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LLYR HELLER: My name is Llyr. I'm one of the librarians here. Thank you all for joining us today. Some housekeeping before we start: Restrooms are actually right out the exit downstairs. Please, silent cell phones—myself included. You may be photographed and/or videotaped today. So if you don't know to, let us know. Probably mostly at or around the tables. We are recording for podcast. So any questions you ask, your voice will be recorded. And it's going to be awesome.
Thank you all. Thank you for joining us today. Today we have ‑‑ borrow the mic. All right. Happy Saturday. We have Cathi from The Glass Studio. We have Heather from Adams Forge, and we will be joined by people from Offerman Woodshop. But we'll just get started.
I have a variety of questions, but we intersperse them with audience questions. Just to kick us all off, if you want to talk about how you got to where you are today. And if there's anything kids in high school or college can start thinking about, classes, or work they should be doing.
HEATHER MCLARTY: Hi, I'm Heather. I went to college at UC San Diego. I was undeclared for my first two years. I ended up being a theater major, and my first professional theater job I worked at a theater where they did a lot of steel fabrication, which is a little bit unusual for theaters. So I learned how to—and, by steel fabrication, that's like cut and weld. You know, they just bring in 20‑foot long sticks of thin wall tubing or whatever from the steel supplier. Then we chop it up and put it back together to make flats or furniture or whatever. But it was—so that's how I started doing steel.
I worked in theater for doing—making all kinds of weird things using materials in odd ways, but what I really liked was the metal work. So once my husband was doing well enough, I quit my job. And, what I wanted to do, was do steel fabrication like furniture; build that kind of stuff. But I wasn't sure what to build so I borrowed a book—some books—from a friend who was a designer on metal working. All of the stuff I thought was the coolest in those books every single piece that I loved was forged. So I decided I needed to learn how to forge so I worked backward technologically.
So to me forging is getting metal hot enough that it becomes plastic. It's not melted, but it's really close to it. So if it's steel, which is the most common thing, it's 2,000 degrees to 2,300 degrees somewhere in that the temperature range. So it's getting the steel hot enough that it gets squishy. It's almost like working with clay you just can't touch it with your hands. So what blacksmithing is to me is learning how to use tools instead of your hands to squish it around in ways that you think look cool. So that's how I started.
CATHI MILLIGAN: Hi. My name's Cathi and I'm from The Glass Studio, and I work with glass. I started via jewelry. I was always interested in jewelry from the time that I was a little kid. I made jewelry the first time when I was about five, collected beads when I was 9. Hung out at a bead store called MacraMania and you know just absorbed and learned different things. And then I became a teenager and didn't care about any of that.
Then something happened and I rekindled my love of jewelry and started to, you know, haunt the jewelry stores and I overheard—and I was reading a lot of magazines and I kept seeing stuff about fabricating your own glass beads and jewelry, and I became very intrigued.
Also while I was doing this, I was working as a graphic designer. So I've always been creative and needed a creative outlet or creative occupation. Being a graphic designer has come in handy quite a bit as I've moved over into a glass career cause I can do all my own graphics.
So I overheard at the bead store one day that they were getting an instructor in to teach them how to teach bead making, and I was like [making sounds]
So I signed up for the class and that was like really long time ago. Today's my birthday so I'm going like oh, wow! [Chuckling] So it was like 26 years ago that I started embarking on melting glass. Through the course of it, I have been fortunate enough to be on TV showing people how to make beads. I also parlayed that into macrame stuff. MacraMania! I used to hang out there. So macrame is the art of knotting.
I have my book that I was able to write through all these different things that the glass work opened doors for because there's not a lot of it. But there, believe it or not, are a lot of different techniques that can be careers; and I need employees. I need people to help me so I have to have you guys learn. [Chuckling]
But there's kiln forming that's fusing, slumping, casting. The applications for that are tile making so architectural detail, lighting, other things. I also—yes, I make beads. So I have some beads over there that I make, jewelry, and stuff—things that make noise, and blowing glass. And one of my favorite things is to take all of those techniques and put them together in to one piece, which I have blown glasses that are like that.
One of my other side gigs that I picked up along the way is i run an arts organization in northeast LA, and that led me to start publishing an art newspaper. You can grab a copy. It's called LA Art News, and there's always stacks downstairs because this is one of my best drop off places. Um, yeah. Glass is awesome. [Chuckling].
