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Thread: Picking up on Spaniards and Finishers lessons hopefully stirring up some debate

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Picking up on Spaniards and Finishers lessons hopefully stirring up some debate

    I seldom do anything that i dont take away a lesson that I can and do apply to all sorts in my life and wanted to expand on the point Toni made in demonstrating carving and an observation i made watching Dave H finishing.

    During the demo of some elementary carving techniques for beginners (by the way Toni is way capable of much more than elementary but his point was to try get those interested to bite and see how simple it is to embelish an item with only a couple of chisels) Toni brought up a point which i trully thought was very worthy of more debate among our larger audience.
    This will bore those who are experienced but may unlock a door or two for those looking to learn but suffering freeze frame in certain areas.

    So the point Toni made was we get marketed to with courses. Attend this or that week long course and get to make an XYZ. Whatever the marketing splurb is it goes on to tell you that you will learn how to do a, b, c, d etc by the end of the week.

    Well continuing from there Toni made the point that what ends up happening in the course is that it tends to be focused on getting you to the finish line with the XYZ rather than emphasizing learning the a,b,c,d, part which if the emphasis was place there and in a greater broader sense on the abc,s then your ability to expand on your learning and tackle items (other than the XYZ) with said acquired knowledge would be far greater and more enriching in not only your experience but in the value you obtain from a week of dedicated class.

    I liked Toni's way of putting this because it tackles the heart of what i think goes wrong in my own woodworking learning experiences. Strangely enough i do the complete opposite with my work and my clients and promote incremental learning as standard practice yet in the woodworking we seem wired today to be seeking that instant gratification (yeah all you spinny guys take note) and so tend to look to for the quick way out.

    I would think there are a bunch of other drivers pressing the point of getting to finish XYZ during some or other course, some of which i would speculate have to do with what the spouse would think if after a week of being away at a course of some sort you came home with little more than a few bits of wood with excercises done on them.

    But this is where in my view we need to reform our thinking. At least the newbies in which camp i belong.

    Using Tonis example again he really drove home the point that when we went to school and started with learning something like cursive writting, all we did for the initial period which btw was way more than a week was practice a....then b......then c.....etc. It took quiet some time to get through the alphabet and then we still had those caps to learn. Then came stringing them together.

    Yet we want to go in Tonis example on a carving course. Come back and be able to carve. Yet there are techniques which if the emphasis was placed on teaching technique and we spent time PRACTISING said techniques without the goal of making XYZ carving then our ability, desire and confidence to be able to carve anything would be way different.

    So to what extent dont we suffer the same dilemma even at home without even having gone on a course. We spend the money on kitting our selves out with the basics, By magazines and books etc and what do they do they have the focus on building that jig (you need RIGHT!) or that project which you really actually dont want but heck its something you think you could tackle within your skill set and complete (also your woodstock and tookkit) and then you wonder why the satisfaction aint what it should be or the project is not completed.

    Once again being somewhat influenced by the need to accomplish to get a finished project to show yourself or others (whoever) what you can do or why you purchased your tools.

    Now to keep this honest let me confess that the time i spent once messing with making a scratch stock of my own design (mostly because i was NOT going to pay the price of a bought one) and then messing with scratching on a piece of precious chocolate and then enhancing my crude first attempt to take care of my lack of skill and the whole cycle i got involved in before actually putting down some beads was one of the most enjoyable times i have had in my woodworking. So much so i had the desire as a result to show off my new tool and encourage my compardres to try out this kind of embelishment which up to then i had thought was only done by people in the realms of the real craftsman.

    So let me end by throwing out a tip to those guys that are self employed and only eat what they kill in the sense of sales and small business marketing.

    You are not excluded from this point of how to go about learning to "sell yourself" "sell yourskills" or "sell your output" and would do well to recognise that rather than seeking that one day wonder solution to your business woes or lack of projects to consider step by step incremental learning in areas of your business that you are not the master. As much as i can respect all your masterful skills in the woodworking sense and your ability to get a job done to the finest of workmanship, you need to recognise that your communication of said ability to your target prospect base is pretty poor if you find yourself in need of work. In place of communication just put the words marketing and sales. Now as much as i cannot carve or finish a piece, and need to learn a whole bunch of what you have forgotten, you guys need to consider doing the same with these two subjects and then consider that it may be more cost effective to hire a marketer and sales person to do it than to become one yourself. But some one day/week course is merely gonna open your eyes to the world of whatever the course is about, it aint gonna make you a proficient whatever and in my example that was a carver.

    The last point to this is the issue of value add.

    When we have made a piece (carving, furniture, bowl) i can think of several examples that are burnt in to my memory that demonstrate the value of embelishment/finish over the mere completion of a project.

    In the spinny sense most of us will easily be able to close our eyes and see Vaugnn Mcs piece which was a turning that revealed the wood beneath the burning and looked like a bowl representing a fire. It was stunning and one of those images you just dont forget. As I think if my grey haired memory serves me correct Vaughn himself has said, it would take a high dollar price to prize that from his hands, one dont have to think much to see why. The value is there without question in my opinion.

