I’m lucky to be surrounded by such talented people. Woodworkers, yes (genius, amazing woodworkers). But some of our genius, amazing woodworkers do other things as well. Take my friend Jason, who I worked with last year on the development of the Linnaea collection.
Not only can he build a gorgeous cabinet, he does wood turning and makes chain mail. When I saw his new Etsy store a few weeks ago, I immediately fell in love with a pair of chain mail earrings and today Jason was nice enough to bring them to me. It seemed sort of silly to mail them when we work in the same building!
I feel much the same way about my new earrings that I do about my new file cabinet, which will be ready any day now. These were made just for me by someone I like, who likes me. It’s so rare to get that in a commercial transaction, but it’s a feeling I like and want more often.
This is part of why I’ve recently decided to buy handmade goods whenever I can — both for myself and for presents. Sure, sometimes it’s not possible (handmade iPod, probably not). But somehow my life feels enriched, just like we hope our furniture makes our customers feel.
It’s genuinely amazing to me just how many talented people there are on Etsy. I had always loved going to galleries and local stores like Appalachian Spring and Artcraft to see handmade items by local (and not so local) artists. This past weekend I also made a visit to the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, which I will have to do a post about soon.
That said, another entire world opens up online. This Christmas I bought handmade ornaments for a friend of mine from a woman (Jennifer Orme) in the UK. I just never would have found her without the internet. She makes gorgeous jewelry too. I’m sure I’ll be forced to indulge soon.
Here are some other very talented artists on Etsy working in clay.
With all the wonderful handmade pottery out there, I am seriously reconsidering my decision to continue buying dishes from Crate & Barrel.
We had a lovely article written about us by Washington Post columnist Tom Heath yesterday (nope, no relation). Pick a copy of the Post or read it online: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/washbizblog/2009/01/value_added_12.html
If you don’t regularly read the “Value Added” column in the Post, I highly recommend it. We really enjoyed working with Tom on the article.
I also want to thank our loyal customers for their comments over the past few days. We love you 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.
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.