Call for Submissions: Get design help from Fine Woodworking and Hank Gilpin
Furniture makers are confronted with two challenges. Many of us spend most, if not all, of our time trying to master the tools and techniques of the craft. Unfortunately, that means we spend little time tackling the second challenge: mastering the art of designing furniture. And that’s a shame, because all the technical skill in the world won’t save an ugly piece of furniture.
Of course, it’s hard to improve your design skills without help, and that’s where we come in. We’ve arranged to have the work of four readers critiqued by furniture designer and maker Hank Gilpin. Hank’s sense of design is impeccable, and his technical skills are top shelf too. So the guidance you’ll receive will concern both design and construction, and will help you become a more confident and successful furniture maker.
Our plan is to invite two of you to Hank’s shop in Rhode Island so that he can see you piece in person. For the other two readers, we’ll have professional photos taken of your piece and Hank will critique those. We’ll document the entire process in words, photographs, and video, and publish an article in the magazine and a video on the website. The article and video will be similar to the Dovetail Doctor and Sharpening Doctor features.
Here are some guidelines for submitting your work.
- Email us pictures of your work, along with a few words describing each photo. Take photos from various angles, and zoom in for a couple of detail shots.
- The piece should be one that you designed and made. Period reproductions can be beautiful, but we’re interested in developing your design skills, not Sir Thomas Chippendale’s.
- It doesn’t matter when it was made. Perhaps the finish is still drying. Maybe it’s been in the living room for 20 years. Either way, that’s okay with us.
- Leave your ego behind, but bring your desire to improve. If you have trouble taking constructive criticism, this opportunity isn’t for you.
- Tell us who you are, where you live (just a city and state are fine), and if you could bring yourself and your piece to Rhode Island.
- Tell us if you’d be willing to rebuild your piece, taking Hank’s suggestions into account.
I have personal experience with Hank’s critical eye. Back in the Spring, I designed and made a garden bench for our Video Workshop series. As part of that video series, I visited Hank to learn about outdoor furniture design. I also took along a full-size prototype of the bench to get some constructive criticism from Hank. I’m very happy I did, as he showed me a few ways to improve the weather-resistance and comfort of the bench. He also suggested several ways to develop the design more fully. I learned a great deal that day, and I’m already putting what I learned to good use as I design a jewelry cabinet for my wife, at least what I learned about developing the details and motifs of a design. It won’t be an outdoor jewelry cabinet!
We can all get better at design. Your session with Hank will help thousands of other woodworkers just like you. Send your pics and info to: email@example.com
10/14/2009: It’s reasonable to wonder who Hank Gilpin is if you’ve never heard of him. Here is a profile that we did on him a few years back. Also, use our search to find some of his furniture and a few articles. He has been in the gallery and on the back cover numerous times. The quality of his furniture, both in terms of design and construction, speaks for itself. You might not like it, but I think you’d be hard pressed to deny it’s quality.
Top-notch design. Hank Gilpin is a one of the best furniture designers and makers around.
Design and construction improved. Gilpin took a look at a prototype for this bench, and his suggestions improved its comfort and weather resistance.