Art Fire and Etsy

February 14, 2010

Over the course of the last couple weeks, I finally launched an Etsy shop and an Art Fire studio for Scott Meek Woodworks. I only have two items for sale currently at both locations: the Maple and Cherry tray and the Butternut/Walnut treasures box.

I hope to have a few more items for sale in the next couple of months, so be sure to keep watching the blog for those projects.

You can find the Etsy shop here: Scott Meek Woodworks – Etsy
and the ArtFire studio here: Scott Meek Woodworks – ArtFire

If you know someone looking for beautiful woodworking pieces made with passionate creativity, someone who would like something to bring beauty and peace to where they live, please be sure to send them that way.

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I launched my Etsy shop yesterday, and one of the things I’ve noticed right off the bat is that I don’t have enough items for sale. I’m hoping to get at least one of the other box designs that I posted earlier done in the next few weeks. Even so, I want to offer some lower priced items as well. So today I started sketching some ideas for picture frames.

I’m especially excited about the frame that I just did the close detail for, with the copper strapping!

Which is your favorite that you would like to seem me complete? Would you, or someone you know, be interested in picture frames like this?

I picked up Rob Bell’s new book, Drops Like Stars, yesterday. Almost read it all last night. In it, Rob talks about the link between suffering and creativity. Two things have immediately stuck out to me and got me really thinking today. The first is from this quote: “Great artists know that it isn’t just about what you add; sometimes the most important work is knowing what to take away.” Rob goes on to mention how “Michaelangelo said that his David was in the stone clamoring to be freed.” He used an illustration of bars of soap that he gave to some of his sculptor friends and had them carve something. They had to remove parts of the bars of soap to reveal their creation. I’m sure you can already see how this relates so well to woodworking. In wood carving, one is essentially sculpting a block of wood. The carver must intimately know the piece of wood he or she is working with, and must understand how the grain will react to the knife. The dance between the carver and the wood grain, if done well, will reveal something beautiful! How Rob connects this with suffering causing us to have to “eliminate the unnecessary, the trivial, the superficial,” is just beautiful as well, and I encourage you to go find and read it. The second thing that hit me, right before I went to bed last night, was a reference Rob made to a story from David Bayles and Ted Orland’s book, Art and Fear. I will paraphrase:

A ceramics teacher divided the class into two groups. One group was graded on how much they created in the set time, while the other, on the quality of one work they made. The quantity group ended up producing the most quality, as they produced piles of work and learned from their mistakes. The quality group sat theorizing about perfection and only produced grandiose theories and a pile of clay.

This made me sit there for about 15 minutes and seriously look at how I work. I have a tendancy to over-analyze things when I want to create something. I spend so much time trying to get things absolutely perfect before I ever actually do any work, that many times an idea gets lost in the shuffle of life. Now, this isn’t a diatriebe against carefully thinking and planning out your project. It is obviously not a good idea to just start cutting into that one-of-a-kind walnut crotch without any idea what you plan to do with it. But at the same time, we can’t be paralyzed by our fear of making mistakes. Mistakes teach us so much! I recently began trying to learn to hand cut dovetails. I had multiple people tell me to save my first dovetails, so that I always know where I started. Unfortunately, I am stubborn, and was so embarased by my first attempt, I cut them up and threw it in the scrap wood barrel. I’m very sad that I did that now. Its foolish to think that we will get things perfect on the first try. So what projects are you putting off because of fear of failure? What lessons are you missing out on because you won’t allow yourself to make a mistake? The saying goes, “Quality over quantity,” but maybe we need to modify that sometimes to be “quality from quantity.”

Starting to think this may be a serving tray instead. I’m just not going to want to cut on it! Finished it with Tried & True’s Original Wood Finish, which is Linseed Oil and pure beeswax. Ended up using Bubinga for the plugs and feet.

Inspiration

July 29, 2009

This is what I’ve been working on today.  I’ve had the Maple sitting in the shop for awhile with such a unique grain pattern, just waiting for inspiration to hit.

I made a comment on Twitter this past Sunday that I needed to create something this week, and asked people that follow my tweets to keep me accountable about it.  Well, I didn’t get back into the shop till today, and saw that piece of Maple sitting there, just begging me to use it.  So I sat down to think what to make.

Now, I have a couple different ways that I get inspired.  The big one is to just be out in nature, whether walking in the woods, enjoying a mountain trail (yes, I realize that is not possible where I live at the moment, don’t remind me), fishing on a quaint lake, or sitting on my back porch in the morning and hearing all the birds sing to name a few ways.  Considering that my shop is in town, and even though the empty lot across the road gets its share of deer and a red tailed hawk that lives somewhere near by, the Dairy Queen and the auto-body shop next door kind of ruin that inspiration.

I also can get inspired listening to great music.  Maybe its the idea of art begetting art, I’m not sure.  I just know that some days, hearing a great country or Americana song, by, say, Willie Nelson, Uncle Tupelo, or Neko Case, can get the creative juices flowing.  Other days, it may be the latest indie album from Sufjan Stevens, We Were Promised Jet Packs, or DM Stith that does it.  Of course, jazz is always an inspiring choice, but I really prefer my jazz live, and we don’t have a decent club anywhere near us.  Other times, I need to jam to the likes of My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, or Yeasayer to peak my imagination.  This morning though, I just didn’t turn any music on, not sure why really.

Another excellent source of inspiration for me is just seeing other people’s woodworking creations.  The works of Sam Maloof are a big one for me.  I have ideas rattling around my head for a couple furniture pieces directly inspired by his chairs that I deeply long to make happen.  Someday, hopefully soon.  I am also intrigued by Thos. Moser.  I know he isn’t as revered among the studio furniture and craft world, but I really love the simple beauty in his furniture.  I also admire his accentuating his joinery.  The works of Greene and Greene inspire me every time I see them!  If I ever get the chance to go view the Gamble House, I could probably spend a couple days there.  I have honestly just begun my journey into getting know the great furniture designers and craftsmen, so I know there are so many more great works to inspire me out there.  Honestly though, sometimes it is as simple as flipping through one of stacks and stacks of woodworking magazines when something will catch my eye.  Usually, its one aspect of a project that jumps out at and causes me to think in a different direction.  Where my imagination takes it could be 180º from what the project was that inspired it, but it took seeing a dovetailed box of two contrasting woods, or a vase carved and sculpted in mahogany, or the choice of a unique grain in a panel of a door on a cupboard to open my mind to endless possibilities.

Now, I know that this little project isn’t as detailed as an 18th Century Highboy, as stunning as a natural edge table by George Nakashima, or as graceful as the elegant curves of a Maloof rocker.  But as I flipped through one of my woodworking magazines, a cutting board caught my eye with contrasting woods.  I immediately thought that a cutting board would perfectly accentuate the beautiful grain of that piece of Maple sitting by my desk.  The ends are Cherry, which I think will set off the beauty in the Maple grain quite nicely.  I haven’t decided what to make the plugs out of yet.  Hopefully I can get up to Woodcraft in the next couple days and find something that speaks to me.

Which I guess would be the best inspiration of all, the wood.  This simple piece of Maple with an extremely unique grain pattern has caused my imagination to really run rampant.  It has given me a couple ideas that I want to pursue further, so stay tuned!  Hopefully what comes of my inspiration will inspire creativity of your own, in whatever area you are passionate about.

(By the way, sorry for the green tint to the picture.  The fluorescent lights in the shop tend to do that to pictures I take with my phone.  Hopefully yet this week, I will have the cutting board completed, and I will be sure to post some better pictures of it at that time.)