Looking to add a little color into your home?
…Take a tip from Karen Edwards, a wife, mother, and full-time college administrator who has taken her hobby to a whole new level! Making old things new again, Edwards is the chief operator of SHARPWOOD, a line of re-worked home décor, musical instruments, utensils and more, all of which are designed by hand! Her very first designs can be found on basement pipes, switch plate covers, old dresser drawers, however since then Edwards has graduated to front doors, table settings, even guitars! Check out how Karen Edwards uses Sharpie Permanent Markers to turn drab into fab!
“SHARPWOOD products have been salvaged from their misguided fate because of their inherent beauty and potential for re-design!”
Where does the name SHARPWOOD come from? SHARP refers to the Sharpie markers that I draw with, and WOOD refers to the medium I usually work on. In our household, “SHARPWOOD” has become a verb! The other day, I was wearing a dress with a lot of detailed designs in the fabric and my 6 year old asked me, “Mama – did you SHARPWOOD your dress?”
Where do you salvage these items from? Do you stick to your hometown? Stumble upon them? Travel to find pieces? Most pieces were found at second-hand shops or garage sales. I have a hard time driving by either without making a quick stop. My extended family is also in the habit of noticing treasures when they second hand shop. Sometimes when walking into a 2nd hand shop I feel like a kid in a candy store, how do you decide among pieces that you want to re-design? I’m picky about the pieces I buy. I look for unique shapes and features. If the piece doesn’t inspire me, it just sits in the basement and gets passed by as I pick the next thing to work on.
How long have you been “re-designing” items? I’ve only been doing this for a couple years. I picked it up when I was between jobs. I’ve done at least 60 pieces… I started with a pair of candle sticks – I just looked at them and thought “I could make those look better!” The next thing I knew, I wanted to draw on everything in the house!
You mentioned that SHARPWOOD is your hobby, what other things are you interested in? I’m a wife and the mother of two active boys. I’m also a full time administrator at a selective liberal arts college, working to support our international student population. I love culture and travel and my art is inspired by my interest in ethnic arts, designs and colors.
What is your favorite piece that you have worked on? A number of favorites are in my home – chairs, light switch covers, even my front door. My favorite piece on my site is the Masai Chalis – my father-in-law found this very unique piece at a sale in Minnesota. In the end, though, my absolute favorite project was a guitar that I decorated for a friend.
I LOVE the SHARPWOOD Treasure cup! What kind of treasure would you fill this vessel up with?! I like that one too. I imagine it holding unique stones or coins from someone’s travels…
Your designs are beautiful, so detailed! Where do you draw inspiration from – A certain culture or era, perhaps? I notice designs and patterns in things – fabric, wrapping paper, stationery… I love ethnic food, clothing, art, and culture – especially with South Asian or African origins, so some patterns come from that. I can’t really trace a specific source.
What is the design process like? Give us the play-by-play! I don’t usually plan a piece, I just start working it and the design develops. Sometimes I find myself working with the wood grain, to trace a line in the wood or in the workmanship, but usually it is very random. I like to leave negative space so the color of the wood comes through, but that doesn’t always happen either. One design or color determines the next. I like to cover the surface, and then add texture and layers with dots and metallics.
Where do Sharpie Markers come into play? What kinds do you use? Favorite Sharpie? I’ve used a variety of permanent ink pens, but Sharpies are the most vibrant, last longer, maintain the tips, and offer great color variety. I tend to use deep colors, metallics, and a lot of black. I mainly use fine point markers, though the ‘big boy’ version works well on larger pieces (like my front door). I also like to use brush tip pens – but they are very hard to find.
At a dinner party, let’s say, do you ever find yourself having to hold your hand back from snatching up the salad bowl? YES! I’ve actually snagged a few pieces that way! One day I was in a meeting with a colleague and actually asked him if I could SHARPWOOD his lamp. It was an old ugly thing, heavy wood, and I was just sitting there distracted thinking “That is an ugly lamp that COULD be made really funky!” He didn’t let me take it, and I was bummed and slightly embarrassed. I also find myself wanting to do more inside my home, which was built in 1904. I would LOVE to SHARPWOOD our old oak banister!
Is there any item that you haven’t been able to find or would love to work on? The guitar turned out really well – I’d love to do another. It would need to come as a custom request, though, so I suppose that isn’t too likely. I also love to tuck words into the designs, so I enjoy custom pieces that can have meaning for people.
Are you working on anything new at the moment? I usually have several pieces going at once. My front door is a work in progress, and I’m also working on a drum shell, a pair of book ends, and a headboard right now. Yesterday, I ran across a figurine of a mother pig with 2 baby pigs – I might start working on that one tonight (it will be very fun)!
These pieces will not only liven up your own space but this is a great gift idea too!
Head on over to your local second-hand shop to see what you can find. Better yet, take a look around your house – go back into your crawl space, climb up to the attic and pull out a piece that can be given a new life!
For more DIY check out www.sharpieuncapped.com