Heart, Daniel D. Brown PhD, 2023

There is a man named Parag Chowdhury. He professes about hearts and viscera and other anatomical and physiological science out in California. It’s also his birthday this weekend.

I met Parag back at the small liberal arts Hendrix College in Arkansas back in the 90s. The older brother of my good friend Pritam (now an archaeologist), I’d mostly see him at parties – first in the dorms, and later at the “log cabin.” Parag was and is – hands down – the smartest, coolest motherfucker I’ve ever met. Incidentally, his influence over the years as he forged his path through science and life had a major impact on the trajectory of my own career in the biomedical sciences. So when his wife Julia @juleschools asked if I’d consider making something for his big bday, I was immediately all in.

I designed and built this heart over the course of two months from South American bloodwood (the heart chambers), African padauk (the oxygenated vessels), and Central
American purpleheart (the deoxygenated vessels), all cut by hand on a scrollsaw. Those coronary arteries were… not easy. The background is American curly maple. Obviously some artistic liberties were taken. The padauk and purpleheart will darken dramatically with UV/oxidation over time. But the bloodwood should remain red, which is why I chose it for the heart itself.

I got my PhD studying the genetics of cardiogenesis (heart development)… holy crap like 17 years ago now 😲. So the heart has additional importance to me, especially given that my own heart has… issues. For this reason I actually made 2 of them. One for Parag and one for me.

Yoda, Daniel D. Brown, 2023

“Yoda” wood intarsia. Hand cut on a scrollsaw. All natural wood colors. No paints or stains.
I first saw The Empire Strikes Back when it came out on vhs tape sometime between 1984-1987 when I was 7-10 yrs old. My wife @tam_a_ryn wasn’t even born yet! I wasn’t quite 3 when it came out in theaters in 1980. Actually, the original Star Wars and I were both “released” the same year (‘77).
The entire concept behind Yoda – this wizened, ugly, ridiculous little frog man who is actually a powerful warrior/space wizard – was both hilarious and mind-blowing to my impressionable young brain. I learned several incredibly important lessons watching (and rewatching and rewatching) “ESB”:
1) “Size matters not!” I was a very small kid – the shortest boy in like every single class until 7th grade. So I took this to heart. I’m thankful I never developed “little man syndrome” overcompensating with aggression. Perhaps I have Yoda at least partially to thank for this?
2) Do not judge a book by its cover. Again… ugly little green weirdo = great Jedi warrior.
3) Wisdom can be expressed with both extreme silliness and deep gravitas. I doubt I was aware I was learning this lesson. But I’d wager that my personality containing a fair mix of both irreverent humor and (I hope) some existential wisdom can be traced at least to some degree to this ridiculous little puppet voiced by the great Frank Oz.

I built this for myself. It is not for sale and I don’t take commissions.

Built from London plane, elm, holly, white oak, ebony, walnut, purpleheart, bloodwood, padauk, wenge, and an endangered wood I’ve decided not to advertise (I don’t want to increase demand. This is from an old turning block I’ve been saving).
Soundboard: @adafruit

Nuthatch & Chickadee, Daniel D. Brown PhD, 2023

Nuthatch & Chickadee.
Handmade wall art to adorn our bedroom wall along with my previously made song sparrow.
All cut by hand with a scrollsaw and chisel from a variety of wood species. No paint or stain. See my previous posts for more details and the story highlight on my profile, which documented the whole process.

Sir Rano Ham(ster), Daniel D. Brown PhD, 2022

This is “Sir Rano Ham,” the beloved fuzzy little hamster-son of our friends Hailey and Mitch (@haileyherdlinger@roguetripusa). @tam_a_ryn and I recently pet-sat him while they went on vacation for 2 weeks. They had told us that he was slowing down, having some troubles, and might not have long on this earth. He was ~4 years old and they typically live 2-3 years. Wouldn’t you know it, he decided to shuffle off this mortal wheel in his sleep at our house, literally as they were hours away coming home to retrieve him. Needless to say, we were all pretty devastated. So obviously I had to immortalize him in wood.

Handcut with a scrollsaw and built from mahogany, honey locust heartwood (pinkish) and sapwood (whitish), holly (regular and blue-spalted), walnut, apple, and wenge.

Please note: I do not take commissions.

Frick Gatehouse, Daniel D. Brown PhD, 2022

If you live in Pittsburgh, you know this iconic structure. It’s the Frick Gatehouse that serves as one of the entrances into our gorgeous Frick Park. My buddy Joseph Parente (@josephparente) restored its roof.

He also fixed our roof twice, purely out of the kindness of his heart. Last year he came out and patched our roof after he saw a story I posted complaining about our leak. The first time he fixed it, we hadn’t even met in person – only through IG! Obviously he’s a truly great person. He mainly does cool historic roofing/restoration using things like fancy copper work that I know nothing about. So I decided a long while back that he needed a wooden artwork in appreciation. It took me forever to figure out what to make, but once I saw him work on this structure, I had the answer! I gather that he put a lot into landing this gig and it seemed like something he was particularly proud of.
Unfortunately, the bridge next to the gatehouse collapsed last year, making national news in the process (it happened literally hours before the President’s infrastructure bill speech*). Swipe to see the Pres in front of it. Miraculously, the gatehouse was totally unharmed! But it also meant I could no longer get to it for photos. So this piece is based on fuzzy photos I found online.
Made mostly from local wood scavenged myself – mostly storm-felled sycamore from nearby Schenley Park. It also has a bit of nearly extinct black stinkwood from an antique South African chair. Also holly, walnut, apple (thanks @afonticiella), crabapple, elm, wenge, sapele, basswood, and curly maple. Obviously the green is dyed. All the rest is natural. With copper foil on some pieces.
I hope you enjoy it, brother!

*political comments will be deleted/blocked. IG and art is where I come to escape all that. General comments on the state of our bridges is acceptable 😂