Author Archive for Lora S. Irish

Selling Finished Work

Selling Finished Work

By Lora S. Irish

I had a ques­tion post­ed to me on one of my mes­sage boards.  The per­son was ask­ing how to sell their fin­ished works (pyrog­ra­phy) and whether to pur­sue art gallery space or craft show space. Per­haps oth­ers will add ideas to this dis­cus­sion on the Wood­carv­er List Face­book group.

In my expe­ri­ence arts and crafts shows often do way bet­ter for carvers and burn­ers than art gal­leries when you are look­ing for sales for your work.

Art gal­leries have lim­it­ed space for work in their brick and mor­tar store fronts, there is only so much room espe­cial­ly for 3-D dis­play. This means that as a carver/pyrographers your chances of get­ting space are extreme­ly lim­it­ed and if you do win space the num­ber of items they can show for you is lim­it­ed.

A gallery will charge up to 50% of the sale price of your work as their com­mis­sion. If they offer you a One Man show or Solo Show the costs of the adver­tis­ing and enter­tain­ment for the affair can also be charged against your sales.

Gal­leries work extreme­ly well for flat work as paint­ings, etch­ing or prints. Prints usu­al­ly have the pref­er­ence as they can be racked and are inex­pen­sive­ly priced for cus­tomer from between $50 to $250. Plus print sales sup­port the fram­ing busi­ness that most gal­leries have.

As an artist you can incur unex­pect­ed costs by work­ing through a gallery set­ting.  Often a gallery will require you to car­ry insur­ance on the full sell­ing price of your work to pro­tect them from pay­ing for the nat­ur­al dam­age, wear and tear that can hap­pen to your work while in their cus­tody.  Also you as the artist are finan­cial­ly respon­si­ble for any ship­ping costs to and from the gallery.

High end arts and craft shows on the oth­er hand are where an artist rents space for the affair and then set up their own small, portable shop front. Depend­ing on the show you might be rent­ing a space inside a large build­ing, a cer­tain size of grass plot or some­times a sec­tion of tent. Check to see if you need to pur­chase elec­tric­i­ty or not … if you need it. You will most like­ly need to fur­nish your store set­tings as tables, table cloths and chairs.

For me the biggest dif­fer­ence between a gallery and an arts/craft show is the atmos­phere. A gallery is qui­et, con­tem­pla­tive, one or two peo­ple at a time and ‘I’m con­sid­er­ing buy­ing’ place. A shows in noisy, bus­sel­ly, some­times hordes of peo­ple and ‘I have mon­ey in my pock­ets’ place .…

If I may be so bold as to throw out a few ideas for you to con­sid­er before your next show:

1. Cre­ate your ‘store front’ care­ful­ly and well before you go to any show.

Make it adjustable by using small­er table units (4′ sec­tions) that can be rearranged to fit any space.

Make it match. Go ahead and invest some mon­ey into a nice look­ing arrange­ment of match­ing fur­ni­ture pieces instead of going to the base­ment and grab­bing some saw hors­es and old ply­wood scraps. The first looks pro­fes­sion­al and prof­itable imply­ing that you have made enough sales to jus­ti­fy the set up. The lat­ter looks throw togeth­er and just cheap so to the cus­tomer you obvi­ous­ly are not a sell­ing artist.

Don’t use table cloths to “hide” struc­tur­al units. Use cloth to give accent and col­or to your pieces. Cloth works won­der­ful­ly as a visu­al divider between items or groups of items.

I once saw a set­up of shelves cre­at­ed with small step 5′ high step lad­ders. The lad­ders were paint­ed bright fire engine red with black trim for the met­al parts. Then white paint­ed boards were slid through the steps to cre­ate the shelv­ing. The craft ware could be set on the shelves, cer­tain pieces fea­tured on the step lad­ders top board or inside the A shape of the lad­der steps and more piece hung from the sides of the lad­ders. Easy to put up, take down and extreme­ly eye catch­ing.

