The story behind two views of the same bridge

Waco’s Suspension Bridge detail burned on paper by Woodburning by Marsha
Waco Suspension Bridge For More Details Click

I burned the full view of the Waco’s historic suspension bridge over the Brazos river first. It is one of those sights around Waco that begs to be photographed. How many cities can brag that they have a walking single span bridge over such a well known river right next to down town? In it’s day it was the longest single span suspension structure in the United States. The foundations had to be built well back from the sandy banks of the river so they wouldn’t collapse.

I was entranced with its steel and rivets, angles and shadows, I couldn’t capture the sound of footsteps on the boards, but I could give the sense of walking across that space into the openness of the other side.

The second piece is much smaller, only a tiny piece of the original, still trying to do those angles justice. This one was for the series “Sights around Waco”. One day I will do another view of the bridge, I hear rumors it is due for a makeover.

The Historic Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas

Baker Hotel finished

My first week in the building of 712 Austin street, the Waco 52 Pop up Gallery is finished and here is the result. I burned a piece from Mineral Wells, not Waco. I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been working in this wonderful space. It is quiet, almost too quiet. I got so much work done! There were visitors coming through, interesting people to meet and visit with, the quiet was never overwhelming. I share the space with some fantastic other artists, whenever I hit the limit of my concentration, there was someone to go watch doing their thing.  You should come see all the work going on, you will be delighted I promise.

About my piece, The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, Tx sits empty now. Once it was the beating heart of the town, but times and economies change, buildings get left behind sometimes. This photo was taken by my good friend Heather Vessey on her vacation stop, on the porch looking out at the bright sun lit sky. I fell in love with the mason work and wrought iron decorations, as well as the texture of the brick. My grandfather, Hubert Preston Fletcher, Sr. was one of the masons laying these very bricks.

Notice how the bright sun makes the iron work in the middle of the window appear more narrow than the edges. To me, it speaks to how the sunlight of love and hope can make all of the bars that keep us prisoner easier to bear and even disappear when we change our focus.

Artist in Residence

Waco 52 Artist in Residence

Its official, I will be one of the Artists in Residence for the month of August at the Waco 52 Pop up Exhibit. Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM I will do my best to be there making smoke and Art. If your near Waco, in Waco or dreaming of coming to Waco, be sure to come see all our fantastic 52 pieces of Art and much more. Waco has more to offer than just the Silos, not that they are worth seeing. 712 Austin Ave.

Waco 52 the local exhibit

The very creative people at Creative Waco have done it again. First they gathered 52 artists from Waco and McLennan county, selected a piece of art from each artist to show the diverse talent and incredible love they all have for Waco. Austin’s capitol Dome was the perfect first showing of all that energy. Now its coming to Waco proper! I’m so excited!!!

712 Austin Street is this fabulous old building with sky lights, doors on the ceiling, unexpected twists and two stories of interesting space, it will be filled with Art and Artists, music, Luna Juice Bar, Creative Waco, prints of the art, and Me.

Opening Night is Friday, August 4th, 5-10PM. If you can’t make that, don’t worry it will be open Monday through Saturday, and I will be there to demonstrate wood burning, follow the smell.

The Story Behind “The Birds”

The Bird’s Kiss For More Details click

Angie and Steve Veracruz came to me and asked if I would participate in an Art Exhibition here in Waco as a fund raiser for their very new organization.  It was to be called The Birds. I knew immediately that I wanted to do this piece for that event. The original photograph was of a bird flying over the water getting a drink from its mirror image.  Only in my mind I saw it standing up this way as if they were kissing in mid flight. The shading was a challenge, how do you make a white subject show up on white paper? I had only burned a few on paper it was definitely a challenge. To compensate for my poor skills at making a white subject show up on white paper, I decided to darken the background. Of course I waited until the whole thing was finished. So there I was trying to figure out how to darken the background without ruining all my hard work. Watercolors would have been the natural choice because it was water color paper, but the only time I remember trying to water color it was messy and runny, too much of a risk.  Then I remembered how as a kid my sister and I would lie on our mother’s linoleum floor and make pencil rubbings of the pattern, these were often the beginning of an ant farm drawing tiny little ants in between the weird shapes left by the linoleum bumps. So I tested graphite shading on a scrap to see how well it would erase if I messed it up, thankfully it did. That is why the background on my “Birds” piece, which was used in the brochure they printed for the exhibition has a graphite background. I still have it and it is available to purchase.


