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Is that old?

In the 1970's there was a resurgence in antiques and old, weathered looking furniture. Weathered barn boards were selling for more per foot than gold was selling per ounce.

Of course, this wood was in limited supply so people began to employ various techniques for making the wood look aged. Sandblasting, wire brushing, burning, staining, beating it with chains, running over it with trucks, you name it, it was tried. At the time, I was making fine, hand polished wood furniture and spending a good deal of money on rosewoods, mahogany and other rapidly becoming scarce hardwoods.

But people did not want to buy my fine pieces. They wanted stuff that "looked old." At one gallery, I looked at some pieces that were made to look old. To me they just looked crappy. Badly fitted doors and drawers, poor joinery, obviously distressed surfaces all combined to unconvincingly create the look of a piece that was made a hundred years ago and left out in the back of a barn for the last 75 years of those hundred.

The prices on these pieces of crap were astronomical. And they were selling like hotcakes. When the gallery owner looked at my finely crafted pieces, she just shook her head as if to say, "Poor boy, so out of touch," and asked me if I could make them look old. I just shook my head as if to say, "Poor woman, so out of touch."


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