Bridge City Tool Works 30th Anniversary News…


“I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it at night.”
— Henry Ford



A while back in this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog, I promised to share an announcement with the Drivel Starved Nation regarding next summer–today is that day! But first some drivel…


2013 marks our 30th Anniversary and the only reason this anniversary exits is that for the past thirty years I have been too stupid to quit one of the greatest Sisyphean companies that has ever been conceived. Some of you may remember our unofficial motto; Bridge City Tool Works: Going Out of Business Thirty Years in a Row…


Drivel over.


To mark this milestone, Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft is staging the exhibition, Quality is Contagious: John Economaki and Bridge City Tool Works.


The exhibition is looking back thirty-five years and will include several pieces of my furniture as well as a history of our tool making–it is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me outside of the birth of my children.


I have known about this for about six months and continue to feel completely gobsmacked–and for reasons that may not be completely obvious. You see, this exhibition is really about you.


From our very first order in 1983 to today, not a second has passed where I have lost sight that my future has been in someone else’s hands. An American endeavor of designing/producing and marketing gallery quality hand tools had never been done before–this is completely impossible without your support. This exhibition is a celebration of the small subset of the tool buying public that shared in my dream that tools can be a canvas of expression that inspires. I really don’t know what else to say but thank you.


So, if you are looking for an excuse to visit the Pacific Northwest next August, the weather should be stellar. The preview will be Thursday evening, August 15th at the Museum, and opens to the public at 11 am, Friday the 16th. It will run through January of 2014. Where it travels from Portland will be announced at a later date. I have been told the Museum will open the roof for the reception which is really cool.


In addition, our book: The Tools of Bridge City Tool Works: 30 Years Through the Lens of Joseph Felzman will be published by the museum and unveiled Thursday evening. And more really cool news–Joe was just awarded the biennial “Hasselblad Master” award which is one of the highest honors in the world of photography–there were 12 recipients worldwide. Without your support, made possible by Joe’s images, Bridge City would not exist. We have been working together since 1977 and words can’t describe how happy I am for him right now.


On Friday evening the 16th, we will host a private gathering at my home and like many parties at our house–if we are lucky–you will get to meet personnel from the Lake Oswego Police Department. If you happen to answer the door after they knock, please don’t scream to the folks on the deck that the “male stripper has arrived!”


I hope you can make it–your tools are going to be on display in a museum. How cool is that?



16 comments on this post:

  1. Congratulations John,

    This show is well deserved and I’m looking forward to attending, smells like a road trip!

    Maybe you could just invite the police to the party and eliminate the middleman.

    Do we need to get tickets or RSVP? Last time I was in Portland for CAD class I stayed at the downtown Embassy Suites, would that still be a good choice, or is it out of the way?


  2. Thanks Rutager- we will put together hotel recommendations, restaurant recommendations and bail bondsman recommendations after the first of the year.
    I will need a RSVP for the gig at my house–later too.


  3. Hi John,
    Congratulations on your achievement. I get a sense that your path has been a challenging one from time to time–to say the least. Very simply, I look forward to the inspiration your next creation will bring me. Thx, Mike

    “So shines the light of a good deed in a weary world”. Willy Wonka

  4. John, come hell or high water, I will be out there for the exhibition and the “stripper” party at your house. That is as long as Rutager is not the stripper. Make the bad man stop. :o Congratulations on this exhibition and the book with Joe. It could not be more deserved for either of you. Do we lowly woodworker type get to go to the preview or is that strictly for the haute monde? :o :o WOW, what an honor!!!!!! Fred

  5. Fred-you may be many things but “lowly” isn’t one of them–your Entertainment Center? Now that is the new standard of low.

    Of course you are welcome to the opening!


  6. Congratulations, John! I’ll start planning to be there! Should I bring bacon for Rutager? [url=][img][/img][/url]

  7. Congratulations, John!

    This is an amazing recognition of your life’s work (so far!).

    I’ll mark my calendar now!

    - John

  8. This is such wonderful news, John – for you and for Joe. And for us. I’m very excited to see the exhibition – it’ll be such a cool experience to wander through and say, “I’ve got that! I’ve used that one. Rutager has 8 of those. Fred never managed to get one of those.” (Okay – there’s only one thing that Fred never managed to get. And Rutager has two of them.)

    My girl team and I will definitely be there. It’s going to be a blast.

    How much weight can your deck hold?

    I loved the stripper story!

    – Peter

  9. Oh, this is exciting!
    How lucky are you to get your own museum exhibit in your city and be able to attend! I am looking forwards the show. I’m very interested to see all your furniture in person as well as the tools and history and processes that go into their making. Will employees be part of the exhibit?;)
    I’ve also been looking forward to your book featuring Joe’s photographs. I meant to ask you in Pasadena, but it slipped my mind.
    PS: I’ll likely be driving. If anybody wants a ride, there’s lots of room in the back of my pickup truck and I have a plethora of tie-downs.

  10. Congratulations, John! I hope the exhibit finds its way east and will definitely be down for a copy of the book. Tangentially, my JMP arrived today. Thanks to the crew (particularly Michael, Masoud, and Rutager–gentlemen all) for their help getting it ready and secure into my rental Civic. I’m excited to get to know this beast.

  11. Dave,

    It was a pleasure meeting you at the WIA- always super cool to put faces with names and ideas, won’t be long before the entire DSN has met each other in person.


  12. Very cool,

    And very well deserved John!

    I have needed an excuse to get to Portland and was worried seeing Michael’s museum of blemished tools might be the best you could do.

    Thanks for raising that bar!

    The opportunity to see your work will be an honor.


  13. Thanks Neil.

    What would be really cool is if you enter the JMP contest–awaken your inner child!


    PS: I was going to write “awaken that inner child and abandoned the horny adolescent persona. But I changed my mind.

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