What you like; what they like

I’m building a number of projects – decorative boxes – for the holidays, and I’m in a quandary. Do I make them to please me, or to please the recipients?

You’re probably thinking that’s an easy answer. Of course you want the recipients to be pleased; isn’t that the whole point? To that end, we endeavor to make something that’s attractive, useful, pleasing and positively the best work we can do. But where do you draw the dividing line between what you like and what you have to guess they will like.

For example, a couple of the boxes I’m making, although decorative, will be utility in nature. For these projects I prefer thicker stock because I like a heftier, solid feel for things like that – but does everybody? Thinner stock would be just as useable, durable and attractive, and would provide the same utility. But to me, they’d feel light and somewhat insubstantial made with thinner stock. In short, they just wouldn’t “feel right” when held in my hands. In the hands of those to whom I’ve gifted these boxes, however, that feeling of heft and solidity I like so much may translate to heavy and clunky.

In the past I’ve sometimes compromised. If my preference is for, say, 3/4” stock on a project to give it that heft I like, versus a more-expected 1/2”, I might shave that stock down to 5/8” instead. It’ll be slightly lighter than what I like, but still probably a bit heftier than what most people expect. Can’t say this compromise pleases me because the results feel too light in my hands. Further, they might still feel a bit heavy and clunky to the giftee. If that happens, nobody’s happy.

When requested for something specific on a project, it goes without saying that I always do what the recipient has asked for regarding size, overall dimensions, thickness and weight. But without being guided otherwise, I’ve only got my instincts to go on.

In those cases, I think the best course of action is to go with what feels right to me.

Till next time,

A.J.

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