The aftermath of a furniture show…

So I know that you have been waiting paitently for a post on the show.  Ok maybe not, but I thought I would write something anyways.

So early Friday morning I rented a truck and went to the shop and loaded it up with a good friend. (whom I will talk about more later)  We headed off to the great unknown.  We got to the show to set up at 11 am.  It was in a really cool old theater, that was 3 levels.  What I didn’t expect was that the displays would be on all 3 levels and in every knuck and crannie in the place.  Of course I was the last guy to sign up for the show, so I ended up on  the 3rd floor with one other vendor.  But there were other spots that I considered much worse than mine.

First thing we had to do was unload the truck and move it because of all the other vendors needed the space for there trucks as well.  Then I find my spot only to find that the pipe and drape that I had ordered was not set up.  As I found those that were in charge, I was told where the pipe and drape were and how many piece I would need to set it up.  Needless to say I was put off from the very beginning.  But the set up went really smooth and everything came out fine in the end.

The show opened the next morning @ 10 am. From that point until Sunday night @ 5pm I think there were about 150-200 people max that came and walked through the show.  Now I know that this was the first time they had held this show in Baltimore, but man was I expecting a few more people than that.  All in all I have to say that at least my furniture was seen and business card were handed out.  So I don’t consider it a waste or a failure.

What was crazy about the show was that my good friend Dalyn and I both have been doing quite a bit of home brewing over the last couple of months.  I forgot to metion that Dalyn did the art work in the booth, he is extremely talented so you should check his stuff out.  But we decided that it might be a good gimmick to get people into the booth if we brought down some home brewed Root Beer and Ginger Ale.  So he bottled up some of his Ginger Ale and I made a keg of Root Beer and off to the show with labeled bottles and plastic shot glasses in hand.

Well the third guy into the booth tasted the Ginger Ale and bought a bottle from us, I thought “wow that was cool”  but that was it.  Over the next 4 hours we quickly became known as the guys upstairs with the amazing sodas.  Vendors were leaving there booths to come up and try some of our stuff.  People were spreading the word so fast that we sold out all the 1 liter flip top bottles that we had brought and emptied the entire keg.  On Sunday I actually had a few people come up to the booth just to buy more of our Sodas.  They told that they had been to a friends house the night before and had bought some our sodas.  There they sampled and paid 10 dollars just to get into the show to come up and buy some more.  Unfortunately we had sold out the day before.  But man I could not believe the response.

So this has spawned another venture.  We shall see how it goes, believe I will try to keep this blog up to date.

You can also check out some other photos here.

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What a difference a year makes…

So it’s been just a little over a year since we moved back to the states from Australia.  To be honest there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about going back.  But our lives as a family have been crazy.  First I started working in home remodeling, which was good money and a good job, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.  That job was a 2 hour commute one way everyday.  So I started staying at my mother-in-laws 3 times a week, then.

Next I took a job in Philadelphia working for a furniture design and manufacturing company that will remain nameless.  If you want to know the stroy behind the reason, Email me.  I started there in August and the family finally moved up in October.  So I would work all week and then go back to D.C. on the weekends.  After 6 months of working for said company, they proceeded to lay me off.

Well as you can imagine at the time I was both pretty pissed off, but I also had no idea what I was going to do.  Well I spotted an opportunity to be in The Fine Furnishing Show in Baltimore, sent a few emails and bam I was in.  So with this opportunity I had exactly 25 days to find a shop, get lumber and make as much furniture as I could.

So out of those 25 days that I had to work, I only worked 21 of them.  (I don’t work on Sundays)  I figured out that I never worked more than 6 hours a day on the actual furniture.  With that said I worked way more than that total, but just on the furniture it was about 6 hours a day.  So that turns out to be 126 hours worked on the furniture.

Now here is a picture of a piece that I made in school that took me about the same amount of time to make.hollowSo this piece took me roughly  about 120-130 hours to make.  At the time I thought that I had made this piece really fast.  To be fair, this piece is completely veneered and the outer carcass is a foam core torsion box.

But almost one year later and with the same amount to time I made these:

chair-frontchair-side2tablescoffeetableall-piecesSo I know these wren’t the best pictures, they were taken with my phone.  But you can see that there are 5 pieces of furniture here.  In the first 2 pictures is my newly designed chair. Then in the next 2 pictures are my Hall table and new coffee table.  Then finally is a picture of all the pieces.  There in an entertainment unit with two drawers and also a side table/nightstand also with a drawer.

