I am truly humbled and quite thrilled to introduce to you a true artisan and wood worker, Bryan Nelson. I found Bryan one night as I was scrolling through Instagram. In the little square on my screen, my face lit up as I saw the most beautiful, handcrafted hook! I immediately hit the ‘follow’ button and went to his website. I scrolled through pages and pages of uniquely designed hooks. I was visually creating a wish list! I had posted a few hooks in my stories and a few days later a dear friend of mine sent me a gift card to purchase one of Bryan’s hooks!
It was a glorious day when I received my hook in the mail! Not only was the hook absolutely stunning, but my hand also didn’t hurt or cramp as I sat to crochet. Having arthritis, I have tried a lot of different ergonomic hooks over the years and Bryan’s hooks are hands down the best!
When I reached out to Bryan and asked him if he would be a guest on my blog, and he agreed, I was totally ecstatic! I sent him a few questions and you’ll be amazed at some his answers! Let’s read our conversation and discover incredible art as Bryan showcases some of his pieces!
How did you get into woodworking and what was the 1st thing you ever made?
I was first exposed to woodworking in my Junior High School years. It was just a class I took with my friends. I did turn a bowl, which I still have, but it was one of the scariest thing I ever done at that age. That was really the extent of it till around the year 1998, I was given 45 solid oak church pews, thus it began. With the purchase of a surface planer, a second hand radial arm saw and a few hand tools I built bookcases, beds, benches and tables for friends and family. I found that I have a knack. I acquired all my knowledge and skill through trial and error and many hours of reading.
What type of items did you make before crochet hooks?
Over the years I’ve done some big and small projects. I’ve made cabinets, tables, filing cabinets, book cases, mantels, salt and pepper grinders, beds, desk, just to name a few. I started doing items that required “turned items”, mainly legs. I didn’t own a lathe so I had to have them turned for me, and it wasn’t cheap. But I found my true love (well second) when I purchased my first lathe, a 14” Jet. It sat in the box for 6 months while I relived the Jr High years and the fears I guess I still had. I did eventually get it out of the box and set it up. I’ve never looked back. After a year I bought a bigger lathe, a Oneway 2436, and started pushing the limits. A day usually doesn’t go by without something being turned.
How did you start turning crochet hooks and how did you come up with the shape of your hooks?
Around 2014, I’m now working full time as a wood turner/woodworker. My niece, who wanted a crochet hook, asked if I had ever done any. Well, I hadn’t. But after a few attempts, I came up with a crochet hook. I have a background in manufacturing and was always dealing with wrist and arm problems from repetitive moment in my employees. I was always seeking an ergonomic solution to each job in my plant. When I designed the crochet hook, I had this in mind and from the reviews from my customers, I believe I got it right. My hooks have a large diameter handle which is key to “opening up” the hand and expanding the joints. Once this is accomplished and your not fighting the hand pain, the wrist and arm follow. Now, I don’t claim I found the cure. I just know that my hooks are helping some folks with their discomfort through it’s ergonomic design.
How do you come up with the design ideas for the body of each hook?
Once I had the ergonomic design, I thought “now, lets do something more pleasing for the eyes”. I have years of experience working with exotic woods. I have expanded the line I use to about every wood you could think of. If I don’t have it, I can probably get it. I’ve also incorporated a cast product that I use for the crochet hook body. This allows me to use many non wood colors, pine cones, and flowers to achieve a real sunning effect. I’m not sure how I come up with the design for each hook but I look at everything and think, “could that be a hook?” I will admit there are a few duds. I have enough ideas now to last a life time. However, I just don’t have the time to implement them. Somebody has to turn orders!
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How long does it take you to create each hook from start to finish?
Depends on the hook. Hands down, the longest hooks to make are the sea shell hooks. It takes anywhere from 1 – 2 hours, depending on the type of shells. Shells are very hard on tools too!
Please share which hook is YOUR favorite and why?
All the burls and snakewood! African Wild Olivewood Burl is just fantastic and is a new wood this year (2022)! I had it imported directly from South Africa, no broker.
Which wood do you love working with the most and why?
I love working with Amboyna and Afzelia. Oh, I also love working with Bocote. All these woods smell so wonderful and they are very easy to work with.
As a business owner, how do you manage woodworking and life?
It can be difficult, especially being a one-man shop! This year demand has gone through the roof. However, it’s just my wife and I (and our dog, Patches) so I work when my wife works. Seems to work fine.
What’s the most challenging part about your business?
Being a one man shop is the most challenging. I do it all, from handling emails, doing books, web design and ordering material. It’s not just turning hooks…..but that’s the cream! It’s always a challenge to get hooks turned especially when you have there is a high-volume sales in one day. It really stretches out the lead time. But most folks are very understanding.
Do you know how to crochet?
No, I don’t know how. Rather, I don’t remember how. When I was young (5-7 years old) I crocheted but there wasn’t much for a kid to do. No video games, no internet, and only three channels on the TV AND that was in Los Angles CA! OK now I’m telling my age…..
What other items do you enjoy making?
I have a large portfolio of wood items, but I’ve always enjoyed turning bowls.
I’d like to brag on Bryan just a bit. When he says “large portfolio”, he’s meaning the size of Texas kind of large! I spent several hours looking through his beautiful pieces on his website! He’s not one to brag but this man knows how to turn wood into masterpieces! The pieces shown above were handcrafted for August Coppola. The desk and chairs were made using a lot of Amboyna Burl, Gabon Ebony and Cocobolo. Coppola gifted the beautiful bowl set to his son, Nicolas Cage.
Okay, just a few more questions! Bryan’s got to get back to his lathe!
Do you have a shop at your home?
Yes, I work from home.
Do you have a newsletter and how can readers sign-up?
I don’t have a newsletter, (again I don’t have time), but if readers will go to the site nelsonwood.net and get on the email list, I send out emails now and then.
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Thank you, Bryan, for being one of Sweet Bird Crochet’s Featured Friends! Your work is truly amazing!
Please visit Nelsonwood to order hooks from Bryan!
Have you ordered a hook from Bryan? Share in the comments what you love most about your hook! Haven’t purchased your 1st hook? Share which hook would be your first choice to purchase!