Maintaining My Sanity

During the course of the year I escape to various places within the house and property to become recluse and meditate.

Beginning in September it is my wood shop. In April it is my garden. Both have a soothing effect on my brain and relieve my inner stresses. This season in the wood shop I managed to eke out five intarsia projects of which I am proud. The next project involves the Lions Club. It is outside the home and will probably add to the stress rather than to relieve it. Tomorrow my club begins vision screening children to identify potential eye problems. I’ve been practicing with the instrument which is a camera and computer rolled into one. So far, all I have managed is to get error codes. It seems the device does not work well on adults. Hopefully, tomorrow I will get good results on actual kids.

In the meantime, here are some photos of my winter projects. Several have been displayed on my blog before, but there are new ones in this album.

IMG_1871

Phalaenopsis Orchid November, 2015

IMG_1872

Rose, October, 2015

IMG_1873

Sunflower-September, 2015

DSCN5006

Calla Lily December, 2015

 

 

 

DSCN5037

Cardinal on Blossoms January, 2016

 

Incoherent Ramblings

It is hard to get back in the groove of writing something everyday. Frankly, I suffer from writer’s block today. It amazes me as to how long it took me to develop a daily writing habit, and how little time it took to lose it. The best way to overcome the block is to talk about the day.

I spent a few hours in the garden wood shop today grinding wood into what I hope will look like a flower. This is the fourth project I am undertaking this fall. In previous years I settled on a single design and concentrated on making multiples so I could use them as Christmas gifts. I want to use them as gifts this year too, but each one has been hung on a wall within our humble domicile for the purpose of giving Peg and I great pleasure. Sorry, friends, no Intarsia gifts this year.

Each flower is different, and I have come to believe that these wooden flowers are a substitute for my nonexistent 2015 Monet Vision. Let me just say, I had the vision but did not have the energy to make it materialize. Perhaps the 2015 will morph into the 2016.

Physically, and emotionally I am all done in. Life has dealt me a hand which ten years ago I could only imagine, but never thought it would come. Age has crept into the mix, and my role has evolved from friend, lover, husband, to full time care giver. Some days are easier than others. People keep telling me to get help, but I am not smart enough to be able to know what it is I need in the way of assistance. I’m sure I’ll figure it out as we proceed along our current path.

In the meantime, at every chance I get, I abscond to the lower level to cut, grind, sand, and shape until I form a flower from wood. The activity takes my mind off of any problem that may have developed, and it releases the creative urge in me to make something nice.

IMG_1882

Calla Lily at the six hour mark.

 

I’m Taking Orders

Since September I have been burrowed in my wood shop creating works of art. Actually, the art is by Judy Gale Roberts whose patterns I used to craft her vision of flowers. At this point I am ready to take orders for any or all the flowers I have executed in wood. The only warning I have is that if you have to ask what the price is you cannot afford one of these pieces. I am getting quicker in my execution, and my skill level is improving, but it still took over forty hours to make each of these seemingly simple designs. Here they are:

Sunflower-September, 2015

Sunflower-September, 2015

Rose, October 2015

Rose, October 2015

IMG_1871

Phalaenopsis Orchid, October 2015

All orders received will be delivered in the future. Specific dates cannot be made since I don’t know when or how I will be able to work on your request. If I commit, I promise to surprise you with a beautiful flower from the 2015 Monet Vision- Wood Flowers

Which Tulip Would You Like To Tip Toe Through?

This year I have not reported on my Intarsia project. Much like I did in past years, I spent a couple of months making Intarsia with one big difference, this year it was mainly for me. The subject I chose is simple, a stylized tulip flower. As simple as it seemed at first, I had difficulty matching parts. Before I finished, I had made five of the same design, and I had just as much trouble matching the fifth as I did the first. Clearly I am doing something wrong.

One huge benefit came from the Christmas present I bought for myself i.e. a Dewalt scroll saw. The saw is not my problem. I studied Youtube videos of Intarsia Masters giving advice on how to cut and match pieces in order to improve my technique. I used many of the suggestions from the videos, but still had trouble.

I switched to experimenting with scroll saw blades to improve. Also, not the problem. I began making cuts at an angle so the lines would have less wood in contact, things improved, but not to my total satisfaction.  At the end, I was pleased with the final result, but not pleased with my progress as an Intarsia artist.

You tell me in the poll below which flower you like the best.

DSCN0085

Take the poll and vote for a favorite in the comment section

TOP

CENTER

BOTTOM

Starving Artists

In my recent post “Horn Man” I went into an overly long essay on how I went about creating an original piece of art. I’m positive I could have done a better job on a photo essay with clever captions. During the sixteen week period during which I made four Intarsia pieces I thought a lot about the business of selling art. Could I make a living doing this? Could I even make any money at all doing this?

