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Pyrography With Relief Carving
by Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson

Page Two

by Kathleen Menendez

Mother in a Fox Stole Coat

Pyroengraving on Wood Plaque in Relief Sculpture, 1997

by Marcia S. Wilson

Pyroengraved inscription on frame surrounding image reads: "My mother loved plants, animals, new clothes, books, travel, meals, naps, being right. Katharine Margaret Hubler 1907-1991"

Photograph by the artist

....as for our relationships with our mothers, that has continued to be a very fruitful source of artistic inspiration. I never tire of examining relationships with my mother and my sister. But at age 61, I am beginning to realize that I still have quite a bit of my mother in my own personality. Just recently a friend complimented me for telling an anecdote "without a trace of your usual sarcasm." That gave me many hours of reflection on the sarcasm of my mother and sister.... and, alas, in myself.

On Her Motivation and Herself

I like to make projects for art shows--like the whirligigs I did now were for that show at the Noyes Museum--and I'm thinking of what will get "attention" in that (next) show. sometimes I carve to make a little love object, a sort of doll. I carved a waif while watching "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and it was kind of nice. Like making a little person (who ended up looking like Peggy Ann Gardner).

I never do commissions so I cannot say I ever carve for money. Although it is nice to get some at the end. That helps boost my confidence.

And I carve to get respect. Otherwise I'd just be an overweight old lady poking through the trash in the eyes of most people in my home town. This way people seem to treat me as a more special person. Even on the computer, after they see my web page. It adds respectability to my otherwise unconventional persona.

Little Red Riding Hood Meets the Wolf

Pyroengraving on Wood Relief Carving
by Marcia S. Wilson

Photograph by the artist

Spontaneous yet luxurious are words that paradoxically characterize Marcia Wilson's work.

On Her Sources of Inspiration

Inspires me? I do anything that's on my mind. when I first found the boyfriend again in 1984 (after 35 yrs absence) I had a desire to "own" him, to "possess" him, entirely, which, fortunately, he eluded. But I answered that need by carving a life size statue of his head which opened up and inside I wrote words. I never could figure out what to write, but, fortunately, we were having little arguments; so, I woodburned every mean thing he ever said to me inside that head.

What inspires my relief work is that I always do what is EASIEST. That means I look into my soggy brain and pull out some image. If there is nothing doing in my brain at the time, I just poke around until I find some dormant thing that interests me. Recently I have been interested in fairy tales. I dunno why. Well, I know. I like to do pictures that tell a story. Now I am not religious, so there goes all that stuff like the crucifixion and the annunciation and good stuff like that. I used to do that anyhow, but too many people thought I was religious, and that was a turnoff. So there goes that stuff. My friend Susanna does old books like "Gulliver's Travels" but I am not well read enough for that. So that leaves fairy tales. I choose ones I like. My favorite is Red Riding Hood. It is a very sexy tale.

On Defining Her Style

My style. What style. I just do it. Style. Humph. I started to recognize my work, however. It reminds me a lot of sketches of my grandfather the Methodist minister, John Henry Sandmeyer, whose parents emigrated from Switzerland in 1876. My grandpa was a born artist like his mother. He carried a pad of paper in his pocket and a very short little pencil and he drew constantly. His "doodles" were all over the house. He was a great inspiration for me. I made a carving once of him in a bathing suit. Of course, it also is sold, alas. Sometimes I feel I am my grandfather carving. I'm doing the career he should have had. But the religion business meant a lot to him. Needless to say, that religion never "took" with me. The "methodist god" in that household was very strict and had to be obeyed. I call myself a "fallen" Methodist.


Pyroengraving on Wood Plaque in Relief Sculpture

by Marcia S. Wilson

Photograph by the artist

On How She Got Started Doing Shows

"Welllllllll, I was always an artist in the sense that I LOVED art more than almost anything else in this world."

Now in college I flunked physics 105 freshman year. My mother told me that was the WEAK LINK in my chain and I would never be stronger than that WEAK link and I should DEVOTE myself to strengthening that weak link, remembering that i would never be stronger than that one link.

So, I majored in physics. I was the only major when I began but soon there were 3 of us. In order to major in physics, which I HATED with a passion, I had to minor in MATH which I hated equally, if not more. and I had to take CHEMISTRY which was the most awful of all. Second semester junior year had begun when my physics advisor, Miss Belding, a redheaded stammerer, bent over me in the physics library and told me I would not be able to graduate unless a "miracle" happened because my grades were so low.

I looked up and said in a small voice, "You mean I don't have to major in physics?"

She looked astonished. "Nnn no," she said.

