Knack for scroll art turns hobby into a business

NEIGHBORS

August 06, 2002|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHAT STARTED as a hobby for Owen Brown resident Gordon Spencer has grown into a business that keeps him busy six hours a day and takes him and his wife, Peggy, to craft fairs all over the state.

His intricate woodworking designs - known as scroll art because of the scroll saw used to create it - can also be seen on the walls and tables of local merchants.

The pieces range from the complex and detailed, such as that of a wolf drinking from a pond with his reflection looking back at him, to the more simple face of a dog.

"There are so many cuts in the wood in the wolf piece that it would bend and break if it weren't framed," Gordon Spencer said. It takes 15 hours to make. The popular dog faces take about an hour and a half to complete.

His inventory of 350 "stock" pieces includes 45 breeds of dogs, portraits of famous people - everyone from the Beatles to the Fonz - and many animals. Prices for the pieces start at $15.

Peggy Spencer fills in with her woodworking, which she says is simpler than her husband's. She makes children's puzzles and lawn ornaments. She also made a 30-inch mouse for a friend.

Together, they named their company Pegos Scroll Saw Art - Pegos combines their first names and the first letter of their last name.

The interest in woodwork started two years ago with a home improvement project. The groundwork for the business was laid shortly after.

"I was working full time and Gordon was home," Peggy Spencer said. "I wanted ceramic tiles on the kitchen wall, so I bought Gordon a Dremel saw for Christmas."

He started experimenting with the hand-held saw but then wanted a bigger saw so he could improve his artwork, she said.

That's when Peggy, whose father was a woodworking buff, bought the scroll saw, which takes up nearly half of the couple's living room.

"As soon as I got the saw, I started picking up magazines and books and getting patterns wherever I could," Gordon said. "The first thing I made was two penguins to send to Peggy's sister."

"He has such a knack for it," Peggy said. "Once he got started, he couldn't stop. Some days, I would come home and he would have four new pieces made. Some days, there would be 12. It got to be where there was just no more room in the house."

Added her husband: "I sent lots of things to relatives and friends. But I think they got sick of seeing the packages arrive in the mail."

That's when Peggy suggested that he try to sell his work. Now, the couple run a booth at least twice a month at summer craft fairs. At other times during the year, they can be seen at Christmas fairs and school fairs.

Gordon gets his inspiration in many ways.

"Sometimes I'll just see something like an animal and I'll wonder how to make it," he said. "Sometimes I look at the grain in the wood and think about what to make with it. Or I'll see a frame and have an idea of what would look good in it."

The couple are always scouring woodworking magazines looking for new patterns and ideas.

Their work is displayed at the Blue Cow Cafe in Oakland Mills, Famous Dave's Restaurant in Columbia Crossing and Sonoma's Bar & Grille in Owen Brown Village Center.

"Scroll art really brings us closer as a couple," said Peggy Spencer. "We are both excited about it. We're always talking about new things we can make, or new ways to do things."

Information on scroll art: Scrollsaw Association of the World, www.saw-online.com.

School supplies needed

"Prepare for Success" is collecting school supplies for needy children in Howard County. Christ Episcopal Church in Owen Brown coordinates the community program.

For the second year, the church is working in conjunction with organizations including the National Council of Jewish Women, Howard County government, Sherriff's Community Services and the Columbia Association.

Last year, the program gave school supplies to 1,200 children. This year's goal is to help 1,500 children, said Mike Clark, program coordinator and a church staff member.

"Our goal is that every child, no matter what their family's income, starts school on an equal footing," Clark said.

Collection boxes are at all Howard County libraries and the Columbia village centers.

Supplies needed include three-ring binders, 24-pack crayons, highlighters, pencil boxes and colored pencils. This year, L.L. Beach donated 100 backpacks. An $8,000 grant enabled the group to buy an additional 1,000 backpacks.

"Because of this effort, some child will walk around school with a backpack filled with supplies that he otherwise may not have had," Clark said.

The donation boxes will be collected Aug. 15.

Information or to make a donation: Mike Clark, 410-309-9695.

Children's clothes swap

Long Reach Community Association's Kids' Clothes Swap is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 21 on the parking lot of the village center. This is an opportunity to buy and sell used children's items, such as clothes, toys and furniture.

Those interested in selling items can register at Stonehouse in the village center. The fee is $15 a space.

Information 410-730-8113.

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