Tuesday, April 12, 2011

List of woods

Unfortunately due to weather and lack of free time, we haven’t been able to take photos of our newest work. I have my fingers crossed for tomorrow though. So I’ll keep this post short and sweet. The other day I was trying to figure out exactly how many different kinds of wood we have while driving in the car. We are adding more and more each month and its starting to get a little difficult to remember them all.

Some of the wood we only have very small pieces used just for intarsia. Some, we have large sized boards. We keep even the smallest pieces of wood because we know that it will be used for something. It’s our way of turning trash (cause who else would want a ¼” odd shaped cube) into treasure.

Here is a list of all 34 types of woods we have…hopefully I’m not missing any.

american holly                  angelique                           australian cypress
bamboo                           black walnut                      bloodwood
bocote                             bubinga                             chakte kok
chakte viga                       cherry                               cocobolo
garapa                              heart pine                          hickory
ipe                                    jatoba                               kumaru
leopard wood                   locust                                lovoa
mahogany                         maple                                marblewood
oak                                   paduak                             pecan
poplar                               purpleheart                        red cedar
sapele                               teak                                   wenge
yellowheart

To end, here is a picture of our largest intarsia piece we have made so far. A three mast sailing ship made from sapele, mahogany, American holly, and oak. You can find it now at the Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts Gallery.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Down Time is Up

All right! After a little bit of down time with our online store, we are back up and running. I reopened the store a few weeks back after some major “digital” spring cleaning. I revamped everything from policies, handling and care, and store info, to item descriptions, sections, and key words. Hopefully the work will show some results….it was much needed.

During our 3 week down time, a lot has happened with Entwood Crafts. We joined our first artist co-op and we now have our items for sale in Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts. It is an amazing gallery full of fantastic work. The co-op consists of 20 very gifted artists. My wife and I are both very glad that we were accepted into the gallery and I’m sure many great things will come of it. Check out their blog as well!

We have also expanded our wood inventory. We have a few bamboo boards, a few small pieces of bubinga, and some teak boards. All 3 woods are new to us and add to our ever increasing variety of wood. We now have over 30 different kinds of wood to make some sawdust with.

A few of the teak boards however are something extra special. We had the fortune of getting some of the original decking material from the USS North Carolina. For those of you not from NC, this is a very popular landmark and tourist attraction. The battleship is anchored in Wilmington, NC and is available for anyone to board it and get a tour of it and its history. A remolding of the decking was performed a few years ago. So the few pieces of battleship teak we have is very limited. The original decking is the same from its maiden voyage during world war II.



Aside from that we have been busy preparing for a large spring craft event in Southport, NC. Its being held on April 22 and 23rd. Stop by if your local….or even if your not!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wooden Bookmarks: Start to Finish

As I mentioned in my previous post titled, More than Just Puzzles we make….well….more than puzzles. We started branching off slowly making small intarsia ornaments, simple fretwork art, and a few other projects. Now we are starting to spearhead different items straight on. We have several different wooden bookmarks up in our etsy store. This is the first new item type that we are offering online.

 

A hodgepodge of bookmarks

They are all getting roughly the same amount of attention in our store. Not enough! That’s why this post is going to be all about bookmarks!! Our favorites and how we make them. My wife's favorite so far is the Dragonfly Bookmark. Not sure why but I like the Question Mark Bookmark a lot.


Question Mark

Dragonfly Bookmark

 

The wood that we use is very thin scrap pieces of mahogany. It has a beautiful rust-brown color to the wood. The scraps come in all different thicknesses, sizes, and condition. Some pieces require very little preparation work while others is a nightmare.  We select a few pieces, sand them smooth, and cut them into blanks.

Top 3 boards are sanded scraps, bottom two are rough sawn.

Thickness of boomark material compared to a nickle

Blanks are basically a bookmark with no detail work done to it. For most of our cutting, we stack 2-4 blanks together, attach a pattern, and get to work! Holes are drilled with a drill press to cut out each fret. If you take a look at the Fretwork Heart Bookmark which we recently listed, it has 4 frets (4 separated cut sections) to create the heart image.  I’ve had several people ask me how on earth I managed to cut such fine lines on the interior of the wood. Surprisingly most of the people who ask me have done some woodworking themselves just never on such small detail as my work.

Bookmark blanks

Heart Fretwork Bookmark

 

I use a #3 reverse tooth blade (I’ll be writing a future post about blades) to do all the cutting for bookmarks. This is a very thin blade and allows me to cut out sharp angles and intricate shapes like our Cross Bookmark.

Showing size of saw blade

Cross Bookmark

 

Once they are cut, they are finish sanded using a sanding mop. This rounds over all the edges, removes any burs, and smooth’s the wood to an almost silky feel. Currently, our method of applying a finish is to coat both sides with a gloss laquer spray. I’m one for experimenting with different finishing methods. We are testing a few other products now and depending on the results, we may change how we apply a finish to the wood. And that’s it. A premium, handmade wooden bookmark is ready for action!

