He loaded the logs into the back of his truck. Simple firewood found in a friend’s woods, but it caught his eye. After quick research, he discovered it was from an Osage Orange tree. Daniel had stumbled upon a wonderful piece of wood – unique color, hard, durable and soon to become a cheese knife or spreader.
Daniel Ford is a simple, self-taught woodworking artist. His passion to work with wood began as a young child. He remembers being on a family camping trip in Tennessee with pocket knife in hand whittling a stick around the campfire. His formal training is limited to high school woodshop class. But his passion and self-motivation have guided him to many lessons through trial and error. Currently, his creations include spoons to spreaders, serving trays and “foodie” boards to necklaces and earrings.
He is most passionate about showcasing the magnificent interior of a piece of wood. If you look out his living room windows, you may see beautiful Maples. However, it’s their interior qualities that spark his interest: imperfections due to worms and bugs, burls, spalting (wood coloration caused by fungi), or the beauty of a scarred, yet healed interior. He holds a log slice revealing a piece that has been marred and damaged. Yet on the inside you can see how the tree repaired itself, growing around the wound taking on a new shape. Daniel loves to “take the inside and magnify the beauty within.”
He says, “Trees, like people, are a creation of God – each grow differently. Sometimes the best beauty is on the inside. Sometimes the healed wounds are the most creative and beautiful.” He recalls the wound of losing his father at the age of 13 and how that loss has shaped him into the man he is today. His desire is to bring out these same story-telling qualities within the wood.
Ford starts with wood, be it firewood, scraps someone has given him, or a field post dated over 300 years old. After determining its purpose, he begins the process of shaping the desired piece with a jigsaw, drum sander or even a basic pocket knife. After it has been shaped, he begins sanding with a drill press automotive sander or by hand with sandpaper. Ford is insistent on sanding with various grit papers graded up to 2000 and even higher at times.
His favorite part of the process is the sanding. The challenge of obtaining a velvety, lustrous finish without the use of added surface coatings thrills him.
Standing at his sander, Daniel smells various woods as they are heated from the sanding. Maple wood produces one of his favorite smells. As the sap is heated from sanding, especially at the burls, it fills his work area with the scent of maple syrup.
Daniel’s hand-crafted jewelry, which he calls “Woodland Crystals”, combine a unique blend of wood and colored epoxy. The process is tedious. He starts by choosing a small piece of interesting wood, carefully cleaning the surface with a wire brush and fine dental tools, so as not to alter the shape. After preparing the wood surface, he builds custom molds for the wood and epoxy to rest. The epoxy heats up as it is mixed from two parts into one. Adding powdered pigments, he must then work quickly to complete the piece before the epoxy sets up. He enjoys experimenting with powdered coloring such as those used in automotive industry or eye-shadow cosmetics. Once the piece is completely solidified, Daniel can begin shaping the wooden crystal into a finished form by sanding it to the desired shape. In each piece created, the live edge of the wood is always enclosed and protected by epoxy, a signature mark of Daniel’s work. He finishes the piece by adding a hole and chain or leather string to become a necklace.
Daniel believes you can work with what you have. He doesn’t let his lack of tools limit what he makes. He says, “The little you have can go a long way. You can still work with minimal tools.” His dream would be to purchase a band saw. However, for now, he has found “ways around” getting done that which he wants to accomplish.
Daniel’s heart’s desire is to work with his hands, creating pieces that are unique, special, and taking them to a level that is pristine! He humbly states, “I believe this is what God has called me to do. I am gifted for this. I am good at it. This is my calling….what I’m passionate about.” He is a man of integrity producing quality work – the best he can create – at a reasonable price.
Plan to visit Daniel at Artalicious to view more of his unique creations and interact with this passionate artist!
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