Jack takes beautiful pieces of wood and creates the most amazing pieces of Wood Art. He specializes in wood inlay designs which he incorporates into awesome small treasure chests. Deb, Jack's wife is one of the friendliest and most personable people I have ever had the pleasure to talk with. She assists Jack with the computer and book keeping portion of running their small business. They are still pretty new to Etsy having just opened their shop in June of 2009. Please take a few moments to read their interview and be sure to stop by their shop and see what treasures they have available. I am positive that you will find something there that you would love to have for yourself or to give as a gift for that special person in your life.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself:
58 y/o WM, extremely happily married (third time's a charm!), living in Largo, Florida.
- Tell us about your art/craft. What is it that you create?
I work with wood, both domestic and exotic, fabricating inlayed treasure chests, bowls, vases, etc.
- How long have you been doing this? What led you to start creating your art/craft?
Been working with wood since age 13, taught by my father, a Master Craftsman. Due to disability from construction work, started working with wood as an art form.
- Are you the only artist/crafter in your family or does it run in the genes?
My grandfather was a carpenter, my uncle was a carpenter, my father was a carpenter, and I am a carpenter (or was); but, I am the only one to apply woodworking in this manner.
- Is your art/craft your full-time job? If not, what else do you do for a living?
This is full time but way more than 40 hrs/week!
- Do the two jobs impact each other?
- Who or what inspires or influences your work?
I try to utilize the natural forms and curves of nature in my work.
- Is there anyone you would like to thank for being your biggest fan/supporter/cheerleader?
There is only one answer to this question, for without her (my darling wife) there would be no "Jack's WoodArt," there would be no "Art" at all, and, certainly, no reason to continue.
- Do you have any formal training or education in your craft?
- If not, in what field was your formal education/college major and how do you think it has influenced your art/craft if at all?
I majored in the medical field, Cardio-Pulmonary Technology and Plastic Surgery, to be specific. Some intricate techniques may have helped, but I doubt it.
- What is your favorite wood to work with?
I love all woods, but one of my favorites is Cocobolo.
- You make and sell several different types/lines of your work. Which do you find yourself most drawn to and why?
Inlays are the most fulfilling. I am always astonished at the reaction some people have when first viewing them. It is extremely gratifying. Also, there are so many avenues yet to follow.
- Explain to us a little bit about the wood inlay process that you use in many of your pieces.
A design must be chosen which will fit within the restrictions of my tools. Once that is done, grain and type of wood that accepts the inlay are considerations that will tell a story if done correctly.
- What advice would you give to someone who would like to try to learn your craft? Are there any hazards or dangers associated with your art/craft, for example, working with certain materials or tools, etc.?
There are a multitude of hazards inherent with this type of work. Most people, in my experience, have to learn the hard way, but a piece of advice? Educate yourself and go easy!!
- On average, how long would you say it takes you to complete a piece?
- What is your favorite item from your shop? Why?
It's called "Mates for Life." It depicts two swans forming a heart with their necks and breasts: the grain of the wood flows from one breast to another and the background tells the story.
- What motivates you to create?
To leave a legacy? To be remembered? I'm not sure, but I know part of it is to try to make my wife, Deb, as happy as she can possibly be (or, "as happy as possible." Never end a sentence with a preposition!).
- Do you do custom requests for your art?
Yes. Jack is presently, among other projects, working on a very romantic customized treasure box requested by a customer for Christmas. He always welcomes requests for specialized orders.
- What is the most unusual custom request you have gotten?
Can you make this out of acrylic? I hate wood."
- How did you discover etsy?
Jack read about it in the newspaper, "The St. Petersburg Times," and then I checked it out.
- Prior to opening your etsy shop, did you have any knowledge of running a small business? If not, what were your most helpful resources in learning to manage a small business?
We knew very little about running a business. Deb checked out several resources and is learning more every day, when she is not working at her job as a cashier at Publix GroceryStores. Helpful to her have been: Steve@thethrivingartist.com; the online Virtual Seminar University (free to members) from Sam's Club; Etsy, of course (especially including the wonderful forums, The Storque articles, newsletters, and the newbie chats on the Virtual Labs); many publications, to name a few: "The Crafts Report," "Where the Shows Are," "Fine Woodworking," and "Woodturning"; tool and wood supply catalogs; eBay; and others too numerous to mention, but those are the primary ones.
- How do you promote your business?
We have had our business for less than a year, so we are still learning ways to promote Jack's WoodArt. Etsy is wonderful. Before we discovered it, our primary way of promotion was by going to art/craft shows. Jack's art is best appreciated in person - it presents very well to the naked eye, up close. We held a raffle for a free handturned wooden pen set at our last art show (Gulfport, FL) and obtained many email addresses to which we plan to send brief messages and pics of newly crafted woodart. When Deb finally gets around to it, we will be blogging on Facebook and possibly Twitter and/or other.
- Knowing what you know now about online selling and running your own business, if you could start all over from scratch, would you do anything differently?
Yes, start sooner.
- Do you have any advice for other artists?
If you've found what you love to do, find a way to do it.
- Who are some of your favorite etsy sellers or indie artists?
Owen at OwensArtworks, Heather at MistyRidgeDesign, Dionne of StudioChicDesign as previously mentioned, and many others. We have been meeting the most wonderful people since beginning our business - it has been great!
- Is there anything else that you would like for people to know about you or your shop that has not been covered in these questions?
I am still evolving. I have only scratched the surface of what I want to accomplish. My mind is going constantly, but my hands have limits. I truly believe, inside my head, something is waiting to be released which, I hope, is extraordinary.
Thanks for asking these great questions; Jack had a blast answering them while I was at work last night! You are very thoughtful, and we wish you the best of success with your business.
God bless you and yours always.
Jack & Deb Lewis
Thanks so much Deb and Jack. I really enjoyed your interview and appreciate you all taking the time to fill out all of my questions. I wish you the best of luck with your business.