ARAM NIGOGHOSSIAN: I'm Aram Nigoghossian. I work at Adam's Forge. I'm the artist in residence there.
As a kid, I was really into working with my hands, working with wood. I always had a fascination for knives so I would start making those as a kid in my garage. What I liked about that kind of craft was that I got to work with steel and wood or bone or antler and leather. So there was all these different things that went into craft, but at that time I only had the ability to cut out knives out of blanks. My goal was eventually someday to learn how to hammer out steel.
I went to college to UC Santa Barbara. I studied film studies. Got a degree in film studies. Came back to, you know, this area Los Angeles, and I worked in the film industry for about 10 years as a film editor. I really enjoyed that time, but it was so dependent on other people as far as someone had to write the movie. Someone had to, you know, a studio had to green light. All these things had to happen. I had to have my agent working. There were so many thing that had to go on before I could get to work so to speak.
And I had started to going to school where Heather is the president of Adams Forge and I started to go to school just as a hobby learning blacksmithing. I completely fell in love with it and started taking every class that was offered, and spending as much time as I could there. I decided that was really what was making me happy in life. Is that, you know, I could go in with an idea in the morning and at the end of the day that was materialized. So that's what really got me into it.
And, you know, since then, since learning the craft, I think part of that is passing it on and teaching it. Once you reach a certain level, it seems like that's the natural progression. I think you also learn a lot from teaching. So that's kind of what got me to where I am today.
>> So the first question was how did you get to where you are today, and specifically anything that high school students or college students could do to get to do your career?
JANE PARROTT: Hi, I'm Jane. I'm from the Offerman Woodshop. The three of us are. We apologize. The traffic was crazy.
I am the resident light maker. I make lights and lamps. I also manage the shop so I kind of do some part‑time work just helping run things. Then I also sell lamps through the woodshop and on my own.
Let's see, I guess, growing up I was always into any kind of different material. So I would really encourage you to just try different materials and play with them. It just, you know don't pigeonhole yourself. When I went to college, I went to a liberal arts college and I majored in art and multiethnic studies. So again, broad base and I could just try a lot of different things. I did sculpture and experimental printmaking in college. Oddly enough those came together for my final show in college where kind of these weirdo giant lights. I ended putting light bulbs in them because I was like it's already kind of a light so let’s put a light bulb in there.
Then I kept doing art stuff, and then I fell into set design. For paid work, once you get out of college you're like who is going to pay me for doing something creative. That was a really fun job. I did that for a long time. I did a lot of theater, opera and film.
And then kind of like similar story that we just heard is that I kind of realized that this is a fun job, but then the ‑‑ there's all this other stuff around it. So I just started making things again, and that's when I started my lighting business. And I remembered all the stuff I made in college. And, you know, these days you can just start making something and you can make a simple website and, you know, maybe somebody wants to buy it. That's a really simple exchange.
And I also had community. So, you know, look out for your ‑‑ communities of people who do things that you find interesting. I had a lot of help from the woodshop before I got so involved with it. I was next door just renting from our neighbor cause I was just a metal worker, and so I was starting to make my lights. Then as I got sucked into the woodshop more and more, they taught me how to do woodworking stuff just because i knew a little bit about everything. So don't be afraid of different materials, and learning from people or asking him how to make stuff or surround yourself with creative people you admire. So, yeah, I think that's how I got to be sitting here in front of you.
SARAH WATLINGTON: My name's Sara. I'm the project manager at Offerman Woodshop. I make furniture. The path that got me there was I went to school for interior design after high school. After I got out of school I was working and I was on construction sites, and I realized I was having a hard time conveying to contractors and builders what I needed because I didn't know how it ‑‑ how could I explain how I wanted something built if I didn't know how it was going to be built. I felt like I didn't have the confidence and people didn't have the respect for me for that reason so I started picking up tools and building.
Then I realized I liked that almost more than the design part of it. It was really exciting and empowering to start making things. I made a lot of really bad things, and I made things that were better. Then I got into rough framing and was doing more carpentry stuff. Then I refined more and more down to more furniture because I like the level of precision and the creativity that comes with making furniture and the functionality of it as well. So I did that on kind of just teaching myself. I had the communal woodshop that I shared with people for five years.
Then actually just last year I decided to go to a really wonderful school called the Krenov School of Fine Woodworking, and it's up in Northern California. It's this amazing 9‑month furniture making program. It's actually really wonderful because it's actually technically through the community college so it's a really, really good education for community college prices. They do the Bogs Fee waiver and Pell Grants and all those things so anyone should look into that if they're interested in making furniture. It's a really wonderful school and I learned a ton.
