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When I started my own shop in 2007 I was very excited about the new relationships I'd be developing with people who want what I make. But I didn't have a plan for exactly how the ordering process would go. I didn't have a form to fill out or boxes to check. I just waited to see what would happen. Now it's a decade later and I have a pretty clear idea of how it goes, almost every time. If you're curious about what would happen if you were to contact me about making something, here's what you can probably expect.

  1. Initial Contact. You make the first move. You call or email or text me and tell me what sort of piece you're wanting (a bed, dining table, etc.). You don't need to know exactly what you want it to look like yet, you don't need to have sizes or dimensions or materials all figured out. We can do all that together. That's what I'm here for. Or maybe you like a piece you see on my website and want to just tweak it a little here and there. That's great too. I'm more than happy to ballpark the price after a few simple questions so you can know if you feel comfortable proceeding. I'm not shy about what things are worth, and it never disappoints or offends me if someone decides it's not the right time.

  2. Meet Up. If you're still in, we will then meet in person (if that's possible), either at my shop in Wimberley or preferably at your place, where your furniture will eventually live. Seeing your site helps me tremendously as I design the piece that will live there. I'll take pictures of the space, the art on the walls, the other furniture, the architecture, the dog.

  3. What Do You Love? I'll ask you to show (or email) me pictures of things that you love to look at, whether it's other furniture or pottery or a bridge or an old door or an apple orchard or a ship or a car or a painting get it. Anything. Anything at all. And I'll ask you to tell me what you like about these things. This gives me a good idea of your aesthetic, helps me know how to design a thing that will please your eye the way these other things do. It's proven to be an extremely important step in this process as it creates the best possible chance that you'll be happy with what I come up with.

  4. Dreaming it Up. Now I go home and turn on soft music and put all of this into a big metaphorical pot and stir and stir, until something comes out. A design, or the beginning of a design. Hoping that it's not half-baked (although it's happened before), I'll then send it to you (about five or six color drawings from different angles) for your reaction. This is where I want, I need you to be honest with me. You'll simply tell me your gut reaction to it, what you like and don't like. I don't necessarily need instructions on exactly what to change, I just need your reactions. From there I go back to the pot and stir some more, and then send you the revised version. If necessary, we just keep doing this until we both feel happy about what's there. It usually only takes two or three tries, I'm happy to say, before we are both excited about it. Often this process will include me bringing (or mailing) you samples of many different woods with finish on them (clear coat, I don't use stain or colorants) so you can see exactly what the colors and characters will be in your space.

  5. What's the Damage? Now, and only now, will I give you a quote. Now I know exactly what I'm being asked to make, and out of what materials. I've learned that it works best to use a spreadsheet detailing the time and materials that go into the piece and then simply send it to you so you can see exactly how I came up with the number. In the past I've kept the specifics to myself, thinking it a bit gauche to share them, but I've since gotten over myself and come to believe that it's just best if we all understand how we got where we got.

  6. You Decide. Now you can search your soul, taking as much time as you need, and decide if you want to go ahead and place the order. If you don't, it's okay. I'll save all our work and hope that our time will come farther down the line. No harm done, no cost to you. But if you do decide you want that thing we've dreamed up together, I'll get you on the waiting list right away. I'll let you know when you can expect me to start (usually it's a few months out) and how long you can expect it to take once I've started.

  7. The Handshake. When I get within about two weeks of starting your piece, I'll send you a basic contract detailing everything (dimensions, materials, etc.) and ask you for a deposit of about 50% of the total. This allows me to buy materials to get going, and it allows you one last time to check everything over so we don't have any miscommunications about what's expected. Of course there is some trust involved here, and that's something I've never taken lightly. I always receive that deposit with a great deal of honor and respect for what you're asking me to deliver.

  8. Progress Reports. As I get going, I will happily send you pictures and updates of the progress. Sometimes I get caught up in it and forget, and I get an email from the client asking how it's going. I'm always happy to respond immediately with pictures of where I'm at and what I've done so far, or even better, to have the client out for a visit to see the progress. A visit also has the benefit of letting you see how the piece goes together, what joints and techniques are being used. This is something you might not get to see once it's all finished. Some people love to know how their things are made.

  9. Special Delivery. Finally, once it's all done and I'm happy with it, I'll deliver it to you. In rare cases and in faraway places I may have to hire a white-glove-door-to-door furniture moving service to bring it to you in my stead, but whenever possible I prefer to bring it to you myself. Several times, when making something for someone in another state, the delivery has ended up being the first time we meet in person. Which is always a thrill!

  10. I'm Still Here. It doesn't end there. Just so you know, I'm always here and always willing to address whatever issue you might have with your piece in the years to come. I've driven hours to help clients fix their finish after kids scratched it with a knife or an aunt set a scalding iron skillet on a table top. Life happens, and things get dings now and then, and I'm always happy to help if I can. And of course if anything ever goes wrong with your piece due to my craftsmanship or the materials, I will always stand behind it and make sure it's right. (Again, I'm proud to say this only happened one time, and it was a very weird job to begin with, and I learned a lesson from it. Let's talk.)

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