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