Saturday, November 18, 2017

STICK AND MOVE


Have you ever taken a step back, looked at your life, and said "what in thee fuck is going on?".
 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

HAPPY FAILURE


Goddamn if we didn't churn out some wicked shit last week.
 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.

Monday, October 30, 2017

SOULFLY

I lost a dear friend this weekend.
 My bird.
I'm very aware that birds are on the list of "pets that die fairly quickly" along with goldfish and hamsters, but this little flying machine was dear to me.
 She was acquired by accident.
I threw a shit fit when I was informed of her permanent residency at our house. "i'm not taking care of a goddamn bird!" was my initial response, until I walked up to her cage, stuck my face in the opening to mad dog this tiny creature, and she hopped over and began rubbing her head on my nose.
 It was that moment in which this bird became MY bird.
Anyone else that would put their face or fingers in the cage would get pecked. When I would come home from work, if I did not immediately greet her, she would squawk and flap her wings wildly until I gave her a proper greeting.
 As she grew more comfortable with the family, she would attempt to nest in my sons wild hair, and fly about the house landing on random people.
 She was therapy for me.
Here we had this tiny delicate creature that would land on the lumbering resident Ogre, and make it be still. This little bird taught me to be still, and when I was still, my mind was still.
 Fast forward to Sunday morning when I did my usual routine of removing her cage cover and expecting her usual little whistle that to me, in bird talk, she was saying "wus up"...I got no "wus up", in fact, I didn't even see her on her perch. I looked down, and there was my lil friend, on the bottom of the cage as dead as can be.
 We were due to hit a pumpkin patch that afternoon, and I didn't want to fuck up my kids day, but I've always given things to my boy straight no chaser, so bring on the tears.
 He hasn't really had to tackle loss directly. When my father passed, my son was fairly far removed from my fathers situation, so to him, it never seemed very real.
 He was crushed...I was crushed...we were all crushed. Seeing my son weep from his soul was the most horrible thing I've ever had to witness.
 After he calmed down, I said "we have to do some man work". We got a box, we each put in a trinket that represented us, and me and the boy proceeded to the yard to do Sunday morning grave digging.
 Not really the father/son activity I was planning on that day.
Although the rest of the day was pretty somber, we managed a pretty decent day. My son articulated a lot of feeling he experienced, which I was very proud of, because for a child to be aware of what he or she is feeling, and then being able to have a discussion about it, is very important. Fuck...I wasn't even as sure of what I was feeling because I'm so accustomed to shoving pesky "feelings" down to the basement of my soul.
 So, while many cool projects left the shop this week, this little situation took the front seat this week.
I sometimes use this blog as my therapy, and I'll usually work in things that were created just to stick to the format, but I felt that my fine feathered friend deserved a place of her own this time.
 Fly free my friend. You'll be missed.

