The Wheel of the Year Turns Again

Making much progress on the Wheel of the Year project. This is one of the never ending projects. 4 years now I think. I work on it a bit, put it down, work on it, put it down. It finally told me that the segments were complete. I was doubtful as I was thinking “no more is better, more stuff more stuff” and this voice said  “no, plenty of stuff, you need white space for the eye to rest!”

Note: These photos don’t do it justice.  Made some progress leaning my camera as well so these are the last icky photos…

This piece will be almost 4′ across once complete.  It consists of 8 pie shaped pieces, each on representing a sacred time of the Celtic/pagan year.  Starting with Imbolg/Candlemas and moving towards Yule (Imbolg, Ostara, Beltaine, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule) it is made from wool felt with beading, embroidery, and felt/and velvet applique.  Each piece has an animal and a plant associated with that time of the year, celebrating fertility, life,death, and rebirth.

I’ve finally got the pie pieces connected to each other and have the central motif of the sun and moon begun.  Each section will be separated by a green velvet ribbon.  It will be backed with green wool felt and have, in each corner, an embroidery of an element (earth, air, fire, water).  I’m really getting close to completion and once again I’m excited about it.

Gallery of past progress


Fires – A work in progress

The burn is done.

I love the smell of burning wood, always have, always will.  It’s the smell of cozy on a cold day when you have a fire in the hearth. It’s the smell of your hair after a long weekend camping and telling stories around the campfire at night.  It snowed last night and more is coming and the house is cozy and warm and welcoming with soup and tea and yes, fire.  But burning wood is also the smell of pyrography!

I’ve really come to love combining pyrography and drawing.  I love embroidery but boy is it labor intensive and it can take a while before you see an end result (ask me about my never ending projects!).  With pyrography I get the same love of the creative process, the sketching and designing, the color planning, the execution but it takes so much less time for me to complete. And I love the results as much as I do those of stitch work.  They both feel great in the hands, during and after creation.

The Process

I loved it so much I bought a Dagger III Detail Master.  Oooh, tools boys ‘n girls, tools.  This is a professional wood burning tool with interchangeable points that can create a large variety of burn marks.  You can also adjust the heat settings.  The more I use it, the more comfortable I become with burn levels, different woods, and different techniques.

After much trial and error I use mostly Prismacolor colored pencils. I’ve tried other brands and, for paper, I think the Crayola pencils are surprising good for a fab price but they just aren’t so great on the wood.  I’ve tried dies (paper crafting) and paints (watercolor, acrylic) and stains (woodworking).  Nothing beats the colored pencils for achieving shading and color combinations that I can’t achieve with paints. The soft, waxy pencils allow the integrity of the wood to shine through in a way that paint just doesn’t. I like the natural non-toxic stains second best as they also allow the wood grain to show through but when I’m sitting on the couch watching re-runs of Firefly it can get a bit messy don’t you know.  And I simply I can’t layer them and create anything like the sunsets and depth of color that I get with pencils.  For me they are only good for color blocking.

Lastly I will varnish with a couple layers of non-toxic Modge Podge matte varnish. I love how it gives the final project a very low glow, it feels good to the hands, and doesn’t have a powerful odor, and cleans up with soap and water. I sand in between coats.  Again, I tried a few different varnishes before settling on this, even a soy based varnish that was basically useless.  I do have some nice beeswax rubs and know these work well on plain wood but have yet to test them on wood that has been colored with pencil. I worry about bleeding and should really do some testing soon.

The Project

I was commissioned over the holidays to make a box for the boss of a friend who is moving on to a new job. She gave me a price marker and some hints on things he likes.  Lucky Boss! and lucky me!  Since he loves the environment and nature, this made it very easy for me to come up with something.

This box is divided inside for playing cards but will also do quite nicely for office supplies like paper clips or personal bits and bobs and things.  And look grand on a desk or the like.

Mt. Rainier - You can see the sunrise that is the middle section of the vignette from Night to Day to Night around the sides of the box

Night to Day - The Brothers

Day to Night

Room for Sentiment

Stay tuned for the final reveal!