Cradling our dreams.
January 12, 2011

On Sunday afternoon, Donald and my father finished the bed.

Johannes Brahms once said that without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.  And if you’ve ever been to IKEA, I’m sure we can agree that the man had a point.  When I see my husband and my father at work in the woodshop, I wonder at how easy it is to forget what craftsmanship is.  In a world where bookcases come in boxes, sometimes I think we’ve done just that.

We’ve forgotten about the skill and the labor of creation.


The matching nightstands were a surprise gift from my father.  Small blonde gnomes love matching nightstands.

Every so often, someone in my life brags about the craftsmanship of a piece of furniture they own.  I usually think they’re full of shit.  Craftsmanship is, to me, about SO MUCH MORE than the finished product.

It’s about looking the carpenter in the eye, knowing them so well that you can see their personality – their strengths and their weaknesses and their inspirations – in their work.  It’s about having the originality to learn from one’s mistakes and the proficiency to turn them into an advantage.  It’s about the hours spent conceiving and theorizing and planning.  It’s about maintaining confidence in the face of a difficult choice.

It’s about seeing in a finished product years of learning.  It’s about knowing that this, this is an unparalleled invention.

But most of all, for this bed, the mark of true craftsmanship was waking up one morning to see my husband’s fingers memorizing the footboard, knowing that our family had slept in his dream come true.  This bed is smooth, strong, solid.  I have never before seen a bed so thoughtfully designed, so skillfully constructed, so patiently finished.  This is no reed shaken in the wind.  I said, “Fine work, Mr. Christensen.“

Fine work, indeed.


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  1. By Crystal on January 12, 2011

    It’s beautiful!

  2. By missjoules on January 12, 2011

    I love the picture of her littly tight-clad legs poking through the end of the bed. Adorable! And congrats again on the bed, it looks great!

  3. By Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife on January 12, 2011

    Your bed is gorgeous!  Your husband and father did a wonderful job.  I think it’s beautiful that your family is sharing sleep on something so lovingly handcrafted.

  4. By Sarah on January 12, 2011

    I have a cradle my grandfather made when my sister got pregnant for the first time. All of his great grandchildren have slept in it. I will NEVER get rid of it. My entertainment center was amde by my uncle for my grandparents. When they passed, no one wanted it!! I could not believe it. I love family heirlooms and handmade furniture is the best!

  5. By Sarah Christensen on January 12, 2011

    Sarah - My dad handcrafted the cradle I slept in as a baby!  Naturally, I loved watching Charlotte sleep in it too =)

  6. By on January 12, 2011

    Your bed is beautiful. Funny thing is that just yesterday - as I was making my bed- I thought about your post where you just wanted the bed finished before Charlotte went to college and wondered how the project was going.

  7. By kbreints on January 12, 2011

    Wow—just beautiful! My most prized pieces of furniture are the ones that were crafted by my father in law—and the toy chest train that was made by my grandfather and refinished by my father. It is more then wood—it is love.

  8. By Kate on January 12, 2011

    Beautiful!

    We’re very lucky that my husband’s grandfather is a carpenter and at 85 years old he still goes out to his woodshop everyday. It really is what keeps him going.

    We have many beautiful things that he’s made for us. The latest is a deacon’s bench we got for Christmas.

    Anyway, your husband and Dad did a great job!

  9. By Megan R. on January 12, 2011

    Gorgeous.  And something to treasure for a lifetime.  Certainly well done!

  10. By gretchen from lifenut on January 12, 2011

    It’s stunning! You are blessed to have a beautiful bed ~and~ the beloved hands that made it.

  11. By on January 12, 2011

    Your husband certainly sounds like a multi-talented person!  Congrats on your beautiful bed.

  12. By on January 12, 2011

    Has your family heard of Sam Maloof? He was an excellent woodworking craftsman and his family home is open to tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays in Alta Loma.

    http://www.malooffoundation.org/maloofindex.cfm

  13. By Mallory on January 12, 2011

    It’s beautiful!  Anytime Donald and your dad want to work on another bed, tell them they’re totally welcome to make me one.  Or a table.  Or a cradle (or really, two cradles).  Or a wood block.  I’m not picky. :)

  14. By on January 12, 2011

    Soo beautiful! Forever and always a part of your heart! Just gorgeous!

  15. By Jill on January 12, 2011

    So, so beautiful and hard for me to read this post… My own dad was a wonderful craftsman, and when he died, I lost all my dreams of the toys and furniture he would one day enjoy making for his grandchildren.  Your pictures bring tears to my eyes - of sadness, yes, but also of happy memories of a man how brought so much joy to my life while I had him.

  16. By Sarah Christensen on January 12, 2011

    Leslie - Sam Maloof is like a legend in our family.  I haven’t been to his house for a tour yet, but one time my parents were left to wander around on their own and check things out.  My dad was never the same after that! =)

    Jill - I am so sorry for your loss.  You are so lucky to have so many wonderful memories of your father.  He may not have had the opportunities you dreamed of, but I have no doubt that he crafted many a thing for you that you will pass on to your children.  And I’m sure that not all of them are out of wood, which makes them all the more precious.

  17. By on January 13, 2011

    What a beautiful bed. Such artistry. I am so glad your family gets to appreciate such fine craftsmanship. Because you really do appreciate it and I think that’s so important.

  18. By on January 13, 2011

    it looks amazing ! beautiful work worth the wait !

  19. By Alicia S. on January 14, 2011

    Speaking of things that make the fathers of our children sexy—Psh, nothing is a bigger turn on than seeing my husband out in his garage with a hammer and nails!

  20. By on January 14, 2011

    Ooh.  Nice.  Donald can come build some shelves for us, anytime!  Between 2 kids, demanding jobs, and no grandparents, we never get around to making such things!


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