Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Here and Now

Jeez, it's been awhile. The only good place to be is right here and now, so I will just pick it up and continue. Right now it is summer vacation. The weather is nice, the kids are home, and we have been very busy as a family. It is not easy to get work done right now. I am trying to give myself obtainable goals each week to stay afloat. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I do not. In the end it is better to try than to just give up though.
Current projects include a shoe bench for a local client, a pair of end tables to match the cherry cocktail table that I finished last fall, a storage bench for hats and mittens for my good friend, a walnut bench that I was working on just for fun, and possibly a bar table if I choose to accept the challenge. I have many things to be grateful for.
My most exciting news is that my work is being shown at Frank Allen Gallery in Brown Deer. They are currently showing the cherry cocktail table. A good friend of mine encouraged me to meet with Frank, and even put in some good words for me. He said "you have a gift and you need to share it". I never really thought about it that way. I figured I was given a talent and I had to use it, but now I see it his way. Share your gifts, inspire others to use their talents. Keep it all rolling along.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grafton Arts Mill Opening

Friday night was the opening of the new Grafton Arts Mill. It was insane! There were so many people there. Which of course made it difficult to view the artwork, but the atmosphere was spectacular. Many members of the Cedarburg Artist's Guild came out, many old supporters of the Artpost (our old studio and gallery), and of course the News Graphic was there too.
I was hearing lots of great things from the people that came out. The space was beautiful (thanks to those that worked their tales off), the concept of the place was cool... etc. We were open from 5-10pm, but as I was cleaning up at 10:45, the 3rd floor gallery/temporary wine bar was still full. People were still sitting around the tables enjoying the night. It was an amazing night, the Arts Mill sold tons of work, and I was so overjoyed to be part of something again. Can't wait for the next event!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Greener Green

What a day...where to begin? I rented studio space!!! Ironically located above our extinct gallery.

Now, I never thought I would find a space that fits my needs. So, I wasn't looking...at all. I had decided that I did not want to show my work anywhere where they would take 30% or more my selling price. I did not want to have to price my work so high that it wouldn't sell. I can't afford to pay more than $100/mo. for rent. And I can't really be there much because I have to be in the workshop building the stuff. So that was it for me. Like I said, I wasn't looking because I didn't think such a place existed. I was content to keep on keepin' on the way things were. Work by referral, do more shows, and keep up the Etsy site. The grass is green enough here. Goog is good. Presently present and all that.

Wham O! Found it. It's a co-op. I will work there 12 hours a month. The rest of the time I will be in the workshop building while someone else is manning the boutique. They do take a small percentage, but it is small enough that I can eat it. And their / our grand opening is this coming Friday. But it's cool, I'm oddly enough, prepared. I have a couple accent tables, a few cutting boards, buttons, earrings... It's like what Oprah says, "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.". If someone would have told me when I got out of bed this morning, that I would be painting a 1/2 wall in my new studio before I picked up the kids from school, I would have laughed hysterically. But there I was...painting the wall.

So there it is. A new chapter. A greener green.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Presently Present.

Ugh. I am not feeling well. I have some sort of sinus thing that came on late yesterday afternoon. Rotten headache and really zapped. I called in sick to myself today. I feel bad that I am not getting anything done. Normally, I would power through it, but I know that usually just makes it last longer. So here I am...sitting here.

I poked around on Etsy and looked for fresh ideas. I saw a lot of people ripping each other off, actually. Some days I think I would love to be able to post something new in my shop everyday and be some sort of Etsy success story. Quit you day job, join us. The fact is, it takes a lot of time to make the things that I make, so this is never going to happen for me. I am trying to be more okay with where I am at.

I am not exactly patient. Fact, I am working on a nice commission. Fact, it's going to occupy 4-6 weeks of my time. Fact, it will bring in some money. Fact, it has been fun to document because I like to watch the progress. That's it, that's exactly where I am at.

Lent begins this week. I always give something up, like sweets. Usually, it makes no difference, because I just wind up replacing sweets with popcorn and it all evens itself out. One year I gave up cussing, and that actually stuck. Now I say stuff like Holy Hannah! Jeepers creepers! Which is a good thing, the kids actually ask me if jeepers creepers is a naughty word Ha! This year, I am going to give up believing the grass is greener somewhere else. This year, I will work on realizing where I am right now, and that it is good.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Take a Detour, Even if it Takes a Couple Weeks!