I thought about Michelangelo and Da Vinci  and the remarkable work they did. How did they survive? The simple answer is they had patrons who supported them in return for their work. Michelangelo’s sculpture of David took him two years or more to complete. It is not easy chiseling a larger than life-size man from a single block of marble. I wonder if he had any “oops” moments during that time. I had many “oops” moments during the making of Horn Man, but glue and more wood made it easy to either fix the “oops” or to remake the part. Da Vinci had a list of patrons as well. He lived with them while he learned the trade and then worked for them afterwards. When a patron lost his place in society, and could no longer afford to patronize an artist both Michelangelo and Da Vinci found themselves new patrons. While unpatronized they took part-time work by doing commissions for the wealthy.

Getting back to my thoughts about selling Intarsia art I pondered the value of my work. Would I charge by the hour and if so, what is the value of one of my hours? I know what I made while working as an engineer, would I use that value? If  not charging by the hour, then charging by the piece would be the next way to sell. I have seen Intarsia artwork at craft fairs but never at art fairs. The pieces I see are very simple and flat in form indicating that the crafter did not put much effort into the work. I have never been satisfied with the flat style of Intarsia. My pieces become three-dimensional and sculpted. That is why they take me so long to make. If you look at my bass, or the Blue Jay you will see that these pieces are more lifelike than a flat work. The value I see on Intarsia pieces at fairs ranges from twenty dollars to one hundred dollars, unless the picture has hundreds of discrete parts. In cases where a customer commissions a complicated work the value  can jump to thousands of dollars.

StrippedBass-1780845_10201407376251910_722702533_n

Stripped Bass

Blue Jay

Blue Jay On Apple Blossoms

Largemouthbass

Large Mouth Bass About to Eat

When I completed Horn Man I had logged one hundred and five hours on the project. At the current minimum wage of $9.80 per hour I would have to charge  $1039.00 for the Horn Man. If I use my hourly rate as an Engineer the price is $6300.00.

Horn Man

Horn Man

Let me assume I sold each of these four pieces at one fair, and I charged the minimum wage; I would have netted twenty-seven hundred dollars. Divide that by sixteen weeks of time and my gross salary is $169.13/week which extrapolates into a whopping $8794.50/year. No wonder people would rather be on welfare.

The reality of doing something I like loses to what I have to do to make a living wage.  Some of the latest spin by Liberals about why we need the Un-Affordable Care Act is that a person would be free to pursue his dreams if he didn’t have to worry about paying for health care. I recommend reading two recent articles, the first by Avik Roy who wrote a piece published by Forbes and a quote by Nancy Pelosi on Redstate.com

The idea of forcing me to pay for someone else’s dream smacks of slavery. It is different if I choose to patronize that person. Neither Michelangelo nor Da Vinci had healthcare benefits but they followed their heart’s desire to become experts in their field of art and invention by getting a job working for a patron.

Obama is transforming America into a socialist Utopia(Utopia is a place where pigs fly), and to do that he has to make the middle class worker like you and me into a tax-slaves who pay for those who follow dreams without a job. I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck would rather be free to work my ass off as I see fit, and to spend my wages the way I want to.

Horn Man

A year ago I got the bug to make some Christmas gifts. I began a project in late November to make twelve Intarsia flowers for the women in the family. I struggled to complete five in time. The project over whelmed me. This year, I began making gifts in September thinking it would be enough time. Except, the people I made gifts for had aged and I no longer felt comfortable making teddy bears for my grand kids. When I began Intarsia, my oldest grandchild was four. Today that same child is nineteen. When it all started as a hobby, I set a goal to make an intarsia piece for each grandchild. I managed to give my first three kids a hand-made intarsia art piece. Then there was a lull in grandchild production. By the time new kids were born my life had changed dramatically. Four more kids came. Dan was a toddler when my wife Barb had her heart attack, and my drive to make intarsia art faded to zero. Barb died, and three more kids came during my grief. I lost the idea, until last summer when I realized my life calendar is running down. The idea of making Dan a teddy bear didn’t compute because he is thirteen now. The same went for the rest of the kids, they are eight and ten. I took care of my ten-year old grand-daughter last year with a flower. The two youngest are brothers and are avid fisherman, each got an intarsia fish, Brad got a largemouth bass, his brother Ben a stripped bass. So that left me with Dan.

Most Intarsia wood workers are craftsmen not artists. They make the art from pre-designed patterns. I did this for the flower and the two fish. I bought pre-designed patterns and made the art-piece as a craftsman. I decided to design the last work from scratch. I had made enough art-pieces to feel comfortable with the art form and needed to jack up my experience a level.

