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.
While I was talking to a friend the other day, I was surprised that she hadn’t heard of my very favorite website–Etsy. Billed as “your place to buy & sell all things handmade,” Etsy is a collaborative effort by tens of thousands of artists and artisans. Though they do have a full-time professional staff in New York City that runs the website and does their marketing, the true stars are the artists themselves.
There are extraordinarily talented people in every possible category you could imagine. Over the past two years, I’ve bought countless presents from jewelry makers, letter press cards from graphic designers, even clothing. There are even a number of vintage sellers. Nearly anything you could buy in a conventional store you could find on Etsy. Not only are the items often of better quality that anything you could find in a normal store, they are very reasonably priced, especially considering the time and personal effort these people put into their work.
Take my latest find, a blacksmith and metal artist in Phoenix named John Doss who does both practical and decorative work. Recently he posted an item for sale–custom kitchen and bath accessories for $39.00 each.
A few years ago when I bought bath accessories from Pottery Barn, I paid just as much for the same mass-produced fixtures that everyone has.
They’ve been just fine, but had I known that custom made ones that are much more distinctive could have been had for almost the same price, I would certainly have chosen those.
In any case, Etsy is well worth a look, but it can be kind of overwhelming with all those tens of thousands of artists so from now on, every Wednesday, I’ll be posting about a particular Etsy artist or artisan that I love in the hopes that you will too!
The Hardwood Artisans Bungalow Rocker has been one of our most popular pieces for many years so we know that our customers love rocking chairs.
For the past few days, blogger and fellow woodworker Mitch Roberson has been posting about rocking chairs. He has created quite a little resource guide that has amounted to the furniture equivalent of a gourmet guide to rocking chairs.
If you’re at all interested in woodworking, I highly recommend that you high-tail it over to Furnitude and check it out!
Over the life of this blog, we have made a few blogger friends. Jeri Dansky, a professional organizer from my home state of California, is one of them. Today I saw that Jeri had some great tips for keeping organized on online retailer Design Public’s blog.
Hello all! Alison again, Mark being otherwise engaged.
As I mentioned in my last post, I have a huge thing for antiques. I’m not quite sure why that is. My parents aren’t big antique lovers so it doesn’t run in my family, but an interest in history and a love of books and research definitely does. Most of the fun of buying something new (old) is going online or to my ever-growing collection of reference books and researching the history of a piece I’ve purchased.
Over 1100 booths in two buildings make for a very full day of antique hunting, but I’ve been going for several years and I have my favorite vendors, mostly those who specialize in mid-century modern pieces. Though not technically antiques at less than 100 years old, much of the time I unearth relics of a forgotten era: when average furniture was made from solid wood or good quality plywood instead of particle board, when everyone needed a personal ashtray after dinner and the imbibing of adult beverages was not limited to after work or weekends.
I admit that watching old movies or shows like Mad Men, I assumed that the scene presented had to be an exaggeration, or an affectation of Hollywood glamor. However, in talking to some the vendors at the DC Big Flea and sitting at Christmas dinner with a wonderful gentleman who was in advertising in the 1960s in Manhattan, I was forced to reconcile my romanticized view of a design era I love with a very different and somewhat tawdry image.
But then, that’s the wonderful thing about antiques or pieces that reference the past. It makes it easier to understand how we got here and move past where we are now, hopefully to something better. How’s that for a thought for the new year?
If you’re going to the Big Flea, make sure to swing by and see us in Chantilly. And if you stop into the Chantilly showroom on Sunday, I’ll play show and tell with whatever new treasures I acquired. See you then!
Just a note to anyone who reads this blog site. Thanks for the support, the comments, and the teasing. As I close out 2008 in my mind, I think of the year as the one that I decided to pull myself up out of the 1950′s and into the modern world. I will say that I am still debating the value of being engaged in the techno-internetty-blogger-facebooky world. But I’m trying my best to adapt, and I think that as long as you try your best, there is no shame in the mistakes that will be made.
So thanks for bearing with me through the errors and oops’. A year ago, I did not know what a blog or facebook was. Didn’t really care either. Somewhere along the way, someone thought I might have something interesting to say to people. The verdict is still out on that one!
Happy Holidays, and be well.
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 go to a local coffee shop in Warrenton, Black Wolf Coffee, once in a while. Lately, I go there more frequently. Sherri makes the best mocha, and she recently has gotten me hooked (like a pusher) on coffee with two shots of espresso.
I heard that Starbucks had suffered a 97% drop in profits. Gees, I’ll take the 3% profit in this economic climate. Stop your whining, Starbucks. You have nothing to complain about.
Danker Furniture announced the closing of three stores in the area. This does not make me happy in any way. It actually makes me sad, and a little nervous. Many jobs are lost, and all the knowledge and talent that has been acquired over the years at Danker is dissipating. Competition is good for businesses. It affords the ability to differentiate oneself from the pack. I like Sherri’s coffee better. It has more love in the mix. Many people really liked Danker. They were reputable people who knew their jobs.
I worry about local businesses like Black Wolf. I go more often for several reasons. I figure I have $10 extra bucks a week to burn through, and if that makes a difference of keeping Black Wolf there in a year or not, I’m glad to do it. Also, I’ve been having some pretty interesting conversations with my barista (that always sounds so impressive) about stuff. Important stuff, like…….I don’t know………stuff. Really, going to Black Wolf makes me feel more centered, more focused on the day at hand. The visit is only for 5 minutes, but when I leave with a smile and a great cup of coffee, I’m good to go.
What I’m telling you is that we are all in this thing together, and some businesses are not doing so well. If they are worth having, go support them. Don’t let the doom and gloom of the economic forecasters dictate when and where you spend your money. Gas prices are down, the election is over. Go get a cup of coffee and celebrate.
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?