Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

Get your lanterns now. It will be dark soon.

primitive art

Tramp Art Church update.

Folk Art, Painted Folk Art, Tinware, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

The proportions of this cupboard have been puzzling me for some time now. As it sits without any layers of applied wood, it looks kind of odd. I have convinced myself that the finished project that sits nebulously in my head will balance out as layers are added.  Along the way I have tried some different ideas on the sides and back. This shot shows a couple of ideas that I tried out for the space on the sides.  The problem arises when the door is opened.  Anything added to the sides cannot interfere with the full opening of the doors. In my vision of the project, the doors will be left open.  In the end, both of these ideas were scrapped.  The bottom section is going well and is pretty straight forward.  Here you can see that I have added the carved borders, notched the shelves and added the church door influenced center drawer front.

Tramp art church cupboard with bottom notches

The majority of my time was spent working out the top section.  I am working on combining punched and distressed metallic elements with the traditional tramp art carving.  After I get all the individual parts cut out and notched, I will begin painting the background and etch the metal elements before final assembly.  Here is where I left off:

My point and shoot digital camera had no idea what to do with this setup. I may set this aside for a while because I have had a couple new orders pop up.  Also, there is another piece started that I want to post that involves sea critters and buttons.

As a little preview....

Building a tramp art cupboard with a stained glass door.

Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

Tramp art cupboard Sometimes a project takes a while to reach its final form. That is the case with this cupboard.  It started when we found a really cool stained glass window from England. We got it at Great Stuff by Paul in Frederick Md. 

It laid in my shop for months until we decided to make a bathroom cupboard with it.  I made a small pie safe sort of primitive cupboard that was painted a distressed green and white.  We used the cupboard for a few years until we remodeled the bathroom (more on that another time). 

This was about the time I was becoming a lot more interested in making tramp art and making a tramp art cupboard seemed like a good project to try. Why start small right?

Beginning of stained glass tramp art cupboard

The main thing that we wanted to do with this cupboard was to incorporate the stained glass design into the body of the cupboard.  It was a nice simple design with a green leaf in a mostly geometric background.  We traced out the design and reduced it to fit the sides and front of the cupboard.

I then started cutting out the parts and notching the edges of each piece.  At the time I was using a power jig to make the V-notches so the work moved along pretty fast. Since then I have decided that I do not like the look of the power cut V notches and cut nearly all V's by hand.

Side of tramp art cupboard before painting


You can see here where we worked the stained glass design into the tramp art layers.  Sorry about the fuzzy pictures. I have a better camera now.

Cutting the layers sanding and glueing took a couple of weeks of evenings and weekends. One of the reasons I have gotten away from power cutting notches most of the time is because you end up having to sand fuzzy edges off of every notch, which is mind numbing. I am not convinced you save any time over hand carving the notches on anything other than small projects.

Tramp art cupboard with stained glass door.

So there is the finished piece.  We now use it in our living room to hold photo albums.  I plan on adding some better photographs later on. If you have any questions about this cupboard or are thinking of making one yourself drop me a note and we can talk.

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>A whittling treasure is discovered.

WhittlingRob GorrellComment

>A few weeks ago my in-laws brought a plastic box of wood carvings over to the house and wanted to know if we could design and make a display for the pieces.  Here is what was in the box!

I have seen a variety of folk art whittling in museums and books, but this is the first time I have really gotten my hands on a group like this. They were made by Douglas Uhl. He worked a sand and gravel "digger" dredge on the Ohio River in the late 1930's. It seems that Douglas made these tools while on the river.  Douglas was also a woodworker and was my wife's grandfather.

A few of the tools have inlays which were salvaged from a guitar that he found floating in the river. I am assuming that some of the tools are made from wood pulled out of the river also, but do not know that for sure.

There are many carving books out there that give some information on this type of whittling. One of my favorites is Whittling and Woodcarving, by E.J. Tangerman.  I think I like it as much for the 1930's illustrations as for the instructions.

I am looking forward to building a nice folk art display to house this family treasure.

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>The Dork Fish is almost finished.

Painted Folk ArtRob GorrellComment

>After many delays the Dork Fish sign is almost complete.  I have spent a few evenings tinkering with the painted finish and think I am getting close to being satisfied with it.  Using acrylic paints, a heat gun, the kitchen freezer, and various scrapers, I have built up layers of distressed color that I was hoping would sort of look like plaid pants on a fish........not quite there yet.

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>The Dork Fish - continued

Painted Folk ArtRob GorrellComment

>I cannot draw. That is a sad fact, but I can't. There is a serious disconnect between brain and pencil going on when I try. So I pulled out Folk Art Weather Vanes for a fish pattern and adapted it to my dork fish. From here I made a rustic wood frame and background from some poplar that was given to me. I also cut out the fish shape and roughly carved the blank into a fish body of sorts. The fins will be added later.

The new thing I tried for this was to flatten beer caps with a hammer and burn the finish off the caps. They came out in various stages of burned. Next I nailed the caps to the background to try to simulate water and waves. It looks pretty cool to me at this point. I will have to decide later on if I want to add any paint.

So here is where the project is right now:

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