I thought long and hard about what kind of piece to make for Dan. He is not a fisherman like his cousins, he is a swimmer, and a very good one. I couldn’t imagine how to design a piece of art made from wood to depict swimming. I am not creative enough, but I did vision him playing his trumpet.

I called his father and asked him to photograph Dan while he practiced. I received two photos and chose one to work with. At first, the project excited me, then fear took over. I froze with the fear of actually designing a piece and executing it. For two months, I could only think about how complicated a work I had decided to take on. I procrastinated by making the two fish ahead of the one I designed. My design would be the reward for completing two projects ahead of time.  By the time I got started on the Horn Man it was November which is a short month in the wood shop because of Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.

I finally began with my grand-daughter who helped me transfer the photo into a line drawing. Once I had the line drawing it took a couple of days to decide where the cut lines would be, which colors of wood I needed, and which direction the grain would run.  Actually, this was the easy part since I have spent over forty years in a business which relied on my visualization and transfer of designs into workable drawings.

With the baby steps initiated, I began to gain confidence in completing the piece. There were several set-backs along the way. The largest cost me too much time. Originally, I decided to make the piece a traditional two-dimensional intarsia piece. There was no way for me to execute a two-dimensional design easily. I needed to shim some parts and to slab cut others to create the third dimension. Making the trumpet was one such set-back. I scrapped what I was doing and chose to make a three-dimensional trumpet, except I didn’t have enough information to make a 3d horn. I spent time on the web searching for images of trumpets and printed out several pages of trumpet details to study.

It became clear that the Christmas deadline could not be met. Lucky for me that Dan lives in Texas and I was going there in January, so the deadline moved to mid-January.

I finished the Horn Man a week before Peg and I were leaving for the West. Just before the final glue together, I felt the piece needed something else and I decided to add the musical score. A month earlier I acquired a piece of wood which was perfect for the music, it is so dark it looks black. The wood was a nightmare to cut. It is so dense I wore out many saw blades before I finished the music lines and the notes. Four days later I finished it, then I scrapped it because it overwhelmed the piece with its size. I was now three days away from leaving for Texas. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I redid the music using some very thin plywood that cut super easy enabling me to finish the music in four hours. The end result turned out to my satisfaction.

The photos tell the story.

DSCF0515

Dan Practices Trumpet

The Photo Transferred to a Line Drawing

The Photo Transferred to a Line Drawing

IMG_0898

Lots Of Loose Pieces With Some Minor Shaping On Some.

Starting To Take Shape

Starting To Take Shape

Facial Detail

Facial Detail

Hand and Valve Detail

Hand and Valve Detail

What's A Horn Without Music?

What’s A Horn Without Music?

The Music is Too Loud!

The Music is Too Loud!

Horn Man

Horn Man

 

Simple Flower Beauty Contest

I need your help folks.

Please judge the five Intarsia flowers below and tell me which one you like the best.

All five were hand crafted by Grumpa Joe in Santa’s workshop while Santa held Grumpa hostage and worked GJ’s fingers to the bone.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

***************

Flower A, Cedar, Pine, Poplar

DSCN4560

****************

Flower B, Mahogany, Walnut, Poplar

DSCN4561

***************

Flower C, Poplar

DSCN4563

*****************

Flower D, Pine, Cedar, Poplar

DSCN4562

********************

Flower E, Walnut, Oak, Pine

DSCN4564

Vote by taking the Poll below:

Bhutadarma

Nothing is impossible (at least that does not violate the laws of physics). When you can..violate the laws of physics!

I Know I Made You Smile

cartoons/humor/fiction/nonfiction

Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

galesmind

Come take a journey through my mind

Nutsrok

The humor and humanity of storytelling.

Henry Game

The Next Testament

Gamintraveler

Travel Couple and Digital Nomads on a World Travel

summershaffer

A topnotch WordPress.com site

blogsense-by-barb

at the Re-Birth of America!

The Honking Goose

something to honk about

THE WAKING GIANT

United States Second Amendment Pitbull

Caustic Synergy

United and alone in the world

ELLIOT LAKE News

Political INcorrect Content & Forbidden Knowledge -- Yours To Discover

Aspiring Conservative

Conservative blog with articles about today's politics!

Conservative Kentucky

Reality From my Perspective

Hearing Aid News

HEAR it HERE first! The latest on developments in hearing aids and the hearing industry.

Socialism is not the Answer

Limited Government Is

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

Just Cruisin 2

Where Intellectuals and Rednecks foregather.

allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe

Greed is an ugly default... Sharing is Caring

Nhan Fiction

"Hope is my catalyst."

prophetbrahmarishi

Just another WordPress.com site

NuVote Reach

Political Co-Dependency Intervention

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!

David Emeron: Sonnets

If I swore not to describe my heart, would it stop beating forever?