2. Some things small and inex­pen­sive — some things medi­um and afford­able — some things expen­sive and impres­sive — at least three things out­ra­geous­ly priced and just in your face atten­tion grab­bers. As a pyro show artist I would include key rings with quick and easy designs and maybe ribbons/silk flow­ers on the key ring that any­one could afford. Next would be my ‘bread and but­ter’ price range with items that both art­sy and use­ful as your purs­es or as spoon hold­ers or let­ter box­es. Then I would show my ‘com­mis­sion’ area of work as burn­ings of a pet por­trait group along with the orig­i­nal pho­tos that I used. Final­ly I would show a few works that were priced just above my chok­ing lim­it as a framed and mat­ted 12″ x 24″ full col­or drag­on burn­ing or a full dec­o­rat­ed man’s leather vest.

(Chok­ing price is where I still have my fin­gers tight­ly gripped around the work but the mon­ey in your hands that you are wav­ing under my nose smells awful good.)

3. Don’t set a table between you and your cus­tomers. Keep an open area where you are invit­ing them into your stu­dio and shop area. A table becomes a visu­al bar­ri­er between you, them, and what you have to sell. It’s the biggest bar­ri­er for a cus­tomer to cross if they want to buy!!!!

Bring along anoth­er per­son so that you have one work­ing the sale and one watch­ing the wares, and take turns. Often my Michael is a far bet­ter sales per­son than I am as he can brag about his wife far bet­ter than I can.  So over the years he was our pri­ma­ry sales­man at any show.

4. When­ev­er pos­si­ble demon­strate at the shows. Set a small table at the side of your booth; in fact creep it out into the walk­ing path. Have sev­er­al pieces on the table in dif­fer­ent fin­ished stages. Let your cus­tomers see how much work goes into what they are going to buy.

Tell them about your­self, how you are a ‘trained artist’ or ‘self-taught’ artist and a lit­tle some­thing about why you chose burn­ing. Cus­tomers love to take home a sto­ry along with their pur­chased item.

5.  Cre­ate bright­ly col­ored match­ing long aprons!  You can get can­vas aprons at or that can be hand paint­ed.  Use acrylic paints and dec­o­rate the whosits out of them.  They don’t have to match for each per­son in the show booth but should have your name plas­tered bold­ly in the upper cen­ter sec­tion.

Why!  Because you want them to remem­ber your name. You want them to go home with some­thing more than “I saw this wood carv­er who does chain saw bears”. What you want is for them to go home and tell the sto­ry that they saw this chain saw carv­er named “Carvin’ Calvin”. Hav­ing your shop name or the name you carve under bold­ly paint­ed on your chest is instant adver­tis­ing and instant recog­ni­tion at the next show they go to.

Plus no show per­son wants to stand all day long in their own booth.  Every once in a while you will want to go for a walk, stretch your legs and check out the com­pe­ti­tion.  Why not adver­tise while you do it … :)

6.  Add some­thing smelly to your craft shop.  I know this one sounds fun­ny but smell is a major fac­tor in catch­ing people’s atten­tion and in get­ting them to remem­ber you!  I learned this one through my favorite quilt fab­ric shop.  The own­er had bowls and bowls of pot­pour­ri every­where in the shop.  Her store smelled like apples and cin­na­mon.  Lat­er when I would root through my quilt fab­ric and come across a piece I had pur­chased at her shop that fab­ric still smelled like apples and cin­na­mon … guess who’s store I thought of every time I went look­ing through my fab­ric!

As a carv­er at a show I would hide cedar chips through­out the store area.  They smell great and they have a com­mon­ly rec­og­nized wood smell.  As a pyro­g­ra­ph­er I prob­a­bly would use one of the musky incense smells, some­thing mas­cu­line and strong as san­dal­wood or a spice smell as nut­meg.

Smell sells … it’s sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly said to be one of the ways we decide who we will part­ner with as mates, so to me it’s fair game as a busi­ness own­er.

