VIDEO: sculpture is his passion, his work of art is a memorial

Two years ago, Steve Thomson fell in love with artistic creation, with wood as a medium. The graphic designer turned marketing director decided to direct his artistic passion towards the studio.

Starting off simply as a hobbyist, he created gift items like cutting boards and jewelry boxes, gradually learning enough to move on to quality furniture. However, he discovered a deep passion for essentially “painting with wood” when he produced a creation made from several species of wood. This revolutionary piece paid homage to his and his son’s favorite retro Jordan sneaker, the Black Cement III.

Despite having been an artist all his life, looking at his work, one may be astonished that Thomson has only developed his woodworking style in the past two years. This style, which is its variation on the art form known as intarsia, is done by shaping many different pieces of wood and carefully arranging them to bring a primary image to life. His palette is based entirely on the use of the natural tones of the different wood species, without ever applying paints or stains to the wooden forms.

Knowing how far his skills had come, he decided to adopt a vision he thought was unique. Why not try a Kobe Bryant tribute portrait?

As Thomson began work on this challenging new part, he came across some Kutzall tools at his local Woodcraft store. This discovery was a game-changer in the way he was able to masterfully construct his art. Rotary cutters have given it a new level of control, allowing it to work with or against grain, effortlessly shaping and shaping pieces of wood. Plus, their remarkable efficiency allowed it to go from roughing to final form and finish much faster, saving countless hours on each project.

When the time came to reveal the 3 ‘x 2’ portrait of the late Kobe to family and friends, the reactions were overwhelming. The question everyone was asking was, “How did you make it look so real and what was the process like?” The coin was later purchased by longtime friend and teammate of Kobe Pau Gasol, whose intention was to gift it to Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, and his daughters.

Almost two years later he has now worked on projects for many people across the country. These customers trusted Thomson to put his heart and soul into HappyLifeWood pieces that honor their heroes and loved ones. Her goal of bringing happiness to people, one project at a time, has now become her full-time activity.

HappyLifeWood + Kutzall contest

With Thomson’s new admiration for the Kutzall tools and considering how they complement his technique, Woodcraft came together to formulate a collaboration, in the form of an Instagram giveaway. Participants were encouraged to enter by following the two Instagram pages @HappyLifeWood and @Kutzall, for a chance to win a custom handcrafted piece from Thomson. As one of the entry requirements, each hopeful candidate was asked to specifically describe the desired piece.

Entries started to pour in, and soon after, a winner was selected; Karlie. Karlie’s request was moving and compelling; her father had passed away within the past year. It was his wish to have a portrait of his father, painted by Thomson, to commemorate him. Thomson jumped at the chance and began working with Karlie to design the piece.

The deal was that she wouldn’t be able to see the process, or Thomson’s creation until it was revealed in a private screening at the end. Thomson has devoted more than 100 working hours to meticulously cut, shape, sand and glue piece by piece, with the care of a surgeon, while using seven different types of wood. As the long-awaited reveal approached, Karlie had one final request: to gift the coin to her mother, who was unaware of the events that were about to unfold.

When Thomson completes an order and it’s time for the final reveal, he is always filled with impatience as he waits for the moment his customer sees his part for the first time. Its masterfully defined style beautifully portrays the spirit and preserves the memory of the individual.

The moment is captured in the video above. But that’s just the start, stay tuned for more on the story.