Josh Ellwood is an imposing figure. As a Valdosta City Police Officer, he truly looks the part. When you take a closer look and you see him flash a smile, you begin to realize there is much more to the man than the uniform and the badge he wears. The tattoos he sports show a colorful side that can actually be quite humorous. They also show a creative side that he recently turned into a new hobby. After discovering the art of pyrography, Josh has turned his creativity into a way to relieve the stress that is often a part of his job.
A Day in the Life
As a Valdosta City Police officer, Josh faces many challenges and, like any other law enforcement officer, dangers. He takes it in stride and performs his duties like a professional. When not at work, he is a father, husband, musician (he plays bagpipes), and an artist. Up until early this year, he would draw and sketch, but it wasn’t until March that he found a new way to breathe life into his artwork.
Facing Challenges With A Twist
Instead of letting the challenges he faces on a daily basis get to him, he allows them to spark his creativity. While he has always been artistic, he took up wood-burning (pyrography) in March of 2018. Picking up his wood-burning tool, he puts the metal to the wood and as the burn is etched into something beautiful his stress and frustrations slowly begin to fade away. Although he’s proud to serve the Valdosta community as a City Police officer, the job is not always an easy one and there are times when it can be overwhelming.
After one of his fellow officers was brutally attacked, Josh did everything he could to help him through a very difficult time. While he was not the one bearing the physical pain, the frustration and concern for his fellow officer was stressful. The pyrography was what he used to keep his emotions in check and release the tensions he often felt after a long day on the job. As he has continued to hone his skills, he has learned to bring both worlds into perspective and find that delicate balance. Many of the pieces he’s finished have been for fellow officers both in the Valdosta Police Department and the Lowndes’ County Sheriff’s Department.
Josh’s wife Tamia has been by his side for over 20 years. He used her as the inspiration for one of his favorite pieces. It bears her name and the words to Amazing Grace. She is his guiding light and the one he turns to when he needs peace. When asked which of his pieces was his favorite, he replied, “Without question, it’s the one I did for Tamia. I knew the minute I saw her that I wanted her in my life and we’ve been together ever since.”
The couple have three children and several pets that keep them busy. The time he spends working with his wood-burning tools is his stress-relief, but it’s also a way for him to bond with his son. His son is autistic and sometimes has trouble interacting with others. When Josh began to do pyrography, he asked his son if he would like to do it too. Although, it doesn’t happen often, there are times when father and son can both be found sitting at the table burning their designs.
Each Piece Is Unique
Josh has completed many different types of designs including a free-handed image of the Heath Ledger’s Joker, Icelandic Sheep, architectural drawings, police badges and various other types of designs.
“The Aztec calendar was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The design was so intricate, it was difficult to create an exact replica but it’s as close as possible,” Josh said. On his Ellwood Pyrography page, he says, “I love sitting at my work station, headphones in, drawing up new designs or burning some wood!”
Josh has faced both tragedies and triumphs. He’s looked danger in the eye and walked away. With his wife and family by his side, he has faced family trauma and difficult challenges while on the job. Is his life perfect? No, but he’s a man blessed with many talents and surrounded by people who love him and look up to him. He enjoys being able to share his love of art and pyrography with others who appreciate his talent.
Thank you for all you do for the community Officer Ellwood and also for sharing your talent!