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Anna Gregory

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Anna Gregory

I was raised on this farm—myself, my brother, mom, dad, and always a bunch of dogs. When I was younger, my grandfather and uncle ran cattle on the land. My father has always been a woodworker; he built the woodshop when I was really young and added onto it over time to make it what it is now. Growing up in the country meant summers in the Elkhorn creek which runs just behind the woodshop or climbing trees. My dad, with his own custom cabinet business, worked about 40 yards away from the house.

I grew up around woodwork. I watched my dad work so hard and build absolutely amazing things, and I got paid to clean his shop as a kid, but I said I would never, ever be a woodworker. Then, going to college for architecture, I found myself in the design/build studio and loving working with my hands more than anything. The woodshop where I work is located on my parents’ 12-acre property in central Kentucky. Growing up it was a cattle farm of about 120 acres, and so my dad took one of the old hay barns and turned it into a full-service woodshop about 30 years ago. My husband and I live about eight miles away in a little railroad town called Midway.

Anna Gregory

With AG Design I will make a furniture piece one week, a giant wall art piece the next, all the while beginning designs for a whole interior space. I love them all equally. With furniture or wall installations I can focus small, think about details, and spend time improving on my craft. With larger design/builds or interior projects I can really think about space, the context of the existing and new, and it’s always a huge fun challenge. I love a challenging project more than anything.

To build a wall screen, I first start by sanding and gathering all of the individual pieces. I love that this type of piece has two bent wood elements. I do a bent laminate to create rails. People always ask about steam bending, but that’s super hard for pieces this thick, and it’s not always the most stable thing in the long run. So I do what’s called a bent laminate, which is layers of thin strips glued up to a form.

The process is somewhat tricky. You need the right thickness, so I’ll rip a board on the table saw into a bunch of thin strips that, when sandwiched together, add up to just a tad thicker than the final width. You want to keep track of each strip so that they’re all oriented in the same way they were in the board, that way when you glue them up they look seamless. I then run them all through the large belt sander and take them down to ¼” or less (depending on how tight the curve), that gives them a perfectly flat surface area for the glue up process.

Anna Gregory
“Getting to work with my hands every day just feels right.”

Then I get out my forms, which are two sides of a curve that marry perfectly when pressed together. I run a bead of glue on all strips and sandwich them between the curves and clamp like hell. I’ll generally wait 24 hours for the glue to completely dry before removing the forms. Then there’s the planing and sanding process to get all the gunk off and you’re ready to cut and set it into the frame!

I have found that a really important part of having your own business is not taking every single job that comes your way. My biggest challenge as a business owner has been learning to say no. Saying no to the projects that maybe your skillsets aren’t suited for, or maybe it’s not a style you’re passionate about. I’ve learned that this will leave you wide open for those dream projects that come along now and then. That being said, you gotta pay the bills. It’s all a delicate balancing act. I always said if AG Design was still around after a year that would be a great accomplishment. Now, it has been! I’m taking it a year at a time, knowing full well that owning your own business is fraught with peril and unforeseen obstacles. But I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else, so crossing my fingers every day helps too.

I’m super lucky. The area I live in has an amazing creative community with a seemingly limitless amount of talented makers. I’ve gotten to know so many of them, and I love any chance I get to work with someone from a different medium on a project. I pretty much always have some fun collaboration project going with a local maker whether they do ceramics, fiber art, leather work, or even photography. It’s a great way to be involved with the creative community, and get to learn from another badass artist.

I honestly think it’s less about being passionate and more so that I simply don’t know how to turn off that side of my brain. I’ve tried being creative in a two-dimensional form, sitting in front of a computer all day only seeing one side of the creative process. It wasn’t for me. I love being involved in the whole process–sketch, design, build, install. That’s what I’m passionate about.

“Don’t half ass two things, whole ass one thing.”

– Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

My family has always been very supportive. I love the wooden mallet my brother made for me as a graduation gift (along with some really awesome Japanese handsaws he bought), and I use it every single day. My emphasis in school was in design/build and he knew I’d need it someday. My dad also bought me a really nice set of Bosch drills when I started AG Design a year ago and I don’t know what I would do without them, or him.

Anna Gregory

This might sound strange, but finding my own style isn’t something I actively think about that often. I’m a lover of modern art and design, I’ve traveled a lot–especially throughout the South and Southwest–and I love learning about the materials I’m using; their strengths, connections, and the way they change over time. I think all of these things, and more, culminate into my design style.

It’s so easy to burn out, especially when it’s your full-time job and it needs to pay the bills. I work in such a beautiful place, so if I’m getting burned out or frustrated–which happens a lot–I’ll put the project down and go for a long walk outside, or go for a drive and listen to music. Most summer days I’ll come home from work and put together floral arrangements from what we’ve grown in our little yard, or get some local flowers at the farmers market and just play. It’s still creative, but it’s stress-free.

