So I’m noticing that a bunch of bloggers are posting their reflections of the year ending 2012. I guess I am no different in the aspect that I always sit down during this time of year and think back on what transpired over the course of the last twelve months and look forward to the New Year and things I hope to accomplish or challenges I need to prepare for. But I guess it does no good to write them on a piece of paper where the world can’t read it as I have been doing in the past! At least this year I can get a couple of you that actually come to this blog to read it. Score! 😀
The big thing was in February I started this blog! I am amazed that with only the nine posts I wrote this year, I’ve had just over 1000 visits! I know it won’t seem like a lot to some, but for me, I never expected that anyone would want to read what I put out there. The biggest surprise is my web SEO has increased. Before when I did a web search of “The Butler Did It” or anything close to that, I found us on page three or four. Now we’re usually on page one or the very first hit. The other big thing this year was hiring a graphic designer to help us completely redo our business logo, which we couldn’t be happier with. It’s not like we didn’t like our old logo, it’s just that after six years it was time to “grow up” a bit. The new logo helps do just that. This year I also really got into the swing of twitter. I have met some really awesome people on twitter and have a really great core group of them that I interact with. I won’t list names, lest I forget someone, but you know who you are and I appreciate the friendships I have made with you.
From an art show perspective, the last year has seen some ups and downs. We were accepted into some new shows this year, in addition to our staples. Two of the most notable were the Port Townsend Woodworkers show and the Seattle Best of the Northwest. One became our favorite show and the other being a total disaster. I’m not one to air too much dirty laundry, but suffice to say, we will most likely not be going back to the Seattle show and would only miss the PT show if we were dead or otherwise incapacitated! We stopped going to a couple of our regular shows this year, as I think the direction of those particular shows was going the wrong way. This year we were also started selling our wares in a local gallery that just opened in the town next to us, which has been a learning experience all its own. It is added pressure as the only furniture maker for the gallery to keep it stocked and change out product every three months, in addition to getting ready for the show season. There were a few times that we had to pull stock from the gallery to fill in open spots in our show display. Not ideal for either parties involved. A thing about art shows I have found this year in particular: We have been so fortunate this year to have made new friends with some of the other artists we were located near in the shows we did. If you do shows can I suggest that some of your time should be spent getting to know those artists around you. Regardless of what media you create with, the art community is relatively small, and everyone is trying to do their best to survive and share what they do with others. This is a great community of people to associate with and you miss out on that interaction if you just huddle in your booth.
This year saw me make a huge life-changing decision. Back in July I decided to take a four month leave of absence from my day job so I could attend the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport Maine. I had a tentative approval from my work and simply needed to secure the funding to attend. If you read my blog, you’ll know that both of those things fell through within a few hours of each other back in October. Needless to say I was devastated. For those who really know me, just the thought of me wanting to take a step as big as this in my life, was a gigantic deal in and of itself. But to be as excited as I was to go and have that taken out from underneath of me as quickly as it was, was almost more than I could bear mentally. Even now as I sit and ponder this as I type, I can feel the knot in my stomach. But as I have a strong faith in God, I know that all things work according to His plan, and so I find comfort in that. Not that I understand it or necessarily agree with it, but I accept it and I believe that this wasn’t the path I was meant to be on or perhaps the timing wasn’t quite right. Patience is not something I am good at, just ask Elizabeth, my wife! Speaking of her, I couldn’t be more proud. This year in June, we took a class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking with Seth Rolland about bending techniques. I was so pleased that she took the class with me and the fact that she dove right in hands first to what we were doing was phenomenal! She has been making wooden jewelry for a just over a year now and the class helped her figure out her process better. Seth even encouraged her to enter the Wharton Esherick museum annual competition this year which was wooden jewelry. Although she wasn’t selected, the son-in-law of Wharton Esherick personally wrote Elizabeth to purchase a set of jewelry for his wife Ruth. She was tickled to say the least, but it wasn’t until they called her and asked her to send a few sets to sell in the museum’s store that she started getting a little more confident in what she was making. The museum celebrated a milestone this year, and in the pictures of the ceremony, you could see Ruth was wearing Elizabeth’s jewelry, which was too cool! She’s had a couple of other galleries call about carrying her jewelry, so I think it’s up to three or four now for her. For Christmas this year, I got her very first tool, an electric bending iron with accessories. I hope she’ll like using it. I also think she really wants to learn some new skills from a friend of ours and fellow woodworker Martha Collins. Martha is really a phenomenal woodworker and a person that I admire the heck out of. I know Elizabeth really would love to spend time with her and learn and I believe Martha really wants to teach her as well because Elizabeth has mad skills!
There was so much more that happened but there is no way to condense 365 days into a couple of paragraphs so I’ll leave it with that.
As I look forward to this coming year I have made a big decision I will share with you. I am going to be taking a step back in 2013. This is the end of our sixth or seventh year of going to shows (I actually forget which, but I think it’s sixth) and I am going to take a pause this year and focus on other things. Oh we’ll still go to most of our staple shows, but I think it’ll only be the main four or five we do. I possibly might end up on the board of one of the shows, so we’ll see how that plays out in a couple of weeks. Not a big fan of getting involved with politics, but I believe in this show and I want to see it do well as it is the best two shows financially we do all year. I’m also debating whether or not we’ll continue the gallery. One of the down points of a gallery is that any furniture you make becomes display for other’s work. I love the gallery I’m in, but I’m just not sure it’s the right place for us. But mostly I am tired of working on the same few small pieces of furniture that I make which sell well. I don’t want to spend this year frantically working on the same old styles of work and finishing up the finish on the day before load-in. I’m tired of not being able to work on larger pieces because they take too much time and I won’t have enough pieces for a show. I think I am just tired!
This coming year I am going to focus on improving my design and stepping outside my comfort zone on larger more involved projects. I also want to work on improving the fit and finish of the pieces I make. Rushing to finish a project for a show cuts into that. This coming year I am also going to be working on a couple of really exciting things. One I don’t think I can let the cat out of the bag yet, but I will say that I am a strong believer in the phrase “when a door closes, a window opens”. I have something in the works that is a perfect example of that I hope to share with you in a few weeks. I will say that it has to do with the CFC debacle. The other thing I am excited about is I am also going to go back to doing metal work. For those that don’t know, I am a school trained welder. I worked for Lockheed Martin for four years welding on rocket handling equipment and loved it. I’ve worked in welding and fabrication shops and loved it. Oh and not to toot my own horn but I’m really good at it to, so that helps! 😀 I was originally going to start my own welding and fabrication shop as I have most of the equipment needed but for whatever reason I didn’t, but I think this coming year I am going to blend the two trades into a couple of pieces of furniture and just see what happens! My design wheels are turning!
Wow, this has been a long post so I’ll end by saying…I truly hope 2013 will be prosperous and filled with ground breaking awesomeness for all of you as well! CHEERS!!