I worked at Offerman before that part‑time. When I came back, the person who was in my position left so now I'm the project manager. So I've been making furniture for six years or so doing woodworking, and I really love it.
Ways to get into it, Cerritos College here in Los Angeles has a really good furniture making program. They do like ‑‑ have different tracts. They have cabinetry and furniture. It's through the community college so it's really affordable. There's different places like Allied Woodshop down here downtown. Matti and I actually teach classes there sometimes kind of intro to woodworking classes.
Finding mentors is a really good way to get into craft. Sometimes that really just takes luck. I actually met my first mentor in a library. I was like I'm going to be a woodworker. So I went to the library and I had all these books out in front of my am I'm going to learn to woodworking by reading all these books. Actually this guy just came up to me and was like hey, are you interested in woodworking. I ended up working in his shop for five months and ended up learning the foundations and the skills. So yeah, outreach, luck. I reached out to Offerman when I moved to LA and just introduced myself and they found a position for me.
So just putting yourself out there, asking people for apprenticeships informal ‑ formal, community college. Yeah. I think those are all good ways to get into furniture making. It's really rewarding. I really love doing it.
MATT MICUCCI: Hi, my name is Matt. I'm the floor technician at the Offerman Woodshop. I've been there a little over 7 years now. It's the longest place I've ever worked at.
I have sort of a strange way of coming into woodworking. I never wanted to be a maker, craftsperson, or in the trades. Ever. I guess two things happened. So one my dad is an electrician so growing up with him I worked every summer with him and I hated it. And now I regret so much for not retaining any of that information. [Laughter]
So when I was your age ‑‑ and still I have a dream of being an actor. Two things happened where one, I can't get any acting jobs. Two, I'm a terrible waiter. The worst. So I lived in New York for many years and I luckily got a job at a theater learning to be a carpenter there ‑‑ scenery carpentry. An amazing thing happened there, I realized that people in the trades and construction ‑‑ and construction included, they tend to be nicer human beings. And that really had an impact on me, and also doing something physical with people every day, you form an amazing bond more than ‑‑ I've held a lot of jobs. One time I had nine jobs in 1 year [Laughter] but that was all before this. And I was like wow this is amazing. This bond.
So when I moved to Los Angeles I could not work in a restaurant even though I did for a little bit. I got yelled at a lot. I heard about this Offerman Woodshop. I was like maybe they're like‑minded. So, it took a lot of tracking down and I showed up one day with donuts. I was like hey, I would love to work here. They were nice about it, but they were like we're not really a business and we're not hiring. I said, okay. Well can I just hang out on occasion? They weren't too thrilled about it, but I started just showing up and watching. I literally cleaned the bathroom and swept the floors for a couple of months. Then Lee, who was the former manager, was like hey, I got this project do you want to sand? I was like, yes. I think it was making $9 an hour and going into debt, but I was like loving it. The family there was amazing. Now seven years later, I have a totally different role there and I'm still learning every day, but the craft aspect is just awesome and the people are the best.
So regardless what you think now, don't be afraid to let a journey happen. Also, if you want to get into any kind of craft or trade or anything, just show up and ask to be a part of it and see if anyone can talk to you and guide ya.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you, everyone, that was excellent.
Does the audience have any questions they want to ask now or shall I continue? Anyone? Teen volunteers? Okay. You're warming up, I understand.
Okay. So can you talk, because these are such unique careers and you've talked I little about it, can you describe a typical workday.
Also some of you seem freelance and some of you are in‑house sometimes, but kind of how you navigate your workday.
HEATHER MCLARTY: We talk about this a little bit in the car on the way. I think there's no such thing as a typical work day. The only thing the work days have in common is I might have an idea at the beginning of the day of what is going to happen, and it never does. That's pretty typical for me.
I walk my dog three or four miles every morning that's ‑‑ and then I have breakfast. Then I look at e‑mail. Then from that point on, it's sort of up in the air what I have in my head to do is go out to my shop and work on whatever project I have going, but ‑‑ and that can vary widely. I work almost entirely on commission, but I'm ‑‑ but I'm a one butt sweat shop. It's just me out in the shop ‑‑ and I don't know is that slide still up? No, it's not. There's a picture in the slideshow.
