Obviously, I don't visit my blog that often. I don't know if anyone else does either. Mostly, I just don't remember. But, just in case anyone out there reads these, here's a new entry. One of my furniture customers is a home builder and commercial remodeler. He contacted me earlier this summer and asked if I'd be interested in working on a bathroom for a hotel remodel he had coming up. This particular hotel is built along the Mississippi River and was being remodeled in a "old river town" theme. He thought my iron style would fit well with the overall feel of the hotel. I tried to think of something that might be appropriate for an old river town and came up with the idea of the bathroom being built from components from a (now defunct) foundry called Riverside Ironworks. There are iron doors for the individual toilet stalls and reinforced panels for the privacy screens between the urinals and even figured out a way to use the old shop sign. Of course this is all fabricated (story included) but, what can I say.... it works. These were great people to work with and I hope they like everything enough to call me for something else. And, if you're ever in Quincy Illinois, and need a nice place to stay, try the Stoney Creek Inn. And, if you can't spend the night, you might ask if you can just use the restroom? If you do, let me know what you think.
I just hired an old friend of mine to paint my company name onto the side of my new work truck. My 40 year old "new" truck. John's an artistic genius. When I called him, my expectations were for him to grab his brush and paints and sit down on a stool and just paint my name on the side. Old School Style, like you'd see on an old 40's or 50's parts truck from Riverside Auto or Buster's 24 Hour Towing. I wasn't thinking of anything elaborate or fancy at all, I just didn't want a vinyl decal. I wanted it done by hand. John looked at the door space he had to work with and grabbed a piece of paper and sketched out a couple ideas. He figured out the spacing in his head and then sat down with those brushes and paints and created art. He did something in an hour that I never, ever could have done, no matter how much time I took. You watch him work and you think, "how the hell is that even possible". He can paint a freehand line that's several feet long and it'll be as perfectly straight as if he'd used a straight edge. He definitely has a gift, but skills like that only come from years of practice. It really is amazing. He's also probably one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet, so if I hadn't forced him to charge me, he probably never would have. I'm lucky to just know him. I've had people encourage me to try and get my furniture into some of the area art shows but, I always feel so self conscious about that. I'm not an artist. I build furniture. John's an artist. But if you asked him, he'd say, "aw, I'm just an old sign painter".
Griffin Modern officially launched October of 2014. That's when the website became self aware anyway. I know very little about marketing and I'm still trying to figure out how to get potential customers to be able to find me. I started a Facebook page and created a business listing on Pinterest, I have some pieces on Etsy and I'm running an ad in an upscale local magazine. My first customer was from Las Vegas and I just shipped a piece to Lake Tahoe California. I'm also working on another piece for the same family. Neither really remembered the specifics of how they found me. That would be handy information to know but I'm just very thankful they did. Hopefully, that will keep up. In one way it's really fun to have pieces going to different parts of the country but shipping is definitely a pain. The cabinet that went to Sin City was wrapped in two shipping blankets and packed in a styrofoam lined coffin-like container. The box was 3/4" plywood. I had FRAGILE......... GLASS........ TRUCK FROM THIS SIDE ONLY....... DO NOT LAY ON THIS FACE..... all in big bold letters. I had a nice long talk with the driver about the contents and asked him to please heed the signs to which I got a lot of nodding and multiple affirmations of their conscientiousness, etc. etc. I helped him get it up into the truck and got a grateful handshake and another assurance that I'd left my last two weeks work in safe hands. As I was walking up the driveway he tipped it back and literally dropped it on the only side that said "DO NOT LAY ON THIS FACE!" Then put his boot on it and shoved for all he was worth to try and squeeze this 50" box into a 45" space, crushing the two cardboard boxes at either end of that space. He gave me a big smile and a thumbs up and said......"See, that's the safest spot on the truck", and I'll make sure the next guy is careful too......after that though dude, it's kind of out of my hands."
That said, I've learned to crate my pieces like I'm smuggling nitro glycerin. So, order with confidence. It'll get there.
