I read a very interesting article in The Washington Post by Jason Wilson about the origins and evolution of the martini. While the subject of martinis is not top of mind for me, I found this all very insightful and so, so true.
My father is one of those who began drinking gin martinis in college, you know, back in the 1950’s, smoking a pipe, wearing a coat with the patches on the elbows. It was the rage of the time. Later, when I was becoming of legal age, I fondly remember mixing him drinks where I would splash vermouth over the top only, or just say the words over the glass.
I remember sitting around with my father on one of the many fishing trips to Chincoteague Island, VA. The day was done, and we were regaling in our daily pack of lies, otherwise known as the fish stories of the day. He and I sat around drinking “martinis” made his way…no vermouth. I thought I would die. Talk about harsh.
In the article, Derek Brown says “when people finally experience a martini with unique and artisanal ingredients, it makes a world of difference”. The whole point of the article is that we Americans have somehow managed to stray from the original composition and intention of the martini.
I think that the furniture world has managed to stray from tried and true practices. When I show people a dovetail or mortise and tenon joint, they are just amazed this sort of joint is still created. The concept of wood from the trees stops people for a moment. When I say walnut, I don’t mean a walnut color, I mean a walnut tree – as furniture makers for centuries have intended it to be. So mix a real drink, and get some real furniture.
I got into this debate with the twenty something, now officially thirty something, marketing director of ours (Hugs and kisses, Alison). Silly really, but it typifies this ongoing …well, let’s just call it a difference in the way we look at life. She was paying a bill through the company of hers with a fist full of cash. I was curious why she’d choose to use up all her cash rather than pay with a check or some other arrangements with the accounting people. Then it began. The obvious was pointed out…just go to the ATM. Duh! When I pointed out that I did not have an ATM card, and had less interest of getting an ATM card, and that I prefer to go inside the bank and hand my transactions to an actual person, with an actual pulse, I was accused of being a Luddite.
Curt, one of my partners, quickly tried to intervene, only to confess that he too shared my lack of a banking card, and preferred dealing with someone with a pulse rather than something that beeps and burps at you. He took the next barrage of scrutiny, only to slink off slightly bruised. Thanks for taking one for the team, Curt. Us Luddites got to stick together, don’t you know.
The other day we had an oops in the shop, and the solution was to shave the face of the entire cabinet back about ¼”. Not a difficult thing to do in theory, but to actually do it is very difficult. The only way to really do this was by hand…enter Kevin Parker, one of our craftsmen. Kevin has a real passion for hand planes, and all things in the craft that are old timey. So, Kevin was call upon, and he proudly marched over and whittled away on the face of this cabinet for an hour or so, successfully saving both the cabinet and hours of additional time.
Think about this for a minute. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment in our shop, and the best solution to this and many other problems was a $25 hand plane. Who’s the Luddite now, Miss marketing director smarty pants? I’ll bet this internet thing is just a passing fancy, too.
It always so interesting to ask craftsmen how they decided to do what they do. The other day in our showroom, I met a man who makes guitars for a living (an honest to goodness luthier!). The story behind that choice must be just fascinating.
I’ve asked our craftsmen this question and they all have their own stories, like the craftsman who works for us who comes from a family of cabinetmakers.
I asked a similar question of Adam King, a furniture maker in Olney, Illinois, and he said the following:
It’s that compulsion that drives me to strive for a closer connection to my materials and my heritage in this craft. It’s that compulsion that has me exploring new ways to bring a very real emotional connection to you through my designs and my stories. It’s that compulsion that’s moving me in a direction that is honest and true to my passions and talents so that I can offer you the best work I could possibly create.
Go read the rest. It’s worth it.
We just had a nice little mention on Jeri Dansky’s blog site. She was discussing various pop up TV cabinets, and seems to like ours quite a bit. What is shown is a solid Mahogany Glasgow credenza with art glass doors we made in house. Greg Gloor is the designer of this cabinet, which has been quite popular.
