It seems like it wasn't that long ago that I wrote the last time but almost a year and a half has gone by.
Where to start...
I started working in the new studio in September, 2017. For the first time in 40 years I had to drive to work in the morning. This was a new experience for me and I wasn't sure how it was going to work out.
On the plus side I had a studio that was just about perfect with a finish drying room and office, a wood room and the main workshop. Also I had a well insulated building with a high efficiency propane furnace that could hold the temperature at 21C. (I have found that this is the perfect temperature for drying finishes and setting the epoxies and glues that I use.)
My new shop is 100 square feet smaller than my previous one so things had to be carefully put away in an organized fashion. Part of the newly arrived dock wood was shoe-horned into a corner.
With the tent to the lathe complete it was time to get down to work. I was able to set up the lighting just the way I had always wanted. I was anxious to get started.
It took most of September to get everything in place and up and running. This included building a tent over the lathe to control the dust.
On the negative side I was now working 5 days a week. Not going out to the studio before breakfast to get my day started. Not slipping out for an hour or two on Saturday or Sunday. Not going out in the evening to put on a final coat of finish. Also, I had to bring my work bag home each weekend as there was always something at the house that needed fixing.
My time wasn't all tied up in getting the new studio running. I had to make two trips to Pointe au Baril to pick up old dock wood for the recycled cedar chargers that I make.
The story continues but that is enough for tonight. It is -20C outside and there is a wind chill of -35. It is supposed to be like this for another day or two. It is nice and warm here in my office so I suspect I will be back at the keyboard again tomorrow evening.
A quick addenda to my last entry.
As I have said, I leave my finish tins upside down on an angle so that finish only accumulates in the reservoir. When I am ready to use the finish, I flip the can over but leave it on the angle. This allows the finish to drain down from the sides and lid of the tin. If I flip the can over as the first part of preparing my finishing materials, this gives plenty of time for the liquid to drain down.
For the foreseeable future I am going to be using this blog to tell you about some of the things I do in the studio that might help you if you are wood turning or doing some related wood working project. These posts will not be in any particular order but you should be able to search for what interests you.
I am always looking for alternate ways of doing things that are better and/or more efficient. Please feel free to add your comments to this discussion.
Until next time, all the best!
Its Easter Weekend. The snow better be gone soon. I have had enough of it. There are lots of fun things coming up and they have no need of and nothing to do with snow.
The Made of Wood Show starts next weekend on Saturday, April 26. The opening is from 2pm to 4pm at the Alton Mill Arts Centre. Awards will be made for Best of Show, Best Student and Best Original Design. It is my understanding that there will also be a People's Choice Award to be given at the end of the show. (Directions to the Alton Mill Arts Centre can be found on the here.) There are some exceptional works on display. Many of the pieces have been done by students. If you are in the area, plan to take this in and find out what the next generation thinks about woodworking. The show runs from April 26 to May 11.
I have donated two chargers to two wonderful events, namely:
The English Harbour Arts Association is located in Newfoundland and is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to the promotion of artistic and cultural education and the preservation of historic and cultural spaces. They are committed to operating an economically self-sustaining institution for the arts that provides learning opportunities for people of all ages and levels of artistic experience.
They are having an auction to raise money for their work in Newfoundland. The Auction will take place in Ontario in Caledon. You can find more information, directions and contact info here. This event takes place Sunday May 4th, 1-5 pm. (Live Auction starts at 3 pm) at the Ugolini Farm south of Orangeville.
This is the piece that I have donated to the auction. The wood is beech and comes from logs recovered from the bottom of Georgian Bay. The story of the logging of Georgian Bay is on the back of the charger. It is common to find logs that are in excess of a thousand years old with grain so tight that it is almost impossible to count the year rings. For more information on this wood please visit my "History in the Making" website. The title of this piece reflects on another time before greed and before the environment was sacrificed to progress: "When Trees were Majestic and Forests were Silent". If you wish to make a bid on this piece but can't make the auction, please contact Barb Boag at email@example.com or by phone at 519-938-8710.