With that I LEAPT up from my chair, grabbed my books, and FLEW out the door, running straight for the art history department. (At Vassar in those days you could not major in fine arts. That was not an acceptable major and I had taken only one art course, sculpture for 2 pts).

I ran to the office of Leila Barber, who wore her hair in a French twist. She peered over the tops of her half glasses and said "Who, are you????"

I repeated my request to major in art history and breathlessly identified myself as the person who had taken art history 105 and a subsequent course in Italian painting. That was all.

"Get thee to a nunnery," was Miss Barber's reply.

Mr. Lutz came by the door. He taught architecture history. I begged him to persuade Miss Barber to reconsider, explaining that it was a matter of life or death to me, and even though Mr. Lutz had never met me before in his life, they agreed to give me a chance. So I packed all my art history classes into 3 semesters and was able to graduate in June 58.

Oh. The shows. Well, after art history, I still loved art but felt I was not "good" enough to be a "real" artist. So I limited my efforts to one xmas card a year, which I drew every December. So I was, in effect, a "hidden" artist, waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and say, "It is time."

That never happened, of course. Meanwhile, I went through two husbands and by age 28 was married to my third, whom I met playing scrabble on 42nd St. in New York City. I played scrabble as an escape, I guess. I was really into it.

A woman named Ida "Bebe" Dreier from Teaneck, New Jersey heard from a friend that my husband and I played scrabble for money (1¢ a point) so she drove in from New Jersey to our apartment in New York City. This is about 1969 when my youngest child was a year old.

Bebe and I were rather equally matched and played for "blood." One day I asked what she did for a living and she said she was an "artist." She went down to her car and brought up a flower painting that had won a prize. I was incredibly jealous. I ended up buying the painting, or one like it, at her booth in the WASHINGTON SQUARE OUTDOOR ART SHOW held in Greenwich Village.

After I bought Bebe's painting, I set up an easel in my front hall, and bought a box of oil paints and started copying her painting. She came over to play scrabble and laughed at my efforts. "Ha ha" she said. This awoke my competitive spirit. So I bought a set of acrylic paints and continued even more vigorously. They were better because I could run to the shower and wash off my mistakes.

Then I went down to Greenwich Village and signed up for the same art show. My first show was in May 1970, when I was 33 years old. My first sale was to my father, who bought my best painting for $50 and sent it to my sister in Kansas. She wrote back that she would have preferred to have the money. And that is how I got my start in art shows.

Marcia S. Wilson

Holding a Work in Progress

On Her Teaching

I was teaching all day, but this is my last day. I want to be an artist, not a teacher, from now on. I teach only rarely, but it's still too much of an interruption. I have no patience for it, I'm afraid. I'm too selfish.

On Her List

...I'm out of time these days. That's what getting old means. I need a great deal of time to sit around doing nothing--reading and relaxing and thinking. I have a list of things to accomplish before I die..... which I hope will be a few years off, but I want to get on with the list...

Next Issue: "Pyrographic Art on Musical Instruments"

A medley of musical instruments decorated in pyrography
by a chorus of talented artists

Last Issue: " Pyrography and Kids! "

An article in three parts on children and teens learning pyrography


The Front Desk Pyro Forum! It's the latest project created by Mixo Sydenham to give pyrographers another tool for professional networking and camaraderie. Share your ideas, questions, and comments with your fellow pyros.

The Victorian Touring Collection. In this Real World project, Mixo Sydenham has organized a collection of Australian and international work to tour in various places in the Australian State of Victoria throughout most of this year.

All the way from the Land Down Under came a touching letter from a newfound pyro friend from the internet,
Sue Walters. Following are excerpts for you to share in the pyroconnection going 'round the world:

7 July 1998

Dear Kathleen,

Just wanted to let you know that I met with Mixo at the Warburton Winter Fest this last weekend. It was very nice to meet him. He's just about spot on what I had pictured. Gregarious, warm and giving.

It was terrific to see (hands on, so to speak) so many other pyro works. Amazing how much bolder they look in real life as opposed to the internet. I must have studied the internet ones at least a dozen times by now, but in real life I was taken aback by the strength of what had become so familiar.

What struck me the most is how we all seem to have so many varied styles. Perhaps it's a blessing that we have progressed on our own up 'till now - so many perspectives for a seemingly one dimensional medium. Unlike other arts that have progressed with books and examples of works seen in galleries, we seem to have gone forward with our own ideas and individual styles unique to our medium. Very unusual in a day that has seen 'everything'.

Many regards,
Sue Walters
P.S. Great new additions to the Emuseum of Pyro Art. What diversity!

