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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Spinners, Daniel D. Brown, 2019

My latest wood intarsia artwork and first project of the new year is complete! The design and coloration pattern is very roughly based on spinner dolphins, though the actual color obviously is not.
I built this mostly from a rare find: an exotic shipping pallet from my workplace containing what looks to be mahogany (or something related) and other unknown species. It also contains black walnut on their backs, and tiny ebony wood eyes (those were a scrollsawing challenge!). The frame is power-carved alder (thanks @mpi_woodworking) with walnut splines.
I generally avoid shipping pallets for most everything. They’re a pain to break down, can ruin planer and saw blades, and can sometimes pose health hazards (this one was only heat treated). But when all you need are small pieces with a variety of colors and grain patterns, I’ve found them to come in quite handy when I’ve stumbled upon a couple good ones.

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“Spinners” – 2019 My latest wood intarsia artwork and first project of the new year is complete! The design and coloration pattern is very roughly based on spinner dolphins, though the actual color obviously is not. I built this mostly from a rare find: an exotic shipping pallet from my workplace containing what looks to be mahogany (or something related) and other unknown species. It also contains black walnut on their backs, and tiny ebony wood eyes (those were a scrollsawing challenge!). The frame is power-carved alder (thanks @mpi_woodworking) with walnut splines. I generally avoid shipping pallets for most everything. They’re a pain to break down, can ruin planer and saw blades, and can sometimes pose health hazards (this one was only heat treated). But when all you need are small pieces with a variety of colors and grain patterns, I’ve found them to come in quite handy when I’ve stumbled upon a couple good ones. #pittsburghwoodworking #woodworking #handmade #scrollsaw #scrollsawart #intarsia #madeinpittsburgh #dolphinart #spinnerdolphins

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“Spinners” – 2019 My latest wood intarsia artwork and first project of the new year is complete! The design and coloration pattern is very roughly based on spinner dolphins, though the actual color obviously is not. I built this mostly from a rare find: an exotic shipping pallet from my workplace containing what looks to be mahogany (or something related) and other unknown species. It also contains black walnut on their backs, and tiny ebony wood eyes (those were a scrollsawing challenge!). The frame is power-carved alder (thanks @mpi_woodworking) with walnut splines. I generally avoid shipping pallets for most everything. They’re a pain to break down, can ruin planer and saw blades, and can sometimes pose health hazards (this one was only heat treated). But when all you need are small pieces with a variety of colors and grain patterns, I’ve found them to come in quite handy when I’ve stumbled upon a couple good ones. #pittsburghwoodworking #woodworking #handmade #scrollsaw #scrollsawart #intarsia #madeinpittsburgh #dolphinart #spinnerdolphins

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Hippocampus, Daniel D. Brown, 2018

Wooden intarsia seahorse artwork, built from lacewood, cherry, mahogany, maple, walnut, mulberry, bloodwood, purpleheart, and ebony. The frame was made from reclaimed furniture: either black stinkwood or muninga (unclear which). The mulberry and cherry were milled myself from downed neighborhood trees. The frame wood came from a couple antique chairs purchased by my mother-in-law in Cape Town, S. Africa in the 1970s.
My final project of 2018 is now complete!

Posts during the making of…

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The purpose of this post is to talk for a minute about this super cool wood I’m using to make this frame. This is supposedly antique South African “black stinkwood” (Ocotea bullata), also called “cape walnut”. My mother-in-law @avrashorkend, a South African herself, bought a couple antique chairs made from this wood in the 1970s. She and my step-dad-in-law no longer wanted them, so we cut them up with a sawzall over thanksgiving and I brought the pieces home. Stinkwood used to be prevalent on Table Mountain in Cape Town, which @tam_a_ryn and I visited when we got married (she spent her childhood there). But the black stinkwood was massively overexploited by the timber/furniture industries in the ‘70s and was eradicated from most of its previous habitat. It’s now a protected species and no longer commercially available. It’s name apparently comes from the smell when it’s freshly felled. But I can tell you, this who-knows-how-old wood smelled *really* good in my shop. It actually smelled very similar to that characteristic sweet smell of African padauk. Thus, with the smell and comparing the grain to the limited images I could find online, I think there’s a decent chance this wood is actually Pterocarpus angiolensis (Muninga or African teak), which is closely related to padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii). This species is not CITES-listed and often used in furniture. It’s also known for being a pretty hardcore nasal irritant; and this wood made me sneeze and my nose run within a minute of taking off my mask with a little dust still in the air – more so than any other wood I’ve worked. Either way, it’s pretty cool to use these pieces in my artwork. If you or anyone you know is an expert in exotic African woods, feel free to add your 2 rand. #stinkwood #muninga #africanwood #padauk

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Just a random little intarsia begin this evening.

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When the Cows Come Home, Daniel D Brown, 2017 – Mixed Media

This is a sculpture/painting of migrating cownose rays. I made it over the course of a year,  making the actual work a year ago and the frame/base recently. I first laid down a layer of paint on a piece of 4″ x 4″ wood, followed by sequential layers of rays painted on Envirotex Lite resin with acrylic paint (six layers). The final ray was sculpted with apoxie sculpt and the water ripples were made with ModPodge. Finally, I made a base/frame from a chunk of walnut wood, which I sculpted with a dremel.

“When the Cows Come Home” – Daniel D Brown, 2017, Mixed Media

Here is a quick video showinf what the resin part actually looks like in 3D (with light refractions)

 

The light refractions are beautiful when the sun hits it right.

ModPodge ripples

      

Scrollsaw Nautilus Shell #4 – Daniel D. Brown, 2017, Red Oak, Poplar, and Pine

I made this one from the same wood I used to make Scrollsaw Nautilus Shell #3. I decided to try some more interesting shaping on this one. I also finished it with Walnut oil (food safe) instead of polyurethane.

 

Seen here compared to Scrollsaw Nautilus Shell #3