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The "Woody" Worry-Stone

Introducing my "Woody" Worry-Stones.

As work on The DoT edition winds down, I had been gearing up to start some larger projects. But a lot has changed in the world over the last few weeks (an understatement for sure) and all of a sudden, long term plans seem fraught, so instead I have changed gears and decided to tackle something much simpler and fun.

With all the worry going around, I felt a new pocket art (worry-stone) project would have a more immediate, positive, and diverting (for me anyway) effect. So I whipped up something with a twist that connects it to the current arc in my work by incorporating natural materials.

I really feel there is just something iconic about the way knife makers blend the use of metal and wood. There is a visual balance to their work that really speaks to the language that all tools seem to possess. I wanted to embody that in my own way, through the use of natural materials, composition, and proportion, if not necessarily through pointy-ness or function. 

The aesthetics of this piece will likely feel familiar to those who have been following along for the last few years, and while this work looks nothing at all like a knife, it is in fact, another small tribute to the craft of knife making.

These worry-stones look and feel great in the hand and the nature of wood means that each one will truly be a one of a kind piece. 

The materials for these early prototypes are as follows. The first four (bottom row) are all ironwood and really shows off the variety of grain and colors one can get with such a material. I especially like the two-tone one on the far right with a bit of sapwood showing. The remaining three (top row from left to right) are Redwood Burl, a striking piece of Boxelder (green dyed), and finally Black Palm.

Much like various metal alloys, each of these different materials has its own properties and challenges. I am very much enjoying the opportunity to experiment and learn more about each of these exotic hardwoods as I go.

A few people have also offered to mail me different species to further expand this experiment.

Of the different varieties, ironwood is the most fun to turn on my machines hands down, it is very hard (for wood) and it has a dense grain that does not easily tear-out when performing an offset turning operation.

The Black Palm on the other hand is very fibrous and splintery, it is much more prone to tear-out and even splitting. It took me a few tries to get that one right.

Likewise, the redwood Burl is almost chalky or powder like. It behaves more like a mineral in turning and is prone to chipping rather than tear-out. I have had poor luck mitigating this so far, but have some other things I’d like to try.

Regardless, the redwood and Black palm inserts have needed considerably more handwork to clean them up, but there is no denying how great they look. 

While the news everywhere is currently full of troubling stories and predictions of doom, the early response to this work has been extremely positive.

So in my own small way, I am thrilled to be able to put forward a project that is resonating with so many of you. There is just no better time to be making art. If anything, just to create a sense of normalcy and put something positive out into the world.

However I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little uncomfortable trying to overtly sell art in this moment of global crisis. 

Because of this, I have been dithering on how to proceed with this work, I almost didn't post it at all.

 There are people out there doing incredible things to help each other and I must admit to moments where my work feels a little trivial in comparison. Also, blatant commerce in the face of human suffering just feels discordant. I know everyone has to make a living, but I am also human, so if I am being honest, I was hesitant about whether to put up a pre-order for this new experiment.

But after giving it a lot of thought, I realize opportunities to do good are everywhere and this work is no exception. Everyone must use the tools available to them to make a difference, these are mine.

With dire predictions about the impending economic fallout from this pandemic, I want to do my part to help support the arts here in Baltimore. I know there will be quite a lot of need very soon, and I want to ensure that the artists of my place and time can weather the storm that is coming. 

So, I will be posting a pre-order for this work later this week. And with this release, I will be setting aside a portion of each sale and donating it to help the arts here in Baltimore. What shape that support takes has yet to be determined, I think the landscape is still shifting as galleries, museums, and non profits cancel events for the foreseeable future. There will likely be a number of nonprofits who will have urgent need very shortly, and there will likely also be more direct ways I can lend assistance as well.

Strategically it makes sense to wait to see where these dollars can be most effectively applied. But I am committed to do my bit. A full accounting of all my donations will be released once I get that part sorted out. 

For now, lets get a date on the calendar for the pre-order sign up, say
April 2nd at 12:30 PM EST.

The sign up period will be an entire week, as this is intended to help raise charity funds. I will post the link to the sign up form here on this blog, on my Instagram account, and in a newsletter that will go out when the sign up period begins.

Material choices will be laid out broadly as each work will be unique due to the character and availability of the wood itself. I want to give you all some personal choice between a narrow range of works, so when you sign up, you will be able to specify your preferences, and then I will contact you individually as work progresses to allow you a final say in what specific work you claim as your own. 

I hope this all makes sense, and of course, pricing and more details will be available on the sign up form when it posts.
(I do not post pricing on publicly facing media)

This is going to be an enjoyable project, and I am glad I can bend it to do something publicly beneficial as well.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.