A Special Order
In early 2021, I was contacted by Krystle who had a very special enquiry for a custom wood art design. Krystle’s father who was a carpenter had recently passed away and while Krystle was clearing out his workshop and sorting through his belongings she wasn’t able to part with some of the timber items he had left behind.
She kept a dusty wooden toolbox and a little chest he had built, as well as a little timber stool. The pieces were covered in his scribbles, measurements and notes, drops of paint and had scratches all over them that had accumulated over the years. The timber was shiny and smooth where it had been touched so many times throughout their life and you could tell that each piece had been used and loved for decades.
The pieces had so much meaning to Krystle, but they were not very useful for her and were just catching dust in her house which didn’t do her father and his love for woodwork justice.
Krystle stumbled across our account on social media and had a beautiful idea. She asked me if I was able to take her dad’s pieces and use the materials to transform them into a wood mosaic. I said yes before she could even finish her sentence. It had been an idea of mine for a while but I wasn’t sure how to approach it and how to find a customer who was willing to part with their treasures knowing that they would ultimately be taken into pieces to be given a new life. I believe the universe has brought Krystle and me together.
Krystle visited me in my workshop shortly after and dropped off the little chest, the stool and her dad’s old toolbox. She instantly closed her eyes as she walked into my shop and told me how the smell of the tools and sawdust reminded her of her dad. It felt so good knowing that I was being given the opportunity to create something so meaningful for someone and to preserve Krystle’s memories of her dad in one of my wood mosaics.
The brief was easy: Use as much of Dad’s timber as possible and preserve his notes and scribbles. The scribbles were the first thing I noticed when Krystle handed over the items, and my immediate instinct was to make her father’s handwriting part of the core design of the artwork.
A Few Challenges
The first challenge was taking the pieces apart without breaking or damaging anything. What I had not thought of was the fact that back in the day, everyone used flathead screws and especially when they are old, rusty and slightly threaded they are reeeeeaally hard to remove. So I had to carefully undo each little screw by hand which wasn’t easy but I got there in the end. The next obstacle was the many, many nails that were used to keep the sides of the toolbox and chest together. Both pieces were actually made of plywood which had become brittle around the edges which made it tricky to pry the individual panels off of each other without snapping the whole thing in half. I am still pretty surprised that I managed to separate each part from the next without any cracks or loss of material.
If you would like to see me transform Krystle‘s piece head over to my Instagram profile STUDIO.SARAI and look for ‘Special Project’ in my story highlights.
Once I had taken the pieces apart I went on to cut everything into slimmer strips using both my mitre and table saw. I cut the table legs into flat cubes and kept the arrow-shaped sides of the toolbox intact. Now I was getting ready to start the actual artwork design.
The Design Process
For some reason I thought the design was going to be very difficult for me to make, simply because I really didn’t want to stuff it up, I only had this one chance to create this artwork for Krystle and I couldn’t afford to make any errors. That pressure made me think I’d spend days creating her design but oh, how I was wrong. The second I put the first pieces on the board (Dad’s scribbles) the rest of the design came together on its own. It was one of those projects where I almost went into a meditative state with my hands just finding the right piece and the pieces then navigating their way into the design. I spent a whole day in the workshop without a break and just went with that magical organic flow. I’m sure Krystle’s dad was looking over my shoulder laughing about my questionable woodworking techniques #cough 😉 (NOTE: I am not a trained carpenter or woodworker, when you’re self-taught in something your techniques are usually quite unique and nothing is ever done by the book).
I think my husband knocked on the door at some point and asked if I had eaten (I had not) so for the first time in hours I took my ear defenders off and stepped away looking at the design from a distance with the world around me switching on again. I was very. very. happy.
I only added a few strips of marine pine to brighten up the look a little but other than that I was able to use 75% of Krystle’s materials.
The Story Didn’t End There
Krystle came around to pick up her artwork and was instantly in love. It was such a wonderful moment to hand the final design over to her and see her face light up. Krystle ended up commissioning another smaller design from the leftover materials for her Mum. And almost a year later she reached out and asked me to make 3 more tiny mosaics out of the very last bits she had left to gift to her siblings. The whole family now had their little piece of Dad’s memories in form of a piece of wall art that they will be able to cherish for years to come.
During this project I received so many messages from Krystle’s family members, I’m sure there were several siblings and cousins who cheered me on while I was nervously documenting the process on my socials. It was such a fun and most of all rewarding project and I feel so blessed and grateful that I got to play a little part in preserving someone’s memories of a loved parent in a piece of my art ♥︎.
Here is the link to the Instagram Post to this project.
If you are interested in a custom design and have materials that you would like me to incorporate GET IN TOUCH and tell me about your idea. I will do my best to bring your vision to life in a customised unique wood mosaic artpiece.