I don’t consider my skill level to be refined enough to think of myself as a “craftsman” or “artisan” and I doubt that I ever will. I’m just a guy puttering around in a shed. Even so, I find that I want to build and create things that are uniquely my own. I’ve never felt comfortable simply copying someone else’s design. Granted that doing so is the best way to learn and improve skills, but it always feels like a paint-by-numbers exercise to me.
I’m a member of Paul Sellers‘ Masterclasses site and have built several of the projects. By doing so I have learned a great deal and truly enjoy the way Mr. Sellers teaches. Lately however, I mostly practice the demonstrated skills in each series but I don’t actually build the projects. The projects are good, quite good, but I have limited space in my home and there is this nagging need to make my own designs.
I guess the best way to describe this is that I’m trying to find my own voice. Now, what the hell does that mean? Please don’t take this to mean that I think I can do anything better than what others have done. I simply want it to be mine. From the first line sketched on paper to the completed piece. Maybe its a completely new design or just a modification to an existing design. I want the things that I build to have a unifying style.
The Greg Merritt Style.
Which, as I write it, sounds both arrogant and contradictory to the opening statement of this post. But here we are non the less.
So what makes up a style? We can all list at least a few. Shaker, Japanese, Arts and Crafts, Campaign, Mid-Century Modern and Danish come to mind. Actually that list is telling. I know them because those are the ones I’m drawn to. Lines, proportions, shapes, wood choice and finishes combine to define a particular style. What is it about the above listed styles that speaks to me?
I tend to favor clean lines and simple adornment. I’m practical by nature so this makes sense. I also lean towards the “crafty”. Techniques that are accomplished with simple tools and accessible by everyone have a strong appeal to me as well. Hence my interest in knot tying and kolrosing and folk art in general. I have a strange dislike for swinging doors. Sliding doors just seem more practical to me and is one of the things that first interested me in Japanese woodworking. I would also rather spend days cutting joinery than drive a nail or turn a screw.
Hand crafted with clean lines and an international folk art flare.
How’s that for describing my “style”? It may be somewhat vague but its a start. With this starting point I can begin/continue to design my projects so that they all have some continuity. I’ll have a general idea as to what elements that I want/need to incorporate into each project. Hopefully, by knowing my style, I’ll gain some focus in my design process no matter the type or scale of the project at hand.
With that somewhat figured out I have had a bit of inspiration for small box design. It’s a bit radical but based on tradition. Maybe it will be a stroke of genius, a complete failure or, like most of my projects, a mediocre success. I hope that you stay tuned no matter which of the three your rooting for.