Thursday, March 17, 2011

Professional Craftsmanship

I'm enjoying a laid-back sort of morning, drinking a cup of good coffee while checking Emails and my favorite message boards before heading outside to feed the team.  It's nice to be able to do so and I take great pleasure in my at-home morning ritual.

This afternoon I have to be in town for an appointment with my accountant.  It's time to file my tax return and with the small black-powder business in addition to earned income from my job I've found it better to work with a good accountant than to try to do the work on my own.  It's frequently better to hire a professional in order to get a professional job done.

Speaking of professionals, I got a call from Dave Klumb at Laughing Husky Dog Sleds.  Frequent readers will remember that I've commissioned a new 'traveling sled' based on early 20th century sleds used here in Alaska.  Dave was calling to tell me that he won't have it finished in time to run this season.  I reassured him that it's okay, not to worry too much about the delay.  I'd rather have his best work a little later than planned.

As an historical reenactor, I sometimes want historically authentic reproductions of things that are either no longer commonly produced, or things that may be available but are made using modern methods and materials.  While I can make a lot of my own gear, I don't have the experienced skill needed to match eighteenth or nineteenth century workmanship on many items.  Over the years I've commissioned several historical reproductions from serious, scholarly craftsmen and I've never regretted doing so.

It's not uncommon to have to wait a while.  Experienced historical craftsmanship requires a lot of hand work, and that takes time.  Those who have worked so hard to develop those nearly-lost arts are often in high demand and may end up with more work than they expected.  Missed 'deadlines' are just a fact of life when dealing with professional craftspeople. 

A few years ago I got a similar call from historical gunsmith Jim Kruse, warning me that a pistol I had commissioned would be delayed.  As with Dave, I told him not to be too concerned about the delay, I can wait for excellent results.  Jim responded by going the extra mile, not only did he complete the pistol, he also built a presentation box and a full set of accouterments for the gun, all from the same walnut plank as the stock on the pistol.  So, I waited a few extra months to receive the gun, but the photo below will show that it was time well spent.

The late Howard Chapell once wrote "Everyone recognized fine craftsmanship, but few are willing to pay for it."  I've noticed that among some folks, Chapell might have easily stated that few are willing to wait for it.  My experiences with professional craftsmen has been very positive, it's always been worth the extra money and worth the extra waiting as well.

Very little has changed in regards to the Iditarod since I last wrote.  As expected, Nicolas Petit was the first rookie to cross the finish line, arriving in 28th place.  The I'rod pays down to 30th, so Petit will take home some money in addition to the token $1,049.00 given to every finisher.  I don't know if the story is true, but I heard that originally the I'rod began paying every finisher to ensure that each would have enough money to get their teams home after the race rather than be abandoned in one of the most remote communities on earth.  Today that isn't nearly enough money to fly a team and musher out of town, but it sure beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Jodi Bailey is out of White Mountain with a big string of dogs, so will likely become the first woman rookie in history to finish both the Quest and the Iditarod. 

My coffee cup is empty and the dog food is soaked, so it's time for me to feed the fuzz-butts and move on into more events for the day.  Until later, I remain

Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant.....

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