 

Sanding mop

Any questions about the process? Leave a comment and I’ll be glad to answer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Work Dreams?

A few nights ago I had a work dream. What’s a work dream you ask? It’s the name I’ve given to dreams that is directly related to your line of work or expertise. For example, I still remember my first work dream. I was working for a large landscaping company on Mount Desert Island in Maine. I walked into the greenhouse and someone forgot to water the plants. Everything was wilted and dead. I woke up in a panic sweating and breathing fast. I guess that’s a work nightmare but close enough to get my point across.

On to the work dream! My line of work has changed from plants to puzzles so my work dreams have changed too. This dream gave me an incredible idea. A completely different kind of puzzle than what we currently make. I was making an apple puzzle very similar to the one we currently make and have in our store. But it was different because it had two layers. The puzzle was cut into random pieces and glued together to form a two layered puzzle. Not every piece was two layers thick. Just a couple. This would increase the difficultly drastically and be perfect for avid puzzlers.

Once I woke up I ran a thousand different ideas through my head. What about more than 2 layers? Add a 3rd and a 4th…..heck….make 3D-wooden layered puzzles that take on the shapes of objects! I know these are manufactured by some companies but I’ve never seen one hand made from wood the way I’m imagining it. The idea is very exciting to me. The design work would be very intense but it’s something that could be seen in our store in a month or so.

Item of the day! Check out this Great Winged Dragon Puzzle made from Jatoba.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wholesale or not to Wholesale?

Now that I’ve had a decent night of sleep, no baby deciding 1AM is 1PM, I have the time to sit down and make a long overdue blog post. I thought I would talk about some of the recent happenings with Entwood Crafts. If you read the title then you probably know this post has something to do with wholesale products.
I’ll be writing an ongoing update on our wholesale activities, mostly for other business/sellers to just get a feel if it’s something for them. We have never done a wholesale arrangement  before so this will be a learning experience for us.

As most artists and craftsman know, making a living solely from your work can be very challenging. Especially when you start out. The work load seems never ending, the list of things to do grows much faster than you can cross things off, and your free time is no longer free. Thankfully, that’s only in the beginning. It gets easier as time goes on but there is always work to be done!

We have always avoided wholesale and consignment agreements in the past. Something about only making half of what an item is worth is a turn off. I think I can hear a couple thousand people  or so agreeing with me lol. The plus side of a wholesale deal is a guaranteed sale. You drop off your work they hand over some green. The end.

I would like to think of this as a type of advertising. The items we sell are discounted and they promote those items and our store. It gets the word out locally that we are HERE and will hopefully bring us some sales. We also have the fortune and curse of living in a popular vacation area so lots of tourists will be visiting the area.
In about 1 and a half weeks time we will finalize the arrangement, and exchange goods. I’ll be sure to write how things work out and what we learn in the process. Hopefully the information will be helpful to some.

I’ll end this post with our item of the day! Take a look at this amazing giraffe puzzle made from bocote wood!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Never Too Old for Harry Potter


It is true! You are never too old to enjoy Harry Potter.  Even at the age of 24, I am eagerly awaiting the last chapter to the Harry Potter saga. I know I’m not alone as many other adults share this abnormal addiction to J. K. Rowling’s magical world.

I have read all the books (I much much prefer the books) and even went to 2 midnight releases for the last two novels. Pathetic? I think not! It was very humorous at the last midnight release. Kids looking over their shoulders for dementors, arguing about Dumbledore and Professor Snipe, and I joined in joyfully in their heated debates!

I greatly enjoy seeing the traditional, and not so traditional, magical creatures of the Harry Potter world.  One creature that really sticks out is Buckbeak, Hagrid’s winged pet. Buckbeak is a Hippogiff and we have a hippogriff puzzle in our store. It’s made from lovoa, a really beautiful brown wood from Africa.  





We have a bunch of mythical creatures in our store that makes an appearance in Harry Potter. My second favorite mythical animal is one of Dumbledore’s pets, the Phoenix. I mentioned our phoenix puzzle in the first post of this blog.

Remember that creepy part in the first book with “he-who-must-not-be-named” and unicorns? Gives me the shivers. But we have some very nice unicorns made from a few different woods. A Lazy Unicorn and a Walking Unicorn.

If I’m not mistaken there a few rather mean mermaids in one of the books. I think it was Goblet of Fire but don’t quote me on that! Well, we have mermaids too! Just a little more friendly than those in Harry Potter.
There are dragons also but we just made a post on them. To check out some of our dragons take a look at this post of view all of our dragons in our store.

Here are a few great Harry Potter items that I found searching around etsy.

A very well done crocheted doll of Albus Dumbledore made by Linsthings




Thursday, February 3, 2011

Museum of Natural History

As a child, my parents use to bring me and my brothers to the museum often.  It was a very short commute from where we lived then.  It had been a while since I’ve visited the museum and Brad had never been there before so I took him.  We spent an entire day there and didn’t even cover the whole building!  Here are some of the pictures I took.