My studio is in a teepee in my backyard. So I'll go out to the teepee and work on whatever project I have going. It ranges in material, it's always metal. I had to ‑‑ I can be like ADD girl. So when I quit my last theater job to do this full time, I made a promise to myself that I would only work in metal because I was tired of being jack‑of‑all trades and master of none. So I wanted to make myself focus on one. At least one section of materials and that's metal but it might be copper or bronze or aluminum, but usually steel. It might be something really small from a jewelry sized piece, although I don't do much jewelry, but to a driveway size gate.
Some days I also ‑‑ I do all the design work with rare exception. I do all the design work myself so it might be instead of going out to my studio that I sit at my drawing table and work on design for that day.
CATHI MILLIGAN: Thank you. Thank you. So, yeah, the first part of my day has a lovely little routine. It involves coffee and checking e‑mails and stuff. Once I get to my studio, if that is my first stop, unless it's written on my dry erase board I don't know exactly may happen. Now like today is on my dry erase board so it says November 3rd library. I know at some point I was going to come here.
The other things that I do is that I teach classes out of my studio. I teach classes at Otis. I fabricate for others sometimes. We're currently working on fixing some glass that was broken on a gate that she made for Occidental College.
Over in my little sample of goodies I've got going on, I have some examples of some jewelry items that I'm doing for other designers. One is a very high‑end designer, and I wouldn't want her life for anything even though it involves going to Paris and stuff like that. [Chuckling] The workload she takes on by designing and all I have to do is make some glass items for her. It's like she's got the heavy lifting.
Another project that I'm currently working on is for an electric car company, which is kind of interesting, called Karma. I'm making the jewels for lapel pins and cufflinks that will be in there catalog of things that are karma like. Then I do shows. Next weekend I will be in Pasadena selling my wares as well as teaching how to make bracelets at Otis College of Design for their 100th anniversary. I have to be in two places at one time, which I have to say I do that to myself all the time. [Laughter] I need an assistant to tell me no, you can't do that. Fortunately I've got somebody covering for me at the show so I can be at Otis.
I'm a really, really, really busy person and I'm working towards a day off. I don't know when that's going to happen. When someone does say you need to take a day off, I say you know on my day off all I really want to do is blow glass. So...[Laughter]
Then I mentioned the newspaper. Every once in a while, I'm on newspaper duty so that happens a little bit today and tomorrow. My deadline is Monday. I can have printed copies out on the street by late Monday or Tuesday. It involves going to see art all over the city, which is just a really horrible thing that I have to do and sometimes with press passes, which means that they're going to feed me a lunch too. [Laughter] I get to see great art all over the city and my managing editor writes about it and make glass in my spare time, which is all the other time. So, I hope that helps.
ARAM NIGOGHOSSIAN: So, yeah, days aren't super typical for me either. I don't have a set schedule but generally I get into the forge. If I have class prep to do, I'll get stock cut or stock for the class prepped. Sometimes we have visiting instructors from other parts of the country. I always coordinate with them to see what they need. I do maintenance on all our equipment and I make sure, after a weekend of heavy use that all our tools are safe and proper ground and all that.
When I don't have the school business to tend with, then I usually go in with an idea of what I want to do. A lot of times, one of my favorite things to make is hammers. So I'm always kind of designing them in my head. Usually that's ‑‑ if I have a day where I get to do exactly what I want to do, I'll spend the day, and I'll heat up a couple blanks, and I'll figure out the ratio of the weight I'm starting with and the weight I want to end with and go from there, and figure out the most economical way to make it. When I say economical, I don't mean just cost wise; I mean doing it in the least amount of heat. So heating up as little as ‑‑ as few times as possible so I'm not losing certain elements in the steel like carbon and stuff like that. That I want to keep in there so I can harden it.
Then, at night I like, at the end of the day, I like to kind of draw or kind of take notes on the day of what worked for me and didn't work that kind of stuff.
I guess I'll pass it onto you guys.
JANE PARROTT: Well, at the shop, we do have a schedule at the shop. Before I took on this schedule, I was freelance for a really long time. That's something to think about whether you want a set schedule or not. When you're freelance every day is different, but you don't have the security of definitely always having a job. Once a job ends, you have to find the next job. It's just work to hustle the next thing. I loved it forever. Then something changed, and I was like actually I was like I would like to have something a little more set.
