Okay, so I know you’re only expecting one featured vendor each Sunday, but this one just couldn’t wait. Everything about Frick & Frack just screamed a special edition feature for this week, so without further ado… meet Bradley Barber!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Bradley Barber and I am a happily married guy who likes to have a laugh. I currently live in rural Georgia apparently as some sort of punishment for something bad that I did in my youth. I have done many things in life for a living. From dancing around as Chuck E. Cheese in my teens, standup comic to boat captain in NYC in my twenties, salesman to television producer in my thirties and now (later thirties) for fun I make crap out of scraps that I find.
2. Apart from creating thing, what do you do?
Right now I travel setting up corporate shows. You know the kind where the employees from Corp. X show up and get all jazzed up by the Corporate Brass about the new things they are doing in their “space”. Then once the show ends they all go get drunk together and find out six weeks later the company is going out of business. Oh and I play drums in a band named Screedbucket. Not for money or anything but we record a lot of stuff because we refuse to grow up and the people involved are amazing creative forces. Oh and I love my wife full-time. (Is she right behind me? She is isn’t she?)
3. What the most important question a customer/client should ask you when considering purchasing from you?
I think the most important question to ask is “does what I am buying look exactly like the one you photographed?” Everything I make looks similar but since the materials I use are scraps it is hard to “clone” the original item. They all “FUN-ction” the same so that is cool. The other question should be, “how long does it take to get this thing I just bought?” Sometimes when the Etsy world calls the other work world is already on the line and that could be a conversation that keeps me away for some time. If you need it in a few days that is a question that should be asked as well.
4. What the most memorable custom order you’ve created?
There have been so many good ones but Lisa in California takes the cake. She is an Etsier herself (jacksonofalltrades). She ordered 12 of my four packs for her husbands birthday party she was throwing at a dude ranch. I really never thought of my stuff as “Dude Ranchy” but she assured me she needed them. Shortly after she ordered the 12 four packs she looked through my sold orders of stuff I don’t really make any longer and asked me to make MORE STUFF! I was so excited. I am still waiting on pictures of how she used all of the stuff! It was a lot! (hint hint Lisa!)
5. What would be the title of your memoir and why?
“2:15 PM in the Garden of Good and Evil” I have spent the majority of my life living out bad timing. I was in comedy in New York City when some great comics were working it out, Jim Gaffigan, D.C. Benny, Judah Freidlander and many more. I was there but just missed learning from them as they got bigger and I got smaller. My wife and I opened a Farmers Market five years before anyone cared where their food came from only to close it down and THEN “pink slime” is announced in the National News. There are a lot more examples but I am sure you want folks to read this stuff so I wont turn it into a mini-therapy session for my shortcomings.
6. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from a few sources really. My late father firstly. He had a way of seeing things differently. He was an architect and studied mission, prairie and Usonian styles. He unknowingly led me to Frank Lloyd Wright and others. Coupled with his view of keeping things to use for other purposes instead of deeming them useless, I find the inspiration to look at things and ask what can it be, not which recycle bin should it go in. Secondly, I am inspired by utility. If it works who gives a crap what it looks like? There is something very appealing to my eye in how things work, how it holds something. How it looks is just the end result of making it work.
7. What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade to me is proof that there is hope for the next version of the United States of America. (O.K. That sounds hokey I know but keep reading.) I am a patriot by every incarnation of the word. I am proud of that when a whole group of folks tried to do something different they risked a lot, and in the process created something useful. I drink beer like Ben Franklin intended (his friends call him Ben) . I cry at 4th of July Fireworks. The U.S. was built by hand. I believe (no political device intended) that the lack of continuing that process has created problems that are very difficult to fix. When something like Etsy.com comes along it quietly and slowly creates a very large group of people around the world working for the same goal. Make it, sell it, ship it. Commerce. It is lovely. Oh and a group of people who see it differently than the way the current people see it. Does this all sound like the early whiffs of revolution or am I crazy? (I think I might be crazy. If there is EVER an Etsy riot I would like to see it! Can you imagine the crochet signs and air plant anarchy that would ensue?! “Real handmade mayhem.”©)
