Celina Muire is an Austin based pyrographer and woodworker who juggles creating beautiful kitchenware and bed frames with running her own business. We spoke with her to find out where her inspiration comes from and how she turned her hobby into a job she loves.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your work?
I work with a variety of mediums, but woodworking is by far my favorite. It's very challenging to sculpt and change something that has been growing wild in nature for half a century. I like to use woods that naturally have a beautiful grain and texture. I mainly work with the maple and walnut family for my home wares. Carving these hardwoods exposes some really interesting colors and grain. For my geometric wall art, I base my designs off of the reclaimed wood I have in stock. I always try to avoid staining or painting reclaimed wood as I feel that manipulates the natural patina that originally gave the wood beauty in the first place. Age, wear, and exposure to natural elements contribute to really beautiful distressed blues, oranges, and greens. I feel like when I find those pieces I hit the jackpot.
Although woodworking can be difficult and sometimes frustrating (maybe a grain suddenly decides take a sharp turn east, or I end up accidentally chiseling off a handle of a spoon), I respect the fact that these materials have lived far longer on this earth than I have. When I successfully come out with a final product that is a combination of my own design and nature's composition that, to me, is the biggest reward.
What sort of tools do you find yourself using the most?
I have always heavily used a Dremel rotary tool for sanding all the awkward places in between handles of spoons and cutting boards. I also build bed frames for people here locally in Austin. This may be surprising but I have put together a dozen bed frames without a drill. People think I am nuts. I hand-screw everything together, but I pre-drill all the holes with my rotary tool, which helps me out a great deal. I could be the only woodworker on earth who doesn't own a drill, but for right now my rotary tool is the jack-of-all-trades. I also love the Dremel Saw-Max and miter guide. It's great for quick and accurate miter cuts when I don't want to break out the bigger miter saw.
It seems like you've found a way to balance your unique approach to making with some cool, time saving shortcuts. Is it safe to say that a big part of being an efficient maker is finding what works for you specifically and sticking to it?
I'd say so. There are a thousand different ways to do something; the process is just as unique as the final product. I had to learn that quickly with woodworking because experienced woodworkers and 'internet woodworkers' (as I like to call them) LOVE to have an opinion and comment on why I should have done something differently. I don't chalk that up to showboating. I just remind myself when someone is passionate about something they are bound to give you their two cents. But the more the merrier, right?
You're in a place now where you get to do what you love and make a career out of it. Did you grow up a Maker or discover your passion for creating later in life?
I've always liked making stuff. Growing up my room was a disaster all of the time. I had different projects in various stages scattered all over. Nothing's really changed in that aspect, except now that I'm an adult I can just buy whatever materials or tools I want instead of using random unwanted objects from the garage or garbage bins.
I'm still frantic at this age when I see someone throwing something out I shout "No! I can use that for something!!" And then it just sits in my workshop with the rest of the 'rescued' items. Some people may call that hoarding, but I like to use the word "resourceful."
Being a Maker can be a job, a hobby or something in between. Do you have any tips for making time to make more or turning your passion into your career?
I think discipline is important. You don't become a woodworker, welder, or successful oil painter overnight. It's going to take a lot of practice and the right tools. Set time aside every week and learn something new, if you're passionate about something the talent will always follow. Don't even try comparing your work to anyone else's, that's just a slippery slope of sorrow no matter what way you look at it.
If you are someone who wants to pursue something creative you have to leave all your doubts behind. That was by far the hardest thing for me. There is literally no time for fear in the creative industry. Doubting your abilities, ideas, or risking embarrassment from the public will only hold you back, and someone else with more confidence will end up swooping in and accomplishing it first. If you are thinking about delving into a craft, put your fear in a jar, seal it tightly, and only re-open when you decide to quit. If you're persistent (and a little bit stubborn), that fear should remain where it is and never see the light of day.
To see more work from Celina and the rest of the Makers in Residence, follow Dremel on Facebook.