This has become a spring and fall tradition at the Home Hardware in Orillia. About 500 women attend for an evening of socializing, purchasing and education. Some local businesses display their services and wares and guest speakers such as Mark Cullen our on hand to enlighten the audience on the latest trend in gardening and improvements around the house.
As with the event above, I have donated a white oak plate made from wood from the bottom of Georgian Bay. I have called this piece "The Test of Time" as some of the wood in it came from trees that may have been a thousand years old. The story of the logging of Georgian Bay is on the back of the plate.
Last year, at Ladies' Night, the Orillia Home Hardware collected nearly 7,000 lbs of food for the local food bank. This support of the community won them the Walter J. Hachborn Award for Retailing Excellence for 2013. For more on this award, please click here. If you want more information on this event, please call 705-326-7371.
My "History in the Making" show is coming up in September. You can find more information on it here. Some of the pieces are complete and many are well along. The website is starting to come together. I am slowly getting the stories up (4 so far) and you can follow along, if you wish, by clicking here.
Some of the stories are relatively easy to write and some take a tremendous amount of research. Some that I felt would be a 'no brainer' have turned out to be some of the toughest to find information on. Making the pieces is a breeze compared to some of the research.
In my stories I give some of the history behind the wood and then I refer to my notes that I made when making the pieces. I include pictures both from the historical perspective and from the making of the pieces.
I will be writing more about this show and others.
Until next time...
Wouldn't it be nice....
Continuing on about galleries, work and charitable donations, I received a cheque from one of my galleries and it included a covering letter. Here is a quote from the letter:
"On behalf of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, I would like to thank you for being a part of our artist selection at the Shop. We will continue to work on your behalf to promote your art throughout the City of Hamilton and beyond and look forward to selling more of your work soon."
This is a very refreshing change from what I normally receive. Mostly what comes in the mail is a cheque and an inventory update.
For many of us in the arts and crafts, emotion is an integral part of our work. It shapes what we make and who we are. It is therefore important to me to have a gallery reciprocate by assuring me that what I do is important enough to warrant mention.
Until next time...
Christmas and the holiday season are fading from the rear view mirror and winter has moved in with a vengeance. In the past few years it seemed that when it got to -12 that it was cold. Now when it it gets to -12 it almost feels warm and I don't have to put on so many layers!
This posting is a follow up to my comments in November.
I made a donation to one of my favourite charities in early November - a special set of chargers made from wood they had given to me that included comments on the back about the story of the wood. I regret to say that once the donation was made I have heard nothing more from them. They have fallen into somewhat the same mold that I described before.
However, over Christmas, I met the couple that purchased the vase that I had put the reserve bid on. They really wanted the piece so I am happy that it is where it should be. I heard through the grapevine that the charger set went for several times its retail value and that the buyer is very pleased with the purchase. Again good news for the bidders and the charities. Not so great for the artist. This shouldn't be how we find out about these things!
Just this past week I have been approached by yet another group for a donation. I resolved to handle this differently. I suggested how I could make a valuable contribution but that the time was very short. I also asked that they read my blog and get back to me if they were still interested. I pointed out that if the past pattern was repeated, then my donation to them would be the last I would make to anybody.
I wasn't sure if I would hear from them but they called back yesterday.
We agreed that the time was too short for me to make a meaningful contribution to their event but we are going to put something special together for next year. Great. I don't have to jump through hoops in the next two weeks although I was willing to if they could have found the wood. Better to work on something very special that will be to the benefit to all concerned.
The blog had been read and they resolved not to be like the others. As I am not contributing this year I won't be able to test that resolve directly. However, I have several friends in the arts who have promised work and I will follow up with them to see how they are treated.
I will report back on this in my next posting.
If you are outside, may the wind be at your back. If you are inside may you find yourself with a good book by a merry fire. If you are in a warm climate, think of us but don't be smug!
