Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome to Shangri-La Woodworks

I would like to say welcome to Scott and Stephanie at Shangri-La Woodworks, our newest members at The Craftsman's Woodshop. These folks are the creators of some very fine furniture such as office chairs, chairs for your home, and very special rocking chairs. When looking at their work I can definitely see the Maloof style popping out at me. The Maloof style chair is very popular style created by Sam Maloof.

Living in New Mexico, Shangri-La is a husband and wife team. They get to work with locally harvested and reclaimed wood materials as well as exotics from afar. I have seen some their work on the LumberJocks website. They make some really wonderful wooden burl vessels as well. I will have to get some photos to have them posted on the woodshop's pages.

For those who aspire to learn more about working the wood into chairs, they teach classes as well. You can learn to build a Sam Maloof style rocker in just 5 days. If I were closer to them I know I would sign up. The chairs are simply stunning, here is an example,

To learn more about Shangri-La Woodworks, their styles, the classes and much more you can visit their site at

Joe Truehart
The Craftsman's Woodshop

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Princess Kaylee Bed is now complete

Wow what a Christmas here, I have been working feverishly to finish a couple of projects myself for some of the family members. I now have a bit of time to share a project with you that I had a lot of fun building for my little two year old niece. As you can see from the title of this blog I call it the Princess Kaylee bed. Actually it is a headboard only and standard bed frame is attached. Little Kaylee is in love with Tinkerbell so I thought what more could a little girl want but to have her own princess bedroom where she can wake up every morning to tell mommy she is a princess. The headboard is just over seven feet tall to the top of the flags mounted on the towers. The towers have windows cut in with carved stone surrounding them. The images of Tinkerbell that I found on the internet and printed onto photo paper. There is a shelf mounted inside the tower so the image can be placed inside from the top and is easily changeable. There are lights mounted inside the tower that provide accent lighting for the windows and to serve as a night light. The under cabinet 20 watt puck lights work great in this application. There is a shelf mounted on top of the castle wall for displaying anything that a little girl would wish in here princess room. Overall I am very satisfied and thrilled with the way this turned out and I know one little girl who is extremely happy to have here room transformed into a princess's bedroom. For more information on how to purchase a custom headboard or other pieces of furniture just send me an email and I will be sure to help you out in any way possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcoming Hans Gottsacker to The Craftsmans Woodshop

I want to welcome Hans Gottsacker to The Craftsman's Woodshop. Hans Gottsacker is a student at Northern Michigan University studying woodworking. He is currently working on obtaining his BFA in Art and Design with a woodworking emphasis. Hans's work is truly unique and he does a lot with wood bending and sculpture type pieces. Being in an academic environment, he is constantly surrounded by fresh concepts and works close to a large variety artists. A very adaptable and growing artist that is currently creating sculptural artifacts that may function for utility or visual experience. Hans gets much of his inspiration from from different facets of his life experiences. He is always in flux and attempting to learn new concepts that can adapt to everyday life of the end user. His pieces reflect a contemporary flavor that boast with utilitarian practicality. View Hans Gottsacker's Collection Page here.

Antique Gun Display

Joe Truehart recently finished a piece that I have added to my collection page. This was a commissioned piece that was made as a Christmas gift for my clients husband. She contacted me wanting a gun rack for her husbands cherished antique guns but she wanted it to be special and different from those other racks that she was seeing on the internet. So after pondering a few days about the options and looking at hundreds of other displays I drew this concept and presented it to her. She loved the concept and gave me the go ahead. I used hickory as the main backdrop and made a frame around that with walnut and red oak. The interesting thing about this is how the guns are mounted to the board. I made blocks out of walnut that elevate the guns from the backboard and then fit a leather strap into a slot. The strap then looped around the gun and the other end was attached to a gun swivel. I like the use of leather with military displays since it provides a bit of nostalgia and really fits with the look and feel of the piece.

Welcome to Jack Berberich

I wanted to welcome Jack Berberich to The Craftsman's Woodshop. Jack makes some incredible pieces which are customized for his clients. Here are some examples of his work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Craftsman’s Guide to taking professional quality photos of their own Masterpieces

Did you know that you can have professional quality photos of your work for use on the internet, for product promotions and much more? If you have a digital camera these high quality photos are easy to obtain if you follow just a few simple guidelines when photographing your work. Of course if you can afford the time and the money, I highly recommend hiring a professional photographer. If not then here is a quick checklist you can follow to ensure you get the biggest impact from your digital photograph.

Check your resolution: Given the digital camera technology today and even if you own an older one you can take professional looking photos by first checking your resolution settings. When preparing to take your photos ensure that your resolution setting is set to its maximum setting. This setting can be found in couple of different formats. On my Olympus Stylus 760, 7.1 megapixel camera, the setting is Super High Quality (SHQ) which provides a resolution of 3072 x 2304. This will produce a large photo that is easy to edit and downsize, which will be necessary if you plan on using the photo on the internet. This also produces a very large image file, generally in the neighborhood of 3-4 Mb.