Now I have certain hours where I have to be at the shop and I'm in charge of managing the shop making sure everything is running well. We have an online store and we ship things out, making sure customers are happy, making sure everyone on the floor has what they need. You know, anything to keep the shop running smoothly. We have certain things we do every week. We have a shop meeting Tuesday's at lunch. We all can bring up whatever we want to bring up and make sure we're all communicating. That's all ‑‑ that has it's own set schedule.
Then outside of those hours, I'm in my studio or working at the shop making lights and making sure my parts are either getting made or my orders are going out. So I kind of wear two different hats in those terms. So it's like a loosely scheduled week.
I'd say our shop, though we have a schedule, we're pretty flexible compared to other workplaces. That's maybe another thing to think about as you get involved with different people. Some places are like you're here at 9:00. You get a 10‑minute break that's it. You're out at 5:00. We say yeah, okay, you're here 9‑5, but if something comes up, we're always open to that. If someone needs to leave for a couple hours if they have an appointment, we can make that happen. When you work in a smaller place and we have that. We can bring it down to the human level and be like okay, I understand you can't come in this day, but can come in that day. Let's swap it out.
SARAH WATLINGTON: The question was what is your daily practice like? Okay. Just making sure.
Woodworking's really fun and exciting for a lot of reasons. But the fact that every day you're doing something different; and at the end of the day, you have tangible proof of what you were doing all day, and that is always an immediate reward. You put in work. You see it change. It evolves. It starts as a bunch of rough boards. Then it's a bunch of flat boards. Then it's two dimensional. Then it's pieces of a thing. Then you get the joinery going. Then the magical moment when it's a thing now and it exists. I'm really hooked on that aspect of woodworking.
Yeah, every day depending on what part of the project ‑‑ there's a lot of those parts of the project that are the most exciting. There's a lot of woodworking and any other trade that you have to do the less exciting stuff as well.
I do the commission furniture at the shop so I deal with the clients. I respond to e‑mails and inquiries. I make bids. You have to estimate how many hours things are going to take, and that's hard to do. I recommend estimating how many hours you think something will take and then doubling it because that's probably how long it will take maybe three times. Because you just ‑‑ there's so many factors that slow up. We're humans. We make mistakes. You do a lot of fixing your mistakes.
Yeah. So that's pretty much my day. I mean, I'm really lucky. I get to make furniture all day, every day. That's hard to find in the trades a lot times. You're either hustling for yourself and working really hard at that, or you're working for someone else and maybe doing more menial work. So getting to actually build furniture, do whatever craft you want to do, full time is really exciting. I feel really lucky that I get to do that.
MATT MICUCCI: This is all the same. We've all seen the romanticized awesome woodworking videos where someone is like a dramatically lit shop and the dust is just, you know, flying in the wind. We have those moments. But for me personally, I actually have now ‑‑ I've got a lot of like grunt work that I have to do. But once a week I got to put this respirator on, which is like a mask on your face, and I go into our outside dust collection and climb this really rickety ladder, and I spend an hour in there blowing out the dust collector. And then, when I wake up the next day, I have like large clumps of sawdust in my eyes.Then there's times where I'm getting to work on something, and they're like hey, the bathroom is flooding. You know, it's like I got to do that stuff too.
But so with all the glamor in any type of shop setting, you got to do the reality of it. But the cool thing is we do ‑‑ we eat lunch as a family every day. That's a regular. We even have a dinner bell that someone rings at 1:00. That's really fun and important, and we get to communicate with each other.
The other cool thing, like Jane was saying, we do have flexibility. Even though I'm a terrible actor, I still will on occasion go on an audition. I go to Hollywood and sit in some room and it's filled with ten other guys that look exactly like me. When I get back to the shop, I know that like oh, man, I get to plane some maple today. That's something that they can't touch. You know, it's like I'm going to make these 2x4 and that's it. No casting director can say anything, and at the end of the day, I have something tangible. That's a typical time at the shop.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you so much. Audience, questions? Yes, miss.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What's like the greatest, best project that you have all created?
LLYR HELLER: So like what's your favorite project ‑‑ best project you've ever worked on?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes.
HEATHER MCLARTY: Yeah, usually whatever I'm working on now is my favorite project. [Chuckling]
But the projects ‑‑ I've done two big projects for Occidental College and those are my favorite. Cathi and I worked on one of them together. She did ‑‑ I don't like my metal work to be painted, but I like colors. So one way for me to get color was to work with a glass artist. And so did this gate project together that are on the athletic fields at Occidental College. So that project's one of my favorites. And I'm not just saying it because she's here right now. [Chuckling]
CATHI MILLIGAN: Her work is so whimsical. If you get a chance go see this gate. It's wonderful and it's an honor to be a part of it. Also, it's at the athletic field so the students have been kind enough to break some of the glass things and we're in the process of replacing them. [Chuckling] All right. And they're paying for it. Go OCCI.
