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 isnt the first time Ive been asked to take part in such an event, nor is it the first time Ive said no. Im honored to have a growing recognition as a maker of reproduction period items, and while I always look for opportunities to show off, I dont want to quit my day job to do it. Unfortunately, thats what it would amount to.
My day job is as a woodworking writer and editor, and its the job I love. Part of the job is spending time in the shop lots and lots of time but I dont want to spend all my time there making items for sale.
Dont get me wrong: I sell my work when I have a quantity of it available. Thats why Im 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, Ill 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 Im not sure itd work the other way around.
If I shift that focus, then working in the shop becomes a job in itself. Im sure Id still look forward to and enjoy it, but Im one of those guys who looks at job as a dirty word. Its something you gotta do, not something you do for fun. Sure, shop time is fun and it always will be, but Ill 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, Id 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,