Gourd, Pyrography, Wood Art and Supplies - Free Gourd and Pyrography Tutorials
Pyrography, Gourd, Wood Art and Craft Supplies and Free Tutorials
The Pyrography Specialists serving the Pyrography and Gourd Art community since 1999 offering the finest quality tools and supplies. Nedra Denison was the first to offer starter kits and free online tutorials. Her comprehensive online gourd and pyrography tutorials offer a wide variety of helpful information to help you get started and answer the most commonly asked questions.
Our website also offers samples of award-winning collection of gourd and pyrographic art by Nedra Denison; wood carving and wood working by Alan Denison.
Alan and I are native New Englanders but we have lived all over the country because of our jobs. We both worked for the Dept. of Veterans of Affairs and we owe the VA for providing us with the opportunity to travel the country. Alan was an Engineer with the VA and spent his career supervising the construction of hospitals, research centers and doing major renovations. His job required moving every few years after a construction project was completed. After 30 years of service Alan retired and decided to relax and enjoy working in his shop. He has been a woodcarver and woodworker since childhood and has been active in local woodcarving clubs in TX and was past president of the Capitol Woodcarvers in Olympia, WA.
My career with the VA started as a clinical Social Worker working with Oncology, geriatric patients and later Addictions. After about 15 years with the VA I changed careers and worked my way up the "corporate" ladder to become Director of Human Resources at a small VA in Vermont where I met Al. From there Alan and I moved to Seattle where the stress, politics and BS became too overwhelming for me and I suffered from burned out and was unable to work.
Al's job required him to move again so we headed south to Texas (Arlington & then Waco) where we lived for over 9 years. Al retired from the VA in 2003 and shortly after I was offered the opportunity to return to the VA so I could qualify for my full retirement after working for a year. We moved back to WA where I worked at the VA in Tacoma (American Lake) in the Addictions unit. As you might expect, things didn't go as planned. After fighting with the VA and the Office of Personnel Management in DC for 3 1/2 years & the help from Senator Patty Murray they finally fixed the mistakes that were made when they returned me to duty and I was able to retire in 2007 with over 33 years of service. Three days later we were packed and heading to New Mexico to start the next phase of our life.
In 2013 Sawdust Connection returned to its roots in Texas. The business was started in 1995 when we lived in the Waco area and has moved around a lot since then but that's the nice thing about having a business like this...it moves with us!
About My Business
I've been an artist since childhood but never expected or wanted to do it professionally, nor did I ever expect to follow in my dad's footsteps as a business owner. My father owned a successful retail business for over 50 years and while I never planned on having my own business it was only natural that eventually I start one of my own some day. Growing up, I spent time with my dad in his store and learned a lot from him. He was one of the first "discount stores" and he survived and even prospered as the Big Box Discounters came to town. What I learned from him is that people like getting good prices but as the words "customer service" seemed to be disappearing from our vocabulary, people kept coming back to my dad because he understood how important good customer service was and that's what he gave his customers.
Panache, My First Business
Having a background in art I wanted to do something that allowed me to be creative and after careful consideration and research I decided to start a gift basket business.
This was not going to be just a typical gift basket business. Each gift basket was going to be a unique artistic creation. They were filled with things such as regional north west gourmet food & coffee, candy, toys, stuffed animals, etc. I rarely used traditional baskets but opted for things that were unique such as batique boxes, golf buckets, top hats & other unusal items that I could fill with goodies. At times I would use a wicker basket but I would paint it to coordinate it with the items & ribbons I would use for the basket. I also made my own bows which included things such as flowers, birds & other decorative items. Each basket was designed based on the recipient, the theme or the special occasion & specifications from my client.
Like my dad I gave my customers great service including personal delivery to the recipients.
I became very active member of the Chamber of Commerce and developed a very successful gift basket business. Most of my clients started out as members of the Chamber & they used my service for their customers & in some cases for their stores. My commercial accounts included local Real Estate companies, Home Builders such as DR Horton, Napa Auto (Regional Office), Investment firms, local doctors & dentists.
Soon I was getting calls from people who had received one of my gift baskets & they wanted to order a basket for a gift so business was booming.Considering that I never advertised I was amazed at how well the business was growing. It was getting to the point that if it continued I was going to have to get some help. As it turned out Al was finishing his project & we were going to have to move on.
