Woodmaking Extraordinaire: Celina Muire
At Bloesem, we love celebrating makers and their art (which is partly why KOEL was born!). Celina Muire is a woodworker and pyrographer who produces designs on wood, leather and other materials by using heated tools or a fine flame. She understands that in order to make a living out of her art, she would have to convert them into utility goods, which is what CMuire, her brand, offers. You can find functional wares such as spoons, knives and cutting boards, as well as wall art — all with a contemporary finish. We took Celina away from her blocks of wood for a quick chat to find out more about her maker’s journey.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from and what did you study?
I was born in England and my parents are from Ireland. I studied Political Philosophy in college and I wanted to go to law school shortly after graduating. After moving to Austin, I quickly realized that I did not want to spend the rest of my life in an office, with my time dictated on someone else’s watch. I’ve always liked making things, and I figured if I pursued what I love, then the passion for that work would never go away. That’s when the real work began.
How would you describe your work, and what started you on this journey?
I knew it would be difficult to just ‘sell art.’ It’s a biting business, with a lot of disappointment. I have worked with a variety of mediums but I knew that if I wanted to make a living, I was going to have to make art that was functional. I’ve always been attracted to woodworking, because it is both a challenge and a great reward. I had no tools and no shop space so I decided to learn about working with different types of wood through pyrography (wood-burning). Pyrography was a great way to be introduced to woodworking without investing in big tools, considering I still lived in a small apartment at the time. When I moved into a house, I wasted no time in buying the tools I had been only dreaming about months before. Make no mistake, I had no idea what I was doing. I just sort of dived into the craft and had to learn from a lot of trial and errors. Youtube helped some, but there really is no better teacher than lots of practice and stubborn grit. I still have a lot to learn, but after just two years of woodworking I am making small home wares, wall art, tables, and bed frames.
Describe your ideal environment to work in.
My ideal environment would be LOTS of space and LOTS of natural light. My ideal environment is really flexible as long as I can have my dog by my side. Oh and of course, Otis Redding tunes, blasting all day, contribute to a dream studio space.
Which creative people do you admire or are you stalking at the moment, and why?
There’s a painter in California named Jessi, (tenured_ties on Instagram) and her work is just unreal. If you scroll through her Instagram feed you may have a hard time distinguishing between what was painted and what is a photograph. Everything she paints is beautiful, and she often embroiders her work. Her art is totally unique and original, which can be a hard find on Instagram these days.
What do you do when you get an artist’s block?
I don’t get ‘artist’s block’ very often, but if I do I suppose it’s because I feel like giving up on the material I am working with. Different woods have tougher texture than others, and it can be difficult to carve or manipulate the wood into something that you designed. There’s definitely a compromise in woodworking sometimes, simply because some materials have unpredictable grains and textures.
Tell us more about your new collection and the inspiration behind it.
I have been collaborating with a number of local artists for my Kickstarter campaign for Hound. I am creating a series of wooden frames and blocks to showcase these artists’ print-work as rewards for donors. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many talented artists in Austin and I am really looking forward to this collaboration.
What creative plans are you looking forward to?
I have been working very hard for the last seven months to embark on a new start-up that is near and dear to my heart. It’s called Hound and it’s a completely new concept for a makerspace (check it out here www.houndatx.com). I feel very lucky that I have had so many people support me in Austin, although most of those influences I feel I’ve encountered by chance. I want to create a central makerspace that provides small business and branding resources for the modern American maker. The maker movement has inspired so many independent brands to start manufacturing on a small scale, and the resulting market has been inspiring to say the least. I am excited to see this new platform develop and I hope that it encourages American manufacturing by using ethical labor and locally sourced materials. I want all makers to realize their full potential and I believe that it can be achieved with Hound.
One thing that people might not know about you!
A long, long, time ago I documented the life of a tater tot. I depicted this tot’s life by using MS Paint (an evident display of my high-brow graphic design skills). It was riveting journalism. www.taterthought.tumblr.com