So You Think You're A Tough Guy?

Good friend and fellow woodworker, Scott Morrison, just showed up in a Gerber Knife commercial (not the baby food company.) 

It is pretty funny to see him portraying the tough guy image. I have had some good laughs with Scott and "badass" is not a term I would use to describe him, that's what is really funny about the whole thing. I would even swear he is trying not to crack a smile while mugging tough for the camera.

It is very cool to see Scott shaping one of his signature rocking chairs which is shown in full view.

A gold nugget lesson here; never underestimate the power of a fleeting image like that. Keep this in mind if you are trying to figure out ways to market yourself. 

Be sure to check out Scott's site and YouTube channel, you will love visiting both. 

Scott's Site:

Scott's YouTube: The Fine Woodworker's Channel

Now, I will fill you in on the real Scott Morrison. I do not have some special exclusive friendship with him, he is a good friend to all that he meets. Be sure to check him out if you have not yet. If you have woodworking questions, especially pertaining to sculpted furniture or want to learn how to build sculpted furniture - Scott's your guy! He's a real American Craftsman with the skills and the "Share the Love~Share the Knowledge" attitude.

Congrats to Scott for getting in on a Gerber Knife commercial!

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A.Clippinger

Share the Love~Share the Knowledge


Billings PechaKucha...Uhmm...Pe-What-chKa?

Poster By Collaborative Design Architects

What is a PechaKucha?

I was excited to receive an invitation by Collaborative Design Architects to make a presentation at the most recent PechaKucha in Billings.

I am sure you are wondering what this strange word is. First let me explain how it is pronounced: peh-CHAK-cha. This is a Japanese term which loosely translates as "chit chat" (as was shared with me.)

A PechaKucha is an event for creative people to share their work with the public. I use the term "creative people" because using the term "artist" seems to limit interpretation to the traditional painter, sculptor, photographer etc. that we only see in galleries & museums.

The purpose of the PechaKucha is to expose the community to the broad range of talented people that exercise their creativity everyday but are often not seen in galleries.

How does it work?

The presentation is also known as a "PechaKucha 20x20" or some just refer to it as a "20x20." This is because the artist gets to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each for a total presentation of 6 minutes 40 seconds.

The artist has no control over the slide show. I could not pause it, back it up, or fast forward it. This keeps the pace of the show going. I really had to define what was the most important work and message that I wanted to share.

The PK20x20 BeginsThe PK 20x20 Experience

The venue is very relaxed. The public is already having a good time gallery hopping and is very receptive to seeing the artists share their work.

Part of the unique experience is due to the location. The PK 20x20's are not normally held in a gallery but often in a warehouse, bar, or other informal setting. Still, most of the 11 artists seemed to be a bit nervous. This led to comical mistakes & remarks in their presentations but the crowd had a good laugh and the artists seem to loosen up.

I was not nervous at all until I stood up in front of the crowd. Then all of my thoughts fell out on the floor. The slide show started playing and my mouth, separate from my mind, started talking. Many artists had uncomfortable moments of silence in their presentations, but it seemed that my slides were changing faster than they had for the others. I talked non-stop and had to keep up with the ever increasing speed of the slide show.

When my presentation was over I sat down with little memory of what I had said. But after the show I got a lot of compliments on my work and presentation. This proves, once again, that my mouth has a mind of it's own but fortunately it did not embarrass me this time.

PK AudienceThe Value of PK 20x20

 The PK 20x20 is a great venue for sharing your work. Locally it runs concurrent with the Billings Art Walk and the presentations start when the Art Walk ends.

It is an opportunity for sharing and defining your work to the local public. The audience is made up of a lot of people interested in art, other artists, architects, and designers. There is potential that some of these people will be looking for what I provide on future projects and now they know who I am and exactly the type of work I do.

Defining your work to the public is important. There were basically two types of people that approached me afterward. One group was impressed with my work but did not know I existed prior to the show. The other group thought they knew what I did and never bothered to check my website so they really had no clue. Their impression of me was anything from a handyman to trim carpenter but did not realize I was a Designer~Craftsman. So the PK 20x20 was a great opportunity to define who I am and what I offer.

A great follow-up to the show happened a week later when a guy approached me in a local coffee shop. He recognized me from the show and gave some very encouraging words on how impressive my work was and that he had enjoyed my presentation. That was a big boost for me:)

Another great value in participating was the connections made with other artists. I get a great deal of inspiration being around other artists, especially those that work in other disciplines. We often engage in stimulating conversations about the creative process and our projects. I find that exposing myself to other art develops my sense of design and I simply love being in the company of other "Creatives."

