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Daily Inspiration: Meet Spencer Daly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Spencer Daly.

Spencer, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
At the beginning of Covid, maybe end of March, I was laid off. I was pretty bored (I like to keep busy) and I thought, hmmm, “what if I made myself a pair of house slippers? You know, just to kill some time until I find another job.” I wanted to make them out of plywood and foam, so I asked my roommate if I could get a bandsaw in the apartment. I promised him I would keep it in my room. He said something to the extent of “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have power tools in your room.” I agreed, but that week secretly bought a bandsaw and some plywood and cut a pair of slippers. It was tough, and I realized that I actually didn’t want to make slippers. I wanted to build a chair. I also knew that I didn’t need a bandsaw anymore. I needed a table saw.

So over the next couple of months, I built up a collection of power tools in my bedroom closet, built a Murphy bed, and began building. Every morning I would wake up, shower, flip my bed up, get a couple of sawhorses out, slap down a sheet of plywood and try to build something. I mainly built stools at first, and after a while, my friends would ask me make them pieces. Until recently, all of my projects came from my 10th floor apartment in DTLA and so I called my studio “Apartment 1007” as an homage to the beginning of my work. Now I recently rented a studio space for my projects and have an “appropriate” amount of space where I can build some larger pieces.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I would say that at the beginning, it was hardest because I really wasn’t sure what I was doing exactly. Working with power tools can be dangerous, especially trying to figure out how to rip a 4×4 sheet of plywood on a table saw in an 80 sf bedroom. But these are the fun obstacles, and the excitement of the new helps overcome the nervousness. The real struggle was, at first, the mental one—the struggle of waking up each morning and seeing 0 dollars in my bank account and asking myself, “why am I doing this? What is the point? Are you even good at this”? Many mornings the answer was “I don’t know” or “Yes, I’m not good enough.” These are really hard and heavy thoughts that were magnified by bills, rent, student debt, etc. The only way I was able to get through this was the love and support of my friends who constantly affirmed me, listened to me and kept me going.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am fixated on the 2×4. It’s such a plain, simple piece that is overlooked as being elegant. But I have been working on building with the 2×4 and the 4×4 (nominal lumber) to make pieces that elevate, or at least make us understand and interact with it differently. This is how I feel about most construction materials (metal ties, bolts, screws, foam, etc.). I love their honesty and roughness. So right now, I am working on a furniture series using these materials that then interact with an “elegant material” which could be a 1-inch acrylic, could be a finely finished surface, etc. It’s the tension, the unlikely friendship of materials out of place, naked in a way, that elevate each other, that makes us see these pieces as more prosaic, more poetic, more sensual. As a principle, I never build the same piece twice, this is because I am not building a product, I am building a piece for someone. The someone I build for means something to me. Each piece I make is me investing in a relationship or a friendship. At the heart of my work is that person who sees my work and says, “yes.” I really just want to share my love for my pieces with others who appreciate the work.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
There is a proverb that I like that says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” I find that when I have used my craft to water others, to give to others, that those people who need to be in my life ended up there some way or another.

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Image Credits:

Antiem Tran

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