Until next time...
The Holiday Treasures show is on now until December 8. All the rest of the shows are completed and I am now in the final frantic rush towards Christmas. Its funny this year. It is still November but Christmas seems like it is just around the corner.
I have a number of commissions going into Christmas and, temporarily, all is in hand. I have my work in a couple of new venues, namely, The Kingston Glass Studio & Gallery and The Art Gallery of Hamilton Gift Shop.
The show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton went well - I sold a couple of pieces. I was really impressed with how the work was displayed. The lighting was fantastic!
I am starting to assemble wood and research for my two solo shows next year. They are at least ten months away but I am already starting to panic. I have to put together some 40 pieces, 20 of them with historical documentation and this on top of my regular work. However, I am really looking forward to these shows, especially History in the Making.
This year I have had a number of people bring me their own wood so that they could have something to evoke the memories of what that wood represents. To this end, I have made an addition to the website that answers some of the initial questions that arise when going down this road. Please have a look at the Custom Made page and let me know what you think. I would be interested in your feedback.
I know that this next year is going to be a busy one but I am still hoping to get some more videos completed and up on the site. I want to get the stick vase series completed and I have been shooting some raw footage on various tips and techniques that I have been using.
There is something that has been bugging me for sometime and this year it has come to the forefront. The issue is how I and my fellow crafts people and artists are treated on the one hand and how we treat others on the other.
The artists and crafts people in my area are regularly asked to donate to various causes, charities and events. We are seduced by free advertising, getting our name out and the inevitable tax receipt. Our group is extremely generous and we seldom say no. We are easy marks. I have a couple of groups to whom I regularly give my work and am happy to do so regardless of any return. It is the others in my area that wish me to give to them also.
Here is what happens. I am offered promotion of my website and work on Facebook, a picture on their website, a page in their brochure, a tax receipt, promotion at their event, a pair of tickets to their event, etc. We enjoy a wonderful correspondence up until I ship the piece. Then nothing. I check Facebook - nothing or maybe a passing reference - no web link. I check the website - nothing. Months later I receive a tax receipt and nothing else. I resolve not to get sucked in again.
One group that I had been giving a couple of pairs of wooden earrings to for several years contacted me this past spring for a donation. I said that I would give them the usual. They said that they wanted one of my artistic pieces. This was quite a jump up from a couple of pair of $20 earrings. I was promised some serious profile at their event, tickets, prominent position on their website and on Facebook and they even offered to come and pick up the piece. I selected some work that I could consider for this and let them choose the piece that they wanted. The work had a retail value of $1000. I put a reserve bid on it for $500.
In the course of events, my wife delivered the piece to their offices. Several days later, they phoned to see if they could come and pick the piece up. We explained that it had already been delivered. The first red flag should have gone up then. I checked their website and Facebook page - nothing. I was busy in the studio and the time went by. Sometime later a friend mentioned that my piece sold for the minimum bid of $500. I had not been sent tickets to the event as promised. I have still not received the tax receipt nor any word on how the event went. Not a thank you, nothing.
This was not the only time this happened this year but it perhaps the most extreme. I think that groups that want work from us should adhere to a code that respects those who donate. Here's what I would like to see: promotion, especially a web link, acknowledgement of receipt of the work, a tax receipt sent in a timely manner, a letter of thanks that includes how much the piece sold for and to whom it was sold including contact information where possible and a report on the event; how much was raised, how successful it was, etc.
On the other hand, I am troubled by how we crafts people and artists treat our galleries. Some in our group think that the galleries are ripping them off by charging a 50% commission (this is the standard - some are higher and some are lower).
First of all, the galleries perform a very valuable service - they sell our work. They have the trained staff that know their market, clientele, and the work that sells. They have the location and the biz smarts that many of us don't have. They allow us to do what we do best - we make things.
Secondly, the galleries market for us. They advertise and promote their stores and locations on a year round basis. They take care of this expense for us. They protect our work and wrap it and ship it across the world. All we have to do is send them more when they call.
Thirdly, they give us referrals. They send an interested customer to our studios, perhaps for a commission or for a piece that the gallery doesn't have.
For all of this we begrudge them their 50%. Some of us sell our work at a lower price in our studio than in the gallery. We encourage customers to come to us instead of going to the gallery. What some of us don't realize is that the 50% that the gallery takes is the same 50% that we must use to do our own marketing if we are to sell outside of the gallery. If we sell at a lower price than the gallery we are short changing ourselves twice - once because we are willing to take less for our time and secondly because the gallery will not continue to carry our work if we undercut them.
When a customer says that they saw our work in a gallery we should send the gallery a finder's fee. This is usually about 20%. The gallery has an investment in this customer and needs to be compensated. Also, if the gallery refers a client to a studio, this is not a freeby. The artist must take the time to establish with the gallery who is going to do what. If the studio is going to handle the whole transaction then the gallery should get a finders fee. If the studio is going to make the piece but the gallery will look after selling and shipping to the customer then the gallery should get its regular commission.
What we need are standard agreements that we can sign with those that want us to donate so that they will respect our wishes. We could establish this by saying that we will only consider groups that are willing to enter into this agreement with us.
Many of us sign consignment agreements with our galleries. However some very prestigious galleries have minimal agreements. It is up to us to develop this kind of agreement where we state in writing that we will work with the galleries in honouring our commitments to each other.
I have had a very good relationship with my galleries over the years. I have paid the finder's fee when I have been able to determine how the customer found out about me. I promote my galleries on my website and include all information on them such as directions, maps, open times, addresses, and other contact information. I have done joint marketing with some of my galleries. I have been well rewarded for my commitment to my galleries. They are my sales staff and have done an outstanding job in selling my work. So much so, that I encourage potential customers to visit a gallery as opposed to coming to the studio.
There, I've said my piece. Comments are welcome.
It snowed last night. Well, I didn't see that coming. I am sure not ready for it. I still have to clean the eaves.
My work was accepted into the Art Gallery of Hamilton Show. Lisa and I took a body of work to them on Monday. The show opens next Thursday, October 31 and runs until Sunday, November 3. You can find more information here.
I am now working on pieces for the Holiday Treasures Show which happens at the end of November. For more on this show, visit holidaytreasures.ca. As a member of the committee I am working on some shelves and the website.
Christmas and December commissions are drifting in and I am preparing some pieces for the fundraising event at Theatre Orangeville. They have given me some wood from their recent renovations and I am thinking of making some chargers for them. If you are interested in theatre you might want to drop in on their website.
I am also preparing some work for my newest gallery, The Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery. You can find out more about them here. I hope to have my work there before Christmas.
It is very satisfying to have work to do far into the future. It wasn't always like this (but that is for another day).
Until next time...
More water under the bridge.
The show at the Guild Shop in Toronto has wound down. This was a very successful show although at first it was not encouraging. Jane and I sold 12 plate sets (a plate set is a plate on a charger) and two salad bowl sets (a wooden salad bowl and 4 stoneware side dishes).
The plate sets were special in that the wood for the chargers came from the bottom of Georgian Bay. The story of that wood was written on the bottom of the chargers.
The show called "Harvest", at the new Headwaters Arts Gallery, opens this Friday, September 13. I have 4 pieces in it including 3 of my NICHE Award finalists from the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. This event runs for about a month and coincides with the Headwaters Arts Festival. If you are in the Alton - Orangeville area of Ontario, do take some time to visit these happenings.
Later this fall I will have my work in a new (for me) gallery in Kingston, Ontario, called Kingston Glass Studio & Gallery. The Clay With Wood collaborative bowl sets will be there and later some of my chargers and stick vases.
Look for more information on the Galleries page of this website. This info will be up in about a month's time.
Now I have to get back to work. It seems that the older I get, the busier I am. No complaints, just strange how it all works out.
Until next time...