Wood Burning Artist | Tennessee Crossroads

Wood Burning Artist | Tennessee Crossroads


The process of
burning wood or paper to create works
of art is ancient. Although today, it’s
not so well-known. Recently, we caught
up with a Smyrna man, who by day works in
the high-tech world of information technology. Other times though, he
follows his creative passion to burn things. (pulsing music) Smyrna is home to one of four Motlow State Community
College campuses. Here, modern technology is
vital to teaching and learning. Why, 25% of classrooms have
a computer for each student, and increasingly online learning
is an essential component to the educational effort. That’s where Terry
Durham comes in. He’s dean of Motlow’s
academic technology. – If it’s distance education,
if it’s distance learning, then, my department’s involved. – [Joe] A busy job with
important responsibilities. So, what does a guy
like Terry do to unwind? – When I tell you I go
home and burn things, I’m not kidding. I literally go home
and burn things. (cheerful music) – [Joe] Terry is a
talented, dedicated, and very patient
wood burning artist, and today, he’s creating
a piece by burning paper. He’s burned wood for the
majority of his projects. – I started out like
any 12-year-old kid. I got the wood burning
kit for Christmas, and really fell
in love with that, and then, didn’t
revisit it again until, well, probably 2001. (bright music) I do a lot of horses,
I do a lot of trains. I’ve done a lot of mills, especially in the, you know,
eastern areas of this state. And I’ve also done
a lot of the steam tractors, or steam engines,
as we used to call them. My first step in the process is really to go and
select that piece of wood. I’ve got a picture
usually in mind, and then, I have to go
and find a piece of wood that that picture’s
gonna best fit. I usually come home and sand
it, you know, a little bit more just to get it, all the, you know, imperfections
out that I can, and then, I use tracing paper. Used to, I would outline
the entire thing, and some of my first work, I called it line art because I did very
little shading. The later projects, I’ve
gone to almost all shading. So, I will very lightly trace
the major lines, and then, the bulk of what I
do is just shading from there. – [Joe] Imagine the time
and patience it took to burn in each and every one
of the bricks in this bridge. That’s why works
like these attract lots of attention
at craft shows, but not so many customers. – The projects
that I’m doing now, really don’t lend
themselves to craft shows because those folks
are looking for a relatively
inexpensive product, and mine are a little
bit more time-intensive. The train that your
saw in my office, that took six months. We went to the Meriwether
Lewis show down in Houwingwah, and my wife was with me, and a gentleman said, I think
you can do that with a laser, and I laughed and said, yes, but I don’t have the,
you know, 10 or $15,000 that the laser would
cost to do this, and plus, that’s not the
reason I do it anyway. – [Joe] Terry has created
a line of more affordable, smaller items, well,
like these wooden trays. (playful music) – I do more and more paper,
it’s a little easier, definitely to come by. It’s easier to frame and hang, rather than the wooden pieces. This is actually on 300
pound, cold pressed paper. So, it’s very thick. It’s a real consistent surface. Somebody did ask me
one time, they said, well, have you ever
burned yourself? Yeah, play with fire,
you’ll get burned, but I will say this,
you’ll only do it once. – [Joe] So, while keeping
thousands of students and instructors
connected and supported, in the name of higher education, his other passion is
the more organic process of creatively burning
paper and wood, and like a true teacher, he supports any budding artist who wants to learn to burn. – I have folks look at, you know, at my stuff, and they’ll say, there’s no
way I could ever do that. Yes, there is. Yes, there is, you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. Actually, believe it or
not, the satisfaction I get is just trying to get better. (playful music)

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