Julia Surba: New Works from Ancient Kuzhebar
PFC Camilo González: Wartime Folk Art
Nancy Boitos: Large Rustic Furniture Projects
DeAnn Cote: Hello, Hitty!
Mystery Corner: Who Is the Artist
Who Did "The Last Stagecoach"?
Soldier Who Lost a Buddy in Iraq
This moving folk art woodburning was made by a soldier, Pfc. Camilo González, during his deployment in Iraq. Pfc. González recounted spending 13 months in that country and doing his woodburning was, he said, "the only thing that kept my mind off all that war mess." He said this piece is the only one like this that he did, because "it's hard to think about how many buddies we lost."
Whitetail Deer Coffee Table,
American folk and wildlife artist Nancy Boitos of Michigan, remembers that she started woodburning in high school. She says she took as many art classes as she could, and with her love for wood, ended up in wood shop, too. When she resisted measuring, cutting, and building, and drew a hawk on a piece of scrap wood instead, her shop teacher encouraged her to woodburn it. From then on, she says, he told her to burn while the rest of the class "did their thing," and she happily obliged. To this day, Nancy is grateful to Mr. Jump, her wonderful shop teacher.
Nancy lives in a small town--so small, she says, that it's barely on
the map! After that, pretty much everything Nancy undertakes is on a
large scale. Attached to her house, which is on 5 acres of land, is a
very large and beautifully conserved barn that is about a hundred years
old. She is already fantasizing about how she could use the wonderful
large spaces it has for perhaps art classes or a gallery for showing
large art works or furniture.
And on the subject of classes, she and her husband decided a couple of years ago that their two young daughters could have a more meaningful learning experience and less stress and fatigue if they were home schooled to allow time for other activities and direct learning experiences. She said that decision turned out to be right on target, so home schooling her daughters is another of Nancy's activities.
And on the subject of large scale things, they also have a horse! Plus two dogs, etc. (For people who love and keep animals, "etc." is the operative word, I've found.)
And then there's Nancy's art, and when it comes to that subject, probably "Large" and "etc." are both good words to describe it. I think she will agree that describing her as a very 'hands-on' person would be pretty accurate.
Log Bed, detail
For a few years, Nancy worked for the Dept. of Natural Resources in
Michigan, and during that time, as luck would have it, they were looking
for an artist to help with creating and designing nature displays for
their Nature Center, which they were redoing. Nancy was thrilled to be
offered such an opportunity.
The Nature Center was in a huge log cabin mansion that had been the summer home of the late Edsel Ford. Nancy remembers what a beautiful building it was. And remembers, too, how during a 2-year period, she did a lot of art work for them, including two very large burnings (one of which now hangs in their front office). Years after Nancy had left that job and after the Nature Center had been closed because of budget cuts, she also remembers crying when she heard on the news that the beautiful log cabin had burned to the ground at the hands of an adolescent arsonist.
Log Bed, detail 2
When Nancy learned of an opportunity at a specialty store where she
could do her woodburning and oil painting on log furniture, she jumped
at the chance. The owner apologized for the pieces he had available for
her to work with to produce a sample log headboard, but Nancy found that
the flawed wood could easily be adapted to her nature scenes.
In fact, as it turned out, she found that the more flaws there were, the better, because the logs had more character that way. The flaws leant additional texture to her nature scenes, and the more irregular shapes added interest, as well. For Nancy, each knot or crack offered inspiration for another element in her scene. That piece was placed in the store in a full-size display.
Observe the detailed images of the log bed and the two mantels shown here to see how Nancy has made use of the knots, irregularities, and other flaws to add details of interest to her compositions.
An important commission for Nancy was the one shown here of a family's vacation house. The family wanted their house portrayed in pyrography on the mantel of the house's own fireplace. Nancy was up to the challenge, and she continued working in additional scenes onto the 11-foot long mantel as the family thought of more and more details they wanted included in the final piece. Shown here are some of the details she did for this very large piece that Nancy says weighs between 250 and 300 pounds. Again, notice how knots in the wood become part of the scenery.
Home Mantel, detail
Nancy never wants for things to do. Besides painting a couple of large
murals, including a trompe l'oeil window with a nice garden view for her
daughter's room once, Nancy even burned a design on her own kitchen table.
Nancy just recently started using the internet and soon joined IAPA, where she is happy to find others who share her interest. Until now, she says, she didn't know what she was missing!
To further fuel her pyro enthusiasm, she has now discovered an internet site called FreeCycle, a website where, instead of simply discarding things, people can exchange for free unwanted items and materials that others might find useful while they themselves might likewise find there other things they could use.
Home Mantel, detail
In the image following, Nancy worked with a piece of wood that was
amazingly and beautifully rough, irregular, and knotted, creating in one
area (shown in the image below) what became a cave for the mother wolf
and her pups. This is Nancy's favorite piece.
See more details of this mantel and other images of her work in the Nancy Boitos Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.
Wolf Mantel, partial view
Inspired by the work of the late Sophia Albu Ionita, whose flamboyant large works were featured posthumously in the January 2005 WOM, Nancy says that in the near future, she plans to try working on doors, as Sophia did. She loved Sophia's metaphor for doors, and the wonderful possibilities doors offer as a canvas for her work. She's hoping she will be able to find some interesting ones on FreeCycle.
American artist DeAnn Cote of Washington State very recently joined
IAPA. She is just beginning in pyrography, and it is only natural that
she would transition to her newfound art form by fashioning a pretty
little plaque like the one above, and then decorate it with a picture of
Hitty. This is because over the last 10 years of a nearly 20-year
carving career, much of DeAnn's work has been consumed by this one
particular little wooden antique American doll, which she has hand
carved hundreds of times.
Thought to be nearly two hundred years old, the original, ever young Hitty, DeAnn says, has spent most of her second century of 'life' enjoying fame and fortune, thanks to her serendipitous meeting with two ladies who found Hitty back in the 1920s in an antique shop. One of the two ladies was Rachel Field, a children's book author, and the other, Dorothy Lathrop, an artist illustrator. The two friends collaborated to produce the book Hitty--Her First Hundred Years, which won them the 1929 Newbery Award for children's literature, and to this day, the doll and the book have a following. The one-of-a-kind White Ash wood Hitty now resides in the Stockbridge Massachusetts Historic Library, and is a cherished bit of American history.
DeAnn notes that many of those who read the book as a child did not know that the actual doll existed. It wasn't until the last 10 or so years that the doll and the book have had a rebirth. At that point, making a business of creating Hitty dolls was a logical next step for DeAnn, since she was already interested in wooden dolls by then. In retrospect, it seemed fate. Here is a quote from DeAnn's website: "In grade school, I got into trouble for making dolls out of paper clips and Popsicle sticks, instead of doing my school work. It's funny how childhood interests can reinvent themselves in adulthood." Now, after so many years of hand carving Hitty dolls repeatedly, DeAnn, through her company DRC Design, has begun casting her Hitty dolls in resin along with other dolls she has carved as prototypes.
Meanwhile she herself is looking to explore pyrography and go back to creating original one-of-a-kind art works.
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2005, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.