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I'm glad you found my place, take a little time to look around and I hope you enjoy the website and seeing some of the things I have made.
My name is TJ Brown and I'm a woodworker that specializes in salvaging storm damaged trees and using the wood that would have been wasted in creating the pieces you see in my intarsia and fretwork galleries.
I'm not much of a traditional woodworker. I mainly do scrolling and goof off a lot while I'm at it. Over the years I have tried other forms of woodwork, but I always came back to scrolling because I enjoyed it the most. I have a goofy sense of humor and I like to have fun, so my shop is covered with all kinds of signs that I think are funny. I also have license plates from every state in the U.S. and a few from other countries that people have sent me. Plus a lot of Mardi Gras beads hanging everywhere. I like having my shop filled with things that amuse me. Here's a couple of photos of the inside of it.
Here's a couple my shops full time residents. Red Head Fred and One Eyed Clyde. Fred is the lobster, it was sent to me from Nova Scotia. Clyde is a pirate coconut that I picked up in Cozumel.
Now that you know who I am, I'll tell you a little bit about my life.
Have you ever tried to condense your life down to a couple of paragraphs and explain to people you have never met, why you make the things you do? I just enjoy using a scroll saw to create things that I think are beautiful. Not everything I make is artsy, a lot of the time I like to make goofy stuff just for the fun of it.
I was adopted the day I was born by two of the most wonderful people there has ever been in this world, Fred and Iva Brown. They adopted me late in their lives and their children, my new sisters Ruby and Rosezene and my brother Alvin were already grown when I came along. Both of my parents have passed now, along with both my sisters and my brother. There are not enough words to tell you how much I still miss them all every day.
Since my parents are gone now and I'm pretty sure no one can repossess me, I'm going to tell you how I was adopted. It wasn't the normal way, but I always thought it was kind of neat. Fred and Iva knew my biological mother, she had already had four children. She had kept two and gave two away and she told them she didn't want me and planned on leaving me in the hospital and sneaking out as soon as she was able. Even though Fred and Iva were older and their kids were already grown and they couldn't afford to raise another kid, they still told her they would take me and pay all the hospital bills. So she just signed in the hospital under the name Iva Brown and listed Fred as my father. The third day after I was born Fred and Iva took me home from the hospital and raised me just like I was their own son, out in the country in a little close knit community named Gifford, outside of Malvern Arkansas.
They also let my biological mother and the two kids she kept stay with us for a while until she was ready to move on. Fred and Iva told me from the time I was old enough to understand, that I was adopted. They didn't believe in keeping secrets. They also told me how much they loved me everyday, they proved that a thousand times while I was growing up and acting stupid.
I have always known who my biological mother was and have visited her and my brother and my sister she kept. I have also visited one of my sisters that was given away, I have never met the other one and I don't know her name. But the one that I have met was given to another family here in Arkansas. She lived within 50 miles of where I grew up and her and her adopted family visited us a time or two when I was little. I went and visited her shortly after I turned eighteen and she let me know then that she wasn't interested in staying in contact.
To make this long story a little shorter, I lost contact with my biological family shortly after my second daughter was born. My daughter's biological grandmother saw them once when they were babies, but I've never heard from her since.
(From this point on I'm going to call Fred and Iva, Dad and Mom, because that's what they were to me)
Like I said before, Dad and Mom adopted me late in their lives and my brother and sisters were grown when I came along, so most of my nieces and nephews were closer to my age than I was to my brother and sisters. I grew up with two of my nephews who were older than me, they were more like big brothers than nephews. One of them has been my best friend my entire life, to this day he is more like a big brother than a nephew or a friend. There was also a family that lived across the road with four sons around my age, so I had plenty of friends my age to get into all kinds of trouble with while we were running loose and wild all over that little community.
Back then in Gifford all the families that lived there knew each other and everyone's kids grew up together like one big extended family. Even though I don't live there any longer, I'm still in touch with a lot of my childhood friends and when I go back for visits and stop in and see someone, it's just like I was there yesterday.
Here's where I'm going to tell you how the first piece of art I ever made came about.
When I was around six, Dad had to go to the Veterans hospital to have a surgery on his wrist. He was gone a few days and I missed him more than anything in the world, it just wasn't right without him at home and I begged to go see him. Back then they wouldn't let a little kid in to visit a patient and since I couldn't go see Dad, I wanted to show him how much I missed him and loved him, so I decided to make something for him.
We had a farm and had just about every kind of animal you can think of on it. Of all things, Dad had a pet goose named Harvey that would follow him all over the place every evening when he was feeding and watering all the animals. I thought Dad might be missing his pet while he was at the hospital, so I looked around and found some old copper wire and made a little wire stick man and goose. I nailed them on a flat piece of wood and wrote Fred and Harvey on it. Mom took it to him the next day and when she came back, she said his room mate took one look at it and said that kid was going to be a artist.
Now I will tell you a little bit about my life since I grew up. I have went through some rough times in my life, just like everyone else. A couple of times I have lost everything I had, everything I worked for and ended up having to stay with a friend or a relative until I could get back up on my feet and start all over again.
But I never gave up on my dreams.
Now don't get me wrong, my life has had a lot of happiness in it also. I've been lucky enough to receive some notice for my woodwork. I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters and precious granddaughter and I have a wonderful wife that I met in 2003 that has faced the world with me and helped me get to where I am today. I love my life and think the things in it that are so precious to me now, are even more so because of the tough times I went through getting here.
I'm sure you're probably tired of reading this by now so I'll wrap it up and finish the rest with a brief run down.
I live in western Arkansas now and I have been using a scroll saw for a little over 30 years. I started with a old used saw that I bought from a retired gentleman. Later on my father bought me a new saw for my 20th birthday and I started doing more detailed work. Then in the mid 90's, I met the best scroller I had ever seen. His name is Bernie Mazu and he did the most amazing woodwork I had ever seen with a scroll saw. He was kind enough to share some of his knowledge with me and that's when I started discovering some of the amazing things that could be done with one. I bought the best scroll saw made in 1997 and used it every way I could think of for the next 10 years. I thought I had done just about everything that could be done with a scroll saw, then I discovered something new to me called Intarsia.
I wanted to learn how to do this, so in 2007 I went to Roberts Studio in east Tennessee and was taught how by a true master scroller and craftsman named Jerry Booher and the worlds best known Intarsia artist Judy Gale Roberts, who is credited with bringing this art form back from the past. I enjoyed the class so much I took another one in 2008 and a third one in 2010.
Over the years I have sent my woodwork all over the United States and few places around the world. It's been sent everywhere from Miami Florida to Beverley Hills California, up to Alaska and Canada and as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Greece.
The condensed version of all this is, I have spent thousands and thousands of hours over the last thirty years doing something I love to do and have been lucky enough to receive some notice for it.
I remember sitting there 30 years ago cutting this little rocking horse for my mom with the saw my dad bought me. I still have it in my shop.
If you would have told me back then where some of my woodwork would end up, I would have never believed it. Its still hard for me to believe when I think about it now.