I got an invitation this week as a “period craftsman” to offer my work for display and sale at an upcoming event. I turned it down.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked to take part in such an event, nor is it the first time I’ve said no. I’m honored to have a growing recognition as a maker of reproduction period items, and while I always look for opportunities to show off, I don’t want to quit my day job to do it. Unfortunately, that’s what it would amount to.
My day job is as a woodworking writer and editor, and it’s the job I love. Part of the job is spending time in the shop – lots and lots of time – but I don’t want to spend all my time there making items for sale.
Don’t get me wrong: I sell my work when I have a quantity of it available. That’s why I’m showing all the birdhouses I built for my recent birdhouse book in a local gallery. It brings in some extra cash, and gets rid of a lot of birdhouses taking up shop space. (I made 27 of them for the book, so I more or less had an inventory.) Likewise, if someone I know asks me to make them something on commission, I’ll always gladly agree.
Making items is an important part of what I do, but only a part. To begin making items in quantity for the express purpose selling them would shift the focus of my job in an entirely different direction. As it is, I look forward to getting out in the shop and starting a new project or piece, and I enjoy the shop time as if it were a break from the drudgery of pounding on the keyboard for hours on end; which, in fact, it is. The fact is, working in the shop makes the keyboard drudgery enjoyable. But I’m not sure it’d work the other way around.
If I shift that focus, then working in the shop becomes a job in itself. I’m sure I’d still look forward to and enjoy it, but I’m one of those guys who looks at “job” as a dirty word. It’s something you gotta do, not something you do for fun. Sure, shop time is fun and it always will be, but I’ll never make a change that turns shop time into something I gotta do.
That event I mentioned would have been fun, and if I had a month or two with nothing else to do and no deadlines to meet, I’d consider making a quantity of items to do it as a one-time thing. But only as a one-time thing.
I like things just the way they are.
Till next time,