7. Remem­ber that most sales made through an arts and crafts show come after the show has closed, not dur­ing the show. So have lots of hand out, fliers and busi­ness cards ready with your name, busi­ness name, address, email, blog url, and phone num­ber clear­ly print­ed.

I remem­ber one of my first show­ings was a real flop, I think we made all of three sales that three day week­end. But the next week­end the phone rang off the hook with peo­ple would had picked up a busi­ness card at the show and want­ed to set up a com­mis­sion sale.

Stan­dard Dis­claimer:  This is just my expe­ri­ence, oth­ers may have a total­ly dif­fer­ent view.  Please take what you want and throw the rest away.,

Designs Online Since 1997 by L.S.Irish

LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures many of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.



Patterns From Lora S. Irish

Patterns From Lora S. Irish

LSIrish-grizzly LSIrish-deer LSIrish-cougar


Pat­terns are for per­son­al use only, and may not be dupli­cat­ed for resale or sold with­out pri­or writ­ten per­mis­sion.,

2016 Designs Online Since 1997 by L.S.Irish

LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures many of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.



Beginner Tool Sets

Beginner’s Tool Sets

By Lora S. Irish

I am a real believe in beginner’s carv­ing tool sets for sev­er­al rea­sons.  Usu­al­ly we, Mike and I, sug­gest a basic five or six tool set for around $50 and a bench knife or chip knife as your first invest­ment into carv­ing.  So our begin­ners start with an invest­ment of less than $100.

There are sev­er­al forms of carv­ing where one or two tools are real­ly all you need to start our hob­by as fig­ure carv­ing or whit­tling with a bench knife or high qual­i­ty pock­et style knife — chip carv­ing where a chip knife and stab knife will do every­thing you need.  But those two tools — the bench knife/chip knife and stab knife — will not let you explore relief carv­ing!

A basic beginner’s set with round gouges, chis­els, skews and v-gouges will let a begin­ner try every style of carv­ing. After you have set­tled into your favorite style of carv­ing you may end up using just a few of the tools, so some may seem a waste of invest­ment.  For some rea­son I have nev­er got­ten com­fort­able with the skew chis­el?!? But hav­ing enough tool pro­files at the start of your hob­by gives you so much more vari­ety in carv­ing styles that I believe they are worth it.

I start­ed with wood spir­it walk­ing sticks and a bench knife was all I real­ly had to have.  Yet, some­how, I have end­ed up a relief carv­er and just a bench knife won’t get me very far into this form of carv­ing.

With an inex­pen­sive (notice I did not say a CHEAP craft store set) beginner’s set you have at hand the basic tools for any carv­ing you might want to try.  As you devel­op you style, dis­cov­er your favorite vari­a­tion of carv­ing then add high qual­i­ty tools specif­i­cal­ly for your type of carv­ing.  But don’t throw that beginner’s set away as one day some­thing might catch you atten­tion and you will be delight­ed that you have them on hand.


This basic begin­ners carv­ing set includes two sizes of round chis­els, a skew chis­el, a straight chis­el, and a v-gouge.  Also shown are a long-blad­ed bench knife and a large chip carv­ing knife for straight-edge cuts.


Sharp­en­ing stones, strops and rouge are an impor­tant part of any carver’s tool kit.  No mat­ter how much a carv­ing tool ini­tial­ly cost, it is no bet­ter than its cut­ting edge.  Shown here are a Japan­ese wet stone, ceram­ic stones, a pro­filed hon­ing strop, leather strop, and a syn­thet­ic strop.  You can also obtain vary­ing grits of emery cloth at your local hard­ware store for edge sharp­en­ing.


Many of the tools that will end up in your carv­ing kit are basic house­hold tools.  Scis­sors, ink pens, pen­cils, and graphite paper are used to trans­fer your pat­tern to the wood.  A T-square will help you prop­er­ly set the pat­tern to the wood blank.  You will need sand­pa­per is sev­er­al grits from 150- to 320-grit for prepar­ing your wood and for smooth­ing out rough areas in the carv­ing.  You will also need mask­ing tape, dust­ing brush­es, and an assort­ment of small rif­fle files.


