by Cathy Niland

latisha baker_I Am The Crucible_GIFTY

For most makers, November is high production time, and that is no different for Latisha Baker. This year, she’ll be returning for her third GIFTY craft show at The Crucible. Latisha has been creating fine and wearable art for the past two decades, and says when she fell in love with pyrography, or pyro-etching, her work took on a meditative quality. “You see a lot of movement in the line drawings and curves of the designs,” she says. “There’s a flow to it and it really highlights process and practice.”

So what is it that keeps Latisha coming back to vend? “I really appreciate seeing how The Crucible has evolved to be intergenerational and more diverse. It’s really walking the walk as a community-based organization.”

Don’t miss your chance to see Latisha Baker’s beautiful pyrography work in person at our 2019 GIFTY craft show and open house on December 7 and 8.

latisha baker_I Am The Crucible_GIFTYHow did you get started making jewelry and art?

The journey started about twenty years ago. I was making a different line of jewelry using found objects from flea markets and thrift stores. I found a gourd that struck my curiosity to explore pyro-etching, so I purchased a wood burner. It started as a hobby, then I started creating larger 2D pieces. After the shift in the economy, I started making jewelry and wearable art full-time.

Tell us more about pyrography.

It’s one of the oldest forms of writing. A long time ago people would heat pokers and press into surfaces like tree bark. I use a soldering iron and the interchangeable tips to create all the diffent design work. I burn, or etch—it’s also referred to as pyroetching—so I etch on paper as well as wood.

People have probably seen the technique on gourds and leather—often featuring images of wildlife. But the medium is becoming more popular and I’m seeing a lot more than those typical designs. It’s cool to see all the different things people are doing with pyrography now!

What is the process of art making like for you?

The actual process is really a form of meditaion. I have to be intentional when I create my work because if I’m not, I burn myself. Whether it’s 2D work or a small Ear Cookie, I just really enjoy creating one-of-a-kind artwork. It resonates with people, especially when I talk about the process. People have an appreciation for the fact that every piece is original. When someone purchases my Ear Cookies, I let them know they’re the only one in the world with this pair of earrings. It really adds to the exchange.

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Latisha Baker’s daughter models the infamous Ear Cookie.

Are you working on anything special for GIFTY?

Yes, I’m working on some smaller scale art pieces and a new line of pendants. The goal is to keep prices affordable but also to just give people a variety of things to choose from. I have something for everyone!

What is your favorite thing about GIFTY?

I like that Oakland is represented at GIFTY. There’s an intergenerational aspect that I really appreciate about The Crucible. People come in from all walks of life and I really respect that. It’s definitely a welcoming environment. I appreciate the diversity of the artists and what they’re offering.

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