Monday, January 15, 2018
It's like the 12th or something so I'm sure all of those life changing resolutions have been chucked in the ol' shit can by now.
What do we have here?
Sexy bar height table for a wonderful clients basement rec room.
She saw a need for a table when witnessing her daughter and her friends eating pizza on the floor like a bunch Lalapalooza 3 day pass holders.
The build itself was a little taxing due to all the hand cut gussets that required way more welding than one should have to endure, but you take the road less traveled to give the piece what it wants.
Happy motherfuckers and high 5's all around after that late night delivery.
The next is a old growth dining table.
We are by no means photographers and our shop is not photo friendly.
There were pictures emailed back and forth with the client, and they wanted the table a bit darker.
When you apply stain to old growth wood, no matter what color the stain, that shit gets really fuckin dark, like it looks like paint.
I don't know if it's enzymes in the wood over the last 100 years, or a dryness of the material, but whatever it is and whatever you do...don't stain old growth.
Lesson learned, and with 3 hours before it had to be loaded up for delivery...we stripped that fucker down to bare wood and clear coated it for the win.
The other morning, I had an idea.
Can I tell you something?
I haven't had a fucking idea in months.
We have been so busy just producing client pieces that I haven't thought about anything other than deposits and deadlines.
It felt so fucking good to have a wacky idea pop into my head, and then recognize that you're brain still has some creative neurons bouncing around in the ol' hat rack....and here's the kicker....I totally forgot what the idea was!
The idea isn't the point, the act of having one is what I'm talking about.
It's like dreaming. I never remember my dreams, but when I do....I'm so stoked that I was able to remember it, no matter how weird and fucked up that dream might have been.
Everything is born from an idea.
Which ideas you choose to capitalize on or at least attempt to capitalize on, well...that's the tricky part.
Ya gotta be ok with shitting the bed (gross figure of speech...my apologies).
I've attempted to capitalize on a ton of ideas that went absolutely nowhere.
I came up with these jean hangers that optimize closet space and help you actually see what you wanna wear...flop. Wrapped barbed wire candles which I thought were cool as hell...flop, we came up with a folding service bar...still a brilliant idea, but not a single fish chomping at the bait.
I'm getting depressed just looking back at those ideas that fizzled, but goddamn it if I don't keep getting back in the ring.
I can honestly say that I didn't work those items into a success. I mean, yeah, I fuckin' made em' and they worked, but what did I do to push them? Not a whole fuckin' lot.
With that being said, you have to embrace what you deem as a failure, because your failures are your teacher.
My failures made me discover my shortcomings, it made me look at where my market share is, how do I approach that market...etc.
Your failures don't make you a loser, your failures make you better.
Ya know what makes you a big fat smelly loser?
Not doing shit.
Talk talk talk all you want, but you're nothing until you do something.
It's amazing, the amount of people that have never built or created anything in their entire lives, that love to tell me what I should be doing and how I should be doing it...it's staggering.
I usually listen and nod and smile, and in my head I'm saying "shut the fuck up dummy".
I listen though, cause I'm still waiting for one of these guru's to vomit out a piece of advice where I'm like "well fuckin' aye, I'm gonna have to give that a whirl".
The flip side is, I've gotten great heart felt advice from people that actually produce something.
The moral of the story is this...don't be afraid to fail, and don't take advice from big fat smelly losers.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
I've always liked New Years day. It has always felt like a fresh start. A new shot at being better.
It's not like you can't strive for that on a daily basis, I mean, you can go jogging every fuckin' morning, but when you find yourself at the starting line of the Chicago Marathon, there's a whole new focus.
Last year...a lot of growth happened.
Growth in every aspect can be painful, but it's the awareness of the presence of pain that triggers the actual growth.
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" It means this...you only need to dump scalding hot coffee in your crotch once in order to be wayyyy more careful while drinking coffee and driving for the rest of your life...pain triggered learning and learning triggered growth.
As rough as last year was for me, it was a great year because I learned so much.
Shitty things have to happen to you in order for you to recognize when something is shitty or has the potential to be shitty.
A key element in growth and change is that you have to want it. You have to cultivate the ability to see that something isn't right or not working, and then make efforts to change them.
Wouldn't it be spectacular if you hit a home run every time you went up to bat? Yeah, that shit doesn't happen because the pitches are constantly changing. As much as you study the pitcher, that jerk off has a whole staff studying you.
I couldn't give two shits about baseball except that it's loaded with analogies for me to use.
