For the past several years, I've been making artwork for the centerpieces at Knox Heritage's annual fundraiser, The Scruffy City Soiree. It's been really fun to showcase my artwork made from reclaimed wood this way since it's directly inspired by historic preservation, and Knox Heritage raises money through this event to help save historic buildings. It's a lovely marriage.
In past years, I've painted mason jars on slate and wood to display. This year, I showcased my prints of mason jars on wood but also added a new element: historic Knoxville buildings cut out of and painted on reclaimed wood.
I used wood from The Salvage Room. It made sense to use reclaimed wood from historic buildings, but it proved to be a bit of a challenge. With these pieces, before I even touch a paint brush, cleaning, sanding, and cutting the wood is a laborious task. And while the thickest wood used (reclaimed stair treads) looks so great, it is definitely hard to cut with a small hand-held jigsaw.
Through this process, I've learned a lot about woodworking. I've gotten tips here and there from people, but I've basically been teaching myself. I'd love to invest in some really good tools in the future for projects like this, but for now, I'm using what I have. Not using the most efficient tools can put a damper on things, but I'm sure I'm building character with the added challenge. Perhaps.
Once I cut the buildings, I add wood filler to those that need it and then prime the wood. My plan was to use carbon copy paper to trace the buildings on to the wood because I had to make so many in such a short time, but I had trouble getting the image to transfer so I ended up drawing several free hand.
If you haven't gathered it by now, I came up against many unexpected obstacles while making these. I learned a valuable lesson from these buildings: When creating anything new, I need time to hit obstacles. Lots of time. Procrastination is my enemy!
Each building uses a combination of paint pens and acrylic, so they are like little drawings and paintings in one. They are made to sit on a table, shelf, or mantel so there isn't a bracket on the back for hanging. I added information cards to the backs of them to give some current details about the buildings. I chose seven buildings to create and made two of each. They were all chosen based on their significance to historic preservation and Knox Heritage over the past year.
I painted Patrick Sullivan's (Old City), 18th Street IGA (Fort Sanders), Pryor Brown Garage (downtown), Westwood (new KH HQ), White Lily (Old City), Mary Boyce Temple House (downtown), and the McClung Warehouse (downtown).
The first set of buildings made their debut at The Scruffy City Soiree on September 27 at The Standard on Jackson Avenue. Those attending the event could purchase them at the end of the night and partial proceeds went to Knox Heritage.