Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Treepens Emporium Wands

Last Christmas, I tried my hand at wandmaking. I like woodworking and chances to work with my hands, so as gifts for my three nieces, I set out to make some wands. However, I wanted to put my own artistic voice in them, so instead of trying to pass these off as some other wand-maker, I opted to scramble the letters in "David Petersen" to become "Vidad Treepens".  To the left is a logo I created for the tags.

I went to my local woodworking supply and found 1" x 1" x 14" stock (I assume for turning wooden pen holders on a lathe) in exotic woods. Grabbing a handful, I made a wand for each niece. Some of the work was done on a jigsaw, some was done with a knife, but most was done with a Dremmel.  The styles of the wands were a combination of the wood kinda telling me what shape it wanted to become, and something to echo the personality of the niece who would own it.

To dress up the gifts, I bought thin wooden boxes with sliding lids, packed them with magical looking fabric, and tea stained some tags affixed with tassels to each wand. The labels were then filled out with the wood species, length and other info. Julia's handwriting is beautiful, so I had her write on the tags. 
The nieces were all very happy with their gifts, and I was happy to have made them.

Cut to June of this year. One of my best friends, Jeremy Bastian, was having a birthday, and instead of drawing him something, I decided he too needed a wand. Back at the same woodworking supply shop, I picked up some more of those 1" x 1" x 14" hardwoods (Black & White Ebony and Cocobolo this time) along with a scrap of Black Walnut and a Banksia pod. I'd seen the pods turned on a lathe to make little flower vases, but figured it might make a really cool wand grip.

Because it was June and not cold like when I made my niece's wands, I could comfortably work outside and use more tools. I used a jigsaw to cut down the rough shape of the wand to get the taper and establish where the grip ended and the wand-shaft began. I also used an old bench grinder my grandfather made out of a broken washing machine's motor. The grinding wheel on it is in need of replacing anyhow, so I didn't mind mis-using the tool to do some more of the rough shaping.

Further details and contours were done with a knife and a Dremmel (I didn't get a photo of me using the Dremmel unfortunately). Like before the wood kind of "talks" and you make cuts and shave away bits. I was reminded of Michelangelo's idea that the figure it trapped inside of the marble already and that he just carved around it to free it. The intended recipient also plays a part in the look and feel of the wand, but I think the wood has more to say on the subject...

Besides Jeremy, I'd also decided that I wanted to gift two people from Archaia/BOOM! with wands: My editor Cameron Chittock for his awesome hard work on the Art Of Mouse Guard Book, and Irene Braddish for helping Julia and I with hotel and badges for our nieces who we took with us this year. Jeremy's wand (center) I'd always intended to be the Banksia pod with a Walnut shaft. The Black & White ebony was speaking to me as Irene's...so I started crafting the Cocobolo for Cam....but the wand that was emerging from that piece of wood just didn't feel like Cam to me.

So I went through my other wood stock options. I had more walnut, a piece of Black Palm I didn't use back when I made the nieces' wands, and some oak. I think I had wand fever by this point. But I thought "As long as I'm already making the mess, why not use up the stock". As I started with a rough shape in the oak on the jigsaw, it was obvious that wand was to be Cameron's. Here are the rough starts to the new Oak, Walnut, & Palm wands along with a more refined Cocobolo and Jeremy & Irene's wands.

After the creation of a lot of sawdust with the Dremmel, it was time to sand down the wands to get them super smooth for stain and finish. I only used 3 different colors of stain on these seven wands (The pine one third from bottom was one I'd carved all by hand before I made my nieces' wands, but it still needed to be finished). The stain was rubbed on, then left to dry overnight before I sealed them with a spray urethane. Unfortunaely, the can or urethane I used didn't dry super-dry. It felt a bit tacky to the touch even after a day of drying. (the can says it drys in 4 hours!) 

To counteract the tackiness, I buffed out each wand on a buffing wheel to get them feeling "like glass" Julia says. It's a long process that heats up the finish and hardens it as I go. A few of the wands needed to be tricked out even more after the buffing. The oak wand for Cam (middle) got a cool turkish style tassel added to the grip's opening, and the Walnut wand to the left of it got a leather wound grip. "Vidad Treepens" had set out to make 1 wand and ended with 6 new wands. 

For the three wands being immediately given as gifts, I ordered wine boxes to use as the storage container. I couldn't source the same boxes I'd used in December for my nieces' wands, and while online found these instead. They are bigger, but a lot more decorative and distinctive. The tags were printed and coffee stained with Julia handwriting the specifics of each wand for their owners:
Jeremy's: Banksia & Walnut, 14-3/4"
Cam's: Oak, 13-1/4"
Irene's: Black & White Ebony, 10-1/2"

I then decided to exhaust my hardwood supplier's selection of small pieces and made another batch of wands. I'd received enough interest from fans of my work who were interested in the possibility of owning a 'Treepens' Wand that I plan on offering this batch up for sale. To purchase, go to my online store: http://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/category/wands

You can see a lineup of many of these to the left, and below are individual detail photos of all the wands.

Banksia wand grip

Oak Grip with tassel

Black & White Ebony Wand 10-1/2"

Black Palm Wand 11-1/2"

Walnut Wand 11-1/2"

Cocobolo Wand 11-3/4"

Black Palm Wand 12-1/4"

Olive Wood 11"

Leopard Wood Wand 13-1/4"

Madrone Burl Wand 11"

Leopard Wood Wand 13"

Marblewood Wand 12"

Olive Wood Wand 11-3/4"

Shedua Wand 12"

Olive Wood Wand 12-1/4"

Teak Wand 10-1/4"

Black Walnut Wand 10-1/8"

It was fun to get back to some woodworking, make some gifts for people, and get away from the drawing board. But I didn't realize how time consuming it was to do the wands the way I wanted to. At most, I could get 2 wands fully carved in a day (though one day I did get 3 done...but it was a long day) And that didn't factor in all of the staining, and finishing (and their drying times.) I don't know when or if I'll be afforded the time to make any more of these. So consider Vidad Treepens retired for the time being.  

2015 Appearances:
Long Beach Comic Con: Sept. 12-13
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11
Art-Bubble Comics Festival: Copenhagen: Nov. 14-15


Anne Cooper said...

Impressive work! Perhaps a new enclave of mice magisters are peeking on the horizon? What sort familiars would mice keep? :) Thank you for sharing your work!

Danila Evstifeef said...

This is just stunning, David. I really like your Mouse Guard series, but to see you do a job this great on wands to make them seem drawn?! Awesome work, and thank you for sharing.

The Davanator! said...

Always a pleasure to see your work David!

Unknown said...

That's incredible! I'm doing some wands at the moment and I'm happy with the result but yours are just perfect! And I also love the boxes and targets. Congratulations from Spain :)

Unknown said...

Felicidades por el resultado! Eres un artesano con mucha destreza. Los niños que recibieron el regalo disfrutarían mucho, un poco de magia en la vida viene siempre bien.

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