First things first-Our secret is that we get paid to do what we love-but it costs us. Sometimes dearly.
Woodworkers love working with wood. We love the smell of a fresh cut piece of pine on the table saw, we entertain ourselves figuring out complex wood grain patterns, we agonize over the best choice of grain for that upper entertainment center’s crown-it stares right at you. It has to be perfect. We stress over the best assembly and joinery technique for a particular cabinet. Will it meet budget? Will we get it done on time if we choose to make it the most perfect piece to try and please our client, or should we stick to the industry standard? Should we call the designer and ask? We apply the stain,watch as the wood grain speaks to us and it ‘pops’ right in front of our eyes. Wow! Then comes the finale, when the finished product comes to life after the clear coats are applied. It glows with an elegant warmth and makes our heart go pitter-patter. Its perfect! Or is it?
Creating and building takes skill and art, but in a way, that’s the easy part. Now that we have to deliver our masterpiece, and in many ways, that’s the hard part.
Will the client accept our choices? Will they be not just happy but thrilled with what we’ve built for them? Will it become a cherished family heirloom? Or, will our worst fears be realized? We are tense at this point. We’ve had sleepless nights, heartburn and agonizing over making the piece perfect. We make the delivery. This is the moment of truth. The first time the client sees the finished product, we are holding our breath. Then we see the smiles; they stare, and enjoy our work. This is the most magical moment in an artisan’s life. We feel their joy as well. But we don’t show it. It is about the client now, not us. All the energy put into the craftsmanship and quality pays off again when we deliver. We look over to see that the designer has started to breath too. Time to leave.
There is an artistic, human component to all of our design efforts, and in a successful piece that’s what shines through. We put our hearts into our work, hoping that the work will touch our client’s heart. A big box store can make a kitchen with robots faster and cheaper than any craftsperson. But robots don’t agonize over the grain, or whether the client will be pleased. Robots don’t use their hands and their heart, their skill and years of experience to create something, all the while hoping not only for a check but for the client’s joy; joy and pleasure in a piece which will be passed down through out the years.
Wood once was a living tree. When you bring that table or cabinet or bed into your living space, you are giving it a second life–a life of family meals, holiday gatherings, and everyday moments with the people you love. When you hire a craftsperson, he (she) is not just providing a table or cabinet or bed. You are collaborating with him to create a gathering place for your family, a home for your favorite pieces, a place of comfort and peace.
That’s our real secret. That is why we do what we do; because we love knowing in a sometimes chaotic, throw-away-world, that our work can bring you happiness.
Gerry Lamanski is an internationally known professional woodworker, cabinetmaker, inventor holding numerous patents and artist. In his 30 years in the design community he has designed and built residential, commercial and hotel furniture and fixtures. His most unique projects included a secret, hidden room in a Southwest art collector’s office, professional magician’s props and the interior of Willie Nelson’s private tour bus. Renowned for his Arizona Ranch Style designs he was named one of Phoenix Home and Garden’s “Master of the Southwest” for 2014. Working from his studio in Tempe, Arizona, Gerry continues to delight and surprise the design community with his innovative and timeless designs. In his spare time he serves on an advisory committee for a non profit helping veterans and fosters for a local dog rescue group. Should you have a challenging project you can reach him through his website www.arizonaranch.com.