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.
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.
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.
Been getting some blog love lately. My vegan antler rack (seen above) was recently featured on At Home on the Bay as a fabulous Etsy find! The coat each was inspired by the deer I often see out the window in my studio (as they graze on my apple tree…). I plan on having this one, along with a 3 and 2 antler rack at the upcoming Urban Craft Market in Ottawa in September 2014.
Danslacabine featured my walnut dish as one of the top 10 Etsy finds in my province of Quebec. This item is only available on my Etsy site and I only have one left. The dish proved to be too labour intensive in order to make any more, so it is a one off!
Check out the fantastic blogs mentioned above, lots of great articles!
Just firmed up my craft sale dates for September. Those of you in the National Capital area can see me at both Urban Craft Market as well as Etsy: Made in Canada. They are two very big events so I’d better make this post short and get back to the studio right away!
I’ve learnt a lot about Etsy over the last few years. I read up as much as I can about ways to increase traffic, how to draw people to your store, etc. But sometimes I think it’s just dumb luck. In the last week I have had a ridiculous number of likes and views. I’m getting more views per day than I would normally get per week. I’ve had more likes in the last week than all of last year. The view to like ratio seems to be about 3:1 (ie. for every three views someone likes at least one thing they see).
While I’m excited about all the traffic, and I’m glad people “like” my stuff, it hasn’t led to a single sale….. yet. I’m certainly not an Etsy expert, and it’s week’s like this one that leave me thinking I know far less than I once thought I did about the online craft market place.
I’ll be adding a few more items later this week to Etsy, stay tuned…