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Setting Up Shop

Posted on February 1, 2018
by Mike Loeffler

Hello everybody. My name is Mike Loeffler and I am one of the newest resident artisans in the Artisan Development Program. I was Intern at North House in 2011 and may have met some of you at that point. I've spent the last 4 years working as a carpenter in the twin cities and trying hard to keep some momentum with my craft in my spare time. I'm thrilled to be able to focus some my creative energy, participate in the community, and have the opportunity to develop some other professional skills as well.

Transitions are two parts exciting one part stress. Now that I'm here in Grand Marais working away at week number three I'm feeling grateful and energized. Upon arrival, my first thought was to shove all my
possessions in the corner and start making, which, I'm ashamed to say, is my habit. But the beautiful thing about this new opportunity is the ability to be more intentional. I'm not working a full time job and then squeezing my craft passions into the tiny margins on the side. As many of you may also experience, that routine is the crucible for my frantic work habits (toss it and the corner and get cranking). So to begin here I wanted to take some time to get organized. I do a wide range of woodworking, which I'll share with you down the line, but some of the projects I've been working on are large scale like timber frames and some furniture pieces. That said, moving forward, I knew I needed to develop some new skills in order to model large scale work. To get that ball rolling I've spent some time in the last few
weeks introducing myself to Sketch Up, an accesible 3-d modeling program. After a few tutorials I spent time modeling some shop furniture to organize the new shop space.

The type of woodworking I enjoy the most involves carving and shaping greenwood with hand tools. It tends to be intuitive and somewhat sculptural in that you may have a plan, but it's loose and flows as you work. Some may rightfully call that winging it. Typically my attempts to “wing it” as I make random built-ins or other temporary shop furniture leads to frustration and semi-functional to not-so-functional items, hence the new push for 3d modeling. The result of my efforts is an Ikea looking cabinet with many shallow storage drawers. Nothing spectacular, but intentional and very functional. The goal was to set-up shop and spend time learning a program that will help with upcoming projects, perhaps some timber frames, perhaps some furniture. Whatever it might be, I'll look forward to sharing it with you as it develops. See more of Mike's work here.