Monday, October 23, 2017

NOTHING LIKE A GOOD PUNCH IN THE FACE


Breakfast table for 4 for a nice couple who just wrapped up a renovation of a Bucktown 3 flat.
 Butcher block top, and 4 stools that were hand bent and hand carved.
There are some people that will jump online and order up some stools for around $80 a pop and be perfectly happy, there are some people that are like "fuck that.", yeah, ya spend a little more, but after spending so much time, money and energy into a renovation, are you really gonna cheap out in the end? Some people...yes, these people...these people went all in.
 When customers go all in, we go all out.
Fuck...I should quit making furniture and become a full time slogan writer! "We go all out, when you go all in, here at Theodore Bundy Toyota!"
 Nah, I could do that shit all day, I'd have a little book of catchy sales slogans like the midget from the movie ELF.
 We were out to dinner Friday night and the subject of working for someone came up, and I sat there listening to peoples "boss" stories, and I blurt out "can you imagine me working for someone else?" to which everyone got a chuckle before a "uh...no" response.
 "Uh, hey Brian, I need you to email So and So Fuckerton, and have them give me the quarterly projections and blah, blah, blah..." to which I would not be able to control myself from responding "Bitch, in the time that it took you to waddle your fat ass over to my cubicle, and dictate what YOU want ME to tell THEM....You could've just knocked that shit out yourself and still had time to wedge another donut in your big fat face, you time wasting, inefficient bastard."
 I'm not knocking people that do work for other people, in fact, I commend those people.
Trust me, if I was in the weeds, I could go work for some company and eat that shit sandwich everyday to keep the lights on, but only after exhausting every possible means of NOT living that cubicle life.
 Sometimes I actually daydream about it. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. All I have to do is show up on time, do the work that's handed to me, and then go the fuck home. I wouldn't have to buy my own pens or paper or computer or fax machine or pay for my own cell phone or coffee or water or sometimes lunch or transportation? THEN....they're gonna pay me to go on vacation and be sick every once in awhile? THEN...every year based on my performance they're gonna pay me a little more?
 It looks really appealing written down, but then I wouldn't be able to do shit like make creepy baby head sculptures when I fuckin' got a hair in my ass to do so, or say "hey Zach, you're on fire bro! Don't put that shit out yet, I need to take a picture cause that's Instagram gold right there!" Or build someones piece with the selling point that it would be made solely while listening to SLAYER.
 I'm going to guess that between me and Zach, over the last 3 years, we've collectively taken 6 work days off.
 We have both navigated life with $20 in our checking accounts more over the last 3 years than any other time in our lives.
 And for what?
Freedom.
 Freedom to create. Being at the helm of your own boat. Taking 100% control of your own life.
The price you pay along the way requires a certain set of testicles.
 Even if it all goes to shit one day, we can say we did it.
We went all in and went all out.
 There are 2 ways to find out what you are made of.
The first one...get into a fight. You learn a whole lot about yourself after getting punched in the face.
 The second one...start your own business.
Starting your own business makes getting punched in the face seem like a cruise ship massage.
 The reason I even write about this shit is because I always get emails from people who want to do their craft full time, but at the end of most of these emails, they rattle off a laundry list of reasons that they can't pursue their craft.
 I'm flattered that they confide in me, and maybe they figure that if a shithead like me can do it, anything is possible, but out of every email or message I've gotten, not one single person has given me a list of reasons about how they CAN pursue their craft.
 I'm not a therapist or a consultant. My only vague advice is...find a way. If you really want it, you'll find a way.
 I stopped listening to hopes and dreams a couple years ago.
I'll interrupt someones hopes and dreams speech and simply say "show me."
 Don't tell me what the fuck you wanna do, show me.
I wanna fly like that Rocket Man guy from Dubai, I wanna ride a motorcycle cross country, I want a cabin in the woods, I have a lot of hopes and dreams that I never speak of because I don't have a solid plan to execute a single one of those...yet.
 This right here, right now is the hope and dream that I'm working on.
Don't let your hopes and dreams remain a topic in conversation...go get em'.
 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I MANAGED TO USE THE WORD "WHILST"


Halloween is just around the corner and in our house, it has the same energy surrounding it as Christmas eve.
 I wanna talk about art.
I wanna talk about it because I know a lot of people that plopped down in front of their laptop with their morning coffee, checking the blog to see what we made and read about me bitching and complaining of some wacky life situation, are scratching their head saying "what the fuck is this creepy shit?"
 It's art. It's my art.
If you didn't think "what the fuck?" for at least a split second, then my "art" had failed.
 I'm a realist. I'm not one to be blinded by my own greatness (tongue in cheek statement folks), and I'll bet dime to dollars that a pie chart of public opinion on my "art" would read something like this...
90% think it's creepy and weird and want nothing to do with it.
5% think it's creepy and weird, but are like "it's creepy and weird but it's kinda cool".
5% are like "yo....are those for sale?"
 So high 5's to the lower 5's, and everyone else...allow me to explain...
There is something deep inside us. All of us. Even the most non creative mother fuckers out there...it's inside of you too. That 'something" is an urge to create.
 Some people are dialed in to that urge and chase it to the ends of the earth. Some people don't know that their urge exists. Then there is the category that I place myself in, which houses people who are driven to always create, but not necessarily within the borders of what art can be defined as.
 So right now people are like "what the fuck does that 3rd category mean?"
IT MEANS...some folks are always creating, it's just not always tangible. We create moments for our kids, we create a peaceful living environment for our family, we create a positive work space for our craft, we create relationships, and sometimes an urge tells us to create something that you can see and touch.
 My "see and touch" happens to be some creepy fuckin babydoll head sculptures.
Those of you following might be thinking "ok, i get it, but why?"
 I'm gonna tell you why.
1. Because the baby heads were there
2. Because I can.
Those who know me are able to look at these pieces and make fairly accurate assumptions. Those who don't know me can develop their own assumptions based solely on what they see.
 Either way, my pieces have succeeded because someone is looking and thinking.
You might be looking at it thinking "what a weird piece of shit." but at least ya thought, at least it triggered a emotion, and maybe now you have clarity in knowing more about what you do and don't like.
 You're welcome.
That to me is the beauty of art...even if it's creepy.
 Even shitty art can move you.
I remember being in this massive white room in the Phoenix Art Museum. The only painting in this room was a massive 30'X30' stark white canvas with a yellow dot in the middle.
 I paced back and forth in that room, inspected this massive painting, scratching my head, looking utterly confused, and although I thought I was just thinking these words, I most certainly blurted out "what the fuck is this bullshit?".
Listen...it was bullshit. It was skill-less bullshit art, a total fucking scam of a piece of art...but was it?
 I spent more time in front of that stupid fucking painting, it evoked more thinking and emotion than any other painting in that entire museum, I actually felt like I got scammed into liking this stupid ass painting, but it clicked in my head that it wasn't about liking or not liking, it was about understanding art.
 I was able to get more out of a piece of art that I visually didn't enjoy, than most work that I do visually enjoy.
 What a fuckin scammer, but brilliant.
Each one of these creepy baby heads has a story and meaning to me of which I will never divulge.
 They were created for you to come to all of your own conclusions. You either choose to come up with your own, or you disregard, but I have never created a piece of art whilst giving a fuck what someone thinks of it.
 We were put here to do more than pay bills and die...go create some shit.

