Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Larissa wrote an article for Woodcraft Magazine

A few months ago, Jeff forwarded me an email from the deputy editor at Woodcraft Magazine that read, "I hear Larissa is the real deal. If she's interested in doing an article with us, please have her get in touch with me." WHAT? "The real deal"? Am I the real deal? Really? Who knew. Of course I was interested! A sufficient degree of nervous, but definitely interested.

After sending over a few projects I had made in the recent past, it was decided that I'd write about my hand mirrors. I was extra excited about this decision because unique hand mirrors were the first projects I made during my apprenticeship that were actually purchased (and are currently used at the wonderful Salon Nova). Combined with my love of freehand routing, the monogrammed hand mirror article was born, and now it's printed in the 2015 holiday issue of the magazine!

The first "thank you" in this blog entry goes to the editor/photographer/fellow woodworker/cool guy, Paul Anthony. Paul has worked with Jeff on various articles and shot photographs of finished pieces in the past so he's been around our shop a time or seven. I am so grateful to him for being my guide through my uncharted territory in article-writing. I am especially grateful to him for being an experienced woodworker himself, so all the seemingly abstract techniques and tools I was trying (and failing) to explain over the phone and via email made sense.

After weeks of emails, drafts, phone calls, problem-solving, sample pieces, tool testing, and shot lists, Paul came to shoot the photos you see in the article. I had all my props ready (that's right, kids, there was a shot list and props- things were legit) and we commandeered the shop for the day to document the entire process I use to make the mirrors. I've never felt so famous whilst covering myself in sawdust and using loud machinery.

It's amazing how an experience like this really makes you dissect a process that you don't think too much about as you're working through it yourself for the twentieth time. All of a sudden I am hyper aware of the easiest and most efficient way to organize my procedure so that readers can follow along and repeat it themselves at home.

You'll have to head to a Woodcraft store or a Barnes & Noble to get the detailed step by step how-to of how to make a monogrammed hand mirror but, here's a little behind the scenes. I made three finished mirrors for the article out of walnut, cherry, and birdseye maple to show color variations and how the engraved lettering appears on each. Like most wooden creations, they start as boards with lots of chalked-out ideas scribbled onto them. The article mostly highlights how I hand cut the lettering free hand using a plunge router (because some of us can't afford a CNC machine AND there is something personal about hand cutting a personalized gift like these).

Fun Fact #1: The very first monogrammed hand mirror I ever made was a wedding gift for my best friend of 20 years. I had cut lettering for signs and made hand mirrors as separate projects in the past but, that was the first time I fused the ideas.

Fun Fact #2: The JLS initials you'll see featured in the mirror in article are my sister's initials. Paul & I decided on them because they include a very straight-angled letter, a curvy letter, and a letter that is both. The bonus is that I can use the prop mirror as a gift for my sister- Merry Christmas, Jess!

Writing this article was surreal in that I was consistently excited and proud to be contributing to the national woodworking world in a small way. The ladies and gentlemen at Woodcraft Magazine are the best of the best and we're all grateful that they provide a publication that teaches and informs hobbyists and professionals alike. I am especially grateful that they offered me the chance to contribute! I love my job and I am excited at every chance I have to share it with anyone who will read/listen/watch.

My last, but certainly not least, "thank you" goes to the ever-famous Jeffry Lohr. Without Jeff to teach me this craft from the ground up, I could never have found myself in the pages of a magazine teaching my skills to others. For your patience, wisdom, resources, understanding, and motivation, I thank you wholeheartedly, Jeff. Let's be honest, the world would be a far lesser place for us and humanity as a whole without Lohr Woodworking Studio and the JD Lohr School of Woodworking.

If you want to make a monogrammed hand mirror of your own, now you can! In the article, I broke down the process into steps that you can follow in your shop. All you really need is a plunge router, a v-cutting bit, a means to trace some letters, standard shaping/sanding tools, and some patience. What a perfect holiday gift, right?

If you want me to make a mirror for you, get in line. Just kidding! But, you can look at a few I've made here and/or shoot me an email.


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