Once upon a time, I knew someone that we will just call...Hank. Hank was very particular about his craft. He always did things a certain way, and stuck to the same theme over and over. Let's just say, when you saw his work, there was no mistaking it for someone else's. He sold quite a bit of work and I always looked up to him. I figured Hank was doing things right, and so I tried to follow his lead. I gave myself a set of rules to follow. Do this, but dont do that. Use this, but never that. After a few years, i was burnt out, bored, and miserable. What works for some just doesnt work for everyone...and that's okay. That doen't make me any less professional.
Turns out, there is a lot to learn from all that extra stuff. If I was always making hamburgers, how would I ever learn to make my grandmother's chocolate e'claires? Having new creative experiences fuels me. I have recently taken a vacation from furniture design. On my vacation, i knit a baby hat and a beautiful woman's scarf. I made a bunch of buttons and several pairs of wooden earrings. It is now time for me to get back to my "real job" and start working on a new commission. And I am going into it with more knowledge and a freshness that can't be gained anywhere else. Plus, I have a great idea for a three legged table AND a new piece of artwork. Diversions are the doorway to great things.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inspiration & Influence

I briefly want to talk about what my daughter and I did over the weekend. We hit the road. We went on an adventure. We set out to explore! We got outta Dodge! Or Grafton as it were, and headed south. We stopped in Mequon and checked out a newer gallery and some cool shops, headed to Frank Allen Gallery and checked out some artwork by an old friend. Then we had a quick lunch and decided to keep going. We wound up exploring the Third Ward in Milwaukee...or part of it anyway. We visited Tory Folliard, Katie Gingrass Gallery, Milwaukee Cupcake Company (HELLO!), met some of the members of the potters guild of Milwaukee, ate popcorn, and met a lovely artist named Kathleen. We had a freaking blast! I have to just say props to Milwaukee! What an awesome display of talent and fresh ideas! I love our little big city! We plan on doing this more often! Milwaukee Rocks.

The next thing on my mind is teaching. Frank (former instructor) recommended a book to me awhile back, the Universal Traveler. This book has been instrumental in changing my perspective of my life in general. I can't even begin to describe it. Let's just say that instead of wishing about stuff, I am now just making said stuff happen. I strongly believe that if I had read this book, when I was in school....I don't even know where I might be right now. My point is this. When you feel passionately about something, isn't it your duty to pass it along? I mean, the class I want to teach is a design class, but it also would be setting the students up for what's next. I'm not describing it to the best of my abilities.... Imagine a design class that goes above and beyond objects, but rather blurs the line between what is tangible and intangible. Product design meets designing your own personal future. Sort of life strategy taught thru product design. It's on my mind.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baguette Board Finished, and a New Beginning

I have spent the past few days finishing up this project. I had to cut and edge sand the curve, round the edges on the router, sand, and finish. When it was all said and done, I decided this would be an awesome board for serving smoked salmon. Admittedly, this is not the most exciting project to document, but I needed to try it out. Later on this year, I will be documenting a toy box from start to finish, so it's good to do a practice run.
It is not easy to be self-employed. It has been a pretty rough week. I question everyday whether I am on the right path. Sometimes I think it would be easier to get a "real job". Easier to just go to work and bring home a paycheck. I know in the long run, I wouldn't be satisfied, but at least we might be able to live in a bigger home, take vacations more easily, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I am just saying there might be an easier way. So I was having that kind of day. Sometimes I feel like I need a billboard that will shout out "It's Cool! You're On The Right Path!" Ryan just told me to dust myself off and get back to work. It wasn't very romantic or even very gentle, but it was exactly the right thing to say in the moment...and it made me laugh.

The next day was better. I was determined it was going to be better. I made it better. Then I received one of the most remarkable emails I have ever gotten. And I won't get into the nitty gritty, but let's just say I keep it in my inbox and refer to it as my billboard.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Baguette Board, Week 1

I spent the first couple weeks of the new year doing bookwork, really investigating where the expenses were and where we were profitable. My goal was to enter the new year more educated, with a better understanding of what products to focus on, and what expenses to avoid. That being said, 2010 was not our most profitable year, but we made some purchases that have proven to be well worth the expense.
This year, I have dubbed Mondays as "Media Mondays". I will post photos of the previous week's progress, keeping my followers updated more often with what is happening in the workshop. Hopefully, as people check out our website, they will click the blogger link and read about our most current project. So let's get started!
Last week, I began working on a baguette board. I was inspired by a cutting board that I saw in the gift shop at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City. It was longer than your average cutting board, but narrow. I designed mine extra long, at 36", 8" wide, and about 1 3/8" thick. The ends will have a slight curve to soften the look a bit. There never seems to be enough length on a regular cutting board when making garlic bread. This new board will take care of that!

The photos show the progression from where I started through glue up. Some of the boards in this project were pulled off an old piano that was left in our house when we bought it. Using reclaimed wood might be a recurring theme this year as I attempt to cut back on lumber expenses. On the bottom of the cutting board, there are a few nail holes from the old piano that I think add character to the piece.