Tag Archives: Fire Oak Studio

Tools, Tips, and Safety – Part 1

Safety

WorkSpace_Ckester

My Work Space

My work space is a table in my living room in front of a window. I have two small kids at home, so I do my best to make sure any smoke from the burning doesn’t stick around. I have a box fan in the window that blows outward. I also use a Gourd Master Woodburning Buddy, which you can find here. It pulls the smoke away from the project and filters it. If it is really too cold outside to have the window open, I will use just the Buddy.

WorkSpace2_Ckester

My final safety measure is my mask. I know it looks like overkill, but wood smoke is not healthy. I only have one set of lungs. My husband calls me Darth Vader when I’m wearing the mask.

Mask_CKester

Even with all of these precautions, there are some surfaces you should avoid burning. Anything with plastic is dangerous. You should also be very careful with anything that has a finish on it. Pressure treated wood and MDF (medium density fiber board) are also not good to burn on. Plywood is ok, but make sure you don’t burn deep enough to get to the glue.

The Sawdust Connection has a pretty good article about safety that you can find here. They include a list of woods that can cause allergic, toxic, infectious, or respiratory reactions.

That’s a lot to consider. So what do I burn on?

Basswood – This is probably the best in terms of smoothness of grain. I recommend this above all others for beginners.

Beech -The bowls that I burn on are, for the most part, made from beech. It’s a pretty hard wood and the grain doesn’t cause too much trouble. The light color works well for wood burning

Pine – Definitely not my favorite. It has a tendency to gum up my tips.

Maple – I like the lightness and the grain is fairly easy to work with.

Cherry – I’ve worked with this wood twice and loved the results.

Italian Poplar Plywood – I’m currently trying this one out. So far the burn is smooth.

Oak – This one can be challenging. It is a hard wood and takes longer to get the burn I want. Pyrography takes patience. Burning on oak requires even more.

Gourds – They take a burn really well, though I’ve noticed they dirty my tips faster than wood (other than pine). They take a long time to dry and clean, but you can also purchase them pre dried and washed.

Part 2 will focus on the tools you need for woodburning.

Baby Steps or Giant Leaps

I’m starting to emerge from my creative break. It is still a challenge to balance art and caring for my little ones, but I’m getting there. My biggest break through was realizing that it doesn’t matter if I only work for five minutes at a time. I meant to ease back into it, but I seem to have taken a giant leap. So far, I’ve started roughly 10 new pieces.

Here are a few of the ones I’ve recently finished.

LizardSpoon2015_Ckester1 OakNapkin_CKester1 PoppySpoon_Ckester_3

The Fox

My eldest son has been a little obsessed with foxes lately. So I decided to do something special for him last Christmas. He caught me working on it before it was finished, but I let him believe it was for the business.

FoxWalkthrough_CKester

Fox walk-through – Christina Kester-Tallman

 

It was fun working with watercolor again. My son was really happy with the finished painting.

My current project is a new sign for my display at craft shows. I’m using a 12 x 24 inch Italian poplar plywood board. Here’s a peek at my current progress.

20150106_12260520150107_105234

 

Update 10/19/2014

A lot has changed in the past year. I have slowed down on the production of art. It’s been harder to find time to fit it in with this new addition to my life.

Fire Oak Studio New Addition

Currently I am working on two bowls that are a collaboration with Ken Gadway. He turned the bowls and I am doing the pyrography art on them. All of the artwork is original, hand drawn and burned. I’m very exited about the project. I’m planning on debuting the bowls on October 23rd at the Artists Supporting ARC show. Ken will be selling one of the bowls and I will be selling the other.

Here is a peek at them –

Fire Oak Studio Winter WIP Fire Oak Studio Odin's Bowl WIP Closeup Fire Oak Studio WIP Closeup Fire Oak Studio Odins Bowl WIP

The Habit of Art

In college I overheard two professors talking about a student. One was laughing about how this student hadn’t turned in their assignment using the excuse of not having enough time. The other made a quip about how this student would never succeed because artists never have to find the time for art. Art should be like breathing.