I've been blessed to be able to do that kind of thing. I've also ‑‑ I mentioned that I like to do a lot of techniques in one piece. I remember the day that I made a glass and it was this roll up. So I'm talking this painting stuff. I made elements at the torch. I put them with the painted stuff and I fused it all together and I ‑‑ and I rolled up this, and I made this glance, and all these elements were there, and I had that feeling ‑‑ that feeling that fed my soul. I was like this is the sweet spot that we're all looking for in life. That was like huge because I could feel the satisfaction that I felt in creating something from scratch that didn't exist ‑‑ and doesn't exist anymore because I did manage to break it [Laughter] Not then but just like I was drinking water out of it. I was like this is mine. I'm not going to sell it. I put it down and my friend's like hey, ready to catch my thing. Yeah, sure. Glass breaks. And I'm like no! Really. All right. I'll make another one, and I did.
So that one is almost better and it belongs to somebody now so I also had that let go. You know, I made something so insanely satisfying and then I let it go. That to me is also really important because you need to keep making. You need to keep making and you need to let go. Because if you keep everything, you're a hoarder, and that ain't right. [Laughter]
They make fabulous gifts. My favorite thing to tell my students is look if you don't like it and you think it looks like garbage, give it to your family, they'll love it.
AN: Yeah, that's a tough question for me. It's hard to pinpoint one thing. One of the things I have up here is an axe that I made. The axe has a bit in it that's made out of what's commonly called Damascus steel, which is a patterned welding of steels. So you have different layers of different types of steel. It's actually three different types of steel that have been all fused together.
It was kind of an experiment when I was making it and it all worked and it survived everything I put it through. So I was just super happy with that and satisfied with that, but it also kind of ‑‑ it gets your mind thinking about pushing the boundaries even more, and trying it with different projects. That would ‑‑ if I had to pin one down it would be that one.
Also I was making it more my father‑in‑law. When you're kind of making something with someone in mind, I think that always makes it more satisfying too. Cause you're kind of thinking about that person and what they mean to you or what ‑‑ it just adds somehow to the experience of making it.
JANE PARROTT: That is a hard ‑‑ that's a really good question. It's a hard one. I think in terms of lights like my favorite light I ever made ‑‑ my friend was doing like a dinner at a gallery. It was kind of an art project, but it was really just like a dinner with tables, and they invited all their friends. He asked me if I wanted to do something for it because there was a big space. I was like oh, I can make anything. Cause usually you're dealing with people's spaces; and it's like, that's a little big for over my dining table and I just want to make fun sculptural things. For that I made this really giant lamp with arrows like outlines of arrows. It got really big and it was hanging up from the ceiling.
It was really fun because it was a like a whole community of people eating dinner underneath it. It didn't feel like ‑‑ sometimes when it's just a paid job, it's just a paid job. That felt like we were giving something to each other. Then that piece later these interior designers really liked it and they hung it in their showroom for a while. Now it's in my studio, and I'm sure it will have another life. I like this it's had all these different lives. Sometimes the piece can become its own person like your friend. [Chuckling]
SARAH WATLINGTON: I'm going to pitch school again because it's awesome. In the real world you have to, unless you're a really successful artist, you have to deal a lot with making compromises for clients and things that you make. You have to make them happy and you have to do it for not a million dollars. So I think my favorite things I made were at school because I was just given total creative freedom and time to make exactly what I wanted to make, and I had complete control over every single decision.
The first project that I made ‑‑ I like parameters. So if there aren't any, I kind of make them up. So my first project at school was a desk that was based on my favorite book. The book was about this young boy who was also a six‑armed, six‑leg, winged red monster. It was kind of magical realism. So the desk hung on the wall ‑‑ hangs on the wall, and it has this limb system that's the six arms and the wings. Then I made a stool that has six legs to match it. That had a lot of meaning for me, and I'm really proud of it. It was really hard to build. It took me four months to build, but in school you just have that time to do it.
I actually got ahold of the author and gave it to her as a gift. So that was cool. I got to meet her. It was awesome.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What's it called?
SARAH WATLINGTON: Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. It's a great book. I highly recommend it.
