Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Praise of Workers

Wesco Fabrics, wood shop, Dick Gentry, men's clothing

My very first job as a small boy was selling greeting cards, door-to-door. I mowed lawns, washed dishes in a hospital, worked in construction, pumped gas in my uncle’s gas station, picked fruit, delivered for a catering company, hashed in a sorority house, installed TV antennas, worked on a drill press in a metal fabrication shop and sold men’s clothing by age 22.  When I first began my career at Wesco Fabrics, I changed out of my three piece suit and worked in our wood shop making cornices and fabricating woven wood shades.  There is something very essential, honorable and beautiful about labor, as the worker is the engine of any enterprise.
On my last buying trip to Bali I was fascinated watching these workers lift an amazingly heavy piece of teak!

Balinese workers, teak

The spirit of these Balinese workers is evident even after toiling with the heavy teak. I wonder if the song, “Happy”, was playing in the workshop?

Balinese woodcarvers, furniture, re-purposed wood

This same factory in the Balinese Highlands is staffed with amazingly creative woodcarvers, creating art and furniture from every piece of re-purposed wood.

wood, slab table

wood, slab table

I encountered these workers lifting a super heavy piece of wood. They will create a wonderful slab table for a customer in Milan, Paris or…even Wesco Fabrics.

Thailand, twig lamp, twig furniture

These creative workers in Chiang Mai, Thailand, are creating lamps and furniture from twigs and branches.

Morocco, inlaid furniture

With only simple tools these workers in a small factory in Rabat, Morocco, will make beautiful inlaid furniture.

stone carving, Bali

Stone carvings are incredibly heavy. A number of small villages near Ubud, Bali, specialize in carving stone.

pedicab, fruit seller, Hanoi

Work is, well….work, and people do what they must do to help their families. This pedicab and fruit seller toil in the lanes of Hanoi.

female construction worker, Hanoi

This female construction worker was the only person I saw on this job site. I wonder if the men were taking a break!

Bali container, petrified wood, teak root furniture, Wesco Fabrics

petrified wood, teak root furniture

Our container arrived from Bali last week. It really took a “village” to off-load the furniture Marla and I purchased for Wesco Fabrics!  Our petrified wood tables and consoles, slab tables, and teak root furniture are very heavy! If our customers realized how much labor goes into the making, shipping and warehousing our imported furniture they would gain a brand new perspective on our products!

custom sewing, Wesco fabrics

custom workroom, Wesco Fabrics

custom workroom, Wesco Fabrics

Our workers at Wesco Fabrics in the Custom Workroom are artisans, creating beautiful window coverings for designers throughout the U.S.

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Images: Dick Gentry

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