This piece is a short reflection on my skill development and maintaining relationships with clients. To better serve the long-term mission of Apollo Road, I'll share my own experiences so that I may better relate to the experiences of others. So here I'll reflect on the second coffee table I ever made.
When I'm ambitious, I often surprise myself; when I'm cautious, I often disappoint myself.
I built this coffee table two years ago. After producing many Half13 pieces, I had become a decent TIG welder. I could make simple wood tops. But the seductive and challenging part of this build was the sparkling sheet of carbon fiber composite that would clad the top.
I experimented with carbon fiber epoxy kits in college, and I knew I'd one day accent a more significant piece with it. You typically see carbon fiber in the bicycle and automotive industries, but it is a ubiquitous material. Marketers love to drown carbon fiber product descriptions in jargon to play up its value; I'm merely charmed by its visual qualities.
I tend to lose track of time when I try new processes and work with new materials. I'm also less adventurous with design elements. So I pared the design down to a simple steel base and a carbon-trimmed wood top.
The risks usually pay off when I trust my muse and follow through without hesitation. This coffee table is one example. There's always the chance a new design turns out right, wrong, ugly, symmetric, sloppy, tight, or just plain dull. Maybe it's good. Perhaps it's terrible. But at the very least, it's real. I enjoy watching a thought become a tangible thing.
During the last two years of regular use, the coffee table had accumulated scratches on its glossy epoxy finish. So I reached out to my clients and offered to refinish it. I've recently adopted the Cerakote C Series ceramic coating process and deployed it on a handful of projects. This carbon top seemed the perfect candidate for Cerakote. So I brought the table back into the studio and carefully prepped, sanded, and coated it.
Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in three years. (anonymous)
I'm not sure who uttered the original phrase, but this derivation has always stuck with me. Nevertheless, it serves as a good reminder not to be impatient. Compounding feels slow in the early stages—especially the early stages of a long career.
On rare occasions, I pull my head out of my ass long enough to reflect on my craft. I constantly reach and experiment. But when my head is down in the weeds, I feel more like the nonstrategic squirrel that compulsively hunts acorns and trash. The takeaway is that iteration is good if the day-to-day risks are aligned with the long-term goals.
After successfully refinishing this piece, I returned it to my clients and promptly received the hero images and a thank you. I was happy they were happy. But after delivery, I felt a sense of responsibility. I felt the importance of doing great work that stands the test of time - and make no mistake - time is the ultimate judge, jury, and executioner.