Appreciating the Everyday


photo by Elaine Fredrick

What I love about life is that you just never know where the next learning is going to come from and then, kaboom, you have an experience that changes your view—even if ever so slightly—of something that has been right in front of you every day.

We talk an awful lot about craft and quality around here. It sort of flows through our veins and feels so ingrained in our muscles that we forget that there is any other way to do construction. I have known this about us — about the people who work here and about the trades we invite to partner with us on projects. But I took it for granted, the value of creativity and partnering in the beautiful creation of something…until this chair came into my life.

My recent exposure to “art projects” has been in the land of those under four feet tall: pulling pot holder loops off the loom long abandoned, melting scribbled Shrinky Dinks that take form only because of the templated outline, and tying off beaded bracelets with the string cut too short too soon. People say creativity is a way to experience mindless abandonment; I say why do they make projects for kids that end up in a parents hands at eleven o’clock at night out of sheer will and “will not be beaten” attitude to complete?! But then I got this call from Connie. About this chair.

Connie Kolman is an artist. I mean a real artist. I mean the kind that has a gloriously messy studio and paint on her arms even after she gets showered and dressed up to go out and an eye for beauty that sees the end even in the midst of progress and a half done process. Connie invited me to join her to create this chair for the IFDA sponsored Take a Seat. Designers create/build/upcycle chairs that go on display for a month and then get auctioned off at a big fancy gala in June all for the benefit of the Women’s Institute. Connie thought I might appreciate a little of her kind of creativity and she was so right!

Her kind is that abandonment, where the whole rest of the world drops away and nothing matters as much as smoothing out the glue bubbles on the most drop dead gorgeous paper you’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s the abandonment of bumping hips or a head in the other’s armpit because the space is tight but you barley notice because you are so focused on the line of the paintbrush. It’s the silence of concentration where immediate and meaningful friendship grows out of the sacredness of the moment.

I relished every second of it and then I realized it’s there in front of me everyday—in the trade carving or smoothing or cutting or laying-in caught in his own sacred moment. In the Project Manager building a budget that promises a level of craft and beauty that he can imagine in the finished product; in a final walk-through that is the moment of release­—the time when the space is turned over to our client; the patron and the appreciator and the safe-keeper.

And so, kaboom, life handed me a brush of appreciation for my everyday, a meaningful new partnership, and an “art project” that holds enduring aesthetic beauty for more than just a doting parent.

Here is where you can see more of my friend Connie’s beautiful artistry:
Kolman Artisan Glass

Lucky me!

My best always,
Allison