No Risk, No Reward or Safety in Numbers, Daniel D. Brown, 2019

The title is meant to embody the dual possible fates of that lone fish racing from the school. Schooling evolved for a reason, as there can certainly safety in numbers in this scenario. Unless the sharks devour the entire school (google “baitball” from Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet). But perhaps if it swims fast enough it may escape being lunch. Or it may just make itself a target. I think this duality can serve as a metaphor to many aspects of our own lives as well, if you use your imagination.
I built this piece over the course of a few weeks, the process of which I documented with more stories than I’ve ever made (see “Sharks!” highlight on my profile). My inspiration came from both Blue Planet and from a photo of unknown provenance I saw online showing sharks swimming through a school of fish. One of my goals was to use different tools and clashing styles, with no idea how the final piece would look together. I was filled with trepidation starting it, just because of the complexity of scrollsaw work in the fish layers. But it wasn’t as difficult as I feared. I did make the fish bigger than planned, due to the exponential increase in the number of cuts with decreasing fish size.
I drew the initial design in illustrator, making many versions of one fish using the new “puppet warp” tool. The fish are built of three two-tone layers, with an alternating gradient of tones (i.e. mahogany/walnut, red oak/mahogany, ash/red oak – from bottom to top). These were scrollsawed. 
The blacktip reef sharks were made from a single piece of ash, first roughed out on the bandsaw, then power-carved with various Dremel burrs and some hand carving. The fin details were all pyrography using @tamarynart’s wood burner. The ocean floor is a nice piece of “curly” maple I had that I thought would be nicely reminiscent of both a sandy floor and the caustic light refracted from waves above. Finally, the walnut frame was power carved using @kutzall carving dishes on an angle grinder. The scene was finished with minwax gloss and the frame with Arm-R-Seal semi-gloss.

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“No Risk, No Reward or Safety in Numbers” The title is meant to embody the dual possible fates of that lone fish racing from the school. Schooling evolved for a reason, as there can certainly safety in numbers in this scenario. Unless the sharks devour the entire school (google “baitball” from Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet). But perhaps if it swims fast enough it may escape being lunch. Or it may just make itself a target. I think this duality can serve as a metaphor to many aspects of our own lives as well, if you use your imagination. I built this piece over the course of a few weeks, the process of which I documented with more stories than I’ve ever made (see “Sharks!” highlight on my profile). My inspiration came from both Blue Planet and from a photo of unknown provenance I saw online showing sharks swimming through a school of fish. One of my goals was to use different tools and clashing styles, with no idea how the final piece would look together. I was filled with trepidation starting it, just because of the complexity of scrollsaw work in the fish layers. But it wasn’t as difficult as I feared. I did make the fish bigger than planned, due to the exponential increase in the number of cuts with decreasing fish size. I drew the initial design in illustrator, making many versions of one fish using the new “puppet warp” tool. The fish are built of three two-tone layers, with an alternating gradient of tones (i.e. mahogany/walnut, red oak/mahogany, ash/red oak – from bottom to top). These were scrollsawed. The blacktip reef sharks were made from a single piece of ash, first roughed out on the bandsaw, then power-carved with various Dremel burrs and some hand carving. The fin details were all pyrography using @tamarynart’s wood burner. The ocean floor is a nice piece of “curly” maple I had that I thought would be nicely reminiscent of both a sandy floor and the caustic light refracted from waves above. Finally, the walnut frame was power carved using @kutzall carving dishes on an angle grinder. The scene was finished with minwax gloss and the frame with Arm-R-Seal semi-gloss. #powercarving #scrollsawart #sharkart #woodart #woodsculpture

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🦈 If you’ve seen my stories, you know I’ve started a new art project. This will be a 3D piece with blacktip reef sharks swimming into a school a fish, made with a mix of scrollsaw, dremel, handcarving, bandsaw, and pyrography. When I first came up with the idea, I was VERY skeptical that it would even be worth trying. Even after designing it in illustrator, I wasn’t sure if I could really pull the scrollsawing off, or whether the layered pieces would look as cool as I imagined it might. I also wasn’t super confident I could carve a decent shark. But I’m far enough along to say that I’m pretty stoked with how it’s turning out. Each of the 3 layers of fish are themselves made of two layers. I wanted to give the fish a two-tone appearance on the sides, with walnut/mahogany on the bottom layer, then mahogany/red oak, and finally red oak/ash on top. So the bottom of each layer matches the top of the next higher layer, creating a sort of alternate gradient. The sharks are being carved from ash and I plan to burn the “black tips” on them. I used a really nice piece of curly maple I had lying around to be the “sand” beneath them. There will also be one escaping fish between the sharks. #woodworking #woodart #woodsculpture #shark #sharkart

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Pittsburgh/London Name Plaque – Daniel D. Brown, 2018

A few weeks ago some labmates asked me to make a name placard for their adviser/boss (my colleague and future boss) on his 50th birthday. I finally got around to trimming up some of the video I took (below). These are just quickly edited on my phone and will be incredibly boring for other woodworkers. It’s more for Adrian and others who don’t know what goes into this sort of thing. Happy birthday, Dr. Lee!
At the end you can briefly see another small one I did for a graduating PhD student, Dr. Ahmed Basudan (congrats @amab424!).

 

Tree Table Lamp – Daniel D. Brown, 2017, Wood

I’ve been needing a bedside table lamp in our new house for a while now. So I spent over a month designing and building this thing with a whole host of tools and techniques. Needless to say, it was a hell of a learning experience! I detailed pretty much the whole process through instagram (which I do often with my artwork – follow me if you wanna keep up):

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My bedside table lamp is complete! It only took me a month. lol. I finished it up with rice paper and polystyrene for the lampshade today. I designed it myself from scratch and constructed it from mahogany and walnut wood scraps and cutoffs (bought for almost nothing on Craigslist). It was made mainly using a @portercable scrollsaw, @dewalttough table saw, @makitatools sander and angle grinder with carving wheel from @kutzall, and a @boschtoolsna router. It’s lit with a #phillipshue white ambience smart bulb. Also, I can control it just by telling Siri on my iPhone what to do, which is more handy than I expected (and works really well). Thanks to my amazing wife @tam_a_ryn for letting me disappear into the workshop far too many nights and weekends for such a simple thing!

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This pile of mahogany is gonna be a lamp base. I hope.

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Scrolling #scrollsaw

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I often find that the hardest part of a project is just getting my ass off the couch and starting. Especially once it becomes cold and gray here in Pittsburgh. But I succeeded in at least that much today after work. This is the very early beginnings of a bedside table lamp (which I desperately need). Step 1 (not including the initial design in my head and computer) was actually acquiring the wood, which I did a few weeks ago when I majorly scored a carload of mahogany offcuts for $15 from a cool dude who does much more serious furniture work. Step 2 is what you see here. I resawed (very slowly and carefully) the wood into 1/4” strips to glue up as panels. Obviously it won’t make sense yet. You’ll see…

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