Another show for Linda Arredondo means back to the woodshop for me. Since I represent her work, I was approached to invite her to a show at Gallery Nord by the curator, Kathy Armstrong, this October. Of course, she accepted and now needs new panels to make new work. I am making test panels to experiment on. Then she will determine how large she wants to make the actual pieces. Of course it all begins with a trip to Home Depot to pick up wood. It is very important spending time choosing the wood. It has to be straight, otherwise it will warp causing the frame to bow. I have seen this ruin more than one piece of artwork. It is always disappointing to me when I see art that is not being displayed at it’s best potential. Problems like that can be corrected, but of course, involves carefully removing the canvas and replacing the warped piece of wood. It is time consuming, but I feel highly worth it, otherwise your art piece is essentially worthless. Sometimes you can’t predict when a piece of wood will bow and have to do this, no matter how hard you scrutinized the wood. The wood shop at the Southwest School of Art is my studio today. I love having access to such a beautiful table saw and miter saw. The compressor and nail gun are my favorite tools to work with. Cutting my time and energy by more than 90%, I can get a lot more work done in an hour or two than if I had to manually hammer in all the nails. In the time it takes with the nail gun, I would have hit the nail one time with my hammer! Cutting wood is very quick and easy with great equipment. Taking a 4′ x 8′ sheet of birch wood, I am turning it into three 12″ x 12″ panels and four 16″ x 20″ panels. Beginning at the table saw I cut it into four pieces, then cut those into seven pieces. There are several pieces left over that I will set aside. At some point later, I will turn those into various sizes of panels, but don’t have enough 2″ x 4″s to make supports for them now. Then onto to the 2″ x 4″s. I run them through the table saw, turning them into 2″ x 2″s. These could be bought that size, but are more expensive and I know it is something I can easily do myself. This is a smaller project that wouldn’t be too much more in cost, but it makes quite a difference when I am working on a larger number of panels. The drawback though, is that this can make it easier for a piece of wood to warp. I have never been able to use 100% of the wood for larger pieces, but they tend to straighten out when cut smaller. For some reason, that seems to release the tension that makes it warp. Either way, it is still lower in cost and I normally have a small stockpile of random wood for any number of uses. Next is assembly. Before I nail them together, I reinforce all of my supports with liquid nails . Taking this extra precaution is a step that I have gotten used to doing for large supports, that I just automatically do for all sizes now. Using the corner braces is required to make sure the frames are being assembled at a 45% angle. I have seen people try to assemble frames without the braces, but no matter how straight it looks, it never works out. Making frames isn’t necessarily difficult, just more time consuming. You can’t skip a step and if it is rushed, it shows in your craftsmanship. I honestly have found I enjoy the hands on construction of making supports. Never being handy or ever working in the wood shop my dad created growing up, I surprised myself with this skill, as an art student. Now, at art shows, I notice the supports the pieces are on. Sometimes they are very badly warped or wrapped, other times I have seen incredibly unique supports that become a display in itself. Of course, in between, are the majority of supports, quietly doing their job, unnoticed because they are done correctly and are showcasing the art.
I have my biggest order of panels to date. I am making all the panels for Linda Arredondo’s art show at Joan Grona’s in March. I am so excited for her! But I get to turn two 4’ x 8’ birch panels into god knows how many panels of all sizes! The goal is to have them done by the end of January. Working with nice pieces of wood like birch also makes a huge difference.
Originally, I began making my panels with masonite, due to a student budget. It drove my professor mad. But so did when I would use cheap paint. And yet using both of those cheap materials I still created my first break through painting in school that has since been sold.
While in school, I began making panels for sale, one semester earning enough to buy myself a ticket to Berlin. I noticed the quality of the canvas supports sold in stores where the bare minimum of what I expected. I refused to be overcharged for that. So now this is one of a million jobs that I take on the side for artists. I was never particularly handy in the wood shop growing up, so this even surprises me! This was a skill I learned as an adult and actually enjoy.
I dropped off six panels in several different sizes. I was told how sexy my panels are! Best compliment ever! It was nice to be appreciated. I use two to three types of sandpaper and begin using a sander, then finish by hand sanding the entire panel. I know I’m finished when I run my hand over the entire piece of wood and feel softness. This is most of the first panel. The largest is 5′ x 4′, the completed smallest are 30″ x 30″. There are still six 6” x 8” panels that I am not really looking forward to making. But I haven’t turned down any requests yet.