HGTV Waterfall Installation in progress

Behind the Scenes – What it’s like making a piece for an HGTV show

When I was first contacted by a producer who works on the HGTV show, “Meg’s Great Rooms” about doing some work for them I was very excited. I’m in the kind of business where word of mouth is everything. People are often intimidated by the concept of commissioning a piece of furniture and when your medium of choice is steel, you can understand their hesitancy. My stuff isn’t for everyone, but it’s not supposed to be. That’s why I use testimonials on my site whenever I can and rely on my happy clients to spread the word to their friends. It demystifies my art and the entire process. So when I had the chance of having one of my pieces featured on a very popular show exposed to a national audience I jumped at it. And having a great, rock star designer like Meg Caswell singing your praises doesn’t hurt either!

“So what would you like me to make?” I eagerly asked the producer, anticipating an answer including the words ‘table’, ‘wall art’, ‘mirror’ or some such. And she comes back with, “an indoor waterfall”. During what seemed like 20 minutes of awkward silence as I was flying through my portfolio in my head trying to remember a piece I had made that was anything like an indoor waterfall. Nothing. “No problem!” I said. Besides, I always tell my clients, “If I can draw it, I can make it.”

Then I asked, “When do you need it?” expecting her to come back with, “Would tomorrow be possible?” This is for TV after all. But she actually said 2 ½ weeks! An eternity. Let’s get started. After an initial meeting or two we had the basic design nailed down.

Once all the papers were signed and the design was green lit things really got moving. Before I knew it, there was a crew of about 15 people at my studio, each one with a specific job and the place was buzzing. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “Wow! This is real. I’m going to be on TV. I’M GONNA BE ON TV! Panic starts to set in. What if I blow it? Everyone is watching. This could be terrible. Why did I agree to this? I’m not a TV person, I’m the hide- behind-a-welding-mask kinda guy!” A couple of deep breaths later and some calming encouragement from the crew I was ready for my close up.

The large piece of steel plate I was going to use on this waterfall had been delivered that morning and now it’s sitting on a table in the middle of my studio. Realizing it would be in our way I asked one of the crew to help me slide it off the table and lean it against the wall. Now, this piece of steel plate measures 4’ X 10’ and weighs about 350 pounds. As we’re moving it off the table I’m about to give some direction to the guy helping me when I realize that split-second lack of focus cost me. I had dragged the edge of the steel across my thigh and sliced a 5” hole right through my favorite jeans. We set the steel down and I went to check out my jeans so I pull open the sliced denim and I’m greeted by two very high-pitched squeals (one of them may or may not be mine). The steel not only trashed my jeans but also my thigh. The steel’s edge was so sharp I hadn’t felt a thing. Now, after seeing it, I felt everything!

I excuse myself to the restroom to take inventory and assess what just happened. “I can’t believe I just did that. I loved those jeans. What’s it going to look like when I take my jeans off? I can’t believe that crew has been setting up for 2 hours and we were 5 minutes from starting! Were the cameras rolling?” The cut looks bad, but it doesn’t hurt very much. That’s good. My first aid kit’s largest bandage wasn’t big enough so a little duct tape later and I’m good to go. Is there anything it can’t do?

Despite the crew’s suggestion that we shut it down and get me to the hospital, I knew it looked worse than it was. And suddenly, I’m not nearly as nervous about the shoot anymore. After that, everything else goes off without a hitch. Meg is a lot of fun and we laughed a lot. And the crew was great. A couple hours later we were done and I headed to the hospital. 12 stitches later, and a scar is born.

Over the next two weeks, I worked on the waterfall. It was a challenging, mind-twisting endeavor. Making a table square and level is one thing, making a waterfall that can control the flow of water with minimal splash within someone’s home is another. The smallest of tweaks would make the biggest differences. Back and forth, back and forth, hammer here, bend there.

Finally, I was ready to deliver it.

With the cameras rolling, I show it to Meg and she loves it. She actually tears up. That’s a good sign and I exhale for the first time in three weeks. I feel good about things and after a few hugs and a lot of ‘thank yous’, I take off. After much blood, sweat and tears (literally) my time in the limelight is over. Now, I just hope they make me look good in editing.

Thanks again, Meg, you and your crew are great!

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