The Edmondson Village Farmers Market is a community venture. We’ll periodically introduce some of the Baltimore-based artisans who come together to make this all possible.
Free My Timber is a start-up company created by Christopher Priest. He combines the skills of a seasoned furniture refinisher and an artist to create items such as wood-burned jewelry and furniture.
Our Media & Communications intern Nicole had a chance to sit down with Chris, to ask him a few questions.
Nicole: Please state your name and where you live.
Chris: My name is Christopher Priest and I live in Northeast Baltimore.
N: Did you come from Northeast Baltimore? Did you grow up somewhere else?
C: I’m originally from Atlanta and I moved to West Baltimore when I was around 11. I recently moved to East Baltimore a few years ago.
N: Cool, well you do great wood burning pieces, what were you doing before that?
C: You’ll never guess it but I was electrical engineer before I took the woodworking and wood burning seriously.
N: So did you go to Morgan [State University]? Or did you attend somewhere else?
C: Yeah, I graduated from Morgan and worked for Northrop Grumman for a little bit after that. Then I worked for a local company called Lenox Laser, up in Glen Arm, MD. That was before I decided to work for myself.
N: Was that some kind of principle, like to work for yourself? Like “I’m tired of working for all of these people?”
C: That’s really what it is, I really didn’t know what I was going to do. The woodworking thing wasn’t really an option, it was refinishing furniture and refinishing wood floors was just something I did as a hobby on the side. I quit my job because I was tired of making another man rich and I knew that my hard labor was literally making another man rich and he wasn’t paying me what I deserve to be paid for; so I said I had enough.
N: Right, right. So I’m assuming that you’re self taught, or did that go back to electrical engineering and working with those different companies when it came to wood burning?
C: The wood burning, I got that idea from the laser company that I did work with. We worked with laser and would burn a lot of different materials. So I got the idea to try wood and see what would happen, and I noticed that it left a nice little burn on there; so I decided to make an image on there and a lot of my coasters–well all of my coasters in the beginning were all laser-etched, until I no longer worked with the company. Then I started practicing and doing it by hand, and I just got better at it. Then one thing turned into another and it just developed into a business.
N: The name “Free My Timber,” where does it come from?
C: I would love to be considered a liberator of my people, just an all around educator as far as–you know–the plight that black people are in as a whole. I just want to uplift us as a community, I want to educate us as a community, so that’s kind of where it came from. I wanted to have a name that sort of tied in with what my true dreams are and also what the business is. I just kind of wanted to have a fun name too, so I thought that “Free My Timber” was playful and served all the criteria that I was going for.
N: How did you start doing pendants or coasters–what’s your favorite thing to make?
C: Honestly, my favorite thing to do–I like to put my designs into household things. I really like designing for the house, so furniture would be the first thing that comes to mind. I actually have a project right now where I’m refinishing a door–I’m putting a new front door on and put a big burning on my front door; and I’ve been having dreams of doing steps, putting a nice mural on my steps so it all flows together. So that’s what I really like to do, unique items but more towards the home–home and furniture.
N: What’s your best seller?
C: My best selling piece by far is the large pendant of “Life Begins Here.” It’s basically the silhouette of a woman with the continent of Africa between her legs, kind of a dual meaning to me. Meaning that life begins with the woman and in Africa. That is the best selling piece I have.
N: How did you come to the farmer’s market?
C: Just through word of mouth. I remember seeing a poster on Facebook or I got an email just telling me about the farmer’s market and I contacted Jill [Harrison] and it went from there.
N: Do you like the idea of the farmer’s market helping the community?
C: Yes, this is my first time participating in a farmer’s market for myself but I’ve been going to them and attending them for a few years now, and I just love the idea as a customer and as someone selling now. As far as for my business, I think it’s really nice and it’s a real eye opener. It’s a learning experience for me if I ever want to grow to be like a brick and mortar store–or something like that, this experience is helping me tailor to my audience.
We hope you’ve enjoy this interview with Chris from Free My Timber. He’ll be with us on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.
To get in contact with Free My Timber: