Putting your work up for review takes a bit of courage. After all, you know every small mistake you made or where you had to do some color matching because you ran short on your stash of flame birch. Sometimes I see those small mistakes as a challenge. Can I lay in a patch that’s invisible? But what’s really nagging at you is that feeling that this could have been better. That cornice looked fine on paper but now feels weak and lacks life. Is there too big a jump between the walnut drawer fronts and the maple accents?
Certain people offer feedback whether you request it or not. Mike Dunbar is fond of talking about how your trash talking brother in law will crow about that tiny wedge you used to snug a small gap in a dovetail. You know and everyone in the room knows, the lout can’t open a bag of pork rinds without sloshing beer down his chest. Yet he’s suddenly an expert on the finer points of furniture construction. Even though it’s a worm addressing a horse, why can’t he just shut up?
Then there are the people we do want feed back from, our peers. They see that knot left purposefully in a table top and raise an eye to you in a look of appreciation. Praise or criticism doesn’t roll off their tongue quickly because they truly want to help you become a better artisan. Often they hold back judgment until they can couple it with some helpful insight. When a peer offers encouragement, it holds weight and can confirm to you that you are hitting the right tone and inspire you to reach even higher.
This post kicks off something I hope can become a regular feature on this blog. An open design critique where you can submit your work, finished or in progress. As a group of furniture builders we get the honor of seeing your work fresh from the tree, and the rare privilege of offering constructive criticism.
If you have something to submit, send me an e-mail with a few photos and comments about what you are trying to accomplish and any questions you might want to throw out there. This may take time to work out the logistics as well as create an atmosphere where we all benefit, please feel free to ofter suggestions to make this a valuable resource.
Our first submission is from Tom Giacchina. He is just starting a commissioned piece and has the germ of an idea for a concept. Comments from here forward are from his notes. I’d like to express my thanks to Tom for taking the first plunge.
The piece is a commission for some friends. Look at his work at http://www.sculpturethatworks.com/index.html . His house is contemporary modern. They have been remodeling and want me to build a hall table. The dimensions for the table are 69 x 28.5 x 12, long and skinny. I designed a bunch of tables in sketchup that weren’t exciting to them. So, I went to my shop and looked at two slabs of black acacia that I have. Neither one was long enough and both were close to 12 inches wide. I looked at them for a couple of days and tried to make decisions on the edges as well as how I was going to join the two. This is where I am now. I made a commitment to cut the two with a jagged edge. Cleaned up the edges and belt sanded the top to see the grain. Now I am struggling with :
1. Do I biscuit join the two and inlay creative dutchmans closing the joint tight?
2. Do I separate the two about an inch and add creative pieces to tie them together. Remember the client can make me things from brass .
3. Do I continue to go down the road of “designing as you go”? Hard not to in a piece like this.
4. What are the legs and skirt made of and what wood.
5. How am I going to flatten pieces?