For many carv­ings, whether you do 3-D work or relief carv­ing, will require some means of secur­ing the wood.  Shown here is a basic bench hook or brac­ing board that you can make out of scrap ply­wood.  The front edge of the board drops over the edge of your table.  The back cor­ner brace allows you to push the cut­ting stroke into the cor­ner with­out the wood mov­ing from the pres­sure of the tools. (Plans for the bench hook may be found by click­ing HERE).

Just my opin­ion.,

Designs Online Since 1997 by Lora S. Irish

LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures many of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.



Lora Irish’s Santa

Santa Pattern

By Lora S. Irish

Here is a great San­ta pat­tern, com­pli­ments of Lora Irish!


LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures hun­dreds of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.



Lora Irish’s Mountainman Cane Topper

Mountainman Cane Carving Pattern

By Lora S. Irishmountainman_cane_sm06I have been carv­ing a Moun­tain Man Cane Top­per the last few days to use in a sharp­en­ing e-project book.  Over the last three decades I have loved the joy of carv­ing, but I must admit that even after that long a peri­od there are some projects that just leave me with a full, big smile when I am done.  This Moun­tain Man Cane top­per is one of those moments.

Since I have lots of walk­ing sticks, I decid­ed to make this Moun­tain Man into a Talk­ing Stick, with a short, 16″ staff.  After the carv­ing, which is worked on a 1 1/2″ square by 6″ bass­wood block, was fin­ished, I drilled the 3/8″ mount­ing holes for my hard­wood join­ing dow­el.  Then I dry-checked the fit, test­ing that the dow­el fit tight and square to both the staff and the carv­ing.

mountainman_cane_sm02My beloved hub­by, Michael, was watch­ing me work and com­ment­ed, “What that lit­tle old man needs is a long cher­ry wood pipe!”.  I knew instant­ly he was absolute­ly right, so I head­ed off to our wood to find a cher­ry branch the right size for my carv­ing.  I cut the branch as shown in the pho­to, then cut a shal­low hole in the top of the pipe area for the bowl.



mountainman_cane_sm03With a 3/16″ drill bit I cre­at­ed a hole in the bot­tom side of the pipe where it would touch the Talk­ing Stick, and a hole is the stick at the same place.  A 1″ piece of 3/16″ dow­el could then be set into the pipe bot­tom to anchor and secure it to the staff.

To strength­en the pipe bit in the mouth, I used a small round gouge to cre­ate a hole in the under­side of the mus­tache so that about 1/2″ of cher­ry wood stem can be set into the carv­ing.

With wood glue I set the hard­wood dow­el for the cane top­per and the talk­ing stick staff.  Next, using a one yard length of 1/8″ raw hide leather cord, I wrapped the joint between the carv­ing and the staff.

mountainman_cane_sm05The com­plete cane now has two join­ing dow­els – one to secure the carv­ing to the talk­ing stick staff, and one to join the bot­tom of the pipe to the staff.  The hole inside the mus­tache area is large enough to allow my pipe to shift, and shrink light­ly as it dries.  The leather raw hide dis­guis­es the joint line between the carv­ing and the stick.

Because my cher­ry wood pipe is fresh cut wood, it is only dry-set into place.  In a cou­ple of months, after the cher­ry dries well I will glue it into its final posi­tion.  Well, I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear when I showed Michael how won­der­ful­ly his idea worked out!   And this project and the smile it brought to me even after decades of carv­ing, sim­ply remind­ed me of how much joy the art of wood carv­ing brings.

So, I want to share that joy this morn­ing by giv­ing you, for your per­son­al use, the pat­tern for this Moun­tain Man Cane top­per, so you can cre­ate your own!  Click on the image to the right for a full-sized copy of this free wood carv­ing pat­tern.

Irish_Mountainman_Cane_02 Irish_Mountainman_Cane_01Click on any of the images for a larg­er ver­sion.

LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures hun­dreds of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.