Monday, October 9, 2017

HIGHLY FLAMMABLE PAJAMAS



NO I did NOT copy and paste photos from the Restoration Hardware catalog!
 The first 2 photos are a concrete and steel coffee table that we made for a great couple in Highwood Illinois.
 There were some unusual details to be taken into consideration on this one...First, it needed to accommodate a pig underneath the table.
 Not like a pig sculpture, or a pig shape pillow...a real pig.
The second consideration was making the top look like marble.
 The pig accommodation, no problem, just a height adjustment, the marble effect...well, we had to wing it.
 Here's the thing...you're never gonna know until you try, and the worse case scenario is that you have to make another top.
 The last thing we wanted to do is make another top, so you start out real slow and build your way up to the effect you want. If you go all Jackson Pollock on that mother fucker, you're sure to be making another top.
 It was a heavy son of a bitch to deliver to one of the most beautiful neighborhoods that I have ever stepped foot in, but the couple was thrilled and on our journey back to the shop, they had already sent us these beautiful photos.
 The next piece is a retail display table for Jaunt.
Walnut slab, bent ear steel top.
 Zach made a great point that the table was the perfect height for someones kid to lose a eyeball when they're playing tag in the store while mom shops, so he proceeded to weld 3/8" round stock around the entire top.
 Do you ever just feel really good about the work you do?
It's a strange feeling sometimes.
 Sometimes you're just broke as fuck, but you're churning out some really cool shit, and you just don't even care that you're broke as fuck, because you're making these bad ass pieces that you don't even know HOW you made such bad ass pieces.
 That's called passion.
Either ya have it, or ya don't.
 If ya don't...then you're in the wrong fuckin place.
If ya do...that passion has the ability to carry you way farther than you thought possible. .
 If you follow Breclaimed on Instagram, you will see that I choose passion over product in and outside of my work.
 There are many small business's that I support because of their passion, not because of their price.
Bweiss Leather, J10 customs, Zace denim, Nobrandedon, Witness Company, Bravestar Selvedge, Freenote Cloth, Stock MFG, Mister Freedom, Agenda Trading Company are just a few.
 These people live their craft. They eat, sleep, shit, fuck their craft everyday.
Not one of those company's started doing what they do because they thought they were gonna get rich.
 For me personally, I like to have a connection to the things I own. I like a little bit of back story. I like to know the things I buy are either one offs or made in small batches.
 I look at that coffee table from the customers perspective and think "how fucking cool is that?", dudes designed it, built it, and then set it on my rug in front of my couch. Beats the hell out of loading boxes in your car, dragging those boxes in your house, trying to follow directions with little tiny drawings of things that are supposed to fit together, and once you do figure out the Swedish hieroglyphs, that piece has to stay exactly where you assembled it because if you move it, it falls apart. And all for what? You saved a few bucks on something that will end up in a dumpster in the not so distant future.
 Look, buy what the fuck ya want, I base my purchases on not only what I want or need, but on it's quality, where it came from, and the fact that my single purchase could possibly change someones life.
 When I order a custom leather wallet...that person can now pay their cell phone bill that month...yeah, it's THAT personal, I'd rather help that mother fucker out than add zeros to Amazons future earnings projections.
 Most people don't give a shit...as long as it's cheap...that thinking makes zero sense to me."Check out my shoes...they were $12, yeah my toes are bleeding, but they'll stretch out...$12...can't beat it", no I can't beat it cause I have no desire to beat it.
 My mom buys my kid the most flammable pajamas on earth cause they're cheap. If it's over 75 degrees he'll burst into flames, but she got 6 pair for $5, I mean fuck...can't beat it.
Tirade OVER.
 Save the whales, adopt a puppy, sponsor a child in Africa for .69 cents a day, and shop small to save the working class.



