Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall 2017 Prospects

A fair amount has been happening, work-wise, of late.

At the end of the long cabinet job, I hadn’t been getting many enquiries, and other than some remaining work for Jeff Koons, now on hold awaiting the sourcing of more Burmese teak, a work desert seemed to be in prospect. While having a break between projects can a good thing, just to mentally recharge, clean the shop, attend to personal matters, and so on, the prospect of a blank slate for work is of course not welcome. Bills need to be paid, overhead covered, after all. A furniture-maker/joiner’s survival, especially as a one-man shop, can be precarious at times, as many in the same position will attest. Yes, I quit my day job for this, and it is my choice to have a line of work which can be unpredictable, but usually the satisfactions outweigh the trepidations.

My client for the large ‘Ming-Inspired’ cabinet project sent me an email upon receiving the piece expressing his delight, however after that he seemed to go radio-silent, so to speak, and several emails went unanswered from my end. He’d previously expressed interest in a follow-up project, for one thing, and for another I was interested to see how he liked the cabinet once he’d had some time to get accustomed to using it. After about my third email sent out with no reply, I decided it might be best to leave off, and was left simply baffled as to the silence, and fearing perhaps that he was in the end unhappy with the cabinet. This idea didn’t really fit in with my understanding of the relationship otherwise, however sometimes things can take a weird turn in life as we all know.

Anyway, it turned out that my client had sent a certain email from an account he hardly ever used, and all my replies to that email (I hadn’t noticed the address change) had escaped his attention completely. Eventually he did check that account, and we’re back in touch and in fact I’m working on the design for another cabinet. This cabinet is to contain a pair of Japanese beddings, futon, and I’ll be starting a build thread on this in the near future. I’ve obtained some uber special wood for that project as well, but I’ll keep tight-lipped about that for the time being.

I was also contacted by a the Asian Language Department of a large university in upstate New York, looking to remodel their space to reflect a Chinese and Japanese traditional architectural aesthetic. That prospect was quite intriguing, however initially their proposed budget was a bit on the tight side and I was struggling to find a way to make possible the sort of results they were seeking to achieve. In recent days however, some more funds have been secured, and some decisions have been made on their end as to which design elements to keep and which to eliminate, so it is very much looking like that project will go ahead in the near future. Again, I’ll start a thread on that when/if the time comes.

Then I was contacted by an architecture firm, also in upstate New York, about a project down in Pennsylvania to restore a couple of 'Japanese Teahouses’. I use single quotes around that term for a reason, as the buildings are neither truly Japanese nor are they teahouses. They sent me a variety of materials on the existing buildings, and I could tell after a glance or two that the buildings, constructed in the 1920’s, were not built by people knowledgeable in Japanese architecture. They’re simulacra in other words, though better in achieving a Japanese look, than most other attempts I have looked at. I told the architectural firm that I wouldn’t be too interested in restoring the buildings, but would be in constructing new ones that were more authentic in construction and detail. And if the budget were insufficient for that sort of project, which it might well be the case as I think the budget has already been agreed upon months ago, that I could instead provide Japanese doors and windows and other millwork details for the project. We’ll see how that unfolds. We’re in the preliminary discussion phase at this time. At this point I have no idea what direction things may take with that project, if any, though there seems to be a deadline in place for the work being completed by the end of next summer, so it seems things must get moving on it in the near future.

So, in the meantime I have been doing a bunch of work from home, design, communicating with clients, calling up wood suppliers, and so forth. It’s a relief to have gone from sterile promontory, to borrow a line from Hamlet, to a situation with several irons in the fire. Very soon I will be starting work on the new futon cabinet and the wood for that should be arriving within the next week. Hope you’ll stay tuned for further developments.

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