I'm discovering that as my son gets older, our business is growing, my parents are aging and falling off, life is just getting harder.
There are some days that I wake up and I'm looking into my coffee cup mumbling to myself "I just can't do this shit", and by "this shit", I'm referring to my life.
It's ok to have moments of weakness. It doesn't mean you're a little bitch, it means that you are "self aware". What puts you in the little bitch category is if you succumb.
When things look bleak or you feel overwhelmed, ya gotta find a new angle, a new plan of attack, otherwise, it's off to the little bitch category with you, and who wants to hang out in there with a bunch of lil' bitches?
Shortly after my father died, I had a dream. I never remember my dreams, but this particular dream I might just always remember...
I was on a cruise ship. There was a storm and the ship was sinking. I jumped into the ocean and realized that I was surrounded by life boats and everyone in them were having like a little life boat party, and I'm like "hey...over here...can I get a little help", and no one gave a shit.
I swam to the nearest lifeboat and killed everyone it.
I woke up thinking to myself "you are one sick fuck".
It haunted me for a couple of days, but I took it as a lesson about my life and found some solace.
The lesson I took is...My life is never going to be easy, and I'm going to have to do some shit I don't want to do in order to survive.
Or maybe I'm a murderous bastard.
All right enough self discovery and dream theories!
XO table...when that one first came across the desk we were both kinda like "fuck that shit, looks like a big pain in the ass"...and it was, and that's good because we had fun making it and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.
I pretty much say "fuck that shit" to everything at first, it's like this weird mental thing I do before falling in love with the process of making these things then blogging about it's life changing effects on me. Go figure.
"Do NOT open till Christmas" is the third and final installment of the creepy 3 for $1 baby head sculptures.
There's a part in the movie SEVEN where Kevin Spacey chops off Brad Pitts wife's head, and then mails it to him...so...there's that, and then the fact that Christmas just passed and voila'...baby head sculpture,
They're all so fucked up and creepy but I'm in love with all 3. I have my stories for each one, but each one lends itself to ones own interpretation and that is what makes good art good.
So...happy new year my friends.
I hope the best for all of you.
Monday, December 18, 2017
The first part of 2017 sucked ass with our moving of the shop, and once we were all set up and ready to go, we had a presidential election that made people clutch on to their wallets like it contained the last dollar they'd ever have.
May rolled in and people realized the world wasn't going to end and since then it's been full throttle.
2017 has been a test of wills as much as it's been a testament of perseverance.
This business is the most bipolar business you can be in. High highs and low fucking lows, and everyone who shares in our craft knows what I'm talking about.
My Father in law, who's been a master cabinet maker since 1960 has told the tale we live.
He spent many years cabinet making all day, and scrubbing floors all night to keep food on the table, but ya know what? At 84 years old he's in the shop every day still doing his craft.
A craft that kept him from his family. a craft that made him work a second job at times to make ends meet, a craft that will chew up and spit out the weak willed...and he's still fuckin' doing it.
I never realized how much I take from his story.
There was a terrible TV show in the 80's about a bunch of girls in a boarding school that high lighted the trials and tribulations of a fat chick, a lezbo, a black chick, and a rich snobby bitch, all orchestrated by a red haired troll. It was called the "Facts of Life"
Now...I got nothing from the show other than it's theme song that will play in my head from time to time..."Ya take the good, ya take the bad, ya take em' both and there ya have..THE FACTS OF LIFE"
There have been many milestones this year and one that will surely stand out will be working "The Facts of Life" into a blog post...I can do anything.
I mentioned in the last blog that there is going to be a change in how we do things.
We've discovered that most people have never bought anything custom in their life.
They see it as a process as opposed to an experience.
We're selling experiences.
We found that when we physically go to someones home and see their space, we get a better idea of
how to facilitate their project.
We're selling you a lifetime piece, not some fucking table out of a box that your teenage son assembles with the provided allen key.
When you spend time in someones home to create something for them, a relationship has been established, and they're no longer just a customer.
We're gonna play "getting to fuckin' know you", because our pieces are built from the heart.
The customer feels good, we feel good, it's a purchase that doesn't have to be so fucking cold and impersonal.
That's our goal for 2018.
Allright...French Country console...
We weren't given much direction on this one, so we decided to French Country the shit out of it.
Shortly after delivery of it, Zach got an email from the customer going on about how much they loved it....fuckin' aye....love that shit.
Walnut slab dining table for Gretchen in Oak Park...
