Traditional/historic furniture vs. modern/post modern/abstract...

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Rick M

New User
Rick
Re: an answer, but not to the question you asked...

Mike I pondered the same question back in the late 90's or early 2000's and was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss it with Kelly Mehler. I can't remember if his school was open then or if he was just talking about it but basically he said that if he writes books and articles, goes on speaking tours, and was doing the school because there wasn't enough money in high end furniture. And I don't know if you've ever seen Kelly's furniture but he's second to none. I think if you want to make money building furniture you need to be super cheap or really high end and if the latter then you need contacts because there are already people filling those needs. Really I think if you want to make money building furniture, get a decent camera, clean up your shop, get a youtube account, and become a content creator. Whatever you build, donate to WUNC.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Re: an answer, but not to the question you asked...

Well, fortunately I don't have to make a living making furniture. However, in my twenties I did have to make a living painting signs and back then people said essentially the same sorts of things about that career. I was successful enough then and I believe if pressed I could be successful now. I'm glad I don't have to be that aggressive, compulsive, hard working guy that I was in my twenties.

I make wooden things for a hobby, I would like to make things that please other people and if they sell, fine. If not, I'll have plenty of gifts for my kids and friends. I don't want to live out my life in the recliner if I can be making something useful.

i asked about the different styles expecting to start a conversation about what the trends are and where the future of design is headed. I didn't expect such negativism. If I had asked what style of painting you prefer as art in your home or as a relaxing hobby I suppose I would get a lot of people saying you can't compete with the new digital printing art and paint costs too much and they have factories in China that crank out oil canvases for $3 a piece.

Doesnt say much for the future of our craft or the future of our children when so many are so discouraged.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
Re: an answer, but not to the question you asked...

I asked about the different styles expecting to start a conversation about what the trends are and where the future of design is headed. I didn't expect such negativism. If I had asked what style of painting you prefer as art in your home or as a relaxing hobby I suppose I would get a lot of people saying you can't compete with the new digital printing art and paint costs too much and they have factories in China that crank out oil canvases for $3 a piece.Doesn't say much for the future of our craft or the future of our children when so many are so discouraged. M. Davis

Mike there's one part of this discussion that seems to be omitted each time the question comes up here on this site and other sites that I visit. What about "piece work" to supplement the budget?

Piece Work -- what does he mean?

Making parts that people need and they are not tooled up for on the project they are working. One example that comes to mind is custom molding work. Lots of contractors that are rebuilding an older home come to need matching molding and it is not available at the lumber yards. This is where a machine like a Williams and Hussey molding cutter gets you in the game. They don't want it today they need it yesterday.

It doesn't work very well on a woodworkers site as most builders want to do everything themselves. I can't fault them as I worked that way for years till I found most of the 18th century work was done by several builders in the shop at the time. I took that thinking a step in that direction with a couple of things that I build and tried to see if it would attract some business or interest.

Some examples maybe?
Windsor chair project. A man does not have the lathe skills or a lathe. Offer him turned legs. Doesn't do steam bending offer him bent hoops and parts.




Very few bites.





Another example would be perhaps offering highly figured panels for a project. This would allow the builder to plug and chug and save lots of time on a big project and make it a little nicer.











These are just a couple examples of objects that you can offer that aren't finished furniture that keep you in the shop with the lights on. I am not pretending to think this will flourish on a woodworkers site but it can grow if you're willing to build up an inventory to support the demand.

There's always the thought of building a website and broadening your market. It does work if you have something nice. Now you are in the shipping business. That includes returns and hassles. Think about a table request from Idaho. That's part of the shipping world.

Its tough indeed but if it was easy there would be lots of folks making things to market quickly. Think of the wood cutting board surge before plastic dishwasher ready cutting boards. Every guy with a tablesaw and some bloodwood was punching out cutting boards.

It seems like a steep slope but there are important decisions to make along the way. After you teach your son/daughter how to work the on off switch on the tablesaw and how to adjust the fence.. maybe its time to get on the shaving horse and teach them how to use a drawknife and a spokeshave.

 

Drew

Drew Goodson
User
Re: an answer, but not to the question you asked...

I'll take a stab at your original question. I like more modern designs and apparently the Danish modern type antiques are sought after right now. My suggestion would be to think about how young people live today if you want to sell them things. Giant armoirs won't hold their flat screen televisions. IKEA is cheap and disposable but it also fits in their apartments. If you do all your work in a MacBook Air, you probably don't need an eight foot desk. I think there is a market of millennials and younger people that would be intrested in purchasing quality, sustainably sourced, locally made and long lasting items for the home. I'm not suggesting that market would be easy to tap but I believe it exists.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Staff member
Corporate Member
Re: an answer, but not to the question you asked...

Wow, Mike you have a lot of good reading and advice to work from here. Please follow your heart and except every piece as a challenge to your knowledge and skill set.
 

Rick M

New User
Rick
If you believe in it strongly then go for it. There is always room for a new success. It will take more than skill and hard work. Find someone who is successful at doing what you want to do and talk to them about it.



I skipped the traditional vs modern because it had been answered many times over but modern or minimalist for sure.

-- Rick M
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
In reality, I anticipate building traditional furniture for myself, doing an occasional repair/restoration and once in a while hauling a couple pieces of furniture to the local arts market down in the historic section.

You never know where something will take you. I have a friend who started out with a small personal machine shop and through all the twists and turns over 25 years, hes not doing consultant work for the railroad, making more money than ever. He says "who would have thunk?"

Bottom line: don't miss out on chasing a dream, don't quit your day job.
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
Re: an answer, but not to the question you asked...

I'll take a stab at your original question. I like more modern designs and apparently the Danish modern type antiques are sought after right now. My suggestion would be to think about how young people live today if you want to sell them things. Giant armoirs won't hold their flat screen televisions. IKEA is cheap and disposable but it also fits in their apartments. If you do all your work in a MacBook Air, you probably don't need an eight foot desk. I think there is a market of millennials and younger people that would be interested in purchasing quality, sustainably sourced, locally made and long lasting items for the home. I'm not suggesting that market would be easy to tap but I believe it exists.
Totally agree. I think some (young) folks tend to think of solid, hand-crafted furniture as "country" -big and cumbersome. Craftsman/mission styles come to mind as unappealing. Modern styles are lighter in both design and color, simpler, subtle curves. It's not just the cost, the IKEA-style appeals to people at least in my circles.
 
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