8. Who has been the most influential person for your business?
My wife Katherine. She is an accomplished photographer. If she did not take my photos I would not have sold anything. Also she wrote all of my descriptions because I was too busy drinking beer thinking about what I was going to build next. She saw the stuff I made and then told me to make an Etsy shop. I told her I didn’t know how. She did it for me. My descriptions would be like “ this thing carries beer or wine or whatever you like to drink really.” She makes words and pictures work so well together. I originally called the shop “Frick and FrackSCrap” (see what I did there?) She nixed that and came up with a great name. That is why she is a very successful Etsier herself. (sintwister)
9. How would you describe your creative process?
This is no joke. I look at a board or a piece of wire and just start. I don’t really think about it. Once I start it just sort of happens. When the moment comes where I think it can DO something then I start to add or take away until it becomes something. The first coat rack I made was from a really old Heart Pine decking board. The “hooks” were made after I found a weird piece of scrap that came from something else someone else had cut 30 years ago. I put the two together, cut some new “hooks” to look like the old scrap piece and Voila, a coat rack that no one has bought!
10. If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Well I would say Frankie Wright (his pals call him that) but there has been so much written on him and there are still designers working with his styles in Usonian building that I feel I have already been there so I would pick Gustav Stickley, mainly because I would like to hear him tell an apprentice that the chair the kid just made did not have enough wood in it! That would be classic. “Hey kid, that chair only weighs 30 pounds! Bulk it up with some Red Oak and look smart about it!” I bought a 30” Stickley Drum Top Table at an auction for like 250 bucks. My wife was looking at me like I had four heads. Her exact words were “that is the ugliest table I have ever seen.” There was no makers mark super visible so she was over it! Hated it! So much so she would cover the whole top with magazines if people came over. It WAS a 1909 original. I sold it for 1700 bucks. Then I treated myself to a steak dinner. Smug, and VERY alone.
11. What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Well Crap. Here come the tears. You are like the Barbara Walters of the blog world. “I told myself I wouldn’t cry..but…but…. Here we go. (you said you wanted a Novella) in 1999 my then girlfriend and now wife, and I adopted a Border Collie from the Newark New Jersey Humane Society. I just said Newark so you know the dog was in a bad way. From the moment we met it was love at first site (the girl and the dog) So began 13 amazing years of travel, 21 States, a Pet Travel T.V Show called Pet Places (not sure if you want to add the pilot video but here but here it is if you want: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaUXikaulmI ) and adventures that frankly have me crying now at the thought of not making them any longer after her death at the end of this past winter. Hanna had thousands of friends and the days and weeks after she died it was very apparent that lots of people loved her as much as we did. One guy in particular was moved to action. My old Frick and Frack Building partner Tommy and his wife Diana (seasawsign on Etsy) . When they learned that we were to cremate Hanna to keep her with us as we travel through this world they offered to help me build the box for which to hold her! It is made of Cypress on a Mahogany base with a Mahogany lid. It is simple, Useful and gave me a chance to work with metal in a way I had not before I used some gutter flashing that Diana had to make the name plate. I will love it and the memory of it’s contents for an eternity. (tissue break then I will be right back)
12. How do you get our of your creative ruts?
I don’t. Trying to create when creativity is absent is like trying to buy a plane ticket to a town in a in a Harry Potter Novel. The whole point of life, in my opinion, is to take it as it comes. The days, weeks or months of a rut are a great time to do whatever comes next. When that experience is over usually the experience itself will lead to the next thing creatively.
13. Where would you like to be in ten years?
Ten Years huh? Why couldn’t you pick like two years? Well ten years from now I could see myself still working in entertainment on some level. My pal Thom in L.A. Is just getting things going with some great projects and I fully intend on riding his coat tails once he is established. As for Frick and Frack Scraps we have had our brush with greatness once or twice so maybe the third time is the charm. A publicly traded company had a buyer call us about a product that they were interested in selling in a few markets around the nation but not much came of that so who knows.. maybe in ten years I will be in a large studio space yelling at some apprentice to “add more Red Oak and look smart about it!”