They say all art tells a story but you would be hard-pressed to find any kind of art that tells as many stories as does the work of Daniel Scott of Marion, Virginia.
Though he doesn’t call himself an artist. Preferring the term craftsman. You can find his work on Facebook and Instagram under the name of “Artistic Kindling”. Not only is it breathtaking to look at but also “burns and floats too”. I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel at his workspace to talk about the artistry and dedication involved in the craft of marquetry and I was blown away with what I learned.
Marquetry is a rare art form that requires intense dedication and patience. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, it can take Daniel from approximately six hours upwards to thirty hours to finish a piece. Each one is an intricate jigsaw puzzle made from hand-cut pieces of wood veneer assembled and glued in place under intense pressure.
The scenes depicted through Daniel’s marquetry are boundless. From breathtaking vistas of castles across the globe to geometric illusions to favorite local hotspots to flowers portrayed with such delicateness that they appear to protrude from their frame; everyone is sure to find a piece that speaks to their soul.
Which was the most incredible aspect of Daniel’s work. The emotion and heart in each piece of marquetry felt as if it were ready to leap from its frame and tell its story. Each piece is unique in vision and in the wood that comprises it. As if they have a voice eager to speak.
The artistry behind Artistic Kindling isn’t only the design and subject of the piece but also the thought given to each piece of wood included in the final product. Not only is there an overwhelming variety of wood veneer that Daniel works with, each piece is unique in its characteristics. Whether it be differences in the grain or marks in the wood, each piece is chosen and placed in with the others to complete a puzzle that has an incredible likeness to their counterparts in reality. Not only can a piece represent a dog or horse but can represent a particular dog or horse. It extends beyond your expectations for how accurately wood can represent a subject.
All of Daniel’s work surpasses your imagination in how much precision and beauty it can capture. One of my personal favorites is a piece that represents the beloved and well-known bridge at Hungry Mother Lake that connects the mainland of the park to the island amphitheater. It is a scene many Southwest Virginia inhabitants have seen at least once in their life and a place of many happy summer memories. In the marquetry picture, your eye is immediately drawn to the bridge that then leads your gaze into the trees behind it. The wood used to represent them transport you to a peaceful, carefree autumn evening. The mountain looms behind them in similar tones that truly replicates the unique feeling Hungry Mother instills on its visitors.
Upon further inspection of the wood, you notice that the veneer used to represent the water has a remarkable likeness to the color of the actual water of the lake. Then, there, concealed in the ebb and flow of the wood; the reflection of the bridge. Cut and placed into the picture with such precision that you nearly have to look twice to confirm it’s really there and not an image from your memory trying to fool you.
Such detail and care is a hallmark of Artistic Kindling. There aren’t many souls I’ve met who are as passionate about their work and as kind to explain it to others as Daniel. The nuance he can capture with his marquetry is inspiring and incredible. As I mentioned earlier, each piece feels as if it has a story it wants to tell and undoubtedly part of that story is the love and care they were crafted with. Extending even beyond that, the individual pieces of veneer have a distinct personality.
Pulling pieces from a drawer, Daniel showed me the beauty of veneer from one corner of the globe then adjacent to it, another from a different corner of the globe. He pointed to the grain in one and explained how it would make for beautiful wispy skies and then a mark in another and how it could bring life to a picture. Flipping through pieces from Africa and then Asia and then the Southwest of America and the Northeast. By the time the veneer for any particular project is chosen, they together encompass a world of stories and of quality wood. As Daniel puts it, “You can feel it’s connected to far off places.”
Then there are the stories that Daniel shares with them. Whether it be sandblasting wooden petals to give a flower more depth or pieces made as tributes to lost legends. One piece that catches the eye is a beautiful marquetry picture of Wolverine. With his claws nearly protruding from their frame, Daniel made as a tribute to the late Stan Lee.
Then there are all the stories that we make with them, through them. In each new house a piece finds, it becomes a beloved part of a family home. Waiting to make memories and remind you of some that have already past. Ways to remember a particular scene or commemorate a favorite pet. Each piece is more than what they physically are. They’re more than a jigsaw puzzle of unique woods from around the globe; more than a picture glued together and framed with extreme care and love; more than a tangible memory that will never fade; they are Artistic Kindling.
Be sure to follow along in Daniel’s work on social media