Special Guest on MakerCast

MakerCast is one of my favorite podcasts. I love hearing of the journey and background stories of other craftsmen and makers.

I think one of the great things about MakerCast, is that Jon Berard covers such a broad scope of craftsmen, so there is something for everyone. If you listen to just a few episodes, I think you will find that as different as everyone seems to be initially, there are so many common threads to us all as creatives. 


I am honored to be the guest on the most recent episode. I share my background, which seemingly has no relation with what I do now. But the reality is that I learned many lessons and principles in past experiences that help me with my current profession as a designer, craftsman, business owner, and artist. 

I hope listeners will realize that, whatever it is you are doing, you are learning things that can be taken from your current experience, and applied if you want to step out into your own business.

Be sure to give a listen, and subscribe to MakerCast.

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

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Craftsmen Who Influenced Me: Gary Keener

One of the common questions I get is about who influenced me as a woodworker? Was it Sam Maloof, Tage Frid, James Krenov? Well sure, they all had an inspirational impact on me as I discovered the world of fine woodworking, their work is legendary.

But that really is sort of the problem for me. Even when they were alive, the stories seemed to be no different to me than the stories I read about Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, or the Greene & Greene brothers and the Hall bothers who built their furniture. It all seemed too distant to me. They were all out of reach as legends tend to be. 

The people that had the largest impact on me, were craftsmen that I personally met. I talked with them, they shook my hand, they personally told me stories of their life as a furniture maker. Those are the people that lit the fire in me, and moved me to action, because I knew they were real and they made it seem to be within my reach to be a fine woodworker. 

One of those people was Gary Keener. I had met him at a couple of shows in Columbus, Ohio. He was a super nice guy, and he gave me a little of his time to tell me about his work and life as a craftsman. He really made an impression on me for his generosity, which was on top of his great design and quality of work. 

Later, in January 2006, I was visiting the newly restored Frank Lloyd Wright - Westcott House in Springfield, OH and found out that the furniture had been reproduced by a local craftsman by the name of Gary Keener. Of course, after discovering that he had built the furniture for the Westcott House, I had to call him out on that offer he made in our early conversations to "stop by and visit anytime." 

Frank Lloyd Wright - Westcott House, Springfield, Ohio

Once again, he was very generous with his time by giving me a tour of his shop, sharing his philosophy of the craft, and how he got started. This is what impacts me more than whatever I read about the legendary furniture makers, because Gary was REAL to me. If he was doing it without being a celebrity woodworker, then there was hope for me to do it too.

We had only ever kept light contact over the years, but then he popped up on my Instagram account just a few days ago.

Then, the next day, I found Gary was the cover story on The Woodshop News. So it was neat to all of a sudden run into him again, so to speak. 

Gary is still doing the high-end furniture shows to display his work and make business connections. This weekend, March 13 - 15 he will be in Atlanta at the Cobb Galleria for the American Craft Council show. So if you are in the area, be sure to check it out and say "Hi" to Gary. 

To see Gary's work, you can check out his site: G. Keener & Co. Fine Furniture  You can read his story at The Woodshop News.

If you are in Atlanta this weekend, March 13 - 15 and are interested in fine woodworking, I recommend you check out the show. You can see his show schedule at his site and the next one will be in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show April 10 - 12. 

Woodworking shows are fun to attend, but I would prefer to attend a show like the American Craft Council, the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show, or the Western Design Conference. The high caliber of work is always stunning. Plus you get to meet the artisans and you will be inspired them just as I was by Gary. 

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

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Creative Friends & Influences: Andy Parent

One of the greatest things I enjoy as a professional woodworker and remodeling contractor, are the connections that I have with other artisans and craftsmen. By surrounding myself with other artists, it constantly challenges and expands my creative vision. Among those is a good friend and metal working talent, Andy Parent. Andy's unique vision for metal work has greatly influenced my own ideas for design. 

Andy Parent on the King's Throne

Andy's metal working business, Iron Ox Inc, is located just down the street a couple blocks from my own shop. With his shop being so close, we see each other on a pretty regular basis, and the conversations we have are very stimulating as the sparks of creativity fly.

Andy showing a fireplace screen he is manufacturing for a client

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate on some projects with Andy, and we often call on each other to hash out design ideas or to gain a different perspective from a fresh set of eyes.

A design session with Andy Parent of Iron Ox Inc.

Andy has a great balance of technical ability for working metal and artistic madness. If you met him personally, within the first few minutes you would understand the artistic madness comment, but this picture of him with Poseidon's Trident might give you a glimpse.

Andy displays Poseidon's Trident made for a charity auction fundraising event.

To get another look at Andy, his nephew has produced this video as part of his college cinematography course. "The Moments We Steel" by Jared West.

Andy has had a positive and energizing effect on myself as an artist and craftsman. You can check out some of his work at his Iron Ox Inc USA site.

To stay energized as an artist, make friends with other artists. It really keeps the mojo flowing.

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

Share the Love-Share the Knowledge