    When we see a panel that Toni carved of tools. The pricetag to me is in the category of i wont ask because i aint got the money to belly up to pay for it. It in my view enters the immediate realm of a corporate art purchase.

    When Mike H has added inlay to a tray that aint no ordinary tray.

    Take Bernie W birdhouses. They fly off the shelf. It aint hard to see why. Heck i am an addict at just seeing the picks of them he posts. They seem to get better and better all the time. But in Bernies favor he has enhanced and perfected his making and design and done so over time. If Bernie reads this please comment on your experience the past few years making these.

    The value add in all these equations is there without question and there will be someone willing to pay top dollar for that appreciation.

    However if we think, the average non woodworking customer can understand that we put hours in the tennon joints that they cannot see, on their piece that we now wish to command top dollar for, then we been taking or smoking something we should not have.

    My point is if we develop with a desire to sell the odd piece and would like to get the value comensurate with the effort that was applied to the said piece, then we need to recognise the need to educate, communicate and embellish a piece such that the value add is self evident and the target audience will have reason to want to pay top $$.

    Whats your view, I guess my real big take away is to fight with all my might the instant gratification urge. Its the fuel to impatience and that fuels lack of safety and poor workmanship the result is only dissapointment with my accomplishments because i set the bar to high to achieve anything in the time i had available.

    Lets hear it folks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    well of the things i have made for others thus far, the best example i can come up with is the rocking chair repair that i posted,, prior to this i made a quilt rack for this lady and she loved it and got very little for it, posted that in a thread woodworking doesnt always pay, or something along that line.. well that project didnt pay me then but has come around to give me another dollar in the rocker repair which i made something and more than on the quilt rack and in less time.. and she has told me she has other chairs that need work,, only problem is they need spinny work,, but i can get a spinny guy to make the parts and then i can install them and refinish.. there again one project didnt look good on paper but the second one did improve the margin and i also learned to show value to the customer as she was there to pick up.. pointed out what i done to improve what she left me with..didnt need to she was sold as soon as she saw it..but to me i just instilled in her why she wanted me to fix it, and she will tell others that same reasoning..and yes rob i agree i need and others to get a marketer and sales rep because, i dont have enough time to learn the a,b,c'c in another language now..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Westphalia, Michigan
    There is, in this question, a problem I am afflicted with. I tend to do many things and have a huge variety of interests but seldom take the time to do the work of attaining some level of perfection in a particular craft. I also start many things and get bogged down in the tedious details and tasks that require the discipline of true craftsmanship and have many projects not quite finished. I am aware that while one person may have an inspirational design for a piece of furniture, they may lack the perfectionist skills to make the piece a masterpiece. Then there is the person that makes a masterpiece and lacks the knowledge and skills to market this piece at a great price. I know folks that make tables. One sells his for maybe $800 while the other sells his for $3000. The 2 tables are indistinguishable from each other.

    This issue causes me some angst because I know some extremely talented craftsmen that struggle to get a good price for their creations. I have pondered on this a bit and wish I could create some kind of marketing system where craftsmen can be paid a figure commiserate of their work. I think something along the lines of the old guild system might work. Maybe modernized with the internet, I'm thinking a guild web store. The recent get-together I think proves out a strength we have at FWW. We can help each other get better at our craft and therefore raise the bar on the quality and marketability of our work.

    Design is a critical element in sales. We all have seen the works of certain people that scream quality and unique look and craftsmanship. It may not be good enough to make things that look like what everyone else has or can make. So the development of design or use of unique materials is very important when one wants to get top dollar for their goods. On the other hand once a craftsman (or perhaps The Family Woodworking Guild Store) has a sought after reputation and quality stellar looking products, then the regular pedestrian merchandise can be successfully marketed because folks are buying something made by A place with a NAME.

    Just a few thoughts.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    The only thing that I would add to that is as we say here " shoemaker to your shoes" meaning that if one is good at something and not good at other thing that he may need, another possibility of getting to the point one wants is looking for a professional on that field that one lacks.
    For instance: Most artists or painters have a manager or sales rep that sells their pieces for a comission (of course) so that the artist can concentrate on making more pieces. Why? well... artists tend to be very bad salespeople, and if they spend their time selling they can't create, so in a way when they pay a comission to their agent they are achieving two goals at the same time. Getting paid for their pieces and getting more time to make more pieces hence more money, on top of that as the manager gets a percent of the cost he'll be the first interested in getting higher prices.

    On the other hand, while hand crafted pieces used to be more valued than machine made ones, nowadays, (at least here) there is that perception that because a piece is made by hand should be cheap because it is an artisan piece.

    People walk into a furniture shop and do not wink when they are asked 1000$ for a table made out of veenered MDF but they raise their brows or plain shout if a craftsman asks the same price for a similar if not equal table made with more expensive materials and problably more care. World is going crazy...
    Best regards,

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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

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