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”.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How it Started

25 January, 2011

Onward to the second post! I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about how my wife and I started making puzzles and other scroll saw art. Hopefully by the time I’m done writing the post the rain will stop and some much wanted sun will show up.

It all began a few hundred years ago. You think I’m exaggerating don’t you? Well I’m not!....that much! I come from a family full of talented woodworkers of all sorts. It’s in my blood! I first used a scroll somewhere around 12 years old. I tried making a few things to sell at my school’s craft show. I took about a 10 year break before I even touched a scroll saw again.

We both got the idea of making scroll saw art while we were in North Dakota. A nice state but too few people and too many cows J. Our job was reaching its end and we needed a way to occupy our time during the winter season. We purchased a few books, looked at other artists’ work, and did some day dreaming.  We left for Maine where my wife got a job working for the Bar Harbor Oceanarium and I got a job working as an Ultimate Frisbee coach for Unity College. Ultimate is the best sport invented but don’t get me started on that!

I had spare time on my hands and so begun puzzle making. I used cheap pine, started simple, and tried many different techniques. I regained my skills quicker than expected. I wasn’t making them to sell at that time. They were x-mas gifts for family and friends. As word got around that I was making these puzzles, I started getting requests to sell some to interested people.

Our work ended in Maine then off to North Carolina we went. Yes, we did move around a lot that year! Here in the Carolina’s is where we kicked off Entwood Crafts. My wife showed interest in helping me make them. She learned very fast! We upgraded to hardwood, found the perfect type of finish, made contacts, and got busy making and selling. It was a long road but here we are!

The first puzzle we ever sold online remains the most popular. Even at craft shows! It’s the stacking cats puzzle. We have one on etsy right now! It’s a simple toddler puzzle and one of the first puzzles we started making.

It will be interesting to see where we will be in another year's time. Much has changed this past year. The possibilities are very exciting!

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Steps

An amazing thing happened yesterday. Something that I watched with pride, happiness, and surprise. Our baby boy Tristan made his first steps! It was really something. He had an audience of several family members. I found it hard to believe, half expecting him to just fall over instead of taking step after step unaided.  Everyone was very proud of him!  It was such a special moment.  Tristan’s first steps inspired Hazel (my wife) and me to finally make our first post in our first blog.  

This blog is all about our business Entwood Crafts and how we run it. It’s not easy to run a home business with a little 10 month old boy just starting to walk. His favorite toys are….well…..not toys at all.  To kick off this blog, I want to share one of my favorite puzzles we have made to date. The Rising Phoenix.  We have made this puzzle twice before but this version is by far the best!

We listed this magical bird yesterday (the same day Tristan started walking) on our etsy store. It is the only puzzle we have on etsy that is made from two different kinds of wood. The flames are bloodwood and the bird is maple. Using two different woods creates a whole mess of difficulties and takes a very long time to finish but we are both very happy with the end result!

Time to see if Tristan will walk to me!