When Al finished his project in Seatle we moved to Arlington, TX & so did the business. I started knocking on doors & it didn't take long to start getting some business from the local DR Horton & some local realtors & things started picking up after that.Considering I had to start all over I was very pleased & then along came someone who knew about my gift baskets & wanted to buy the business. The timing was right & they made an offer I couldn't refuse so I sold the business.
Since Al & I were getting more involved in woodworking & the Texas Woodcarvers Guild it was the perfect time to start the next phase of my life.
Shortly after I sold my gift basket business we moved down to the Waco area. Alan got me involved with chipcarving to give me something to do. He had a big shop built in our yard & he started getting very creative with all his new Scroll Saw & other fancy tools. By this time I had already started woodburning & my work was fairly good so we needed to find an avenue to sell some of our work so we started doing some local craft shows.
Sawdust Connection was established around 1996 as a means of selling our woodcrafts at the craft shows. The photo on the right is a sample of my work back that I did when I was first starting out in woodburning. The burning of Sitting Bull was started in about 1999 & eventually finished in 2002.
We did pretty well & then we started attending the woodcarving shows in Fredericksburg & in the Rio Grande Valley. While we were at a woodcarving show in McAllen I had signed up to take a woodburning class but was very disappointed in the class so I left & went off by myself to work on a burning of Sitting Bull that I brought with me. I had just started it & all that was done was part of his face (the burning didn't get done for several years due to commissions, running a pet therapy program, shows & teaching classes). While I was working on the burning a few guys came over to watch as I was working & a little later they returned & asked if I would teach them how to woodburn. I told them I don't know how to teach them woodburning. They came back a while later & said "just show us how you do what you do" & they returned again later & asked if I would teach a class for their woodcarving club in Harlingen. I told them I wasn't a teacher & didn't feel confident teaching but the men wouldn't give up. They finally enlisted Al's help to talk me into it & I gave in.
I talked to one of my friends in the guild (an old time instructor) who gave me some words of wisdom & it helped me feel more confident that perhaps I could pull it off.
For the next month I worked on making patterns to get ready for the class. I was asked to bring some wood & burners to sell to people who didn't have woodburners so I ordered a some burners, pens & some basswood. I was shocked that in less than a month they had gotten 12 people signed up to take the class. I ended up selling all the supplies I brought with me & pretty soon woodcarving clubs around TX & OK started asking me to come teach.
Shortly after that I was asked to teach at the next Texas Woodcarvers rally in Fredericksburg. I agreed & before I knew it my classes had a waiting list & I was so thrilled. Over the next few years I was a invited to teach classes throughout TX, KS & OK & at some I was asked to be a vendor. TX eventually allowed me to sell at some of their shows but there was a lot of the "good 'ole boy" stuff going on so it was not a very welcoming environment. I continued teaching & building the business in the region until we relocated back to WA state at the end of 2003. Before I headed to WA I got a couple of phone calls from woodcarving clubs asking if I would teach a class for their club & by the time we landed in WA I was already scheduling classes & invited to shows as a vendor. Again I was shocked that this was happening so fast after arriving in WA & what amazed me the most is that the clubs all invited me to be a vendor at their shows. What a difference in attitudes. The other vendors didn't try to put me out of business or compete so what a 360 turn I experienced.
Now I was working for the VA, writing a new book, teaching classes & doing shows on the weekends & we hadn't even been in WA more than a few months. I sure was busy but I was certainly not going to complain.
Over the years the business has grown & evolved to include gourd supplies when I got more involved with gourds after retiring from the VA. While other companies closed up during the economic crash my business flourished so I guess I've been doing something right.
Sawdust Connection has been supplying pyrographers, woodcarvers, wood turners, woodworkers, gourd artists and other crafters with superior quality products and customer service since 1999. It is because of the quality products I sell and the great service that I offer that I will continue to be here for many years to come. My philosophy...give customers more than they expect!
A Trailblazer...paving the way!
I get calls all the time and I'm still surprised when someone tells me they can't believe that I answer the phone and they get to talk to me personally. I never let fame go to my head and I have always tried to remain grounded. I don't have to remind myself I'm a person just like you, because I am.
