Yesterday I got a little bit side tracked. Not really too far off the path I was heading, but just enough to change gears for a day and try something new. So it was for a good cause.
I often receive many comments from people that I call ‘regulars’ here on the Lumberjock site. Even though this site is quite large at over 50,000 members, as with any place, we seem to fall into a niche or corner of the site where we feel accepted and comfortable. I am not different, as when I write here each morning it is as if I am writing to my friends over my morning coffee. It makes what would otherwise be a difficult task easy, as I have found a huge amount of support and inspiration from these friends who live in all corners of the world. (England, Denmark, Australia, Scotland to name a few, as well as the USA and Canada.)
The other day, when I posted my scroll sawn masks, I received a comment from my buddy Bert Flores from the Philippines. Bert has been a long time buddy of mine, almost from when I first joined the forum, and over time has offered much support and advice, as well as been an incredible inspiration for me to do better.
In his comment, Bert suggested I make my masks into a smaller brooch and enter it into the Lumberjocks Winter 2013 Woodworking Awards contest that is being held on the site.
I am not one for contest myself. I seldom have time to do my own work, let alone take the time to enter a contest. But after Bert suggested that I do so with the masks, it got me to thinking. Cutting those masks was already a bit of a challenge. The masks I showed the other day measure 4.5” across. Would I be able to make them even smaller and still be able to accomplish cutting them? I had to find out.
I didn’t want to do this for the contest as much as I wanted to challenge myself. I have a friend that I have known for nearly 15 years named Rick Hutchenson, who cuts more accurate than anyone I have ever known. He is known as “the animal” for his expert cutting ability and besides being incredibly prolific, he owns literally hundreds of scroll saws and has the ability to cut a set of Noah’s Ark figures that fit on a dime.
His site shows his incredible versatility and he shares a wealth of information not only about scroll sawing, but also wood turning and other aspects of woodworking. (Visit it at www.scrollsaws.com)
While I don’t ever see myself getting as good as Rick at cutting, making these masks smaller would be quite a challenge for me, and I felt up for the task.
I first reduced the pattern from 4.5” in diameter to 3”. I thought that would make a nice sized brooch that would be wearable on a sweater or winter coat. When I printed out the pattern, I had my doubts as to if I would even be able to accomplish cutting it. The mask I chose was my favorite, the one I called “Harlequin”, and it had many thin lines to show a diamond pattern. One slight mis-cut and it would be garbage.
But things aren’t a challenge if they are easy, are they?
I picked three types of hardwood that I thought would not only look good, but hold up well to the tiny details. I had a nice piece of walnut, a beautiful piece of maple and an awesome piece of black ebony that were all planed to 1/8” thick and ready to use. They would be perfect and offer a nice variety of colors.
I used Olson 3/0 blades. My usual small blade is a 2/0, and the 3/0 is even smaller than that. Even though I was cutting through three thicknesses (I stack cut the pieces) of dense wood, the blades still worked fine. It took only one blade to accomplish the task, and while it was naturally slow going, I had the pinpoint control that I needed.
I finished the masks without error or incident. And when I looked at them, I felt pretty proud. These were certainly the most difficult pieces that I have cut to date, and I felt rather accomplished. (63 inside cuts in each piece!) I remembered that only last week when I cut the original set, I felt proud of my work. Now I was even more so.
I finished them with my usual mineral oil followed by spray shellac. The exotic woods took the finish beautifully and they look pretty cool. Now the question – to add sparkles or not?
I really fought back and forth about this issue for quite a while (while the oil was absorbing). I knew that on the previous piece, I went kind of crazy playing with my new rhinestones and setter. While I wanted a bit of shine on these, I didn’t want the rhinestones to overshadow the beautiful wood that I used to make them, or the minute details of cutting that I accomplished.
I went with two tiny 2mm rhinestones on each. Just in the corner of the eyes to add a little glimmer. I finished off each piece with two small feathers to give them a festive look, and they are ready to go.
The walnut one, with red leaded crystal rhinestones:
The maple mask with aurora borealis leaded crystal rhinestones:
And finally, the ebony mask, with clear leaded crystal rhinestones:
And here are all three with the penny for scale:
I am taking some better project pictures today and I will post the project later on. I am debating on whether to add a very thin veneer backing over just the back of the masks so that the pin backs don’t show through the fretwork to the front. I think that will be what I need to do to keep the focus on the cutting and not the shiny pin bar on the back.
I am happy that I took this challenge. It isn’t really of consequence whether I win the contest or not (although I would love to have that honor!) What is really important to me is that by preparing this entry, it pushed me to a new level of scrolling and personally I felt that I grew a bit as an artist.
Thank you Bert for your encouragement and thanks to Rick and my other mentors who set such a great example for us all and who teach us to try harder. You are an inspiration to us all.
Have a great Tuesday!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"