Monday, February 5, 2018

MONGOLIAN SHEEPSKIN...WHO KNEW?


So, Gramps wanted a table in his basement so his 6 grandchildren had a place to sit and stare at electronic devices while the world completely passed them by...no,no,no, I joke, he wanted a place where they could play games and shit while he was upstairs killing a bottle of Jameson, no,no,no, I joke again, but only about the Jameson.
 We had to color match the table and stools to a shitty picture of his ceiling beams, and some fucking how...it was a perfect match.
 The next is some hand bent stools with a upholstered leather seat.
We go months without making a sitting device and then bam...slammed with em'.
 So the guy who is doing the upholstery is also a Midcentury Furniture dealer, he saw the 6 stools for grandpas table, and was like "damn, those are awesome, we should do the seats in Mongolian Sheepskin", and me and Zach are like "Mongolian Sheepskin...I mean, what the fuck else would you possibly do them in"...neither of us have a fucking clue what Mongolian Sheepskin is or how it differs from any other sheepskin on the planet, but the suggestion is coming from a guy who ships out $15,000 chairs on the daily, so I assume Mongolian Sheepskin is Thee Sheet.
 The shop had gotten to a point where it was almost impossible to work in.
For the last week, we would nibble on projects, but most of the time was dedicated to putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
 I don't know if you can judge from the blog or Instagram feed, but we work at a pace that is unprecedented, so the shop tends to get away from us.
 Yeah, we'd all like our shop to look like that Norm Abrhams guys shop, where everything is in it's place and there isn't a spec of dust anywhere, but we couldn't be on more of the opposite end of that spectrum.
 It's not because we're a couple of dirty motherfuckers, it's passion.
When you get wrapped up in the build, you give zero fucks about putting clamps away or the chisel back in the box.
 Passion...what a powerful fucking quality.
If you ever get to just shootin' the shit with someone and the conversation gives itself to that question.."so, what's your passion? What drives you?", you'll notice a lot of head scratchin' and "uh's" out of most people. When you ask that question to someone that has a true passion for something, buckle up motherfucker because you are about to get a ear full.
 It could be cooking, building, painting, whatever...but someone with a true love of their craft is going to take your ass to school on it, so listen up and take notes.
 Not everyone has a passion either.
Some folks are just content with existing as they are, and that's cool too...I don't fucking get it, but I respect it.
 How one can live without that one thing that gets your blood pumping, that's yours, that makes you feel as if you have the ultimate command over something, is beyond me.
 There's a difference between "passion" and "past time".
Here's one that's gonna get me some "fuck yous"...Motorcycles.
 Building them, fixing them, customizing them...Passion
Riding them...Past time.
 Passion is to create...something.
Hoping on a motorcycle with all your motorcycle gear, getting the wind in you face, at one with the road, the earth passing you by in all it's beauty...man, it's a awesome feeling, but it's not passion.
 Racing motorcycles, or collecting them, or restoring them...all passion.
So, that's a little lesson on passion, ya have it or ya don't.
 There's not a greater feeling then being consumed by a great passion, and that's the point I'm trying to get across, OR...I just came up with a real wordy excuse for a messy workshop.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

REAP WHAT YOU SOW

Not that there hasn't been furniture built this week to speak on, it's just that I had a sort of epiphany.
 Friday I was getting ready to take a shower and I heard something fall and saw my son behind his drum set in his underwear and he looked at me and said "keyboard down!", he picked it up, balanced it on his lap with his guitar and proceeded to compose.
 Later that evening, he hustled me into renting that movie "Logan", 3 minutes into the movie, dudes are getting stabbed in the head and shit and I looked at him and just said "dude??!", he gave me a sideways smile and said "yeah man,,,,rated,,,R".
 I said to him "dude, your mom is gonna kill us, not us...ME!", without missing a beat, this 8 year old boy said "that's why you're gonna return it when you go to the gym in the morning....I want you to live bro."
 I burst into laughter because a 8 year old ME, was talking to ME.
Cute fuckin story, right? It hit me like a ton of bricks, the impact that we have on our kids.
 It is truly staggering.
My son will tell me tales of shit head kids in his class that are mean to other kids, unrightfully defiant, and basically future inmates.
 I'll wind up at some bullshit school function where they are trying to get their hands in my pockets for more money, and I'll ask my son to point out the mean kids.
 I see the kids and then I see the parents, and the math is pretty simple from there on out.
Piece of shit scumbag parent equals piece of shit booger eater.
 So, because some parents think it's cute to dress their kids up like little gangbangers, I gotta drop $150 a month to send my kid to Jiujitsu in the event my son has to choke one of the little fucks out.
 My kid is cool because he is surrounded by cool people.
His 50 year old uncle/brother who lives upstairs is the lead singer in 2 hardcore bands, and their relationship is that of a living breathing Tom and Jerry cartoon.
 For the last month, these two will beat the shit out of each other with those giant foam water noodle things.There will be a knock on the door, Max will rush to get his weapon, open the door and no one is there. He takes a step into the hall and all you hear is "whack-whack-whack" and uncontrollable laughter ensues. It's constant and it's beautiful.
 Max comes everywhere with me and he can navigate any situation. Hardcore shows, business stuff, events, you name it and he can navigate it. He cooks, he bakes, he reads, he fights, he plays music, he's working on laundry, he draws, he paints, he builds, he shoots photos and videos, and he does all these things because we do these things and because we are present...100% present.
 He's not being raised by a TV a Ipad a Xbox or any of that bullshit because you reap what you sow.
"Brian, I don't have kids, and this is a really nice story and all but....", no, no, no...stick with me you seedless bastards, you can get something out of this too....
 We are molded and shaped by all that surrounds us.
Where and how we live, our friends, our family, everything. All these things rub off on you, and make a lil bit of who you are.
 When my house is a mess...I am a mess, when my house is in order...I am in order, when the shop is a disaster, we will literally stop what we're working on to get it to a more orderly shop knowing fully well in a couple of hours it will be a disaster again, but there needs to be that reset.
 Just like you would surround your kid with an all around positive environment, you have to surround yourself with one as well.
 I've known many people who are a mess, and when you look at their disgusting apartment, their alcoholic girlfriend, their soul sucking job with their shady boss, and their scumbag friends,  I mean come the fuck on...ya gotta make better choices if you want a better life.
 I'm not saying anything here that you don't already know, but knowing and executing don't live on the same block.
 How the fuck are you gonna learn to swim if everyone around you doesn't know how to swim?
Find the dead weight and dispose of it, otherwise your doomed to the environment that you've created for yourself.....and pay attention to your goddamn kids, they need you.

