Source of Inspiration? That’s an easy one…my imagination. There is no way I could ever make all the sets I have pictured in my mind. There’s hundreds of ideas and I come up with new ones all the time, and I hand carved custom themes so my customers call the theme.
1. Started drawing at a very early age
2. Always wanted to get a boat and be a Captain
3. Bought a boat, became a Merchant Marine Officer
4. Have been selling my chess sets worldwide for many years, they can be found on every continent (except Antarctica, not yet anyway)
I think Steven Colbert should run for president because it would give new meaning to 'presidential debates', making them not only truly informative and entertaining, but with ratings rivaling that of the Superbowl. The political process could use that shot in the arm.
What got you started crafting?
I got started in hand carving the custom themed chess sets back in the mid 90's. My very first set was made with tools that I found in my Dad's garage while I was helping to care for my Mom for a bit.
I made it for myself, it reminded me of the set my father taught me how to play on decades earlier. Like me, I think lots of people have a special connection to, and many fond family memories from learning and playing this game with family. I had no plans to ever make another. Those plans to not make another quickly changed when I was offered $175 for that set (yes, I still have it). Soley on word of mouth, and a couple local shows later, I found myself with lots of orders and I was on the way.
What is your source of inspiration?
Source of Inspiration? That's an easy one...my imagination. There is no way I could ever make all the sets I have pictured in my mind. There's hundreds of ideas and I come up with new ones all the time, and I hand carved custom themes so my customers call the theme.
I can come up with an idea for a chess set based on ANY idea (including all the pieces) in about 5 minutes...of course the hard part is carving out all of the pieces (32 carvings in all). Each design of mine (and most of the ideas of my clients) tells a story. The story unfolds as you play the game, and its a different story every game. I also make sure that you can easily 'play' chess with all my sets. I don't care for chess sets that aren't thought out well where you can't tell who the King is from the pawns.
With some of the themes I make, I'll spend weeks researching the subject, I'll seek out information wherever I can get it. My Egyptian themed chess set was designed by myself and an Egyptian Archaeologist. With a reverence for the theme, and simple hand-held chisels, the results speak for themselves. I love what I do for a living and that's an important piece of the whole picture.
What have you made recently?
My most recent 'new' design is the "Train Robbery at Straker Flats" chess sets. Its a submission for the 2011 Western Art Auction (associated with the Calgary Stampede celebrations). Its a Western themed chess set featuring a gang of masked desperadoes set up to rob a passing train.
There hasn't been a chess set that looks anything like it. On the bad guys side, you have the King, Queen, and bishops on horseback, The knight is carrying a shotgun, and the rooks are their hole-in-the-wall hangout. For the "good" side, The Train is 8 cars long, each car being a separate piece. The King is a rotund sharp dressed cigar chomping businessman, his pretty queen is looking at the masked men through her opera glasses, the bishops sit in their respective cars wearing the familiar hat and carrying the Papal staff, knights are carrying shotguns (like the knights from the bad guys side), and the rooks are the Locomotive and the Caboose. The pawns are deputies on one knee holding big pistols for the good side and masked gunmen on knee for the other. Its still not finished yet, but you can see some pics of it at my gallery site...its pretty cool.
Where do you sell your crafts presently?
How? Any and every way I can.
Where? Mostly online anymore, through about a dozen or so websites around the world, but have also sold at:
Outside a gas station at a busy intersection
On the side of the road, out of my truck
Collector get togethers
Family reunions (not mine...lol)
Notice boards in laundrymats
...I'm sure I'm leaving out a few.
Why are handmade crafts important to you?
Handmade because its time again! People are coming around, they're getting tired of all the plastic regimented mass produced heartless garbage they've been forced to choose from for the last ten years. People are realizing the value of handmade, especially so when its 'local' handmade.
Big manufacturing companies cannot compete with the imagination and flexibility of the individual crafter, and they never will.
There will always be a market for handmade