Whenever I make something, I always try to incorporate some new skill so that I can learn while creating. This time I went a little over board. My daughter was in need of a lap desk to replace the dollar store plastic one that had an untimely death when she used it for steeple chase practice in the living room… My father made my brother and I two such desks when we were kids, except that he simply used three pieces of plywood and some piano hinges (in hindsight, not a bad idea to be honest…). I decided I was going to go much more upscale!
My mid century modern inspired lap desk started out as a way to practice bending plywood. I made the apron of it from several layers of 1/8″ baltic birch plywood that I bent around a form. Then I attached it to the top which I decided to veneer with some walnut I had lying around. I was using the white glue and iron technique which unfortunately led to a few large cracks. This meant I needed to do some inlay to cover up these cracks. The legs were made using angled bridle joints, and finally the top was coated with an epoxy finish. Did I mention I had never done any of these skills before?
The final piece is not something I am truly proud of, there are many “first time” mistakes which I have learnt from and will be better able to handle next time. It’s only failing if you aren’t learning after all right? I do like the design, and some of the techniques I’ll try again (bridal joints), and some I won’t use (vacuum press veneering would lead to a much better finish). There should be more furniture pieces showing up on the blog throughout the spring, so stay tuned!
Last week I did my first One of a Kind Show in Toronto. It’s the biggest show I’ve ever sold at and it was quite exciting to meet so many new great vendors and customers. Over the five day show I talked to thousands of people and got lots of great feedback about my products as well as learnt many tips and tricks from other vendors. All in all it was a great success and I’ll be applying to be back for the Christmas edition.
Things have been busy in the studio lately, getting ready for One of a Kind Spring show in Toronto. It’s a big step up from any show I’ve done so far in terms of costs and length, so I’m hoping I’ve prepared enough product to last throughout the show, but selling out the last day around 5pm would be just perfect…
Production has been very smooth, with only a couple of machines breaking down, both easy but pricey fixes, and both involving motors wearing out. Thankfully I was only down a day or two with repairs so nothing to delay me too much. I still desperately need to do a massive re-org on my studio, but between moving the machines, rerunning the dust collection and electrical, and just general clean up, I really need a week to get it all done. So far the orders have been quite consistent and I simply haven’t been able to shut the shop down for so many days in a row.
I’m excited to announce a few new products that I’ll be showcasing at One of a Kind. First is a German inspired Breakfast Board. It’s a walnut board with a slight dish to it and a colour block edge. Often used to serve breakfast on, it can double as a serving tray or just look nice on display.
Next product is a happy accident. I had a failed glue up and the only part of the larger board salvageable was a tear dropped shape. I played around with the size and came away with a new walnut serving and chopping board. It’s got a rounded edge and a hole for easy hanging.
These products won’t be on Craftcollective.ca or on my Etsy shop till April, so if you you’re keen to have them, be sure to come down to One of a Kind, you’ll find me at booth P44F in the Etsy section.
Every fall, there is an artist’s studio tour in my area. Artists open their studios for all to see how they work, and to show off (and hopefully sell) some of their latest art. There is an application process and those who are accepted get published in a booklet that is given out around town and receive quite a bit of exposure. I find the biggest barrier to sales is people not knowing I exist, so any publicity greatly helps the cause.
Over the last two years, it’s been suggested by many of my friends (some of whom are artists taking part in the studio tour) that I should apply. They say I am a shoe in, and I will get a spot no problem. I get compliments on my work and they tell me the great benefits of this tour. The only thing is I’ve never applied. Am I worried about getting in? No, what I have trouble with is the term “artist”.
You see, I don’t feel as if I’m an artist. I guess it all boils down to how you define an artist. My wife is a pastry chef, and most of what she makes could be considered art… it also tastes good. I feel an artist is someone who makes bespoke one of pieces that were inspired in some way. I don’t really do that, at least not the stuff I sell. I’ve made one off things for myself or family, but generally what I produce in my studio is production work. I create a design, then I maximize the efficiency in making it. Some items I make only one of because I can’t make it efficiently enough to be able to profit from selling it. So I feel I’m more of a designer, but one who makes the items as well.
So another year has gone by and I’ve let the deadline slip by without applying. While I’d love the exposure, the artist label is one that is hard for me to accept.
Just before Christmas I had an email from an Executive Chef down in Florida. He was opening up a new restaurant and was searching for flatbread boards. He liked some of my other products and we worked together to come up with these 10×14″ walnut boards. The chartreuse edge was requested in order to match some of the same colour accents in the restaurant. They’ll be adding some rubber feet to the boards to keep them secure on the tables.
If you’re in Delray Beach, Florida, head over to Apeiro and grab a bite to eat on one of these boards! Remember that we’re always keen to work on custom orders no matter how big or small.
Last January was slow. Sometimes slow can be nice, time to get caught up on things, get those repairs done in the shop that you keep putting off, etc. That had been my plan for this January, I need a new assembly table, plus some dust collection revamping, a little electrical work, all in all a few weeks worth of repairs to get things running a little smoother. None of these repairs are essential, but they would make my day run a bit smoother.
So that was my plan, but plans sometimes change. I’ve spent the last few days ironing out a big commission with a restaurant in Florida (which seems hard to believe as I watch the blizzard outside), and packaging up some work to go to my latest stockist (more on that below). It looks like I’ve hit the ground running in 2015, and I’m pretty excited to be this busy right from the get go, as for the repairs, some have waited a year already to get done, so another few weeks won’t hurt…
The new stockist I mentioned above is the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario. The products in the picture above will be available in their gift shop later this month!
For those of you not in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), my work is always available at:
I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I don’t take failure well, which is a bad combination. Things are never perfect and I’m rarely satisfied unless they are. It doesn’t really matter if it’s my first attempt at something, I still expect myself to do it perfectly. The problem is I’m not perfect and things don’t always work perfectly, which leads to me getting down on myself.
The other day I started work on a small lap desk for my daughter. My dad made me one of these when I was little, only he made it out of three pieces of plywood and a couple of piano hinges. My design consisted of bent ply lamination, veneer pressing, and through tenons on the legs… Were all these aspects necessary? Of course not, but they are all things I wanted to try so why not do them all in the same project?
I started with the bent ply. First attempt, the 3mm baltic birch snapped on the third of four corners. Second attempt, same thing but on the fourth corner. I gave up for the night. The next morning after some cheering from friends on Instagram, I gave it a third try and the bend worked. Normally I give up on the first or second try, sticking out three times is a new record for me, and an example of the patience I need in order to improve my woodworking.
This desk isn’t going to be a beautiful piece that people will lust after, but it has taught me some patience as well as improving some of my techniques. They are far from perfect, in fact some aren’t even good enough to sell, but I’m getting there, and it’s the only way I’m going to improve…