A Brief Take on Mistakes


When designing new work, I often make mistakes. Leading to a feeling of weariness and frustration. After all – it takes a long time to perfect a new skill and when you are at the bottom of a massive skyscraper of knowledge, you kind of wish you didn’t have to take the stairs. I think a lot of designers have this problem even when they become extremely capable of completing very complex tasks. They might notice that when they were signing their art, one single delicate eyelash floated ever so gracefully down into the center of the piece and instantly dried into the wet paint. That eyelash can be looked upon in two ways. It can be seen as completely ruining the entire piece, or with a more adapted way of thinking – it can be seen as adding that last personal touch of imperfection and impermanence. After all, (and to every physics students’ dismay) – perfection doesn’t really exist. In art and design, the imperfect and the mistake can lead the thoughtful designer to create new and exceptional work by building those mistakes into their pieces.

In Japan this is called Wabi-sabi, meaning – finding beauty in something because of its faults. This is exactly why I built this briefcase, kind of like a demonstration of the idea.
Briefcase01_0039.jpg Briefcase01b_0020.jpg

A few mistakes were made when designing this prototype briefcase. I used a couple of pieces of upcycled cedar fencing – beautifully aged in the sun to a grayish silver. The problem in the beginning was that the wood was a bit fragile when not connected to anything else. I had to saw at a quarter of the speed my arm is used to. I sanded as though each microscopic layer needed the utmost of my attention. I drilled with extreme patience. Then I fit everything together knowing that even if a piece doesn’t lay entirely flush to the next, that it will ultimately add to the overall design I am trying to accomplish. A worn and aged rural briefcase. And after a solid day’s effort – I left my workshop with a very sturdy piece, that is unlike any briefcase I have ever seen – and proudly built with recycled cedar and beetle-kill pine (trees felled by an epidemic of beetles in Colorado and the West.)


The briefcase has been handcrafted and built to imperfection to maintain its rustic and aged look. The siding has been stained with an all natural concoction of walnut husks and vinegar – for a non-toxic, odor free and environmentally friendly experience. Seriously – I hate chemical stains. They suck, they give me headaches and make me feel dizzy. If you can get away with it – use natural stains made with ingredients found in your kitchen. Another good example: black tea and vinegar (one at a time). For a final touch, I added in a bit of natural dried moss. This helps the age and imperfection come full circle to meet their friend…impermanence.




This is the first briefcase of its kind and the first in a large series I am currently creating. Luckily for you – this one is now available in my shop.

Before I forget – I finally created a facebook page for this site!! Now you can follow me there and receive giveaway announcements, design tips, a few random coupons to my shop, and updates to the current designs I am working on.Go ahead and click the like button on the top of the sidebar or click here to go to my facebook page.

Thank you to the lovely Miss Slice, extraordinary pastry chef master, for her help in shooting this series.

5 thoughts on “A Brief Take on Mistakes

  1. corey lynn says:

    so can i just tell you … that is simply amazing that you incorporated moss and looks like old barn board and made it a functional piece of art. fabulous. i have to share this with my friend, chip in ct. he’s skilled in the field of wood, photography and music too. way to go.

    • Mr. Lentz says:

      Thanks Corey! I love trying to come up with functional art. It just makes more sense if you can wear it or use it.

  2. shannon says:

    love, love this! on so many levels! the materials, the construction, the moss, the thought and care that went into making it, feeling i get when i look at it. just fab.

    ahhh…i’m a facbook phobe, but i will check out the page when i get the chance. 🙂

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