Gretchen was kind of the catalyst for our "in-home" custom experience.
We've been to a lot of peoples homes, but this one had something different and everyone walked away feeling so fucking good, that we were like "everyone should walk away from a custom order feeling like that".
Does it take more time?
Yes and no.
The time spent in someones home with them, hashing out design, logistics, and details, is way fucking less than trying to figure shit out through emails and phone calls AND...it's just more personal...it's custom...it has to be.
Ya'll have a wonderful Christmas, and we'll see ya in the New Year.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
It doesn't seem like a big deal, but at that precise moment it hit me...slow the fuck down.
I sat in my truck and just thought about everything for a couple of minutes.
Every waking moment is filled with tasks, and the tasks outnumber the minutes, so you're in this constant internal marathon where you're trying to keep up with that motherfucker from Zimbabwe but you haven't trained for this race and THAT sonofabitch grew up running from lions and shit.
My work is fairly fast paced, but the tasks that need to be done to complete a project aren't dictated by the clock because the process is the process, meaning...if it takes 30minutes to mortise in dovetails, then that's what it takes and if it takes longer, than so be it.
Life outside work isn't working out like that.
3pm-leave work, run home and shower, 3:40-exit house, pick up boy from guitar lesson at 4:15, 4:30-stuck in drive-thru trying to get that lil fucker a apple pie, 4:45-Jiujitsu, 5:55-depart Jiujitsu home by 6:15, 6:16-dog has to shit cause he's doing the "I gotta shit really bad cause I ate half of your Christmas tree while you were stuck in that drive thru" dance, 6;30-oven pre heating to 375 so I can pop that bullshit frozen lasagna in, 6:37-oven is pre heated pop that shit in, 6:50-boy asks if we have garlic bread, we don't have garlic bread, you can't have lasagna without garlic bread, yes you can, no you can't...ok, 7:05-run to the store and get garlic bread, 7:25-arrive home with garlic bread, 7:30-do dishes from the morning, 7:45-remove plastic from lasagna container put garlic bread in and cook for 10 more minutes, 7:55-take all that shit out of the oven, 8:00-dinner, 8;35-do dishes from dinner and feed the dog, 8:50-boy asks "what's for dessert?", I don't know what's for dessert, 8:52-scour kitchen for something for dessert, 9:03-cut up banana and cover in the chocolate crackle shit and add some quite possibly expired whipped cream and feed to boy, 9:25-ask boy to brush his teeth 17 times, 9:35-lay him the fuck down, 9;37-i'm dead asleep in my clothes.
No wonder I forgot to put my fucking boots on.
We're being killed by life.
How do we slow it all down?
I don't fuckin' know, and if I did, I wouldn't be making furniture, I'd be charging all of you $1000 a pop to attend my seminar, where I would then allocate my riches to pay other people to execute my tasks so I could slow the fuck down.
Whatever...I'll be dead at 50.
Furniture...yep..that's what we do...chunky slab 2 tier bar table...not sure where the customer is putting it, but it'd be great behind a couch.
Solid steel console cabinet...the only thing that isn't steel is the glass in the doors. The most unnecessarily heavy piece we ever created. Why is it so heavy? I'm going to explain in the next blog how we intend to change how we do our business.
Things are about to get way more personal, and relationships with our customers are about to become something completely unprecedented in the custom furniture world.
But for now...you all have to get back to the rat race and so do I.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
They wanted the base to have tapered legs that are typical of mid century pieces, and the top to be more chunky which would embrace the rustic aspect.
Well as long as we're throwing some classic styles in the blender, lets make this fucker extra juicy by adding some industrial in there by using steel for the base. Sounds good, right?
You don't throw steel in the ol' taper leg machine, because that machine doesn't actually exist, and that's where shit gets tricky.
Some ideas require you to eat shit.
The shit that was eaten was over 40 feet of straight weld and hours of grinding.
Of course it wasn't reflected in the selling price, because a deal is a deal. We don't get a brilliant idea, then execute it, and then tell a customer "uh, remember that price we gave you? Yeah...uh...we're gonna have to go and double that."
Sometimes we throw ideas out there with no fucking clue how we're gonna execute it, but we always execute...and that's all that matters.
There's a lovely couple that got a extremely one of a kind piece, and that's enough for me.
Saturday night, me and my son went to see my mom.
We were trying to get some Christmas vibe, so we went to a mall near my mom.
