Embracing Failure / Update from the Bird & Bear Workshop

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by Danny Vasquez

Hello Community,

We are just coming down off Memorial Day Weekend. Time spent with family and friends and remembering those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. We are forever grateful.

I’m excited and have a new refreshed vision for my endeavors in the shop and pipemaking. As a lot of you know, I went through a rough patch in the workshop where 7 pipes in a row ended in disaster. Most of which was my fault and to say the least, was very discouraging. It’s moments like these that test your resolve. As an artist, I experience ups and downs in my work constantly. Moments when I feel like I can take over the world- quickly followed by moments of despair and inadequacy. These are normal emotions for artists…. as if it’s written on our DNA. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is how I react to my failures. I used to be the guy that would quit his job if he disappointed his boss. I couldn’t handle the fact that I had let someone down or failed. This is not the way successful people live their lives.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas A. Edison

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. -C. S. Lewis

This is the type of mentality that defines successful people. It’s how we view our failures that will determine our next move. Do I give up? Do I quit and move on to the next thing? Or should I stop, reflect, and learn from my mistakes? To carry on with a new, invigoration to see it through to the end.

I choose the latter.

In doing so, I was able to rework the mistakes I made in the workshop in order to create a new vision for those particular pipes. It may not have been the design I had originally set out to create, but through my failure, the pipes actually become even more beautiful than they would have been had I not failed and changed directions. Had I given up, those chunks of briar would have just been expensive firewood, but now they are functional works of art that are being enjoyed by their new owners for years to come. This is the lesson I’ve recently learned. Never give up, examine my failures, pick myself up, and carry on.  These same principles can be carried over to every aspect of my life.  Whether it’s my failures as a husband, father, employee, or friend. I need to spend time reflecting on my failures, adjusting appropriately, and moving forward knowing that these failures are molding and shaping me for success. Sometimes, we can’t see how to overcome our own failures, because we are too close to the situation. This is why community is so important. Through authentic relationships with people we trust, we can allow others to speak truth into our lives. Sometimes this is a painful process, but it is essential.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

My encouragement this week to you all is don’t be afraid of failure. View it as a time to grow. Put people in your life that love you and encourage you so that when you do fail (and we all will), they can help pick you up and aid you in evaluating the changes that need to be made so that failure doesn’t happen again. Together you can navigate a path to success. This is the heart of community. This is the heart of Bird & Bear.


Here are a few pipes I recently finished and a few that are in the works. As always, if you’re interested in owning a Bird & Bear pipe. Head over to the website and sign up on the Pipe Subscription list.

20150516-DSC_0092    20150516-DSC_008020150518-DSC_0113Blowfish and Volcano progress

bent pipe with black palm and purpleheart

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