- PNW Honey Farm is excited to announce our latest partnership with local artisan, Michael Newcomer of PNW Wood Burning! We can’t wait for you to see the bee-inspired collection Michael exclusively made for us. He has also created a fantastic wood conditioning cream with our beeswax too. Michael’s amazing cutting boards and wooden spoons are now available for pre-order on our website’s online store.
We love partnering with people who are as passionate about their work as we are about honey. How did you become involved in the timeless art form of wood burning?
All of my life I have been into art. I have always drawn, painted and loved exploring various forms of art media. Drawing and creating is an escape. As a father of three, I found that over the years I wasn't taking time for myself and I really missed my art. So a few years ago my wife and I made a commitment to each other that we needed to get back into the hobbies that we were once passionate about.
I really wanted to find an art form that was unique and allowed me to translate my ideas to a visual media. I went to Craft Warehouse and stumbled across the little wood burning section they have. What I loved about this art form was its timelessness and honestly – it’s a very simple process, but the results are incredible and fun.
My wife noticed my enthrallment and for Christmas she got me my very first wood burning toolkit. The last two years I've dedicated a lot of time really perfecting my skills – learning how to use the different attachments and how they provide variation with my pieces. I love the trial and error of how this simple tool brings my ideas and images to life.
Wood burning dates back to the 17th century yet is still very relevant today! By hand drawing all your designs you choose to utilize many of the same techniques the early wood burners used.
Can you talk about the process you use to create your designs?
I use a few different techniques when I'm creating pieces. For portraits and very specific images I use graphite paper and transfer the image directly onto wood. This allows me to have precise accuracy with the image. I absolutely love creating portraits; the graphite paper gives the ability to transfer over the basic outlines of the individual while still providing the artistic liberty to add shading and details specific to that person.
For images that I just conjure up in my mind I draw directly onto the wood with a pencil, then go over my image with my wood-burning tool. With my spoons and cutting boards I heat up my wood-burning tool and just go for it.
I do a lot of floral images and I love burning as I go. With every piece I do I always start out with bold lines and outlining; from there I do my shading and textures. The tool I use has interchangeable tips that have a specific purpose. I have attachments with really fine tips, some with bold round tips and some that are flat (like a miniature brick trowel), which allows me to do intense shading. Lastly, I do small details – whether it is freckles, fine lines, or different shading techniques to make my images pop.
I absolutely love shading, because it seriously brings my images to life. It’s so fun seeing the evolution of the creations and I love the process. When I'm done I seal my pieces with a media spray or a conditioning cream to protect the wood.
Your woodwork is absolutely beautiful and filled with incredible detail – we especially love the pieces with bees on them. What inspires your designs?
Thank you so much! I'm really inspired by lots of different things. I love nature and the patterns that come from what the earth creates. For example, honeycomb patterns – how beautiful and perfect are they? Besides portraits, I love doing floral pieces, animals, bees, etc.
I also am inspired with creating pieces that people can use for hosting. My wife and I love hosting parties and gatherings. I remember when I started burning onto wood media I thought to myself, "You know Lindsay (my wife) is such a great cook. I think it would be so unique to get cutting boards and do some really intricate flowers on her meat and cheese boards along the boarder and corners – to really make her food stand out."
That is what got me into doing images on spoons, cutting boards and cake plates. A beautiful image around the edges of a piece adds a really unique artistic element to an already beautiful display.
I love going through each piece I do when I'm done and analyzing the image to see what I can add with detail to make it special. I'm passionate about creating images people will love and for me it is important to add details. I know that with every piece I do, people bring them home and analyze them – It’s special to me when I give someone a piece and they notice the little details.
I also am inspired by textures on a piece of wood. I have some really nice live edge pieces and will get inspired by the grains of the wood and just let an image come to me. It’s really fun to not have a plan sometimes while I'm burning.
Overall, being thoughtful with my pieces is most important. I want people to smile and love what I create; putting my heart and soul into every piece I create is very important.
We are excited to work with you on bee-inspired cutting boards and conditioning cream made exclusively with PNW Honey Farm beeswax. Why is it important to care for wood designs with things like conditioning cream? What other things should customers keep in mind after they bring their PNW Wood Burning pieces home?
This is such an important question and I'm so glad you're asking about this. I always make sure to educate people when they order spoons, cutting boards, cheese/meat displays or cake plates from me. I compare wood to skin, in the sense that it gets dry and needs some kind of conditioning barrier. It is really important to make sure you condition your pieces with an oil or cream. I recently created a conditioning cream with your beeswax and I love the results.
If you don't condition your wood pieces they will dry and crack – the images that are burned onto the wood will lose their luster if they are not maintained. You also don't want to over condition the pieces; make sure to use a small amount. Just like our skin, wood does dry out and adding a small amount of conditioning cream will breathe life into them again.
And…never, ever put your wood spoons or cutting boards, etc., in the dishwasher. This dries them out significantly and can warp the wood. Always make sure to gently hand wash your pieces and don't scrub too hard. If a wood piece you have starts looking dry, don't hesitate to add a little conditioning cream or mineral oil to it.
"I get asked at every event, "What kind of laser do you use?” I love explaining my process to people and sharing an appreciation for this craft. The art of wood burning has certainly evolved over time and it’s exciting to learn new techniques. I am continually pushing myself to be the best I can be with my art form; I also know I will always be evolving with my creativity to be better and better.
Thank you so much for featuring me. I really appreciate local companies. I love the timelessness of PNW Honey Farm and how our partnership helps grow and preserve our professions. I also want to emphasize that all of my designs are done by hand and this is why I have so much pride in my craft."
- Michael Newcomer
We are always looking for like-minded businesses to partner with. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about future partnership opportunities!