I have often referred to managing craftsmen as being much like herding cats. It is an almost impossible task. The thing that makes these guys and gals so damn good at what they do is the exact same thing that drives a manager crazy! There is a tremendous energy within to create something. To create something new, better, unique, special. The conflict emerges when they try to change the thing the customer has ordered because they want to make it “better”. Sufficed to say it is never boring at the shop.
Occasionally, one of these craftsmen creates an exceptional piece that is made for sale. We want to highlight these pieces, and perhaps the craftsman along the way. Whether you realize it or not, several of the pieces in our custom books are actually pieces that our craftsmen made for themselves. We liked these works of art so much that we wanted to show the public the best of our free range kitties…….okay, enough with the pet analogies.
Talking to a craftsman about their craft is always difficult. It is rare to find an artist who speaks confidently and comfortably about their work. Most are introverted, and undervalue their abilities. Financially, this translates into a good thing for consumers and bad thing for craftsmen. There are few artists who successfully get to that pinnacle of fame and fortune in their lifetime.
In his book Outliers, MalcolmGladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. I agree with this completely. I can distinctly recall having worked for Hardwood Artisans (The Loft Bed Store back then) for about 5 years, and coming into work one morning with an epiphany that I was just now understanding what I was doing, like the proverbial light bulb just turned on for me as a furniture maker. Mind you, at this point I had 12 employees under me, and I was responsible for producing half of the volume we were doing at the time. To come in after 5 years and only then believe I was just starting to understand! Wow. That would have been something like 12,000 hours of practice, but I am a slow learner.
I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.
I have the privilege of meeting all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. I enjoy finding out about my clients and what they do and know. You can always tell when someone has mastered something. They make something complex sound and feel simple and easy to understand.
Shown here is a piece one of our craftsmen created. It features our Waterfall design for the cabinet, and the craftsman created all the art glass as well. Inside, there is LED up lighting and down lighting controlled by a touch dimmer to show off the art glass “flames”. The case has three glass adjustable shelves inside, and a finished back on the outside. The case is built in Ash wood, and has a natural finish applied.
About the art glass, when I asked how long it took to create, the craftsman responded “hours and hours and hours and hours”. I guess it took a while. There are 96 pieces of glass in each panel. He estimates he spent 56 hours to create the art glass panels.
If you are interested in seeing this piece, it will be on display in our Shirlington store soon. If you are interested in art glass work in general, call any of our stores to make arrangements to commission our craftsman to create your masterpiece.