The International Association of Pyrographic Artists. It's up and running since March with internet meetings on some Saturday afternoons (if you're in North, Central or South America; Saturday night if you're in Europe or Africa, and Sunday mornings if you're in Asia or Australia). If you'd like to join in, just check out the Cafe Flambe listing on the Directory page of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

The E-Museum of Pyrographic Art--a virtual monument to the art of pyrography present and past. See work by Dino Muradian, Mixo Sydenham, Sophia Albu Ionita, Al Chapman, Ken Li, and many others, plus antiques, books, and tools. New!!! Visit the Children's Hall, too.

Remember, if you are a pyrographer or a collector of pyrographic art, come share your favorite masterpieces (with just a photo or scan), and network with the rest of the community of pyrographic artists and collectors. Please write me an e-note and tell me about your work or collection in pyrography.

--Kathleen Menendez

Of Interest:

Featured artist Marcia Wilson, has her own website displaying more of her multimedia work and including more of her story. Visit her new Marcia Wilson Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art, as well.

Visit the new website of another multimedia artist
Roy Mitts who color enhances his pyroengravings on relief carving.

Australia's Sue Walters has written a fine article for the Australian Cultural Network, in which she focuses on her transition from pyrography on wood to pyrography with color on paper.

Visit the new website of pyrographic artist and collector Laurie Knight where examples of her own work in pyrography are displayed.

Visit the new website of another pyrographic artist,
Lucy McCord whose folkloric work is also displayed in the E-Museum.

Visit the new Burning Impressions website of pyrographic artist Renee Taylor to see her work on wood inspired by her surroundings in beautiful Alaska.

Pyrographer and chip carver Rita Ferrara Day (whose multimedia work was featured in an article for the WWWoodc@rver E-Zine by Jeff Fleisher in the beginning of this year) reports here on a well known wildfowl show in Havre de Grace, Maryland, USA, that for the first time this year opened a category of fine art pyrography in their annual competition. Congratulations to the winners and all who participated.

On an absolutely gorgeous spring afternoon, as Rita described it, she and Bev Hiteshue of the Northern Virginia Carvers traveled to Havre de Grace, Maryland, USA, to participate in the new pyrography category added to the prestigious competition held there annually.

The show, consisting of an exhibit and competition, is part of a larger effort, as this town hosts a Decoy and Waterfowl Museum right there on the Chesapeake Bay. The show stresses the history of waterfowling on the Chesapeake bay with a variety of exhibits and even skits. Like the museum, emphasis of the show is on decoys since this area was historically a waterfowling center and home to a number of master decoy makers. Nowadays, the show has expanded in scope, and there are all kinds of wildlife artists as well. Rita noted that the overall level of work at this show is very good. She also indicated that the competition was very large overall, and that there were some substantial cash prizes. Outside of the competition, there were some very fine exhibitors, both in the decoys, books, and carving materials, and among the wildlife artists. However, no pyrographers were among the participating exhibitors.

Rita received First Place in pyrography for a mallard pair. (Note that she has promised a picture of it for the E-Museum in the near future.) Anne Coquelin took Second Place for her pyrograph of parrots. Rita received Third Place for an American kestrel, and an Honorable Mention for a peregrine falcon. Bev Hiteshue received Honorable Mentions for her raccoon, a wood duck baby, and a country landscape.

If you haven't been back recently, return for a visit to the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art and see all the new salons that have been added for the following artists in recent weeks and months:
= Manolo Caminos
= Rodger Letkeman
= Ken Li
= Lucy McCord
= Bob Morris
= Bill Poplett
= Peni Powell
= Roy Sullivan
= Lillian Thorsen
= Richard Voepel
= Sue Walters
= Marcia Wilson
= Yury Zopov

Artist Sophia Albu Ionita is featured on a new website belonging to French poet Eric Boudet with whom she collaborates on certain art works of hers where she has pyroengraved his poems. Her painted pyroengraving at this site links to an e-zine article on her, while right below it is a link to the poem that is pyroinscribed on it.

The Author

Pyrographer Kathleen M. Garvey Menendez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala. Her sister, Artist Sharon H. Garvey later joined her there to form their company Pyrographics, and collaborate on a pyrography project designed to promote this art form in the United States with the help of the Nava rro Pyrocarver--the pyrographic tool Kathleen represents.

This is her second year writing articles for the WWWoodc@rvers E-Zine, and thanks to meeting so many talented pyro-artists through the internet, this is the first year of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art, dedicated to pyrographers and their unique art form in all its myriad manifestations. This spring the Cafe Flambe of the E-Museum hosted the very first meeting of the International Association of Pyrographic Artists, which has since met on various occasions.

©1998 Kathleen M. Garvey Menendez

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