Anna Gregory

I was raised on this farm—myself, my brother, mom, dad, and always a bunch of dogs. When I was younger, my grandfather and uncle ran cattle on the land. My father has always been a woodworker; he built the woodshop when I was really young and added onto it over time to make it what it is now. Growing up in the country meant summers in the Elkhorn creek which runs just behind the woodshop or climbing trees. My dad, with his own custom cabinet business, worked about 40 yards away from the house.

I grew up around woodwork. I watched my dad work so hard and build absolutely amazing things, and I got paid to clean his shop as a kid, but I said I would never, ever be a woodworker. Then, going to college for architecture, I found myself in the design/build studio and loving working with my hands more than anything. The woodshop where I work is located on my parents’ 12-acre property in central Kentucky. Growing up it was a cattle farm of about 120 acres, and so my dad took one of the old hay barns and turned it into a full-service woodshop about 30 years ago. My husband and I live about eight miles away in a little railroad town called Midway.

Anna Gregory

With AG Design I will make a furniture piece one week, a giant wall art piece the next, all the while beginning designs for a whole interior space. I love them all equally. With furniture or wall installations I can focus small, think about details, and spend time improving on my craft. With larger design/builds or interior projects I can really think about space, the context of the existing and new, and it’s always a huge fun challenge. I love a challenging project more than anything.

To build a wall screen, I first start by sanding and gathering all of the individual pieces. I love that this type of piece has two bent wood elements. I do a bent laminate to create rails. People always ask about steam bending, but that’s super hard for pieces this thick, and it’s not always the most stable thing in the long run. So I do what’s called a bent laminate, which is layers of thin strips glued up to a form.

The process is somewhat tricky. You need the right thickness, so I’ll rip a board on the table saw into a bunch of thin strips that, when sandwiched together, add up to just a tad thicker than the final width. You want to keep track of each strip so that they’re all oriented in the same way they were in the board, that way when you glue them up they look seamless. I then run them all through the large belt sander and take them down to ¼” or less (depending on how tight the curve), that gives them a perfectly flat surface area for the glue up process.

Anna Gregory
“Getting to work with my hands every day just feels right.”

Then I get out my forms, which are two sides of a curve that marry perfectly when pressed together. I run a bead of glue on all strips and sandwich them between the curves and clamp like hell. I’ll generally wait 24 hours for the glue to completely dry before removing the forms. Then there’s the planing and sanding process to get all the gunk off and you’re ready to cut and set it into the frame!

I have found that a really important part of having your own business is not taking every single job that comes your way. My biggest challenge as a business owner has been learning to say no. Saying no to the projects that maybe your skillsets aren’t suited for, or maybe it’s not a style you’re passionate about. I’ve learned that this will leave you wide open for those dream projects that come along now and then. That being said, you gotta pay the bills. It’s all a delicate balancing act. I always said if AG Design was still around after a year that would be a great accomplishment. Now, it has been! I’m taking it a year at a time, knowing full well that owning your own business is fraught with peril and unforeseen obstacles. But I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else, so crossing my fingers every day helps too.

I’m super lucky. The area I live in has an amazing creative community with a seemingly limitless amount of talented makers. I’ve gotten to know so many of them, and I love any chance I get to work with someone from a different medium on a project. I pretty much always have some fun collaboration project going with a local maker whether they do ceramics, fiber art, leather work, or even photography. It’s a great way to be involved with the creative community, and get to learn from another badass artist.

I honestly think it’s less about being passionate and more so that I simply don’t know how to turn off that side of my brain. I’ve tried being creative in a two-dimensional form, sitting in front of a computer all day only seeing one side of the creative process. It wasn’t for me. I love being involved in the whole process–sketch, design, build, install. That’s what I’m passionate about.

“Don’t half ass two things, whole ass one thing.”

– Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

My family has always been very supportive. I love the wooden mallet my brother made for me as a graduation gift (along with some really awesome Japanese handsaws he bought), and I use it every single day. My emphasis in school was in design/build and he knew I’d need it someday. My dad also bought me a really nice set of Bosch drills when I started AG Design a year ago and I don’t know what I would do without them, or him.

Anna Gregory

This might sound strange, but finding my own style isn’t something I actively think about that often. I’m a lover of modern art and design, I’ve traveled a lot–especially throughout the South and Southwest–and I love learning about the materials I’m using; their strengths, connections, and the way they change over time. I think all of these things, and more, culminate into my design style.

It’s so easy to burn out, especially when it’s your full-time job and it needs to pay the bills. I work in such a beautiful place, so if I’m getting burned out or frustrated–which happens a lot–I’ll put the project down and go for a long walk outside, or go for a drive and listen to music. Most summer days I’ll come home from work and put together floral arrangements from what we’ve grown in our little yard, or get some local flowers at the farmers market and just play. It’s still creative, but it’s stress-free.

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