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…
A few weeks back I had a post on quality, and how I was going to test a few of my boards to see how they would hold up in the ultimate test for a wood cutting board – the dishwasher. I always tell my customers to hand wash, not to soak, etc. Then one day I was chatting with the owner of the local sawmill, and he said he sometimes put his cutting board through the dishwasher, and it got me thinking. If the board was a glue up of several pieces then yes, the heat and humidity would split all those glue joints. On the other hand, most of my boards are from a solid piece of wood (walnut or maple). So in theory there isn’t much that could go wrong.
With this in mind I made two special test boards, using some scraps too small to use for a full size board, I finished them in the same manner as I would my regular boards, a few coats of mineral oil. One board was maple with a turquoise colour accent, the other walnut. After a trip through the dishwasher, the walnut board looked ever so slightly duller, and the maple one with the painted edge had a few places where the metal prongs in the dishwasher had worn a bit of paint off. No warping was noticed.
So all in all I think the experiment was a great success. I would still not recommend putting them through the dishwasher, and the painted ones for sure will wear from the rubbing, but in the end they are far more durable than I had imagined. Now where’s the picture proof you might ask? I took a before shot, but there was so little difference that the after photo looks just about identical, so I didn’t bother putting them up.
If you’re looking for some charcuterie, cheese, or serving boards for someone for Christmas, check out either my online shop or my Etsy store.
Amidst all the Christmas craft shows, custom orders, and everything else going on in life, I applied for the One of a Kind Show in Toronto (Spring edition). I’m quite new to all these craft shows, but at the big Etsy sale in September I was approached by someone from the One of a Kind Show who raved about my stuff and said she would hound me until I applied for the show.
It was a very lengthy and thorough application, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been accepted for the spring show. So anyone in the GTA can come see me March 25-29, 2015. More info to follow as we get closer, now I’m off to the studio to make more products… I can sleep next year.
Had some fun this week making a little display for my next show. I take pride in the fact that my products are well designed with quality craftsmanship. But I also do my very best to limit the amount of waste from my studio. The above graphic is meant to show that off cuts are turned into new products, like end grain boards, and anything not big enough to re-use gets given to a friend of mine who heats her house with a wood stove. As for the sawdust, I compost some of it, but the majority goes to another friend who puts it in her chicken coop. I’ve even been known to reuse the handles off of old paint brushes, and even broken hockey sticks… Why throw it away when it can still serve a purpose?