One thing that is difficult for many of us to do is to stand in front of a large group of people and be the focus of attention. I felt that it was important that I take the opportunity to not only present my work but to get more experience speaking in public. This certainly has to be one of the best situations to practice public speaking.

Supporting Creativity and Art

A big "THANKS" goes to Collaborative Design Architects in Billings. They started the PechaKucha locally which is actually part of an international program. CDA's goal with the PK 20x20 is to promote public awareness of the creativity & talent in Billings, MT and the surrounding region. 

They have taken it upon themselves to shoulder this program with no other intent than to make the talent known and to support art in the local community. They understand the importance of art and creativity not only in architecture but the role and value it has in everyday life.

Be sure to check out the work at Collaborative Design Architects from Billings.

Also stop by and learn more about the program. You can see slide shows by artists from around the world and see if there is a local show that you can participate in. I encourage any artist or craftsman to do so.

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

"I am not a public speaker but, apparently, my mouth is"

Listen Up - Architecture Speaks

The Challenge of Design

Designing is one of the most challenging aspects of a project. To get ideas for my projects, I read a lot but I also have 13 years of remodeling experience to draw from. This is significant because it means I have seen a lot of buildings and have been intimately involved with them through my remodel work. While working on them, I paid attention to both the design and construction details.

Original bench.

With Lucy's Bench, the project that I am working on, I tore out a poorly designed bench, bookcase, and handrail which had been inflicted in the 70's. There was dark stained oak plywood and HVAC vents screwed to the face of the bench. I knew I could do better than this.

Let The House Speak To You

When I am looking for design ideas, most often the house will tell me what to do if I pay attention. This particular house was built in the 1920's and originally carried the trim details popular in the Arts & Crafts style. Some of those details are gone, yet many remain. To fill in the blanks, I rely on experience and research.

One thing to understand is that there is, almost always, no single right answer. There are always a few solutions that will be acceptable and, ultimately, the client has the final say. I educate and advise but I never force anything on them.  

It is also important to remember that personal taste is subjective. At times, clients have picked what I thought was less than the best answer, but they have never really "blown it" and they have always been very happy with the end result. 

One thing that I hate hearing a contractor or designer say is "It will grow on you." That statement bothers me because it is a red flag that they forced their decision onto a reluctant homeowner and it uses the passage of time to get it behind them. The more time that passes, the more likely the homeowner will just live with it, not entirely pleased with the result but not acting on their dissatisfaction.

Getting Down From My Soapbox...

Full Cloverleaf Perforated MetalWell, I will get off my soapbox now because I really just wanted to share a cool detail and a lesson with you.

I determined that I wanted the vents in the bench to be replaced with a more accurate representation of the period so I ordered perforated metal with a full cloverleaf pattern. 

I had explained to the clients that the full cloverleaf pattern was common "back in the day" for a house in this style. They shook their heads in general compliance as they trust me and agreed it would look nice. 

New bench design. A few days later the homeowners were doing some painting work in the master bedroom and they called me up to ask for some advice. I went up and took a look at the situation and gave my thoughts.

Before I left the room, I noticed a heat vent in the back corner of the closet and it had the same full cloverleaf pattern in the metal. I thought that was pretty cool because it confirmed to the client that I knew what I was talking about. And, while I am not doing a historical restoration, I am being mindful of the period as I designed the project. That was one of those "success" moments that I really enjoy.

The Moral Of The Story

For woodworkers, design ideas should come from places other than woodworking books and magazines. Architecture is a great source of ideas. In fact, furniture is most often designed to complement architecture so that means it is a great source for design ideas.

This topic can fill volumes, but the short lesson for us today is to pay attention to the buildings around you. Take notice of both commercial and residential buildings, especially the old ones. Take notes of the architectural details inside and out. The buildings have a lot to say.

For me, I develop personal relationships with buildings as I work on them so I need to listen to what they say. For the average woodworker, they also have information to share. They have style and design elements on display and great examples of proportional relationships that work well together. Look at these elements as detail and as an aggregate whole. This information will help you design both freestanding and fitted furnishings. 

That is all I have for now. 

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger.

Share the Love ~ Share the Knowledge