Handcrafted goods are special and always unique. When an artisan pours his or her heart into a piece, quality and customization can be second to none.
Case in point: My new writing desk.
I had been working on a folding table, yes, a plastic folding table, because I couldn’t find the right desk for my office. I thought the shame of working on a plastic table would motivate me to find the right desk, but no. I worked on it for two years while I frittered around looking for the perfect desk.
Actually I have always worked on two desks. One plain but sturdy model outfitted with a VariDesk, which allows me to alternate standing and sitting while I work, easing my chronic back issues. It’s my main editing space where I spend hours and hours editing video. It doesn’t need to be anything special because my focus is entirely on the work that beams out through my double monitors.
But I also like to have a second workspace for writing, paperwork and other chores that come with running a small business. With my video-editing desk occupied with large monitors, computers, RAID arrays, external disks and other stuff, it was not the place to write a simple thank you card or other correspondence. Whenever I tried writing there, the millions of gigabytes of footage and audio would be whispering in my ear, making it almost impossible to ignore.
So I began my hunt for a second desk. I searched furniture galleries, antique stores and online. Some desks had the right style, but weren’t big enough. Others were plenty big, but too fussy or ugly. My “go-to” for reasonable office furniture — Ikea — didn’t have anything that I thought would hold up to daily use, and nothing had the style and warmth I was looking for.
Then my husband suggested I ask a dear friend and master carpenter, Patrick Olson, if he would be willing to take on the project. I LOVED the idea. I mean, I make handcrafted art — digitally handcrafted — for my own clients, so I loved the idea of supporting someone else’s creative goals.
Honestly I usually don’t have the budget or patience to wait for handcrafted goods. “Things” are not a big priority for me. I’d much rather spend time with people, having experiences that feed my soul, than put another knickknack on the shelf.
But for pieces that will be with me for years to come, an artisan piece is a perfect fit.
I knew Patrick had the skills (check out his work here), but I wasn’t sure he had the time. But in typical Patrick fashion, he was enthusiastic about the project.
So, I sent him several photos of desks I liked but were missing a key element or two. It had to have a wood top, and I was really hoping for chunky and sturdy metal legs. I knew the wood part would be easy for Patrick, and I was so happy to learn that he also enjoyed working with metal. We had a few back-and-forth emails about design, and then — voila! — he had my beautiful new desk ready in a couple of months.
I asked Pat to share a bit of his process.
“For the top, I used big box store construction materials, selecting them carefully so that I could find the best boards that would produce the least warping,” he wrote to me. “I welded everything using 18-gauge metal, and I felt that it was important to make the table base so that it could be broken down for transporting. I was a super fun project built with regular stock materials. I always have fun making things that are somewhat unconventional.”
Easy transport was key for us, because we were moving the desk from St. Paul, Minnesota, where Pat and his lovely yoga-loving wife Lauri live, to Milwaukee, where our studio is and it had to fit in our SUV. Not an easy task for a 60-inch wide and 30-inch tall desk. It’s that kind of detail that comes with items handmade to your specification.
When we finally saw the desk, I was blown away. It has a beautifully joined wood top with lots of movement in the grain, which makes the writing surface warm and inviting. The metal legs have clean lines and are as sturdy as I had asked for.
We brought the new desk home and had every intention of immediately staining and protecting it with polyurethane, and then putting it together. But then life got in the way. We ended up moving and the desk project fell to the wayside from all the selling and buying of houses, packing, moving, unpacking … oh and working!
My beautiful desk sat in our cold garage the entire winter, but when spring hit, we put it back on the priority list. Dean stained it and gave it several protective coats (because I’m a bit of a klutz!). Then last weekend, we tore apart the entire editing studio to make room for the new beauty. Purging and reorganizing is a pain, but the resulting peace I get working in an environment that is calm and put together is freeing.
Now, every time I sit down to write a letter, thank you note or correspondence with a client, I take a moment to admire the handiwork and creativity of Patrick, and I enjoy the warm and clean writing surface beneath my fingers.
It’s the kind of appreciation I hope Sweet Pea couples have for the films that we shoot and edit just for them. Every clip is carefully culled, music searched for just the right tone and feel, and graphics that fit with a wedding’s style.
I’d love to hear about custom or handmade pieces you’ve invested in for your home!
Patrick can be reached at Olson Wood Works
Check out our REVIEWS!