One of our French-Canadian students, Eric D’Amours of Gatineau, Quebec, sent us some pictures of a great project he’d recently completed, and I talked with him to get the full scoop. It’s a great example of working with the client to achieve success.
Eric: The client for this project is my wife’s co-worker; she saw some pictures of work I had done previously and asked if I could do a fireplace mantel for her. She did not really have any idea of what she wanted.
I set up a meeting and showed her different colored samples. I had one that was from an integrated sink done with the pressed technique. She really liked it. After talking for a while, she thought she would want the base gray color a little lighter than the sample. As for the color in the veining, I suggested that we match the surrounding decor, and she thought that a dark brown was a wonderful idea.
Jeff: It’s always important that the customer is aware of what is possible, and that even though you might not have a sample immediately ready, that you can create a custom look that will fit their home. If Eric hadn’t communicated to the customer that he could design a color for her, she might not have accepted the offer.
Eric: I went and templated the fireplace which gave me a good idea of what it would look like. On the existing fireplace there was a metal piece that was at an angle. I decided that I would make an angled piece also to put more punch to the look and also to better finish the fit from the mantel to the existing fireplace.
Jeff: Always work with what you’ve got whenever possible. If there’s a way to incorporate an existing bit of character, do it! The customer will be happy that you haven’t torn out more than you have to, and the end result will be unique.
Eric: The challenge was to have an even thickness of 1 inch all around in a pressed technique with a 3D piece (and I want to take the 3D course at one point to help me with having more ideas and techniques for future projects). The little angled piece was also a challenge, mostly with making the mold, and finding a way to have finished edges all around that portion.
Jeff: Once you have a solid foundation in the basics, you can go a really long way. Extra training is never a bad thing, but don’t limit yourself just because you’ve never tried something before. Practice, experiment, and practice some more!
Eric: Definitely when you de-mold the piece it is the most exciting part. You are so anxious to see if what your mind has created will turn out like you thought it would.
I also wanted to see how the integrated logo in the piece would look. What better advertisement to have your logo in the piece (the client had agreed to this before).
Jeff: If the customer agrees, that’s a great way to put your stamp on a project. Word of mouth referrals are great.
In the end, the client was pleased, and the project turned out great. The client has a beautiful, functional piece of art that truly compliments her home.
Eric attended The Ultimate Concrete Countertop Training in March 2012.