Exposure in Thrillist.com

A Web Of Connections

You never know the connections that might be made from being in a show, exhibition, or getting published. It seems like it is never is a straight line in arriving to that point nor where you may go from there. It is more like a spider web of connections and interconnections. 

Since being included in the fine woodworking exhibition at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, I have all sorts of emails and contacts that have come my direction. One of them was from the executive editor of Thrillist.com. It is an online source for articles covering what's cool and happening in the world of art, entertainment, food, and products. In their own words "Thrillist Sifts Through The Crap...to find the best new spots to eat, drink and shop in your 'hood." 

People travel, and so does the executive editor of Thrillist, who lives in New York City. While visiting his family in Bozeman, MT he stopped in to see the fine woodworking exhibition at the Museum of the Rockies and was impressed enough that he had to give it some exposure in the Thrillist.com website.


I am one of the 6 artists shown in the article for my prairie chandelier. The picture included in the article was an image that shows the inspiration, conception, and final project.

Not long after the article was released, a man from Cleveland contacted me because he recognized the stairwell tower, and could not believe that it provided inspiration for such a fine project. He asked if I had contacted the architect that designed the structure, which I have not, I do not even know who the designer is. There certainly is potential to make more valuable contacts if I pursue this.

The Gold Nugget For Today

Here is the gold nugget for woodworkers that ask me "how do you do it?" This whole situation, including how I got in the exhibition, is the result of a series of connections and interconnections being made. It is the reward for a lot of effort and time invested in the shop building projects and then making connections to show people my work. It takes the ability to recongize an opportunity, and it takes effort to take advantage of it.

I will also admit, that it takes a bit of luck in making just the right connections, but that still does not happen without putting forth the effort.

Prairie Chandelier Inspiration.jpg

What's Good For One Is Good For Us All

I thought it was pretty cool not only to be included in the online article, but the fact that the world of fine woodworking and design got a boost from a main-stream source that is not just focused and centered on woodworking, which is usually the case. It helps to spark interest in the art of fine woodworking and keep it alive.

Check out the article at Thrillist.com, and also see what else they may have that might interest you. Thanks to the guys at Thrillist for giving the craft of fine woodwork & design the exposure! 

Now it's time to get motivated and get moving out to the shop to build something!

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

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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.

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