But I do consider myself to be a trail blazer in this business because some of the things I've done had never been done before. Others eventually followed and in some cases even copied. I have had people say I was crazy to give away all the free information in my tutorials but my goal has always been to share my passion for art and to help people learn as much as they can without having to spend alot of money or try to find classes to learn. A hands on class is always better but it's not always available and my tutorials were my attempt to "clone myself" and teach people things they would learn if they were taking a class from me. Not exactly perfect but the best I can do without actually being there.
Blazing the trail:
- I was the first to offer free comprehensive online tutorials which I called Pyrography 101. These were a spin off from the hand-outs I provided students in my classes. I later published a beginners instructional book entitiled Pyrography 101. This book included the basics for people just getting started and step by step instructions with a very basic project and one to help master my "smooth shading" technique..
- At the request of my students who wanted a more advanced instructional book for doing portraits. I was the first to write a book geared toward more advanced burners who wanted to learn to burn more natural, lifelike burnings using my "smooth shading" (gradient tones) technique. This book helped burners not only master my technique but also to burn a beautiful lifelike portrait.
- I was the first to offer pyrography starter kits paving the way for other dealers and Razertip to start putting packaged kits together to offer customers. I offer kits for general pyrography as well as specialty kits for gourd artists. My kits have evolved over the years refining what would be the best kits for different needs. As a pyrographer and gourd artist I expanded the kits to include kits specifically geared to the needs of gourd artists...again, a leader, not a follower!
Why Shop at Sawdust Connection?
The answer is simple, I sell only the best quality supplies and tools on the market from leaders in the industry and I try to provide the same first class service that made my dad the success he was in his business for over 50 years. When you call the office, guess who you talk to...me! When you need help, I'm the one who will give it to you, not an operator or sales person who has never wood burned or worked on a gourd. You will get advice from someone who actually understands your needs and isn't just trying to sell a product. You will find I'm not a great sales person, just an honest person trying to help you find the tools and products you need and I will never try to sell you something you don't need.
Some people think I'm crazy when I try to talk them out of buying something because they don't need it but I've been there and I refuse to be like other dealers who try to make money selling things you don't need. On top of all that I've got very competitive prices on everything I sell. What more can you ask for, good prices, good service and great products!
Sorry, but because of the high cost of processing unsecured (un-swiped credit card sales) to small business owners I am no longer able to take credit cards over the phone. I recommend you order directly online for the fastest service. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you do not wish to order on line, please feel free to download my mail order form and send your order along with your payment. If you are sending a check please be sure you make the check payable to Sawdust Connection. I process mail orders within 24 hours of receipt to ensure you get your order promptly. If you are in a hurry for your order, ordering on our website is the fastest way and you have the option of using your credit card, debit card or pay pal. Ordering is secure and confidential...I do not receive your credit card information.
So, Who Ya Gonna Call...Sawdust Connection, The Pyrography Specialists!
I personally research and use every item I sell. Over the years I've used and sold many of the pyrography tools manufactured in North American. One of the main reasons I stop carrying a brand is poor quality control and the other is poor customer service. If I get poor service or my customer's get poor warranty service it's a good reason to move on. I ensure that manufacturers I deal with understand the importance that I give to supporting my customers and ask how will theye will extend themselves to make sure that every customer is happy with his or her purchase. If a company fails to live up to my expectations I try to work with them but if it continues I am not afraid of firing them. I just won't sell products that I cannot stand behind and I can't stand behind a company that cannot provide the excellent quality and customer service that I expect and my customers deserve. You can be assured that everything you find in our inventory has been tested and used by one or both of us.
For more information on my pricing and philosophy please go to the store front.
Welcome To My Website and Store
I thank you for visiting my new and much improved website. I hope you enjoy browsing through my store front, our galleries of gourd and pyrographic art, wood carvings and woodworking. I carry Razertip pyrography systems, pens and accessories. I also offer a wide variety of pyrography, woodworking, gourd and craft supplies, such as Foredom rotary tools, mini jig saws, basswood products, gourd and pyrography books, and a wide variety of tools and supplies for gourd artists, wood turners, woodcrafters and other crafters. You will find the website easy to navigate and find everything you are looking for in one convenient place.
To start shopping please go to our Store Front and be sure to check back frequently for new items.
Thank you for taking the time to visit our website.