Monday, October 2, 2017

PRIDE AND PURPOSE


The first photo is a custom order from Jaunt in Arlington Hts.
 Their customer was looking for a unique bar height table for their theater room.
3.5" top, steel X base, and hand bent railroad spike purse hooks underneath. You won't find that shit at Pottery Barn.
 Check out Jaunt for funky stuff or custom pieces for your home or business.
The next piece is a prototype.
 We have partnered up with a very talented and interesting woman...my mom.
Since my father passed away a little over a month ago, one of my main concerns was my mom staying busy and active.
 Loneliness is a silent killer.
After spending damn near 50 years with someone, and then suddenly, they're gone, and you're left alone...well...we all know someone who has rapidly declined in that situation, and I'll be damned if I sit back and watch that happen.
 My brother and sister have been instrumental in hanging out with mom. They live very close, while if I make the journey on a Friday after work...it's a 2 hour drive.
 My mom has always knit and crocheted.
There was never a shortage of sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, afghans, and even a couple of Halloween costumes thrown in the mix (she knit me a Batman costume as a kid...my therapist says I'll be ok) around our house.
 She even made any child molesters dream come true when she knit each of us an army green sweater with our names knitted in huge white letters on the front, so when that windowless van pulled up to the park, and the creepy guy poked his head out the window and said "Hey, uh...BRIAN...you're uh...mom wanted me to uh...pick you up and take you to uh...Toys-R-Us...yeah, yeah Toys-R-Us"...I'm like "well fuck, dude knows my name, and I like Toys-R-Us, so fuck it, lets roll out"...and just like that, my face is on a milk carton thanks to that damn sweater.
 Regardless of her failed attempt at getting us kids abducted, she's extremely talented.
I asked her to knit me some tiny hanging bags for this wall mount coat rack.
 She had a million questions to which I answered "there's no real plan, just do as you see fit".
Ya see, THAT'S the hard part.
 When someone gives you all the information you need to make something, well, at that point, you're just applying the proper steps. When you need to create the information, THAT is what gets the gears spinning.
 Get this womans gears spinning.
Even if it's these simple little bags, it keeps her eyes off of "Dancing With The Stars", at least for a little bit, and maybe get a little creative, a little distracted, maybe get a little sense of pride and purpose, cause lets face it...when you lose your partner of damn near 50 years, depression is just waiting to pounce, and if it gets a hold of you, it will cripple you, and proceed to kill you.
 We're Irish...we're a tough brood, but are we really tough, or are we just really proficient and jamming our feelings and emotions down into the deepest, darkest, depths of our soul? Fuck, I dunno. This is all coming from a guy that operates off of 2 emotions...pissed off and not pissed off.
 So, in terms of these little handmade bags, they're versatile in the sense that you can hang em on our coat rack, a door knob, pack toiletries in them and chuck em' in your luggage, put in on your head like a chin strap beanie, fuckin' whatever. At the end of the day, they have a purpose, and to me that purpose is bigger than holding stuff.
 Hopefully I can get to the point where I stand over my mom with a stick in some creepy warehouse and spend my day yelling "KNIT FASTER! KNIT FASTTTTER!!!!!" Nah, I just want her to feel good.
 If you can keep your mind and body in motion, you can live a long productive life, but once you slam on the brakes, your chances for survival dwindle.
  Let's keep it movin' folks.