I'm not a mall guy. In fact, I've dedicated the last few years to solely seeking out the independent makers, one man brands, and general artisan types that make things in small batches and limited runs, but those guys don't have Christmas decorations, and pump Christmas music and cater to a general hustle and bustle of the holidays, so off to the mall.
I literally felt like I was in a garbage dump that didn't smell of rotten food and toxic waste, but instead smelled of 9000 different cheap colognes and vomit worthy perfumes, which is equally as gross to me.
Consumerism at its most disgusting.
SALE, 50% OFF, BUY ONE GET ONE FREE, which all sounds really tempting except for the fact that it's all SHIT.
MADE IN CHINA, fast fashion, home gadgets that will work once, a plethora of items that no one needs or really wants.
Even my kid was underwhelmed and unimpressed with the offerings.
I would catch bits and pieces of conversations from shoppers "do you think Bobby will like this?" "she could really use this" "this would look great on her"...Bobby would fucking hate that, She can't use that, but you could, and I highly doubt that would look good on anyone, were the responses that popped in my head.
A lot of times we buy people we don't even really like, shit they don't need, because we feel obligated.
My friend William from Witness Company (a handmade jewelry company) posted " FUCK BLACK FRIDAY" while everyone else posted their sales on Instagram.
I scrolled through the comments, and most we're supportive and positive...but there were some that showed just how entitled people are.
"Black Friday is when companies reward people for being loyal customers"
Let me get this right, this motherfucker thinks he should be rewarded for purchasing luxury items?
Now I consider William a friend, and I am a collector of his work, and a extremely dedicated supporter of his business, but....I could live without really awesome brass rings if I had to. When I can afford to buy another brass ring that I don't need...I will. I don't ask for deals or discounts, and I don't wait for sales, because I don't expect sales on handmade stuff.
Big box stores can afford to do sales because their profit margins are so high. If something is 50% off at Macy's, they're still making at least a 100% profit. For the handmade market...50% off means the maker covered his material cost...maybe.
I can't blame people because most people are well groomed consumers that have been brainwashed since birth.
As a small business, I can fucking assure you that we can't afford to sell for any less than we already do.
Until you have made something with your own 2 hands and tried to make a living out of getting people to buy it, you'll never really get it. It's like someone showing me a calculus book. That shit is never going to make sense to me, but i'll take your word for it that calculus is hard.
So....I'm still looking for some Christmas spirit.
I usually love Christmas, and I'll get a grip before the 25th.
life is just so hectic and I just want to really enjoy family and friends and moments, and all the things that have always made Christmas...special.
You'll notice that my Christmas list at the bottom of this blog is blank...I don't need shit, and I'm a grown man and I will buy my own underwear.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Bird dies out of nowhere, dog is pretty much dying, my partners fucking lung collapses at work.
Sometimes you just cruise through life, head out the window, summer smells taking you back to good times, middle finger raised up high, shouting out "fuck the world", cause everything is going dandy and you...you're unstoppable. And then...a baby leaps out in the middle of the road, you slam on the brakes so hard that you're ejected through the windshield, where you land on your back and the universe jumps into full mount and starts raining down elbows to your fucking face.
The universe is pummeling me with elbows right now, but I'm looking for my opening so I can slide out of guard, roll my hips, pull it's wrist to my side, reach over it's shoulder and through it's arm so I can Kimura that mother fucker and snap it's arm at the shoulder no matter how much it taps out. (forgive my jiujitsu reference, my kid has been enrolled in jiujitsu and I'm the equivalent of a psychopathic soccer mom).
Life is not always going to be summer breezes and middle fingers.
Life is going to attack you every now and then.
Last night my kid said "what's wrong dad?", and I considered giving him a bullshit story, maybe telling him I don't feel so good, or some kind of work lie, but I didn't. I said "I'm just going through some shit right now. Sometimes a bunch of crappy things happen in life all at once and you feel like it's too much, but you dig deep, stick and move, and given a little bit of time and redirection of focus...you come out of the storm, but a little bit stronger." He looked a little bit puzzled and said "so bad things are actually good things?" To which I replied "this conversation is getting way to fuckin' existential for my liking"...no, I didn't say that, I totally thought that, but I didn't want to have to explain "existentialism" to a 7 year old, but what I did try to explain to him, is that the way you navigate the bad moments in life help to determine what kind of person you'll grow to be.
He said that he really wanted to cry at school the other day because of our bird. He said it kept coming into his head and he wanted to cry. I asked if he cried, and he said no and that he just kept working on his map.
