Volume: 132
Issue: April - May 2011

What's On Your Bench?

Story by Mark Laub
Photos by April F's Photography Studio

Some of you may know I have a history of re-inventing myself.  After being a CEO in corporate America I chucked it all and started building custom made furniture for people willing to spend a lot of money on fine furniture.  Well, I’m over that now.  I’ve decided to do art fairs, and sell simple things by the thousands.  For this summer’s art fair season I plan to focus on jewelry hands.  You know, those plywood hand cutouts that you put on your dresser and use as a place to leave your jewelry at night.

Here’s how I got started.  I was just doodling one day and did that first grader thing of drawing an outline of my hand.  And that was my eureka moment.   I instantly fell in love with the simplicity of what I had just done!

It was pure, it was honest, it was genuinely genuine.  I used to spend weeks sketching designs, making mock-ups, bouncing ideas off of colleagues and customers.   But on this amazing morning, in 10 seconds time, I came up with a design that made everything else I had done seem minor league by comparison.


The next step was to make a prototype - here is what I came up with.  You know, sometimes you just have a great day and for me this was one of them!  I looked at this prototype and couldn't see a thing about it that wasn't perfect.  Even the material I used, a little rough sawn cedar plywood, struck me as the best possible choice.  

The only thing left to do was to figure out how to get this hand to stand up.  And that is when my breakthrough moment occurred.  I discovered, partly by luck, that the cut-out piece from between the thumb and forefinger was not only functional as a support piece but it was stylish as well - how lucky can a guy get?  My next step is to make a few thousand more of these, just exactly like the prototype.

So my life is very different these days.  Now I just walk into the shop in the morning, put my brain on auto-pilot and do the same process dozens and dozens of times.  I can listen to music, drink some coffee and have absolutely zero stress.  My toughest decision yesterday was whether to have turkey or ham on my sandwich at lunch.  I'm even looking forward to the day when one of my former clients buys one of these jewelry hands to accompany a furniture piece from the old Mark Laub.  Picture if you will how that hand would look sitting on this chest.   The perfect accoutrement if I do say so myself!


Well, maybe I'll be seeing you at one of the many art fairs I plan to attend this summer. Take care!