…building a business: chicken salad

One of my clients this weekend told me a humorous quote that is father used to say about making chicken salad. It’s a little crass so I won’t repeat it here, but the idea was that you can’t make something good (like chicken salad) from something bad. I think this is so so so true for any creative project.

It makes me think of my favorite Thai restaurant. The vegetables are GREEN when they are placed on my plate and brought to me steaming hot. They are beautiful and fresh. We have all had bad Thai food or Chinese food so you know what I mean when I say it was not dark and mushy. Ingredients matter.


Same goes for your yarn, wood, canvas, paint and furniture. If you have a plain, cheap piece of furniture and you paint it in a rich, beautiful color it will still resonate as a cheap piece of furniture. I get so excited when a client drops off a real piece of wood. In fact, I now insist that pieces need to be real wood for me to work on them. I want the quality of my work and the paint to show and that requires a real wood piece. Dovetails always impress me.


If you’ve painted furniture or are just starting out it is tempting to buy a veneer piece that cost you $5 at a yard sale. To me this is a waste of some expensive paint and time. If it is a $5 piece that is old and wood and has curves and lines then perfect. Lucky you.

Quality is quality and we all know it when we see it. Are you trying to sell a piece or creation that is not quality? Not wood? Is it not selling? Well, it’s not your paint job, it’s the piece itself. Yes, it may be more expensive to produce, but people shall know you by your standards. It’s fine if you are practicing. But, if you are frustrated maybe try to make chicken salad from real chicken.



  1. A few years ago we had packers at our house & one of them asked me if the furniture was reall wood. I thought the question was odd as it was obviously not metal, plastic or something else.. It later occurred to me they were thinking of pressed wood. You are right save your penny’s and buy the real stuff. I still have mine many years later.

  2. Thank you! This is so true! I have people (who paint ) ask me why I spend so much on *that* paint? Because I love that I don’t have to do as much work on a piece, sanding or distressing . And I fall in love with old pieces. I’m not good at telling what kind of wood it might be but I know it’s old and real…
    Again thank you love your work and insights!

  3. I couldn’t agree more. You get what you pay for. I like to paint and sell people good quality pieces that won’t fall apart in a year or 2. If it’s worth doing its worth doing right. The commenter above obviously doesn’t know real wood if she thinks the piece pictured isn’t.

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