell these. Or you could find out what some of these places require.

Bear-i-tone said...

What's an Atrium? You aren't using the word in the usual sense.