Music Cabinet

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Project by poopiekat posted 12-11-2009 07:55 PM 1982 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is an older project and was once the discussion in a thread entitled “Theft of Intellectual Property.”
In coastal Maine, I had a customer who came by my antiques emporium frequently, looking for old artifacts for her high-end gift shop, which specialized in rustic crafts. She purchased my sheet-music cabinet, like you’d typically see next to a piano in an older home. In her shop, it was used as a fixture for marketing some handmade candles. People kept asking if they could buy the cabinet! So she asked if I could make some, and sell on spec. I built 12, some stained, some painted, some with crackle finish, some unfinished. They all flew out the door, and two weeks later she asked for more, with specific colors or modifications for her customers. I got them all out right away. But… that was it!! And the last time I was in, to pick up my $$ commissions, I saw knock-offs from other makers, all rather crudely made, definitely not my work!!! The ones I built were a composited design, including elements of several different examples and a few features found in those reprints of 1900’s Sears Roebuck and Wards catalogues. I was mostly annoyed that, with my handle on the antique and rustic furniture biz, I’d come up with a design that proved to be successful, and now others were profiting from my self-financed venture. I had just bought 500 BF of yellow poplar, which suddenly had no immediate use to me otherwise. Grrr! I was already making these Noah’s Ark cutaways, which she was marketing successfully with hand-carved animal pairs from another artisan. I asked her for $$$ up-front on the unsold ones, and ended up taking them off consignment. That was the turning point for me; to never again sell on spec or consignment, or do customer work. I’d buy distressed oak furniture, do all the stripping, fabrication and finishing, then haul it off to the antique shows where there is little ‘public relations’ involved. It was nice to take the stance of take it or leave it, rather than grovel for approval!
Anyhow, this one, a leftover, is poplar and birch, serves us well in our kitchen for the cat’s food, her brushes, toys and treats.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

7 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4128 days

#1 posted 12-11-2009 10:04 PM

it’s a lovely piece!
how to get “one up” on the knock-offs—market your pieces as “using the design of 1900 pieces” or whatever. People who want “cheap” can buy the knock-off versions and people who want antiquee quality would choose yours.
Sometimes a little educating does make a difference!

but in the end you have found “what works for you” and that is good!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3293 days

#2 posted 12-12-2009 12:28 AM

Very nice. If you don’t mind a suggestion, I would change out that knob for a pewter colored one though I don’t know the rest of the setting so I can’t say whether that change would be appropriate or not.

Looks like a red mahogany finish? My favorite…

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3336 days

#3 posted 12-12-2009 01:46 AM

OK, I have a question for you. This is not an attempt to start another argument or fight with you. I would just like a clarification on statements made. Your client bought an old music cabinet from your antiques emporium, Understood, no problem. Your client asked you to reproduce the cabinet because she had customers wanting them. Understood, no problem. The problem is with your statements that people were stealing your intelectual property by making cheaper copies, when you were making copies of someone elses cabinet. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t sound right. Would you mind clarifying for me?

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#4 posted 12-12-2009 01:54 AM

interesting music cabinet

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View poopiekat's profile


4349 posts in 3702 days

#5 posted 12-12-2009 02:37 AM

Not mentioned in the text above is this: I produced several designs, garden totes, treasure boxes, railway trunks etc etc…there IS a lot of design work, efficient material usage parameters, designs that lend themselves to rapid production…whether it will fit in a tourists back seat for the trip home….all things to keep in mind when test-marketing items in an unproven market; in the case referred to above, the finicky, fickle tourist trade in a resort community. I self-financed, gambling that I’d at least break even, or do better on the hot items and eat the designs that bombed out. So… I financed my own prototypes, and didn’t get compensated AT ALL until if, and when, my merchandise got sold. Sorry if I didn’t emphasize the amount of design work, culled from many examples of known music cabinets, developing a new design that was A. easy to fabricate, B. had efficient use of materials, C pleasing overall to the eye, D good proportions for today’s homes, and E. profitable. That’s where I got annoyed, after doing all the legwork, bringing a hit design to market, and having others wait to see the results of my test-marketing and make quickie knockoffs. Plenty of LJ’s are in total agreement with me on this phenonemon. How would you feel if you were me?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View jim1953's profile


2734 posts in 3809 days

#6 posted 12-12-2009 02:40 AM

Very Nice Job

-- Jim, Kentucky

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3336 days

#7 posted 12-12-2009 02:49 AM

Thanks for the reply.

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