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Forum topic by Piskin posted 02-04-2008 05:34 AM 1463 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Piskin

12 posts in 4315 days


02-04-2008 05:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining arts and crafts rustic victorian shaker modern traditional

I want to build the best, one of a kind furniture. With all types of wood and finishes. I ve got the wood working skills , but how do I get work beyond famiely and friends? I have run into a lot of time waster, like designer and such. I don’t want to build cheap stuff that may not last more than a few years . When I put my time and name on something I want it to be the very best. I do this for the love of great craftsmanship . If you guys could tell me how you got your first jobs and what you have learned. I think that would help out a lot.
Thanks,


8 replies so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4410 days


#1 posted 02-04-2008 05:55 AM

Carry around a small photo album of your past work. Tell everyone who asks what you do, “I build high-end custom furniture” and hand them a business card. Tell the family and friends who you’ve worked for in the past that you are looking for more work, and give them a few business cards to hand out if they talk to anyone who might be interested. Get your name out and show that you can do the work … it may be a slow start, but the work will come in.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com/woodworking -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Moron's profile

Moron

5032 posts in 4429 days


#2 posted 02-04-2008 07:34 AM

. If you guys could tell me how you got your first jobs and hat you have learned. I think that would help out a lot.

I started building a lot of what some would consider crap.

To get to the top of Mount Everest, you have to start at the bottom, no ifs ands ors about it!

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4498 days


#3 posted 02-04-2008 05:34 PM

Listen to Peter, Good luck.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4850 days


#4 posted 02-04-2008 07:52 PM

I think the problem might be people don’t buy the best one of a kind furniture. I was at a big art/furniture show this year and I was amazed at how many wonderful prize winning pieces that had won previous years had not sold. I’m happy just getting to have my own shop and sometimes getting to do some fun projects. I guess it is like acting. Would you be happy just making a living or would you have to be Brad Pitt.

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Russel

2199 posts in 4474 days


#5 posted 02-04-2008 08:00 PM

Good point Dennis. It’s been said here before, that the first goal of any business is paying the bills. If you can do that with one of a kind art level furniture then more power to ya. I think customers for that are few and far between. There’s no shame in making a living.

-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com

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Piskin

12 posts in 4315 days


#6 posted 02-06-2008 01:54 AM

Thanks for the advice everybody.

View Kip's profile

Kip

12 posts in 4394 days


#7 posted 02-06-2008 02:38 AM

I’m probably the last person who should give you any advice in this area but I’m going to anyway:) I am also in the beginning stages of building a business. What I am building targets a specific demographic so my market is relatively narrow. When I started I asked the same questions that are going through your mind. ” How do I market what I am building?’ How do I get people to see that what I am building is worth the money I need them to spend on it?’ etc. Some of the best advice I recieved came from fellow LJ’r Mark DeCou. I can’t quote his exact words but what I picked up from the conversation was this. You have to market youself. People will always be able to find a comparable product built by someone else for the same or less money. The key is to get people to want to buy “you”. They need to want to buy your product, not becuase it is better but because YOU made it. I don’t have the magic key to get to that point but what I am beginning to realize is that it takes time, patience and integrity. Hope this has helped.

-- Kip Hiebert

View cowboy's profile

cowboy

68 posts in 4323 days


#8 posted 02-08-2008 02:44 AM

After over 30 yrs of doing this for a living I can assure you it is not an easy path to journey down but it is to me a wonderful way to make a living.I tried years of waiting for word of mouth and while some of that will happen you will have to market yourself for it to ever happen.
What I have done is to keep overhead very low,always give someone something that your love of it shows through to even the novice.I then made sure that I only use really highly figured woods that in fact cost a lot more money .But think about it most of the cost in any piece is the labor,so the increase in the price is only the cost of the wood for one thing.GO TO GOOD SHOWS,at least 6 a yr because not all of them will be great so it should even out.When deciding where to go think money,like how many people in the area are wealthy,not well to do but wealthy.Remember you are only going to be doing business with the upper5%.That has been my biggest regret I had hoped to build things for friends but I don’t have that many wealthy friends.
So what I have done for quiet a few years is to make sure my work is ,I’ve got to be careful here,very well done,with remarkable woods and attend 6or 7 shows a year in areas like Aspen,Jackson Hole,Beaver Creek this year the Hamptons,Tahoe,somewhere there are people with real money.
I chatted with someone from here a while back and MY experience,not everyone’s heck it’s enough for me to worry about mine,has been I have a bench that I have made several of,always changing this or that about but similiar and I’ve done my usual of mixing woods and using very nice figured woods and priced it at between $2200 and $2400,had several magazines show it including Fine Woodworking,the most interest of any piece I’d ever built till then and owed it fot about 2 years.Everone loved it but it was 10 times what the average person would pay and not nearly spectactular enough for the rich.So after awhile I bought a really expensive piece of wood where it cost me over $800 just for the seat but it was eye candy,I raised the price to $3500 and sold it before the show started.Even though I can sometimes be a slow learner that’s all I do now as I want someone to “have to have”that very one and not take a chance on ordering,they have to have this one now.
I could mention how I do this or that with my designs,I do only use solid wood,even drawer bottoms,old school joinery,hand cut dovetails only and I do point this out but even just that makes it way too high for the average person or even the upper middle class they won’t be buying anyhow.Yes I know we all have a couple of folks that don’t fit in that spot,but all I can say is it changed everything for me dramactically,not just a little.

Whew I’m worn out typing and you’re probably tired of reading all of this by now.I’ve done this a long time and if anyone wants to contact me about any shows in the US I am familiar with most and I can offer my two bits,whidh is all it is.

Cowboy

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