Perhaps some of these pictures will inspire some puzzle designs...   
Thanks for looking! 

-Hazel

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More than just Puzzles

For the last few months we have been thinking about making other things to sell at our Entwoodcrafts online store and at craft events. We don’t mean other puzzles either! Or at least not the same “free standing  puzzles” that we currently offer. Tons of ideas have been tossed around. Everything from wooden coasters and jewelry to outdoor furniture and fine wooden art. We’ve made a little bit of this and that just to get a feel of the process.

After all of the brain storming, thinking, researching, investing in supplies, the answer came to us. We were checking out the stats of our store on google analytics (if you have a online store and don’t have an analytics account your really missing out!). The number one search that was used in goggle to find us was wooden bookmarks. Doesn't really make sense but we took it as a sign. Wooden bookmarks is where we are heading next.






We have a small batch made out of some thin mahogany. The wood is beautiful and perfect for bookmarks! We have a few simple designs and just finished them today. They are still a little smelly from the lacquer we used to finish them with but they look fantastic. Once the smell dies down in a few days we will have them up and ready in our etsy store.

That’s not the only new items that we will be making. We have plans for letter openers, wall hanging fretwork, intarsia artwork, key chains, magnets, jewelry, and much more. The great part about these new items is they are customizable! People with be able to add names, symbols, and a bunch of other things to create a perfect unique item. Below are a  few pictures of a free form charm or pendent made from African wenge (the black wood) and yellowheart wood. We are still figuring out the best methods and materials on making these items so it will be a little while before we start selling them.





We are definitely open to suggestions also. What would you like to see us make? A puzzle we don’t have or a new type of item all together? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. We just might make your idea into something real! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wood of the Week: Bocote

Yesterday was quite an eventful day for me. Aside from running Entwood crafts, I also am a freelance landscaper. I’m also that guy that people call if they need a hand with just about anything….moving boxes or furniture, painting, and loads of other things. Yesterday I did everything!

I helped an older woman move a sizeable amount of furniture out from a storage shed. I landscaped briefly in downtown Southport, NC. One thing that got me excited is I sold a bunch of banana trees that I saved from a previous client who didn’t want them. I’ve never sold plants to customers before. It was exciting! I may have sold every single one!

I topped off the day working on some puzzles. I got to do something that love doing and that’s using a new kind of wood. Since I have so many different kinds I thought it would be interesting to talk about 1 kind each week so today I’ll be starting the first Wood of the Week post. This week’s wood of choice, the one that I first used yesterday, is Bocote.

Ever since I started making puzzles I’ve wanted to use Bocote. Not many people have even heard of this wood. I didn’t know about it until I started to get involved with lots of exotic woods. Bocote has light and dark stripes in a zebra-like pattern. The grain is often times very figured and really looks stunning. It grows in Central and South America. The wood is very expensive to buy and is the number one determent at least for me. Even scrap pieces of wood are sold at high prices.

Luck have it, I found not 1 but 2 boards recently that the owners (I got them from two different people) offered to me for a great price. I was very excited and said yes immediately. The puzzle I cut out is of a turtle. I think it came out great. Now all I need to do is sand and oil it and our first bocote puzzle will be finished. Keep a look out in our Entwood Crafts store. We will be listing it soon!

I thought I’d share some other great pieces of work made from the Wood of the Week.I found this interesting bullet pen

. A bocote Guitar Pick! Never seen one of those made from bocote. The engraving is well done to!

 To finish up with one last great bocote item is a beautiful power button neckless.

Hope this post gave a little insight the wood we use! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

D is for Dragons

26th January, 2011
D is for Dragons

The number one thing to never forget is that D is for Dragons. Small ones, big ones, striped, and purple dragons. None are exempt….maybe polka dot ones….but I’ll give them a chance. Why dragons?

Dragons are a childish fascination that will never die inside of me. They represent several things that I admire. Brute strength? Got to love it! Our Lythe Dragon has plenty of that. It’s made from wenge, an African wood that is almost pure black! The look of them is majestic, inspiring, and commands a sense of authority.  At least the full grown bad ass ones. Like everything there are always exceptions.

Take this Fat Bellied Dragon for example. Not very intimidating, the only thing it commands is food, and it inspires fatty cooking. But still, it’s a dragon and regardless of its personal habits, I still think it looks awesome. Not to mention that it’s made from an amazing wood called purpleheart.

 We can’t disregard those young energetic dragons either! They will one day grow up and eat entire cows all by themselves. It goes so fast! The Silly Dragon is a great example along with the Playful Dragon. Full of innocence and curiosity like all youngsters.We have lots of other dragons so check them out!

I was browsing around etsy to see what other creative dragons are out there and stumbled upon this Baby Dragon Figurine.  I’ve never seen anything like it and was quite impressed with the craftsmanship.

For the last dragon of this post it my little dragon….or dragon tamer. This is a picture from this last Halloween of my boy Tristan at the age of 7 months. My wife homemade a costume to resemble the boy Hiccup from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon”.