I remember being a little insulted by this conversation. I was not the student they were talking about, but I was struggling to fit art into my schedule. Sure I doodled anytime I had a pen and paper, but I was having trouble finding the time to do formal studies and finished pieces.

The thought that “real” artists naturally do art all of the time was something that has haunted me for a long time. The more I became involved in the art community, the more I realized that I wasn’t alone in my struggle. Art takes work. You have to practice.  You have to be dedicated to be a successful artist. You have to continually grow and develop your skills. You have to learn about business and marketing. All of this takes time. In many cases, you have to try to fit this all in with other responsibilities (family, second job, etc). You kind of have to really want to be an artist.

So, were those professors right all of those years ago?If you don’t instinctively do art all of the time, will you fail?

The answer isn’t that cut and dry. If you don’t make time for it, you probably wont succeed. You can learn how to make doing art a habit. However, making and breaking habits is difficult work. You have to change the way you think of things. It takes time.

I’m still working on changing my habits. I want to up the time I spend on formal studies and not just finished pieces.

If you are interested in how to make or break habits, I recommend this book.

Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick by Jeremy Dean

It talks about the science behind making and breaking habits and gives you some ideas on how to change habits. I’ll warn you though, that Mr. Dean points out that we are not as in control of our brains and habits as we might think. Changing isn’t easy.

I have no affiliation with Mr. Dean, the publishers, or sellers of the book. I actually started reading it to see if it could help me develop better fitness and nutrition habits. The more I read, the more I realized it could help me with my art too.

Letter N

I’m skipping around with my letters. Here’s letter N for Nectarine

Copyright Christina Kester 2013

Copyright 2013 Christina Kester

I’m on the lining stages for letter R and I have letter Z prepped and ready to paint.

 

Update 2/9/13

After my holiday shows, I was in a bit of an art slump. Things have picked up a little recently. I am working on some character concept designs for a story I may or may not get to writing. It is good practice for drawing people even if I never finish the writing part.

Melora hairstyles_CKester2

I’ve prepped two more letters (J and K) for my long time Celtic Tree Alphabet project.

Here are some of my commissions, gifts, and new pieces that I can post now that the holidays are over –

A private commission –

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

A gift –

Some new pieces (all sold except the bear) –

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

Update 11/1/2012

Fall is my busy time of year. All of my big craft shows are in the fall. It leaves me with little time for anything else and as such I have neglected my blog. Never fear, I am still here and still plugging away at my art.

I finished my giant bowl just in time for the Artist Supporting ARC show last week. I think it turned out pretty well.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

I’m currently working on upping my holiday ornament stock for upcoming shows. I have the SUNY Plattsburgh Craft show this weekend. It is one of the bigger shows in the area and was a good venue for me last year.  Here are some recent magnets, ornaments and a square bowl in progress.

 

In my spare time, I have also been working on my digital painting skills.  One of my goals for improvement earlier this year was to work on more dynamic figures and backgrounds. The following two sketches are a start to that.  For the first, I referenced stock photos by Chonastock on Deviant art for the pose. The second sketch was inspired by Brom.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

Fairy Tale Glyphs

I’ve had an idea for a painting floating around in my head for a long time. I wanted to do a petroglyph with a fantasy twist. A while ago I sketched out some of my ideas. This week I colored them in Photoshop.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

I may do a few more of these in the coming weeks. For now, these designs are available on t-shrts in my Zazzle store.

On the workbench

The farmers market is turning out to be a decent venue for my wares. So far my coasters are turning out to be fairly popular. Having said that, I am going to try to take my coasters in a slightly different direction by combining wood and cork. The coasters will come in sets of 6 with a matching box to keep them in.

Also, the fall craft shows and the holidays are right around the corner so I am working hard to up my inventory. I have more ornaments, magnets, pendants, bowls, frames, and spoons in stock and ready for burning.