Doing the Thing

Welcome to 2019, when I spend my workdays using a laser to make personalized technology stands for gifts and customers. And laser cutting mini pseudo guitars. Like, what? I mean, cool, but that’s definitely not something I saw coming. All this laser art isn’t something I had planned out. Never been a graphic designer, never a woodworker, and I didn’t even know what vector art was until recently. I’ve learned a motherload of skills in the past year. But honestly, ten years ago (when I was easing off the acting gigs due to my first pregnancy), I wouldn’t have believed I’d become a fine art painter, either. People so kindly tell me all the time how talented I am, and my work is amazing, but honestly I don’t think I can do a whole lot more than what anyone else can do. If you really, really want to do something, you can. All you need is courage, persistence, and a willingness to research the hell out of it. Sure, it drives me nuts when my project isn’t turning out how I envisioned it. I hate wasting the time and the materials. But I literally learn something from every. single. project. And now, a decade after I first put paintbrush to canvas, and a year & two months after I first put vector illustration to laser, I can make pretty much anything that comes to me. Yeah, talent helps. A supportive family helps (a LOT). But as Bernadette Peters told my graduating class at Hofstra in 2002, it’s “Persistence, persistence, persistence.” I practiced my flute and handbells a gazillion times before I performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center and Disney World. I auditioned a gazillion times before I landed acting roles consistently enough to quit my day job. And now, I’ve made gazillion pieces of art before working on a major collection that I plan to show the country. Onward and upward, baby. You CAN do that thing you wish you could do. Just be willing to suck at it until you don’t.

Welp, now that I got my DO THE THING speech out of the way (you’ve heard it before, I’m sure), let me tell you what I did this week:

First thing was finishing a tablet stand for my mother-in-law. She has a contemporary aesthetic and loves the look of frosted glass, so I made the stand out of 1/4” thick clear acrylic. My mother-in-law is Muslim, so my sister-in-law tracked down the perfect calligraphy design for me to engrave: Arabic for “Read.” I love being able to make personal gifts that are both artsy and practical at the drop of a hat. Plus this one comes in two pieces, so it was easy to mail. Thanks, Glowforge!

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Next up was a commission for 25 keychains. One of my neighbor’s daughters has been advocating for a girls’ golf team at the local high school (weird that they didn’t have one already!). So, to remind the powers that be to ADD THIS TEAM, and to also pass out to her friends, I made phone-stand keychains engraved with a custom Lady Vikings logo. The logo my customer picked is similar to the original Vikings logo, except I added a golf ball pattern to the helmet. The material I used for these was also 1/4” acrylic. Now go out into the world, little keychains, and make some teens happy!

Lastly this week, I put some good hours into a musically themed sign commission. On my Featured Works page, you’ll see a sign with a miniature guitar and piano-inspired lettering mounted on a music book. This is the sign I made for my musical daughter for her 9th birthday a couple weeks ago. When I posted this sign on Facebook and Instagram, I expected it would be a one-of-a-kind piece. However, I then received a lovely message from a college friend, who shared with me that her daughter just happens to have exactly the same interests as Fiona, and would I consider making her one, too. This was someone I always liked and respected, so yes, of course I’ll make one for her daughter. And I have to say, it’s definitely easier the second time around, since I’m not just making it up as I go along! I started by cutting the guitar out of this GORGEOUS 1/2” African Paduak my husband gave me for my birthday. The laser needed to make many passes to cut all the way through this wood, though, which burninates the edges all Trogdor style. Today I sanded off the char, and laid the first couple coats of dewaxed shellac. I’ve heard it’s good stuff to use to retain the beautiful red orange color of the natural wood (as long as you keep it out of direct sunlight). So while the shellac was drying, I cut out some of the many itty bitty details for the piece. Next week I’ll cut out the rest, paint some of those little pieces, and assemble the whole thing!

And now, my daughter is requesting that I teach her how to nail wood together. I don’t know specifically why, but it sounds like a good thing to do. Do the thing, my girl, do the thing.

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