|Patrice Lejeune shows the inside of the top|
As I work my way to the end of each year, I tend to reflect on the past. I started my business in June of 1969 so each summer I pass that milestone, marking another year of self employment. However, the end of each year means I am another year older, and that is a more sobering thought.
At this stage in my life, many of my friends have retired. They often ask me "if" and "when" I expect to do the same. That thought never crosses my mind. My usual response is something like "When they pry the chisel from my cold dead hands." or something equally dramatic.
Why should I retire? I have a 5000 square foot "playground" which contains all the materials and tools I need to create anything I can dream up. All I need to do is find a photo or see an object and I can have it. I used to lecture a lot on antiques and fakes and one of points I would always make about fakes is that "if someone made it in the past, then it is possible for someone to make it again." Kind of like counterfeit money. No matter how clever they try to be, someone will be able to copy it.
Most professional woodworkers struggle to create original designs. I find that goal very difficult. I really don't think I have an original idea in my head about design. The problem with me is that I have worked on tens of thousands of antiques, visited hundreds of museums and read countless books, and my mind is packed with images. No matter how hard I try to create something, there is always an element of historical precedent which begins to appear.
I have the same problem trying to imagine creating an original piece of music. I mean, after all, there are only so many notes, chords and key signatures that exist. How in the world can you sit down and write something completely new without including some rhythm or sound that you heard before? I have the deepest respect for those who can do this. I spent many years of my life playing chamber music and sitting in orchestras, performing classical music. The best I could do was to play the notes well, and try to make some kind of music.
That is the same for me with my woodworking. The best I can do is to perform the piece well, and pay respect to the masters of the craft from the past centuries. I must admit that, after 45 years of practice, I have been able to achieve a modicum of success in that goal.
One aspect of my professional life which has been very helpful has been my relationship with ecole Boulle and Dr. Pierre Ramond, among others in Europe. Leaving San Diego and spending time and money in Paris really paid off, giving me the experience and confidence to take my work to the next level.
It also provided me with an opportunity to partner with Patrice Lejeune, who has worked with me for over 7 years now. We have a good working relationship, and each day we share the load, dividing up the activities according to each person's schedule. I am fortunate to have a business partner who completely understands both the operation of the business and the school and can contribute in areas which I am not as strong. Not to mention giving me a hand when the furniture needs to be put on the bench or in the truck.
The success of the Treasure Box series is a direct result of this partnership. The work we put into these boxes is as good as it gets and I am sure they will be regarded with deep appreciation and respect for many years to come.
As I have rather busy lately with other projects and not able to post on my blog much, I would like to direct you to visit the recent post by Patrice on his blog. His posts, which detail the actual work on the boxes, is more complete and includes photos of each stage of the work.
You can see that post here: Patrice Lejeune's Blog
Note, in particular, the photo of the tulip veneer with the words "This veneer has been saw cut at the end of the 19th century." How wonderful it is to be able to use historic materials as well as historic methods! Thank you Patrick George.
We expect to be able to finish and deliver all 4 of these boxes early next year. At that time our cat, Gigi, will need to find another place to rest. She always seems to appreciate our work as well.