Monday, January 22, 2018

SHUT YOUR CAKE HOLE


I had a different standing desk/table in my house for the last 3 years.
 A solid portion of it's life held my bird cage. Bird died, and the table got moved to the front window.
Well, it was a little high, and a little long for it's new location and it kinda bugged me. I planned on making a new one, but I plan on a lotta shit, so it very well could've been 3 more years until I got around to it, until...on a negative 9 degree day, I was driving past a dumpster in my neighborhood. I saw a board sticking out, so I pulled over and hopped in to see what treasures awaited me.
 I started chucking boards out. Not just any old demolition lumber...old growth.
The house was most likely built in the late 1800's or very early 1900's.
 Listen...there will come a day when this well aged wood will be virtually obsolete, you can't buy or create all the natural character it holds. It has such a primitive feel to it, and when well placed in a home, a piece as such is priceless.
 And this piece...this shit is mine.
It's my heirloom. I wouldn't think of selling it because I remade it to fit the space and it's neighborhood specific. It has it's own history as well as the history I've  given it.
 The next piece is a rolling display table that we made for the Thorogood boot company.
They'll be using it to photograph their new products as well as marketing materials.
 We drove 600 fucking miles to deliver this hunk of wood and steel.
We got a tour of the factory which was very inspiring and motivating as well.
 Saturday, my kids Uncle picked him up to take him to the zoo.
Now, I've eluded to it before, but there is no one on earth I like hanging out with more than my son.
 I know a lot of parents that can't wait to dump their kids off, but I can attest that I am not one of those.
 So, I'm kinda kickin around the house, I drag myself in the shower, and I'm lost for what to do to occupy my time, so I decided to go get my truck washed for the first time in 2 years.
 There's a place called "Don's Grill" next to where I got the truck washed.
It's one of those diner's with just a counter and from the outside all you see is everyone's back.
I'm hungry so I bop in, scoot up to the counter and order some heart attack assured comfort food.
 A couple of stools down is a man in his mid 50's, decked out in grease and grime stained Carhartt coveralls.
 This man was a heavy Machine operator, came here from Ireland in 95', grew up on a sheep farm, and saw Thin Lizzy more than anyone else in the world.
 I know this because somehow me, the Mick and the cook embarked on a 2 hour conversation about everything from government, to European travels, to music, to kanye West...it was fucking magical.
 Time had stood still.
I was Anthony fucking Bourdain.
 I live in a bubble.
I love my bubble, but Saturday evening I left that bubble...just for a little while.
"Big deal B...you talked to a stranger...congrats."...Fuck you, shut up...don't shit on my moment.
I learned about black wool vs. white wool, I learned that Johnny Cash wrote 40 shades of green on a train rolling through Ireland, then handed the song off to the first Leprechaun he saw with a guitar and that now, at some point in any Irish bands career they WILL play 40 shades of green, I learned that this short order cook works that shitty diner to save all his money so he can go to Vietnam every year to search for a long lost love that even he knows could very well be dead or moved else where, but he goes anyway.
 ME? I didn't give much. I have loads of stories, but I enjoyed LISTENING.
I prodded the conversation and took control of it's direction, but I wasn't there to compare stories, I was there to listen to theirs.
 You can gain a lot by shutting your fucking cake hole every once in a while,
I ate, I listened, I learned.
 They enjoyed telling their tales, probably not nearly as much as I enjoyed listening to them.
Conversation all too often becomes competition.
 I've been involved in those types of conversations where everyone is trying to make their point the right one, or just to out do the previous persons story...you get nothing out of those conversations other than a general disdain for humanity.
 Try to listen.
Listen to you kid, listen to your coworker, listen to your wife...just try to really listen.
 You might just catch something useful or important.

Monday, January 15, 2018

BIG FAT SMELLY LOSER


Happy New Year ya'll.
 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.
Simple enough.
.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

WHAT'S IN THE BOX?



Well happy motherfuckin' new year ya bunch of hung over animals!
 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

MAKING FRIENDS



Damn...here we are...back to Christmas...where did the year go?
 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"
 How profound.
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.
Everyone wins.
 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

KILLED BY LIFE


The other morning, I was getting my kid ready for school, making my lunch, jotting down what I needed from Home Depot, threw on some old stinky Converse and a hoodie, took the dog to shit, ran the garbage out, kissed everyone good bye, hopped in the truck, shot over to Home Depot, and as I'm walking through the parking lot, I thought "goddamn my feet are cold", and as I looked down, I discovered that I forgot to put my boots on.
 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.