I’ve Been Burning Art Onto Wood and Leather for More than 20 Years
In 1999 Jeff and I purchased 20 acres of bare land on Central Oregon’s High Desert, loaded up two U-haul trucks, and moved with our family of 6 kids from Beaverton to try our hand at off-grid living. We and our older children built cabins using only manual hand tools. We hauled water for drinking, washing, and food prep 35 miles from town using 30 gallon Rubbermaid trash cans. We used a composting toilet system. We had some electricity from a marine battery and inverter system which we used to power the lights and a tv/vcr combo in our cabin where we ate dinner (which I cooked on a Coleman camping stove) and watched videos with the kids each evening. Heat was supplied by propane tanks outside each building that were attached to portable Black Cat camping heaters mounted on the interior walls. Internet access was only available in town and in 1999 there was very limited cell-phone access.
Sooo…we had lots of time to kill!
I have been an artist all my life and love making things with my hands. Prior to our move from the city I had purchased a cheap, craft-store wood burning tool to play with and decided it might be fun to dig it out of storage and see what kind of art I could create. I’ve been reproducing photos, some full-color others only sepia-tones, ever since.
That was more than 20 years ago.
Some of My First Pieces…
I practiced a lot!
I actually still have a handful of the very first pieces I created.
We survived living on our own property from early July 1999 until mid March of 2000. But once the snow got so bad that it was nearly impossible to get in and out of our own property (did I mention we lived 4 miles down a dirt road from the nearest paved street? That was where we had to meet the school bus each morning and afternoon for the kids’ 70 mile round-trip daily ride to the k-12 school!) I had had ENOUGH! LOL!
I began asking locals about vacant houses in the area we might rent and I was able to make arrangements to move into an old house on a 160 acre ranch with a big, red 3-story barn and multiple out buildings. There I scavenged a bunch of scrap wood that was lying around and these two are some of the first pieces I created out there.
Ultimately we moved back to the city…
First to Bend then eventually we returned to the Greater Portland Metro area where we have remained for the last 10 years.
And the rest is history.
Initially I created burnings as a hobby. A way to while away the hours and explore my creativity. Then I started making pieces as gifts for family members and friends. But once we moved back to Beaverton and other people saw my art I began to receive requests for commissioned pieces. So I made a website and a Facebook page and over time more and more people have approached me…both business owners as well as private clients…to order one-of-a-kind, handcrafted works of art.
I really love this work! The smell of the wood as it’s burning (I have a much better, professional-quality, temperature-regulated burning tool now, btw!), the entire creative process of working with my hands, and the personal gratification that comes from engaging closely with each client to craft something truly meaningful that will be cherished for years.
Hearth and Forge came about after I received several requests for large orders of multiples of the same item (think 500 coasters for a wedding reception, 75 donor recognition plaques as thank you’s for a non-profit ballot initiative, etc.) that would be difficult or impossible for me to complete by hand…especially at a reasonable price. So, I needed a way to meet these customer’s needs in a time-efficient and cost-effective way.
Enter the laser-engraving machine!
With it I can burn multiples of a project with precision and speed…at a much more affordable price than I could ever offer crafting pieces by hand! It doesn’t offer the depth of character and one-of-a-kind look and feel that can only come from the time-intensive and loving attention to detail that comes with a hand-burned piece. But it creates beautiful copies of almost any graphic, logo, lettering, etc. with fidelity and precision. So, this machine gives me great options and expands my existing business tremendously!
I still take on handcrafted pyrography projects. But they are fewer these days and my focus is moving more and more toward building the laser-engraving division of my business.
Whether you are looking for a one-of-a-kind, personalized and handcrafted piece, or you need business signage or multiples of a product (name plates, thank you plaques, hang tags, give-aways with your logo on them, etc.) I encourage you to Contact Me and let’s explore your vision & dream together!
I look forward to hearing from you.
All the very best,