All that in 126 hours.  Now truth be told there in no fancy joinery, just mortise and tenons and miters.  I designed all the pieces to be simple and elegant, but also easily produced.
So it’s off to the show.  I am going to have some better picture taken.  When I do I will post them.

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Furniture Update…

So it’s been a long week.  I have been so busy in the shop building a few pieces for the up coming show.  I am finding out why it takes people at least 3 months to plan for these types of shows.  There are so many things to think about besides just building some furniture.

I had to come up with a business card.  I have to figure out how to set up the booth, lighting and staging.  I have to figure out if I want to have any print material, plus things like contact forms, invoices (at least I hope to have to use some), order forms.  Then I have to figure out what type of payments can be accepted.  That is just the tip of the Ice Berg.

So as I spend all day in the shop, then I spend half the night at the computer.  So here are a few updated pictures of the stuff that I have done so far.

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After a long day…

So like I mentioned before, since moving to Philadelphia I have fallen in love with handmade, craft brewed sodas.  Now I had had some small brand sodas before, but when I say craft brewed I mean very local sodas.  Ever since returning from Australia I have had a taste for Root Beer.  Now I wasn’t ever a big Root Beer drinker before I left.  But since coming back it’s the only soda that I like to drink.  It all started with I still hold as the best soda that I have ever had, BUNDERBURG GINGER BEER!!  This was the only thing that I would drink over there.

When I got back, it started with just regular Barq’s Root Beer.  I was never an A&W man, but I didn’t mind Mugs Root Beer either.  But then I moved up to Philly and went to Pats Cheese steak’s I ordered a WHIZ WIT  and the offered a Birch Beer.  So I had a great cheese steak and an Ice cold Birch Beer.  Which got me thinking, “I wonder what other local brews there might be?”  That’s when I started to search around, finding many hidden treasures.  Of which I will be sharing in reviews as we go along.  But like going to the furniture show and seeing other people work there and knowing that I could do just as well or even better, the same feeling came over me with Root Beer.

So I started to research and look on ways to do this.  I read a ton of articles on the net, then I found out one of my work mates brewed his own beer.  So the questions began and learning happened.

So about 2 weeks ago I decided to make my own brew.  I searched all over Philly for the herbs and the spices to make my brew.  I found quite a lot of stuff that I wanted to use, like star anise, sassafras root, juniper berries, cloves, Cinnamon and vanilla.  But I knew that I was missing somethings as well.  So I bought some root beer extract as well.  I proceeded to boil all of the spices and roots in a pan of water.  This I did for about 30 minutes, then I let it steep for about another 30 minutes.  I strained the mixture which smelled amazing.  I then made a sugar syrup, which was both white and brown sugar boiled slightly in water.  I added that into the mix of spices and added about a tablespoon of the extract.  I bought a pack of Champagne yeast from a local brew store.  I put that into some warm water and let it sit.  Then I added everything together and put it into bottles and let them sit for about 3 days now.

Well after a long day in the shop I came home and felt my bottles and they were pretty stiff, meaning the little yeasties were doing there job.  So I pop one open to the wonderful sound of escaping CO2 gas, filled a glass with ice, poured and watched a small head form.  Then the moment of no return, the tasting.  It was really pretty good, not as sweet as most root beers, but still very refreshing.  So next I plan to tinker with the recipe and see how we go.  I have a good friend that is brewing ginger ale, so I’ll let you know how his is coming along soon.

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The 50 dollar bench…

So I know that I have posted anything on my brewing adventures as of yet.  Believe me they are coming, I had a batch that I brewed sitting for a few weeks.  But it seems that the yeast has not done it’s job.  So I will explain this in the next post.

As for this post, you guys know what is going on right now.  I’m going crazy trying to get all my stuff together to make a few pieces for a furniture show.  So first things first, I needed a bench to work on.  I contemplated buying one from Lie Nielsen or Lee Valley or even Laguna.  But if you follow tthe links you will see that these benches are not cheap.  Not that I want a cheap bench, but I don’t know how long that I’m going to be in this workshop, let alone Philadelphia.  So I needed something that is flexible, something that I can take down and take with me when I need to.

So I headed over to the local Borg.  There I picked up nine 8 foot 2×4’s a sheet of 3/4 inch MDF a box of screws and 2 packs of saw horse hinges.

