Primary Tools & Materials:
carving, DATA VISUALIZATION

Additional Tools & Materials: xacto blade, wood carving tools, utility knife, wood burning tool, Dremmel, wood stain, spray glaze

This letter is the combination of carving and data visualization. Can you guess what kind of data I was emulating here? Yes, a pie chart. I realized if I shifted the upright stroke to the center of a circle, I could create the other two strokes of the k in a way that they resembled the slices of a pie chart. 

I started with 2" wooden discs from the craft store. I had planned to scoop out the strokes of the K by hand with a utility knife, but that proved incredibly difficult due to the density of this wood. So then I had to get creative and dump out my husband's tool box. First I used a wood burning tool to shape the trenches. They weren't quite deep or well-defined enough for me. Then I used a Dremmel to sand down the edges to make it more rustic. At this point (see image 3) the letter looked like something you'd make at summer camp. It brought up imagery of canoes and camp fires, and if I'm honest, the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts! The letter was literally campy. Then I decided to make it resemble a pie chart more by shading the different slices in different coats of wood stain. This would not only help define the different slices of the pie, but draw attention to the lighter slices that make up the negative space of this letter. I started by coating the whole disc in one coat of wood stain, making sure it dried nice and thick in the gutters (see image 4). Then I went back and gave the two largest slices two more coats each to mark a clear boundary between the four shapes. Last, I sprayed it with one coat of clear glaze to seal in the colors and give it a shine. It was then that I realized that the glaze made this look like real pie. That shiny brown looks exactly like a perfectly crystalized crème brûlée crust, or the caramel-drizzled top of a cheesecake. My last step should have been adding a handful of pecans. 

I realize that this method wouldn't work well for every letter. Round letters like C, G, and O would be hard to represent as both letter and pie chart. It was a lucky coincidence that the assigned letter today was K. At any rate, the idea of carving primitive letters with straight but crude lines is appealing. As I said, it hearkens back to craft day at summer camp.