Chip off the old block. He hung out with that emotion, but chose to carry on.
So me and my kid are having this super deep conversation, and he put his tiny hand on me and said "it'll all work out." Who would've ever thought that I fathered fucking Yoda?!
He's right though. It all works out. If it doesn't, it's because you're a fucking pussy that can't reel in their emotions and press on.
What I've learned from sucky ass situations, is that those situations only change once you've acknowledged all the things in your life that don't suck. Take Inventory, then go to war to protect that inventory.
Goddamn, I almost forgot that we make furniture.
French Country pedestal table with bench...donezo and gonezo.
Funky retail display table that ended up looking like a fucking ironing board from the 1800's...fuck you, I have a weird thing for vintage ironing boards even though I've never ironed anything my entire goddamn life. I actually tried to conceptualize. I wanted to make something that you might find in an old abandoned hunting cabin.
Take stock of all the good in your lives. Protect it. Expand on it. You're gonna have to go find your own 7 year old therapist because mine is booked up.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
The first piece was a custom order where the customer wanted a 1940's style industrial table.
In the building that houses our shop, there's a dude on the 3rd floor that deconstructs old warehouses and smokes weed all day. Every now and then we poke around his space to either pick up some artifacts or just get inspired.
We thought he would surely have a piece that we could repurpose into our customers request, but came up completely empty handed.
There was another monkey wrench thrown into our repurpose idea, that being the table needed to be 42" high (bar height). In 1940, they didn't make industrial tables bar height.
Well fuck...now what do we do?
We make it.
We looked at some old machine bases and pulled some elements from their aesthetic and completely fabricated our own version of what we thought a 1940's industrial bar height table would look like.
I think we pretty much captured the time period, and the customer did as well.
The next piece is what I like to call a "trapped beam pedestal table". Not only does it sum up what it is, but it sounds fuckin' fancy, kinda like a delivery driver being called a "package relocation technician"
THESE are the types of builds that get our blood pumpin'.
After 3 years of working together, Zach and I have found this sweet spot where we're able to slip into whatever the other is working on, and push it further.
I can't speak for him, but nothing makes me happier when I THINK I'm done with something and he comes in and adds something or tweaks something, or just walks over and says "how bout this?" and just like that, it either becomes complete or just fucking better.
It's called "selflessness".
I thought I mastered the art of selflessness when my son was born.
When you have a kid, your food is no longer yours, your home is no longer yours, your time is no longer yours, your money is no longer yours, nothing is fucking yours....and you're ok with it.
I think that I wasn't or haven't been selfless in my work, and now that I am, my journey to selfless enlightenment is complete.
Everything is better when you let go.
Let go of anger, frustration, ego, stubbornness, anxiety, resentment, fear, and all those other debilitating emotions and a whole new world opens up.
I'm no spring chicken, and I know I have more years behind me than I do in front of me, so the reality is....I don't have time to be stunted by negative emotions.
Imagine how much more you could produce or achieve if you stopped being pissed off at things you have no control over or hatin' on some motherfucker, or concerning yourself with why your significant other has 2 bottles of olive oil open at the same time, or buys a pineapple every Sunday just to throw it out and buy another one next Sunday.
I've spent a third of my life explaining myself or my actions to others and I'm done.
I could very well revel in anger and frustration when my chick leaves garbage bags on the back porch instead of walking it down to the garbage can. I could be pissed off and demand an explanation, and in doing so wasting her time because now she has to explain an action that she's never even thought about, so now she's frustrated and angry, and I'm angry and the entire evening goes to shit, and in reality...I don't NEED to fucking know why she doesn't walk it down to the trash cans, it doesn't fucking matter.
Instead, I just walk it down. My life is no worse if I just shut the fuck up, and walk the trash down.
Just take the trash out people.
Not everything in life deserves your approval.
Most of our anger and frustrations stem from the petty.
Stop being a petty little bitch and watch the world open up to you.
Someone jacked your parking space...park elsewhere, someone spilled your drink...pour another one, someone took your clothes out of the dryer while they were still damp...put em' back in.
I'm gonna let ya'll in on a little secret...nobody gives a fuck about how good you are at calling people out on their shortcomings. In fact, most people probably think you're an asshole for your perfectly honed skill.
Whoa...for a second there I thought this would be the blog post where I didn't go off on a tangent, and just stay focused on a build me and my partner are really proud of.
Another happy failure in the books.
Take out the trash my friends...it ain't that bad.