So first I made the saw horses themselves.  Just a few cuts on the 2 x 4’s and they slide right into the legs.  Then I jointed the top rail piece of the horses, to ensure that the top of the bench would sit flat on the saw horse.  I assembled those and realized that the these hinges don’t really keep the saw horses together.  So you will notice that in the picture I wedged a 2 x 4 inbetween each leg to ensure that they hinges are biting really well into the top pieces.

I then proceeded to joint one edge on each 2 x 4 and rip the other edge, to make sure that they were flat.  I had a full 4 x 8 sheet of MDF, so I cut off 12 inches and made a 3 x 8 bench top.  But the MDF flexed to much so I had to brace it.  So I decided to build a torsion box like thing?  With the torsion like structure underneath, the top is rock solid.  Then all that was left was to put the top on the horses and there we have it.  I nice strudy and flat bench.  Now I know it’s not the bench on anyones dreams.  But with 3 weeks to try and build 6 pieces of furniture, I need something cheap, strudy and quick.  This was my solution, what have you guys done?

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A weekend full of Furniture

So I have to first admit that trying to get back into this blogging thing is extremely hard.  Maybe because I have so many other things on my mind at this point in my life.  So the blog gets put on the back burner.  So I hope that everyone bares with me for a little while.

I spent some time 2 weekends ago in both Boston and Philadelphia, at there respective furniture shows.  In Boston I went to Craft Boston Show.  I would have taken pictures, but was told that I was not allowed.  This show was really good, there were only about 5 actually furniture makers there.  The rest were other crafts like jewelry and metal and fabric.  I went to the booth from The Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship and was blown away by there stuff.  I was way more impressed with there stuff than the stuff from the students at The North Bennet Street School.  I mean no disrespect to the Bennett street school, but for me the lack of original design is what does it for me.  Yes both set of students are very talented, but one school clearly has an emphasis on design.

Then it was back down here to Philly.  Sunday I spent a few hours at The Philadelphia Fine Furnishing Show.  The show was in a really nice venue that truly showcased the work.  It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, I knew that they have reduced the number of exhibitors.  But to be absolutely honest I was not impressed by what was at the show.  Now let me explain my reason for this.  This show had about 50-60 exhibitors, about 3/4 of those were furniture makers.  Then about 3/4 of those were arts and craft/ mission style makers.  Don’t get me wrong I like the arts and craft style and mission style as well.  But I found that there is something missing amongst all those makers.  I would think that it is hard to make a statement when every other booth looks a lot like your booth.

So what is that something that I think is missing, ME.  Going to both of these show spark a fire in me that I haven’t had for awhile.  As I looked at each booth and looked closely at the furniture made, I realized that if these guys can show there stuff than I can as well.  So I sent off an email last Tuesday and got into The Fine Furnishing Show in Baltimore.  The show is May 2-3, that’s right it’s only a month away.

So in the next few weeks I plan to make a low and modern entertainment center, 2 side tables/nightstands, 2 hall tables at least 1 but hopefully 2 chairs and a crazy wall hung bookshelf design that I have come up with.  I know that this is no small task, but I have secured a shop for at least the next month, tomorrow I head out to pick up about 100 board feet of Black Walnut and about 50 board feet of either maple or birch.

So the fun begins, stay tuned as I just finished making my 50 dollar workbench today.  And all the other fun that is going to happen in these upcoming weeks.  Also as I hope to get another batch of Root Beer Made.  the last one had a few problems, but that is for another post.

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A busy weekend…

So the family and I are getting packed up for a weekend family road trip. We are headed up to Boston for a couple of days. Now I know what you are thinking, laid off should be looking for work, not out and about having a good time. I say to you, your right I should be. But this weekend is the Boston Craft Show.

One of my instructors while I was at The Australian School of Fine Furniture is the head instructor at The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. He and his students have a booth there at the show. I’ve been meaning to get up to Maine to see him and his wife since we got home. But you know how life gets, it gets really busy. But now with a little extra time on our hands we thought why not, plus it’s Boston.

Then we come back on Saturday night so that I can go to the last day of the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show. So needless to say it is going to be a busy weekend with a lot of driving and a lot of cool things to see. Don’t worry I plan to a few posts and maybe even a podcast about it when I get back.

So let the fun begin! (and by fun I mean a 6 hour drive one way with a almost 5 year old and a 15 month old, should be interesting.)

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