The Story behind Abounding Joy

I had done only two portraits of full faces before this when I came across this as a promotional poster. The slogan was in Norwegian and Google translator made little sense so I still am not sure what it said. However, I fell in love with the joy and innocence of these four children having such a good time. I can remember all my cousins when we were kids laughing and having this much fun. In the execution of it, I worked from right to left and got all the way to the girl on the far left when I thought I had ruined her face. It just didn’t look right. I agonized over it for a while then realized my lines were inside the shading, I had drawn them where I thought I would remember the darkest shading, but forgotten by the time I got there. So realizing that all I had to do was shade to the edges and it fixed the problems of the image.  So to me this represents fond memories as well as challenges overcome. If you are interested in purchasing it, here is a link

Burning a map of the world

I am very excited about this project! The customer came to me with the idea of a world map burned on a full size cow hide. At first I was like “Do you have any idea how big that will be?” She assured me she did, so I found the perfect piece of leather, 72 square feet of wonderful tanned leather from Tandy Leather in Fort Worth, it was worth the drive up there to pick it out myself. They have an excellent show room, and extremely helpful staff, but there is no way I could have described what I wanted over the phone. Hands on is the only way I want to pick leather out. Anyway, I borrowed a room from Jesus Rivera at the Art Forem here in Waco, my windows don’t allow my house to get totally dark until very late and I just couldn’t wait. I tacked the hide to a nice big wall and set up a little projector. This allowed me to trace about a half a foot of map at a time, move the projector, line up the map and trace some more, from Alaska to Russia it was slow going. Then I brought it home and burned all the country and continent lines with my trusty Walnut Hallow Versa-tool burner.  After that, the customer and I decided to shade in the countries. All this heat caused to leather to draw up and pucker. As I considered my options to flatten it back out, I worked on the edges. I used show polish to dye and darken the edge adding scratches and holes to make it look about 100 years old. I even accented one of the fold lines. My sander with some blue jean material mounted on it saved me from hours of hand rubbing the polish into the leather.  With some helpful information from Youtube I put the whole thing in the dryer, this heated it up enough that the leather fibers relaxed and took a great deal of the pucker and draw out of it. These pictures are from before the dryer treatment. Before I mail it off to this wonderful customer in Colorado, I will take many more pictures.

Featured Artist

Daisies burned on paperArtsy Shark link

So thrilled that my art has been selected for a feature article on Artsy Shark newsletter! Thank you Carolyn Edlund  for all your hard work putting this wonderful newsletter together. If you do not subscribe it is well worth it. They have tons of great information for artists and anyone starting a new business online.

Happy Customer

This guy’s wife really knows what he likes. She ordered one of my custom numbered maps of Middle Earth. Here’s what she had to say,

“I can’t thank you enough, he absolutely loves it. This is our third year anniversary and the gift is leather. He loves it thank you so much Marsha! He can’t get over your attention to detail. Also, we appreciate that that the map is flexible.. Ready for any adventure!!”

Map of Middle Earth burned on leather

This is a really fun project. I have a map of Middle Earth that I burn on leather. I used to use suede, but have found that cow hide leather gives much better detail. So I start with a piece of vegetable tanned cow hide leather, nice and smooth. I trace the map of Middle earth with as much detail as possible. Using my Walnut Hallow Versa-tool I burn all the details, when I turn the heat down I can even shade a bit on the leather, it really takes the heat well and burns like butter. The only problem is that it builds quite a bit of soot on the tips and they need to be cleaned off much more frequently. When all the details are on there, I then add a number in Ancient Celtic runes and only the customer will know what that number means. If they choose, I will add their name to a place on the map as well. Then I age the map using various creams and polishes, work it well so it rolls up easily and finally add a string to tie it shut. I’ve sold several but will only sell a certain number so each is unique and special for the buyer.