CustomMade Scholarships

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2013 CustomMade scholarship recipient:
Shelbie Claycomb
New Mexico State University, Class of 2015


Shelbie Claycomb and is currently a junior in the Communication Disorders program at New Mexico State University. After trying out a few different majors, she found her passion in Communication Disorders. Shelbie always felt drawn to a career helping others, and decided on her current course of study to better enrich the lives of others. She has three supportive sisters and the daughter of two very hardworking individuals. She is planning on graduating in May of 2015.

Consumer Advantages of Buying Custom Furniture

As most children do, I thought my Barbie stickers would make my custom-made dresser much “prettier”. My father didn’t seem to think so. His hard work and creativity did not appreciate the stickiness those stickers left. Nor did the bedside table he made appreciate my 5-year-old sister’s permanent marker circles across the top. Growing up, my dad had many rules when it came to his house and his furniture, which was understandable because he had built it all. Rules included hands off walls, no stickers, no drawing, no slamming drawers or cabinets, and no tape on doors or walls.

These rules did not make sense to a small child. I did not realize the amount of time and effort my father had put into each piece of furniture. I did not realize it not only took time and money to build these pieces, but also creativity and passion. I did not realize or appreciate any of these aspects until my sophomore year of high school.

I enrolled in Wood Shop I. I was excited to immediately start building my very own furniture. This was far from what happened. The first 9 weeks, the class listened to lectures of measuring, sanding, staining, cutting, drilling, and safety. I thought the actual building was never going to come. Finally, the hands-on aspect of the class began.

Observing the table saw, routers, and planer was much different than the actual use. The large equipment throughout the shop building was intimidating at first. After some personal use, I became comfortable with these tools and instruments. My first project was a small bedside table with three small drawers. Although I was enjoying the slow process of this project, I had never imagined so much detail went into such a small piece. Once the base of the table was built, I was sure I was almost done. Not quite. The assembly and installation of the drawers took just as long as the base. By the end of the semester, my first project was finally completed. I then understood the hard work my father had invested into his home and furniture.

Once my sisters and I were knowledgeable of the equipment, my dad recruited our assistance in assembly of other furniture. That Christmas break, I help him make three new bed frames for my sisters and I. The beds were twin-sized and had storage compartments beneath the mattress. Throughout the next two years, I made clothing drawers for underneath my bed frame, a large vanity with 11 drawers, and a TV stand. As my skills advanced, so did my pieces. I carved a personal design within the base of the vanity. Overall, I spent nearly $3,000 from my part-time job on materials and supplies.

Enrolled in a wood shop class was probably one of the most beneficial and rewarding classes I took during my high school years. I took pride and care of my new projects. These pieces, of course, were something to be very proud of. Just as my dad had taken pride in his projects.

When I moved in with a new roommate during my sophomore year of college, I was surprised by his furniture. It took a whole team of 6 friends to carry my dresser into the house. My roommate carried his furniture in Wal-Mart boxes. As we assembled the shelves he had bought, I was surprised by the piece of cardboard used for the back of the furniture. Throughout the two years I lived with him, he replaced a desk, set of shelves, and TV stand, all of which he assembled out of a box.

With my own custom-made furniture, I can pass these along to my children and grandchildren. With my own furniture, I know its quality and I know its purpose is to last and withstand time. My furniture will be family heirlooms just as my grandfather’s furniture. My grandfather’s furniture holds family tales and history, as I hope my furniture will eventually carry.

Through these experiences, I have learned a great lesson of pride and hard work. I believe you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat their belongings, including furniture. My parents taught us to respect and care for their furniture which later taught us to care for our own. Even if I did not personally make the piece of furniture in my home, by keeping it in good condition it will serve its purpose. By keeping it in good condition, I can appreciate it as a piece of art and creativity. Because that is what a piece of custom made furniture is, a piece of art. Someone’s idea, creativity, and vision accompanied with hard work and skill is used to make this artwork.

So the question is, “Why buy custom furniture?” Individuals should buy custom furniture to support an artist who strives to build their best, most creative, worthy art piece. Support these individuals who show passion, uniqueness and creativity. Support the idea that your home can show these same qualities instead of a generic, “hotel-like” appearance. By purchasing custom made furniture, you are investing in imagination, originality, and quality. You are investing in furniture that won’t break after a few months of use. You are investing in furniture that can be passed down generation to generation, making it worth the money for years to come. This furniture will have the possibility to have a history and a story, instead broken pieces sitting in a waste pile. This furniture will make you proud to show people your home, to show people your uniqueness. This furniture minimizes the amount of waste we contribute to as a country. Factory-made furniture has become increasingly popular. However, what people don’t realize is that this is only a temporary fix.

Custom-made furniture possesses everything factory-made products lack: a story, quality, imagination, passion, hard work, artistic qualities, attractiveness, and uniqueness. Custom furniture sets us apart from the other thousand-some, factory processed, and unoriginal furniture. As a community, people need to raise awareness of custom furniture and the positive aspects of making this investment.