We had the good fortune of connecting with Bob Card and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bob, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I’m often asked how long it took to create a particular piece. The truth is, I don’t think most makers or artists can completely answer that question. Most of us don’t track our hours in the way someone in a corporate or production environment might and so we can’t really say exactly how long. We may have several projects in the works at any given time; and sometimes work on a given project may need to be paused for some time for various reasons. And since this is a creative endeavor, more than a “bottom line business” the mindset is more on the creative process than on time and efficiency. With that said, when I’m working with clients on commissioned furniture, the lead time between when they sign off on a design and the time the project is delivered is typically measured in months.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am totally self taught as a woodworker. My dad had a basement shop, and I was making things out of wood from the time I was a little kid. As an adult, my wife and I have renovated several houses, always doing the finish carpentry ourselves. In fact, I gutted the kitchen in my Victorian home and built hand-made cabinetry for it back in the early 2000’s. That experience was one of the catalysts for me to go out on my own. I actually have two artistic paths: custom furniture, and wood sculpture. I started Greenwood Bay in 2009 to make custom furniture. Early in the process I was hired by an interior designer to make a live edge dining table. This was before that style of furniture had become so popular, so I was one of the early makers in that space. Of course I highlighted this on my website, and I began to get a lot of commissions for this work. I’ve made dozens of live edge tables for residential and commercial clients, including conference and board room tables for many law firms and corporate clients. I was soon asked by several people to create sculptures. These have been well received, and so I’m beginning to focus more on that work. In fact, I just built a dedicated studio for art & sculpture, as well as smaller furniture pieces. This will be an increasing focus for me in the near term. I will also be introducing a new furniture line that will be designed to be more approachable from a price standpoint than fully custom pieces might be. My clients are looking for unique, luxurious pieces that aren’t really available in traditional retail outlets. The main lessons I’ve learned have been to always focus on making the best quality and best looking pieces I know how. This is true for both my sculpture and my furniture. Pieces that not only look great, but are built to the highest standard. Great looking furniture that is built to last is the best definition of luxury pieces I know.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is so much to do in Houston and the surrounding area. Depending on one’s interests, it can include sporting events, excellent dining, fine art or folk art. I think a lot of people assume since we are in Texas, Houston must have a lot of cowboys, tumble weed, and oil wells. So I love it when they discover for themselves what this area really offers. One of my favorite places is Buffalo Bayou park. This is an amazing green space right in the middle of the city. Whether a walk along the paths, or a drive along Allen Parkway or Memorial Drive, this is a “must see” destination for any visitor. While on the subject of parks, Hermann Park and Memorial Park are also amazing spaces. Food is such an important part of the city. I live in the Historic Sixth Ward, so when people visit our area, I normally encourage them to try some of the close in neighborhood spots I like, such as BB Lemon on Washington Avenue for a lovely sit-down meal, Henderson Heights for a great outdoor pub environment, or Henderson & Kane General Store for some of the best barbeque anywhere – and it’s a general store. How cool is that? Just opened on Sawyer street is the new Xin Chao from celebrity chef Christine Ha. Houston is home to so much art and so many art venues there is no way to see it all. In the current environment, everyone is struggling, so I like to highlight the art community whenever people are looking for things to see and do. Sawyer Yards hosts Second Saturday each month where there are open studios, and an outdoor market. It’s a great way to spend some time supporting artists and discovering great works to take home. On the fine art front, I love visiting the Menil Collection in Montrose. They have an incredible collection of some of the best and most important contemporary art anywhere.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I couldn’t have started my artistic journey without the support from my wife, Cynthia. I didn’t start out my career as a creative. I got my business degree, and later an MBA and spent many years in the corporate world. But as I got deeper in my career, I was becoming less satisfied with my work – life balance and wanted a change. She had been self-employed for years, and encouraged me to take a leap of faith and start my own woodworking studio. She (and I) knew it would mean giving up a good salary, and starting from scratch in my new career, but after a lot of discussion and planning, we decided it could work. That was in 2009, just after the big financial crash. So I left my corporate life, leased a warehouse space and started making furniture. It really was a little lean at first, but over time, business began to pick up, such that it finally was a nice little business. But the best part is that my work life balance is much better now. It was the perfect thing for me to do, but I couldn’t have done this without Cynthia being there all along.