Thursday, February 23, 2012

FOG - Fear of Grout

I am by nature a cautious person with a lot of phobias. Some of them make sense, such as my fear of water which resulted from a stroll into the deep end of a swimming pool when I was little. And my fear of driving on the interstate is directly related to being smushed and spun by a dump truck. But I am also terrified of heights and table saws, and as far as I know, I don't have any reason to be. I am also incapable of driving the riding lawn mower or using the snow blower. Just the thought of either gives me the shakes.

Several years ago when two of my sisters were visiting, we decided to try our hand at mosaics. Cutting the tiles, laying out the design, and gluing to the backer board proceeded without any problems, but the thought of grouting gave me pause. I had no idea how much water to add, how to apply it, how to smooth it out, or how to clean off the residue. Betty, who is much more adventurous couldn't believe I had a "fear of grout" and jumped right in. The finished items turned out just fine, and I now have the confidence to grout items myself.

Occasionally I am contacted through my Etsy store and asked if I can make a custom item. Some requests are fairly easy, such as a particular key chain image, and some of them are a bit harder and require me to stretch beyond my comfort zone. One customer wanted a set of interlocking foxes for a gift for her fiance. I couldn't find any public domain images that would work, and had to push myself to try to sketch out a design. I don't have a lot of natural artistic talent, but I worked on it a bit and came up with these little guys, who have been quite popular in my store:

Another customer wanted a crochet saw shark for her son. My pattern design process is pretty haphazard: crochet, rip out, and repeat until by more luck than design I get something reasonably close to what I set out to create. So I approached this request with more than a bit of trepidation and no guarantees that I would be able to fulfill the request. After a few weeks, this guy emerged from the chaos:

I have a request now to re-size the opossum pattern to make a baby. Most of my critters turn out quite large, as I seem to have a mental block with regards to small designs. So I am again a bit apprehensive, although I'm sure in the end I'll be able to fulfill her request.

It's probably good that I am sometimes hesitant to try new things. My house is already filled to overflowing with the tools and supplies for all the hobbies and crafts that I have embraced, so I really don't need the temptation to add more. Still, being able to use a table saw would sure speed up the cutting and increase the accuracy for some of my projects like this Toymaker Press zoo set, which was entirely cut on the scroll saw:

Do you have fears that hold you back in your crafts or business? How do you overcome them? I would love to hear your stories.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Amoeba Woodworks, Featuring Marquetry Woodworking by Maryland Artist Amy Beaven

My sister in law, Amy Beaven, is a talented artist who has been woodworking since 2002. She designs her own patterns and uses the natural colors of the wood to create detailed works of art using marquetry techniques. She is also a marine biologist, working for the University of Maryland, and many of her designs are of sea life.

She will be doing a show this weekend at Unique Boutique in Hollywood Maryland and will also be at shows this fall in Columbia, Deale, and Greenbelt Maryland.

Here are some examples of her work:

Porthole Series

Framed Wall Art

Wooden Boxes


Business Card Holders

You can see more example's of Amy's art at her website Amoeba Woodworks.