MATT MICUCCI: This is a little bit of a cheesier thing, but I guess my favorite project would be a wooden kazoo that I made. Basically ‑‑ it's not my favorite thing to make, and it's not the most technical thing in the world. But when I started at the shop, I had no skills yet and I was cleaning the bathrooms, I was talking to my dad and he was like why don't you make a wooden kazoo. I was like, okay. I had a plastic one that I took apart and it was super simple.
It was during a time in my life too where I wasn't making any money. So I was spending all my time at the shop volunteering, and I was tinkering with this stupid kazoo. Then I remember one night, I was home sick and I got in a fight with my roommate because I had literally I had $300 left, but I didn't have enough for my rent. I know $300 sounds like a lot to you guys, but when you have rent it's not. He's like how are you going to pay. I'm like, I've got this kazoo at the shop maybe I can sell. He's like a kazoo?
Luckily the owner of the shop is ah, this really wonderful man who happens to be a great actor, and he went on the tonight show with Conan O'Brian and was kind enough to bring the kazoo on. I had no idea this was happening. All of the sudden I was getting these e‑mail alerts about the sale of the kazoo. By the end of the night, I had rent money and this little thing saved my life ‑‑ Well, you know, or saved my time living here in the city. That sort of jump-started a couple other little things that I made in the store.
LLYR HELLER: Excellent. We only have about ten more minutes. So who has some questions because I have at least one more. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: As an artist myself, I have a lot of friends who say oh, can you draw me this? Can you make me this? How do you sort of mitigate that with actually getting paid? And how do you sort of explain to people that what you ‑‑ what you do has a ‑‑ there's a monetary value to it, and how do you decide on what that value is? That may be a giant question but.
>> Whoever wants it. [Laughter]
>>I'll do it. [Laughter]
CATHI MILLIGAN: I actually don't ‑‑ I try to give things sometimes and they want to give me money, which is fortunate because people appreciate the amount of money but especially on stained glass and how I do it. So I'm fortunate. I suppose we're getting [inaudible] newspaper. So promotion. Would you promote me as an artist? No.
I do also give scraps. I donate and different things like that. So sometimes my friends that know what I do will come to me for bids. I'll be like here help yourself because there's always a box somewhere of bits that people can have or give to kid or ‑‑ situation.
Whoever wants to next?
HEATHER MCLARTY: [Inaudible] They do ask for awards for free. [Laughter] It's not very often that I'm asked to do stuff for free.
If somebody [inaudible] don't have tuition money, you can learn to do this through school, but I'm ‑‑ I also really feel like having a decent website and having [inaudible] so it looks professional will wed out my clients that ‑‑ or prospective clients that can actually ‑‑ when somebody goes to my website and sees big projects and a decent presentation, I feel like they go oh, that's serious and it will make them step back. They might still ask for a quote, but they're a little more prepared if you have a decent website.
SARAH WATLINGTON: I would say you can always say no is probably the first thing I would say to that. Because you don't ‑‑ you want people to understand that you put a lot of time and energy and thought into these objects. You should kind of know what you want for it. If you've made something and you want ‑‑ you want to know like you want to do the math like it cost me this much to make it, and I spent this many hours, and I want to pay myself this much per hour. You need to do all that math and figure out what you want for it.
That said, I've had a lot of different situations especially at the shop where we have bartered and traded. So if it is with another craftsperson, I would say, you know, well what do you make? What do you have going on? You know ‑‑ we've, yeah, within the shop, we've totally like I really need that thing. Okay, well I've made an extra one and you've helped me out with that other thing. That's okay. As long as you feel like you're getting compensated equally. You don't want to just give things away because it's your work. You know, you're proud of that work. So it's not just a freebie.
But also when I was working in set design, I guess I feel like mentioning that in the beginning you know sometimes you get an internship or sometimes you do a job for free, and you do that job for free if it's going to help you. If it's going to help you learn something, if it's going to help you build a relationship with somebody. I got great things out of doing those jobs. I had other people work for me for free who went onto have great careers in set design. So think about, you know, you don't always just get money out of a thing; maybe you get a connection or an experience, but make sure you're cool with that before you start giving your time away.
LLYR HELLER: Any questions from the audience or did anybody else want to answer the question?
HEATHER MCLARTY: I was just going to say Jane said what I was going to say. [Laughter]
Yes, I mean a lot of the skills that I gained I gained by doing things for free in the beginning, but at some point you have to say that what you do is worth something. It's really hard to do. And your family will always ask you to build things if you know how to build.
