That was a close one! Brian Havens and I worked on the Shaker Bench for Charity right up to the last minute.
The social mixer and appetizers started at 6:00p.m. This was when the items went on view for both the silent and live auction.
I was spraying the final coat of lacquer on the drawers at 5:50p.m. while Brian showered and changed. Then I showered and changed while Brian and my wife Rita loaded the bench in the vehicle.
By the time I got dressed, the bench was already loaded and then Brian and I did the final buff on the drawers. Fortunately we did not have far to drive and we arrived at the fundraising event at 6:20. I think this falls in the category of “fashionably late.”
Since there had been an article in the Billings Gazette that morning, there was a lot of interest and anticipation for this piece to be in the auction. When we arrived there were several comments on the bench and some greetings to Brian for visiting Montana to help me out.
We visited with several people and talked about the bench as there were a lot of people interested in hearing what it was made of and the features of the construction.
The director of COR Enterprises made a point to bring the mayor over and introduce Brian and I as “the craftsmen who made the bench.” He pointed out that Brian was the one who flew out and it was obvious he was already familiar with the story and was happy to meet us.
We were quite hungry and ready for dinner since we did not stop to eat lunch with running so tight on the deadline. Since we donated the bench and my wife made a donation from her restaurant we did not have to pay for the tickets. Joy!
When the bench came up on the live auction I got up and gave a few words on how Brian flew out from California to be greeted with -3° and long hours of work. I talked a little about our personal commitment (Rita & I) to supporting COR Enterprises and why we do it.
Then the bidding started and it was exciting to see the numbers go higher and higher. In the end, the bench brought in $1,000 and that turned out to be the most money that any item brought in for the night. Rita also brought in $160 with the certificate from her restaurant.
I could not have completed the bench without the help of Brian Havens and the time that local LJ member MTBrian gave on Thursday evening. I truly appreciate the help that I had from these 2 guys and it was an incredible feeling to have 2 other woodworkers sharing space and work in my shop.
Before MTBrian left we all signed the bench. We all had a hand in it and it was only right that all the names be sealed under the finish. We signed it as a “Collaborative Effort By American Craftsmen.”
I also am grateful to the support that Rita gave us by keeping us fed and in coffee.
I also have to give a public thanks to Brian Havens’ family (both the wife and kids) for giving him up for a few days. They are a solid family and I began to feel a bit selfish for calling him away from his family to pull my butt out of the fire.
I did reward Brian with long hours of work, bad espresso (when I made it,) a lumpy couch for resting his tired body, and extremely cold weather (well, I could not help that last one.)
Before Brian left for home we gave him a whirlwind tour of the Billings area. It was foggy out the day he left so we could not see the several mountain ranges visible from Billings. But there was a beautiful thick frost on everything. We took several pictures at one of the city parks on top of the sandstone cliffs locally known as the “rims.”
My biggest regret, but an unavoidable circumstance, was that we did not have more down time to just visit outside the shop. For 3 days the only part of Montana that Brian saw was the inside of my shop. But now I am already trying to figure out when I might be able to head his direction.
It certainly was a great experience. I always had faith in Brian on every task that I set him on. I have worked with enough other guys in the trades that I know how valuable it is to have someone that needs little oversight or hand-holding. Brian quickly adapted to my shop layout and all I had to do was point him in the direction we needed to go and he more than carried his own weight. It was awesome…just AWESOME to work along side of him on this project:)
Thanks Brian and thanks to everyone that followed along on Twitter and FB cheering us on as we reached the finish line. It is encouraging to know that there are people all over the country and the world pulling for you on a project like this. It is one of the things that I love about the internet, it can bring people together for a greater good.
Peace, Love, & Woodworking
-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com