There are various ways to hide TV’s. I own a Library Entertainment Center, which Erika and I just love. The bookcases slide to the left and right over the rear bookcases to reveal the TV. Check it out on the web site – www.hardwoodartisans.com in the entertainment center area.
So, I have been doing a lot of work from my home lately, specifically AutoCAD drawings. It’s nice to be able to concentrate, and the complexity of the work dictates a lot of focus on the overall project. I work at least twice as fast at home as when I’m in the office. There is a lot to be said about working in some peace and quiet.
The other night I was working on a drawing I needed to get done, and had spent about 45 minutes to an hour working feverishly on it. I was almost finished, when my cat, Woody (what else would I name him?) jumped up on the table and laid down on the keyboard. When I tried to extricate him from my workspace, he hit the power button on the laptop. Everything lost. My boy, my boy. I love him, but just wanted to kill him at that point.
I met a very interesting person today by the name of Jennifer Sergent. She is a reporter for Washington Spaces Magazine, one of the magazines we advertise in.
We found some common ground in that she and I went to the same high school – Langley – though several (read many) years apart. Also, she has a blog – washingtonspaces.com/blog like I do.
I found the time with her refreshing, like talking with an old friend. It’s nice to meet someone new who has shared similar experiences at some other time. It was as if I had known her for years. Have you ever had that happen to you?
When I said in my last entry that I am a master craftsman, I did not expect people to take notice so quickly! If you’re looking for some quality reading material, let me suggest a pair of articles featured in the DC Examiner and the Baltimore Examiner.
The first, in the DC Examiner, is an interview I did about our furniture donation initiative with ACTS, which I discussed in a previous entry. Sorry if it sounds choppy… I only had three minutes to interview!
The second, in the Baltimore Examiner, quotes Alison–that thirty-something Marketing Director of ours–about our Murphy and wall beds. Speaking of which, last weekend’s Post ad featured the Library Wall Bed. I think they make excellent guest beds… nothing beats a real mattress for comfort, not to mention the inherent space-saving features of being able to fold a bed into a wall.
We typically sell a lot of these beds around the holidays to families expecting out-of-town visitors, and I have to imagine other furniture retailers experience a similar phenomenon. I’ve also seen some pretty innovative guest solutions out there, though in my house we just put rocks under the mattress to get guests to leave early. In your house, where do your guests go?
I like to think of myself as being good at what I do. I work for a company that has been in business for 32 years, and I’ve been a part of it for the last 22. And yet every day I learn something new as a woodworker. In this field, it is very hard to be a “know-it-all,” no matter how hard I may try. So, as you can see, today when I make a piece of furniture for a customer, there are many things–collected over my 25 years as a woodworker–that I take into account. You might even consider me an expert furniture maker… even a master craftsman.
My extremely talented Marketing Director recently coerced me into writing down some of my sage knowledge in the form of an article, which we submitted to DesignLine magazine. Today the mail arrived, and with it came the magazine, with my published article on pages 16 – 17! “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! I’m somebody now!”
So, what do you think? Did you learn something? Bonus points if you can guess which movie I’ve quoted.
Wow! We’ve received a lot of interest in a product we’ve not even debuted yet… our Linnaea dining set! We’ve already drawn up plans for a table, and we’re working on the chairs as I type. Here, you can see two of the table drawings. It’ll be at least 4 weeks until we even have a picture of this never-before-seen item!
However, we do have one Linnaea dining item you CAN see now: the Linnaea credenza. This great piece is diminutive in size and works great as a small server or even as a living room cabinet which stylistically matches other items in the Linnaea Collection.
Do you have any other ideas for items we ought to add to the Linnaea Collection? If so, please leave a comment below!
Jason and me with “the slider” cabinet. The top doors slide to the center or the far left and right to reveal a jewelry drawer in the top middle. The drawer is on metal glides for full extension and is fully lined with a complete jewelry organizer. The drawers are curved fronts, like the case and top. These pieces should be in the showroom within two weeks.