Well, I did it. My first piece that isn't one of the 50 shades of gray or another tone of rust brown. It isn't quite Ferrari red, but it did have "red" in the description. I restored an old woodworking machine a couple years ago and after priming the raw cast iron remembered thinking how much I liked the color of the iron primer. That's what I used. Apparently I was unwilling to go "all in" because the legs are still battleship gray.
I also blended the finishes on this one, which is a technique I've intended to try for some time. The case and legs are a very dull matte finish and the drawers are a smooth satin. I think it works.
I stripped the black from the machinery knobs and polished the natural steel. These pulls are quite substantial and feel great in your hand.
I need to get another two or three pieces ready before the photographer comes back, so studio images may be a few weeks off. I pretty much make everything up as I go, so I'm not really sure what I'll build next. This style isn't really mainstream so I've stuck with pieces that can stand alone as an accent, but I may try something that's at least a little more center stage. We'll see. I'm still making it up.
It was 14 degrees this morning when I took the dog for his walk. The farmers call that "colder than a well digger's lunch bucket". At least one farmer did. Was he a farmer? Heck, I don't know where I heard that. Regardless, there's no more leaving the door open in the shop while I work. My space is well insulated but for now there's no heat. Surprisingly though, it was fairly comfortable out there today. I never could see my breath and for the most part was able to work in a t-shirt, so it couldn't have been too cold. I have three new pieces finished and waiting for photography. I've added some detail pics in the gallery under In the Shop. I'm trying to do something different every time. However.... I've noticed I don't seem to vary my colors much. I swear every time I go to pick paint for one of these I walk in with the intention of walking back out with something bright. Something closer to a primary color. I look at that fan deck with several hundred colors in it and start with a nice Ferrari red. Or, this dark orange could work. Maybe even a yellow. Before I know it I'm walking out with a nice battleship or gunmetal gray. The primary color of that well digger's lunch bucket.
Maybe next time.
Not really sure what to do with a blog. If I'm honest, up until a few weeks ago I didn't really know what a blog was. I'm still not completely certain I do now. Regardless, I've had a few people ask if I'm going to have one, so I'll give it a shot. For the last 28 years I worked for a publishing company. I designed and built furniture and home improvement projects for a couple different magazines. I've probably done hundreds of pieces in pretty much all styles. If you're a woodworker that probably sounds kind of fun doesn't it? I thought so too. Some of it was. Before that I'd been the manager of a woodworking equipment and supply store. Before that I worked in a small kitchen cabinet shop. Small as in the owner and myself. The owner had graduated from the same managerial training program as Gordon Ramsay and took a fair amount of pride in the fact that no one had ever worked for him for more than 3 months. At least two guys had walked off the job on their first day. He was a little intense. I probably aged 10 years in those 4 but I'll give credit where its due. I probably learned more from him in those 4 years than I did in the next 20. Still, I met some nice people and I had some good opportunities. I learned to use 3D design software and I'm thankful for that. That is actually kind of fun. No, not kind of. It is fun. I also had the use of a professional spray booth for finishing. I really miss that. If things work here and I can actually make a living, that will be one of the first things I put in. Right now, I'm working out of my garage. It's not the most practical but it's going to have to do for awhile. I have several friends that have been very encouraging and have gone out of their way to help promote my furniture and I really appreciate that. A few weeks ago a nice young lady came out and interviewed me for an article for a local art and entertainment magazine. That's supposed to come out any day now. I had an e-mail from another saying she was interested in writing something about me too. Man, that's nice. She said she just loved my story of walking away from a great job to pursue my lifelong dream... while that would be a great story, the truth is that I walked away from that job because I was afraid one of these days I was going to step in front of a bus.. or push someone else in front of one. I probably should have kept that to myself. She hasn't called back.
Besides, my lifelong dream would have been to be an Olympic Champion decathlete or downhill skier or world champion motocross racer......or James Bond.
Anyway, that's at least part of how I got here. I hope enough people will like the style of furniture I'm doing to keep me in business. I'd love to make a few million dollars at this, but I'll be okay with making a living. I've never really known how to charge for what I do and I still don't feel comfortable with it but I've tried to be fair.
Whether you like my pieces or not, I do appreciate you stopping in for a visit and I hope you'll feel free to leave your opinions. Even if they're negative I'll try to accept them like a big boy.