So why do we need such a large resolution and image file? Because when the image is resized and optimized for the web, the image will be crystal clear and sharp with no graining or blur.

Check your background: It amazes me how many photos I have seen of awesome furniture but they are taken in the driveway in front of the garage door. You may have a beautiful garage door but it will hardly suffice as an adequate background for your masterpiece. So what is the alternative you ask? Most craftsmen will have an old tarp, drop-cloth or sheet lying around that will work wonderfully in a pinch. If you have a few dollars lying around you could always go out and purchase one neutral colored background to use just for your projects. Since, more than likely, you will be taking a photo of something sitting on the floor you will want to make sure that the floor is going to work with your photos as well. If not just set your piece on the tarp and then raise the rest of the tarp up behind the piece. Try to keep some distance between your piece and the cloth to help create depth within the image.

In the following photo I have just done some quick Photoshop editing to remove the background and simplify to accentuate the wine butler piece. As you can see in the original image there is a lot going on with the background , in the second image I removed the upper and lower background and just inserted a textured background and cropped the image to bring the butler to the forefront. In the last image, I really eliminated all the background

elements and used a clouded background the really only showoff the piece. This way the viewers eye is completely on the piece because that is all that is there.

Another idea is to find a wall that has an interesting texture and neutral color that will not detract from the object of your photo. I happen to have a stucco home with a cream color to it. It works great as a background and provides a nice texture.

Check your lighting: This is actually easier than you would think and you don’t need to have a fancy light meter to check the light levels either. I know as a woodworker myself; I have numerous task lights of varying wattage and light output. I have experimented with them and found a couple that work great for my purposes. Don’t use strong direct light like a bright 500 watt halogen, soft subtle light is always best and will create gentle shadows that will add depth to your image. Try bouncing the light off the ceiling or wall or using a couple lights to achieve just the right effect. One great source of lighting is the sun itself. Take your piece outside and you will get the most natural light available to man at no cost to you. Adjust the angles to get the best reduction of shadow and shoot away. Some the best photos of furniture are shot with natural sunlight.

Try to avoid using your camera’s built in flash. This light can sometimes create washed out images with very strong shadows in the wrong places. The flash also will produce light reflections or bright spots within the image, especially if you have a glossy finish.

Take many photos: When photographing your craftsmanship you will want to take a number of photos from varying angles and heights to make sure that you get at least a few quality photos for your use. I will generally take a few as 15 to 20 photos using different camera settings to make sure I get the right color and hue of the project. I was amazed the first time I did this to see how many different color shades my piece of furniture was. By changing things like the white balance and ISO settings on the camera I was able to obtain photos of the same piece that didn’t look like the same piece if you know what I mean. Of course the goal here is to capture your project in as realistic a color and hue as possible.

Also be sure to get up close and personal with your piece. If your camera has a Macro setting, turn it on and get right up close to take photos of special details such as joints, carving accents, butterflies etc. If you are posting your photos at The Craftsman’s Woodshop these types of images really make the photo collection pop out and give the viewer much more of an idea of the quality of your piece.

Use photo editing software: If you plan on using your images on your own website you will have to reduce their size in order for them to be useable. This is critical for a couple of reasons. First, the original file size using the high resolution make for an extremely large file; one that is too large for internet usage. It would take someone with dial up about a day to download a 3 Mb file. Secondly, most images should not be any larger than 640x480. Any larger and the image may not fit on some computer monitors. By using image editing software such as Photoshop or even the software that came with your printer you can reduce this size down and save both screen real estate and storage size. When I save images for The Craftsman’s Woodshop, I reduce them all down to be no larger than 500 pixels in both directions and then save them as a medium grade jpeg file. Jpeg files use special compression settings that really reduce the storage size of your image and they will be optimized for the purpose of internet viewing.

Well there you have it, it’s at least a good start to providing some simple things that can be done to help you take awesome photos of your even more awesome handmade projects. If you really get into it, taking these photos can be almost as much fun as making the piece itself. I know when I have captured my projects in a great looking photo I can hardly contain my excitement.

Author, Joe Truehart

The Craftsman’s Woodshop

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome to The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin

Welcome to The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin to The Craftsman's Woodshop. I was fortunate to have met Paul at The Fine Furnishings and Crafts Show in Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. The Wood Cycle prefers to create their pieces from trees that are already dead or dying or are slated for removal and believes in the concept of resource reuse. Visit The Wood Cycle's collection at The Craftsman's Woodshop to learn more about their design and production services. Here a few of the pieces crafted by The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin.