Have a Seat (part 2)

December 8, 2009

(read part one first, or this might not make sense.)

Foyer Bench on Workbench

I emailed the perspective drawings (commonly called “renderings”) of the bench to the couple who had given me the commission. They had not given any preferences for the materials, but in order to produce the renderings of the piece, I needed something. So I arbitrarily chose to show the bench in walnut. For everything but the back, that is. The back was one of the two areas that they had been specific about in their request: they wanted a live edge on the top of the back.

This gave me a great opportunity to bring some contrast into the design. A different wood, maybe even a different color, for the back. Right from the start I envisioned the top edge to be not just wavy, but jagged and craggy, like a mountainous skyline. To get an edge with that look you have to find a board which is full of “character”. I decided to draw it as a section of big-leaf maple burl.

I didn’t have to wait long for a response. The wife emailed back two days later:

The bench looks terrific! I love the top design and the bottom is classic “Spykman style!” Walnut may be a bit dark for us, though. What about a red birch or cherry? Getting excited!

So… an approved design… “Getting excited!”… these are good things! Just have to change the wood. I liked the Idea of cherry, plus I had a good cherry pattern in the drawing program. Getting the woodgrain to flow properly on the curving surfaces of the model was a bit tricky, but it didn’t take me too long to make the change. I sent back the revised drawings that same day… she deemed the final design “terrific”.

Foyer Bench Rendering - Cherry

Now here is an amazing fact: through all of this process, all the emails, the photos, the designing, the back and forth on materials… no one had mentioned money. They had not mentioned a budget, I had not given an estimate (I went back through the emails to confirm this). This is not my usual approach. I had actually broken one of my own policies in this regard. I generally give a “guesstimate” price early on in the process, and ask for ten percent of that as a design fee before doing any real work on things (this will sometimes scare away the “window shoppers”). I don’t know why, but I followed a different course here.

I sent another email with a formal proposal and price quote. I got back an affirmative response right away, and a deposit check in my real mailbox three days later.

(to be continued)


3 Responses to “Have a Seat (part 2)”

  1. winewood Says:

    Dear Gary Spykman,

    I am humbled by your work. The benches are inspiring. The e-mail communications on orders often seems unreal with the scams out there. I received an inquiry from Shanghai, China and almost deleted , but noticed a US e-mail address. Customer purchased several items to be delivered in the US to family.

    I will look forward to part three.

    Wine Wood Creations

    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging words.

      In the case of this email, it was a previous client. The first experience working with them was good, so I wasn’t worried. But, I hear you, cold-call emails should be checked out carefully.

      Part three is already underway, so it shouldn’t be long. I’m waiting for the “good” pictures from my photographer.

      Spykman Design

  2. winewood Says:

    Dear gary,

    Yes good pictures are very important. I hope you were able to browse my blog and see some of the products I make.


    Happy Holidays

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