I attended my first ever Goderich Celtic Roots Festival in 2018 as a vendor and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Each year, Linda Wiebe designs the festival logo and for many of the years, the artwork has been a colourful, multi-faceted representation of an animal. This year it is a 'Swimming Otter.'
I had wanted to make an intarsia piece for some time, but I had yet to come up with a design that inspired me to give it a try. Aside from being ridiculously ambitious for a first attempt, it was this design that made me want to take the leap. I contacted Linda to ask permission to use her original artwork, and she graciously agreed. As I started planning the project, it dawned on me how complex and time consuming it would be. It stayed in the planning stage for longer than I care to admit.
The first thing I needed to do was make a digital vector version of the artwork. I am slowly getting better at Adobe Illustrator, but as I began, I realised how many hours it would take me. I decided to outsource this step and used the service Fiverr. This allowed me to describe the work I needed done, set a budget, and wait for bids from people willing to take on the job. I quickly connected with an expert at such tasks; I believe they were based in India. Below is the vector artwork they produced, with each individual piece of the intricate artwork outlined.
Once I had the vector, I was able to then colour each piece as the next step in creating my cutting patterns.
I separated out each colour coded piece and arranged them in the shape of the pieces of wood I was going to use.
With patterns made for the four different colours, I began the arduous process of hand cutting each piece on the scrollsaw. This was the most time consuming step. I managed to procrastinate for about three months, repeatedly putting it off and finding other projects to work on instead. Eventually I had all the pieces cut; I never did count how many there were.
Once cut out, they sat in a box awaiting the next step ... sanding. Then they sat in the box a little longer. You may be sensing a pattern here, and there were plenty of times I considered quitting the project. I was not sure if all the time and effort would be worth it. However, as the Festival date approached, I finally took the box off the shelf and got back to work. As I removed the paper pattern from the pieces and began to put this puzzle back together in a dry fit test, I could see the potential of this artwork. I found a new excitement to see the project through to completion.
I spent countless hours sanding to make sure every piece fit, meticulously sanding all of the edges of each one. My fingers had a pretty good exfoliation too, trying to keep hold of the many tiny pieces!
Next up was the nerve-wracking task of gluing each piece to the backer board. Having so much time already invested, I was scared of making a mistake and potentially ruining the whole thing. However, it went together really nicely and I only had to tweak one or two pieces to make them fit.
The final step before framing was to apply the finish. I sprayed on many layers of polyurethane. This is when I had my 'WOW' moment, and decided that all the work so far had been totally worth it. The finish brought a deep glow to the natural colours of the woods I had chosen. At this point the otter itself, whose intricate markings I had become so familiar with, seemed to come to life.
The woods I used are Padauk, Purpleheart, Walnut, and Pau Amarello.
I'd love for you to meet my new aquatic friend. 'Swimming Otter' will be on display and for sale at the 2019 Goderich Celtic Roots Festival from 9-11th August 2019. Please contact me directly if you are interested in purchasing.
That is an amazing piece of work. I can’t imagine how many hours you put into it.