Thursday, May 26, 2011

Imperfect Perfection

Yesterday and today I managed to make a supply of Conestoga Wagon wing nuts. They are used on a swing arm hanger for a triangle dinner bell set which is a proprietary Item I designed and we sell them on a regular basis. I'll soon post the instructions for how I make them.

Because there is efficiency in dedicating a block of time and making, say, 50 of them in one run I did just that. That's enough for 25 sets so I won't have to go down that path again for a while.

Creating a successful product is a bittersweet thing for me. On the one hand, I feel rewarded when the client votes with their wallet and buys my creation. On the other hand, when I make another version of the thing there isn't the same satisfaction of discovery. Novelty is a fire which dies quickly. By the time I've made 25 of them I'm looking forward to doing something else.

It is my intention to form them fairly close to identical but to look obviously hand made. There is always a small range of variation nevertheless. While I was working on them I recalled a story told by a farrier at a BAM (Blacksmiths Association of Missouri) meeting a few years back. He said when he was learning the trade he visited a number of successful farriers to observe their techniques and looked through their scrap pile to find examples of shoes discarded because of some defect. At this particular shop there was no such pile. It seemed improbable that the craftsman never made a mistake so he enquired about it. The answer was that, of course, there are, from time to time, some shoes which are just a bit off and don't pair up well. But rather than discard them they are accumulated and ever so often sorted. The various errors tend to cancel out and most can be matched to make an acceptable pair.

It works the same way with these wing nuts. Rather than try to make them identical I just plan to pair up the variations.

1 comment:

  1. When we visit, remind me I scavenged a book on this subject for you.


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