Today’s featured seller is Larry, The Coaster Man. Larry lives in New Orleans and creates coasters for any occasion – weddings, births, housewarmings, graduations, birthdays. A number of his coasters are in my favorite items, and I featured his Pig Coaster on my blog. We exchanged emails and here’s what he has to say for himself.
Jen: How did you get started making coasters?
Larry: When I retired a year ago, I mean really retired, I thought it was great being free from morning and evening traffic jams, monotonous work routines, and the all of the stress associated with being part of the working stiff syndrome. But after a couple of months of doing absolutely nothing, I decided that I needed something to do that would not only occupy my time but also would be a self-satisfying project.
J: Why coasters?
L: I was at my son’s house one day and saw these “coasters” on one of his end tables that depicted a local New Orleans landmark and it really caught my attention. My son went on to explain that he and his wife were playing tourist one day in the French Quarter area of New Orleans when they noticed a flea market vendor that had all of these different coasters for sale that either had New Orleans landmarks or school type logos on them.
I said to myself, “Self….I can do this.” From that moment IT WAS ON! Coaster making was now part of my daily regimen of staying busy plus putting smiles on people that would purchase them. I had to start from scratch because I did not have a clue as to how to even make them, what materials to use, and even as to how to market them.
J: Did it take a long time to get the process down to a science?
L: It was a very frustrating trial and error period in my life mainly because I am obsessed with PERFECTION (I know….there is a name for people like me). My goal was to make a coaster that was absolutely, beyond any doubt, better than all of the other handmade ones on the market already. I wanted my product to be second to none.
After numerous hours of research on the internet, I tried to incorporate the ideas that I found into my master plan of making a coaster that is aesthetically pleasing to enhance one’s home or office décor. Yes, I thought I had it down pat. WRONG! I had a long way to go.
J: What was your turning point?
L: I finally decided to use a specialty type ceramic tile (4×4) that I have imported from Italy via a distributor in Miami. A little pricey, but it is worth it! It has nice feeling and weight to it that I think only enhances the final product to the buyer. My coasters have a high end look about them and are very much more of a conversation piece rather than the atypical drink absorbing coasters on the market today. Parts of my creating process include using an ink jet printer, cardstock, matte sealer, sanding bars, spackling filler, full square corking and finally complimented with numerous coats of a non-yellowing clear gloss polycrylic.
J: Wow. Your coasters are unique and look very well-made. I can certainly see your Porsche coaster in someone’s man-cave. Or does that go against the principle of a man-cave? How long does it take to make a coaster?
L: It usually takes me three to four days for a completed product. I have over 100 coasters to choose from including New Orleans most popular landmarks and many novelty themes, and have recently expanded my shop to include special occasion coasters to accommodate bridal, newborns, anniversaries, family photographs, etc. Other special requests are no problem!
J: What would your advice be for a newbie seller like myself? I get frustrated with the lack of sales and views on my shop.
L: Anyone can fulfill their dreams of making handmade products, but it takes a special person to persevere through the trials and tribulations of defeat first. Keep trying….you’ll get it!
J: Who is your inspiration? Why do you do this?
L: Other than to keep busy? My inspiration for me succeeding in this second life of mine is my son….I love you son!
J: What do you do when you aren’t making coasters? What do you do for fun?
L: When I’m not making….My first priority is meeting the needs of my mother at the nursing home. I like to bake desserts, make Italian dishes, on-line video gaming, and crossword puzzles. My biggest fun event is visiting with my two grandchildren. Divorced, no significant other, and fully retired. Whew….. that’s a lot!
Thank you, Larry, for taking the time to answer my emails. He can be found on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCoasterMan. I’m sure I will be posting more of his wonderful coasters as time goes by.