LLYR HELLER: How comfortable does everyone in your careers need to be with technology and or social media? And what platforms do you use?
>> Okay. [Laughter]
>> I'm a dork. [Laughter]
HEATHER MCLARTY: I did mention that I did graphic design and I'm very grateful for that because it gave me a number of skills that have allowed me to transition into the internet, the interwebs somewhat gracefully.
CATHI MILLIGAN: I did my first website probably when you could with Page-Mill or EarthLink or AOL or something way back when. I think it's about 20 years ago that I made my first website. My thing is that I don't like being held hostage by some web designer that got a better gig or left town. [Laughter]
I mean really ‑‑ there is a control freak part of me that has to kind of keep things in check and do a lot of stuff myself. That said, I've been able to maintain my website. They're not the best websites but I've grown with the technology. I use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. I know I'm of that other generation so there's probably some stuff the kids are using that I don't. They probably go Facebook ha, ha, ha, ha. I have ‑‑ my websites are hosted by Square Space. So, you know, they provide a wonderful platform for you to easily interact and interface.
I also sell through Etsy. It's been around ‑‑ it's like after eBay for handmade goods. They started in 2005. I've been with them since 2006. And basically ‑‑ fortunately for me, I've sold enough items that I can relist them and do a made to order kind of thing. I do sell mostly handmade glass beads, which has a smaller base of people. If you're selling something that there's tons of people selling, then you've got a lot of competition and something like Etsy has to be worked. It has to be treated like a job. So you have to be persistent and you have to be regular.
I do blog for a website called craftgossip.com. I've been doing that for about 9 years. So it has also helped. I've been a little bit lax in the last couple of years that's because I've got a store and a newspaper so I am trying to pick it up again. I also got a YouTube channel where I'm starting to do my own videos. I have done television, craft television, in the past.
One last note on that, I will be doing online classes for Otis so that is also why I'm really ramping up so I can get that public speaking thing happening and be organized. Cause that's one of my difficult things is being organized. But yeah.
ARAM NIGOGHOSSIAN: For my day‑to‑day sort of work, there's no real new technology I'd say. You know, it's fire. Yeah. [Laughter] Its hammers, and its handles. The one thing to ‑‑ I'd love to get into that selling made‑to‑order pieces. So that's one thing that I'm kind of looking into now is learning how to set up a website and do that kind of thing.
Kind of relating this back to that other question that was the kind of thing ‑‑ like if someone has those skills of setting up a website like I would be willing to trade, you know, make certain things for them to trade services.
>> All right.
JANE PARROTT: I think in woodworking there is kind of a technological field with CNC machines, which are computer‑operated cutting machines. You can do interesting things with them. There are stable careers in those sort of jobs, but for me it's more technician work than craft work.
Social media I think is good to do. It's hard to sell yourself, and I think people do it really successfully over Instagram. Yeah, having a website is good. But I also think that a lot of commission work comes from word of mouth and repeat clients in woodworking. So I think it's good to have a presence in social media.
I mean ‑‑ the best thing about social media for me with woodworking is talking to other woodworkers. It's not really putting myself out there to try and find work. It's to talk to other woodworkers and craftspeople and share the thing that's we're doing and share skills, and tell each other good job.
SARAH WATLINGTON: I don't love being on the computer so I kind of like drag my feet when learning ‑‑ for learning new technology. But, I've always just approached it as I need to learn what I need to know. Like, so it's all based on what I want to do. So then if I need to learn a program to do that, then I learn it.
So we use Sketch Up at the shop, and our shop is pretty anti-technology. We kind of just want to be working with our hands. We all know some Sketch Up now because that's a good way to make a 3D drawing of the thing that person wants and they need to see that drawing first.
Yeah, I trade with a friend to make my website so I can sell things online. Social media is free advertising, like, that's awesome. I say just, you know, unless you love a certain program and love being on the computer and want to get really good at that, then just learn what you need to know to get happen what you need to happen.
LLYR HELLER: Well, thank you all so much. You've been absolutely wonderful. We are out of time, but audience members please take a looksee at all the beautiful art that's on the table. I'm going to bring the video that you brought. I also have the websites so if you want to flip back and forth. So if we can give a big hand of applause.
CAREER CONVERSATIONS PODCAST, AUGUST 2018, CAPTIONED BY TOTAL RECALL, www.yourcaptioner.com