Monday, October 23, 2017
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 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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
Monday, September 25, 2017
It's Sunday, and there's school tomorrow, so I send my boy upstairs to get ready to take a shower. He scurry's up the stairs with no protest, and as I'm walking to the stairs, I hear 6 gun shots in quick succession.
I turn and yell for everyone to get in the house and sprint to the front, where I see a tan,older, mini van speeding down our street. I see the car in front of our house, back window blown out, bullet holes in the driver side door, and the man in the driver seat with one hand on the wheel and the other on his neck.
Laura is screaming at me to "get in the fucking house", but I'm oddly calm and say "but it's already over, they're gone".
I call 911, she runs up to our house to find my boy standing in our living room with his hands over his ears, saying "I don't wanna die-I don't wanna die".
She takes my boy upstairs to his cousins house, and we're all in front of the house as swarms of police pull up. All the neighbors have made their way outside now, and everyone has a sort of glazed over look on their face.
This is Chicago.
We see it on the news everyday here, but that summer Sunday, we were the news,
Too close. Way too fucking close.
After talking to various police this week, we are smack dab in the middle of an all out gang war.
Spanish Disciples vs. Saints (who apparently are far from saintly).
The drive by...I can handle. Shit heads killing shit heads....no tears rolling down my cheeks for that shit.
It's how we have to live now, it's how I have to make my son feel safe, it's how this entire block that I live on, is on pins and needles.
The kids? They've changed.
That's what has me all kinds of fucked up. Their whole world changed that Sunday evening, and there is no going back. You don't un-see what they saw. They feel our tension.
My grim hope is that the Disciples and Saints kill everyone that they need to kill...quickly.
How do you rebuild a sense of safety in a child? I don't know, but I'd like to take a crack at it sooner than later.
It'd be great if gangs settled their differences in more of a West Side Story manner, just dance those differences away. If that was the case, I'd totally be looking forward to gang wars...walking down 24th street, snapping and strutting, then BAM! Dance fight!
Shit, maybe I'd join a gang. I'd lose every dance fight, but always live to dance another day.
Life goes on, and while we keep pushing forward, a live edge man cave rolling bar table was created for Jaunt of Action Heights.
Lot's of details in that slab. Bow tie"s to keep the cracks from cracking, hand painted epoxy filler added in all the other cracks and voids.
The next one is a upholstered giant ottoman/table with a drop in steel tray for holding Kool-Aid and Cheetos (I'm just assuming that's gonna be their snack choices).
This has been the summer where me and Zach have pushed the envelope in our work.
Always evolving. A sense that there isn't anything outside of our range.
Mid-Century, French Country, Industrial, Modern, Rustic....bring it on. A one trick pony is only good for one trick, and eventually, that trick gets old.
Stay safe. Hug yer kids. Kick some ass this week.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Andy picked up a new condo in Logan Square and chose us to make a couple statement pieces.
This is why I love my job.
Andy comes to the shop, gives us some insight on what he likes, and then is basically like "make me cool shit for my home"...Done and Done bro.
Sometimes you meet people, you see their space, and you just can not, for the life of you, read their style. With Andy, it was real easy.
The best part of it all is when you lug it in and put it in place, and their face is saying "fuck yeah, my space is becoming a home".
How much easier can it get?
No driving from store to store trying to find something that fits your space. You search and search, and eventually you just settle for some bullshit, then end up hating that bullshit a month later.
None of that.
Come by the shop, we'll swing by your place and make you what you want, and the kicker is....10000 people aren't going to have the same thing as you.
Doesn't it suck when someone comes to your house and is like "oh yeah, we have that dining table....we got it on sale." and in the back of your mind, you now wanna launch that dining table out of your window and tell those people to get the fuck out of your house.
We're here to prevent that.
We'll make you cool stuff, and you get to keep your friends and not smash the dog shitting in your front yard with the dining table you just hurled off of your balcony.
That's my sales pitch...enjoy.
Alright, so Saturday night we had a barbecue for my son's grandmothers birthday.
After the festivities, my son asked if he could spend the night at his cousins house.
This is most parents wet dream, but for me...not so much.
His mom was working, and I, for the first time in 7.5 years, was alone.
I'm used to my lil dude by my side, and found myself pacing the house for about 10 minutes before I started desperately searching NETFLIX for something not animated, or about superheros or talking dogs. I started and stopped about 4 different movies before I decided to stare out the window.
Is this what life would be without my son?
I guess If I had more notice I could've gone to Riot Fest, but I hate big crowds and I hate big festivals, so that wouldn't be an option. I don't drink, so I wouldn't be bar hopping.
What would I do on a Saturday night?
Go to the shop and work?
Really? Is that my option? Work.
I don't know man, but after 7.5 years of fixing Legos, getting kids a variety of juices, riding go karts, playing video games, reading scary stories, watching animated movies about fucking feelings and shit...THAT is the life for me.
That little son of a bitch was gone for a total of one hour and twenty minutes before I realized just how much I need that shit that I bitch about in my life.
So I'm staring out the window on a Saturday night having a fucking panic attack about what I'm gonna do when this boy becomes a man and bounces?
THAT is what I did on my Saturday night. Shit....Riot Fest wasn't sounding so bad after all.
I ended up eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in the dark, while listening to my dog snore...Brian McQuaid you are a party fucking animal.
Without my son, I'm about as fun as an adult circumcision procedure.
Even now, Sunday at 8:14am, I desperately await his arrival.
I've already done dishes, done laundry, went to the gym, cleaned a pair of boots and wrote a fucking blog, all while trying to just fill the time between consciousness and my lil dudes return home.
Don't take shit for granted, and don't eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's in the dark, cause both of those things will make you feel lousy.
Monday, September 11, 2017
I rarely check voicemails, but for some reason, I actually listened to it.
It was from the Chicago Police.
I called the number back, and the officer asked if I knew a certain person.
I did, and I asked the officer if everything was ok, to which he responded "he's dead", to which I responded "dead isn't in the neighborhood of ok...self inflicted?" The officer asked why I would imply that (which is brilliant work Columbo), I said "well, he's fairly young, in decent health to the best of my knowledge, and since you're calling me...I'm ruling out car accident and shark attack. The officer chuckled on the other end, and I believe accidentally mumbled "self inflicted..." as if almost a question to himself.
He was looking for family contacts, to which I had none, and it all kinda ended there.
I knew the deceased was troubled. To the extent that would cause a man with a new business and a 4 year old son to off himself...I had no idea.
Suicide...we hear that shit way too often these days.
There are depressed people. There are people that are chemically fucked up. There are people that off themselves due to the side effects of medication.
My theory on the leading cause of suicide is...LIFE.
Sometimes life becomes too much.
Sometimes we dig ourselves into such a deep hole that we can't even see a pinhole of light from the entry point of our proverbial hole.
There's no cure for LIFE.
I don't always mean to be the insensitive fuck that I usually am, but all the people that I know that were killed by LIFE, they made a metric shit ton of bad decisions.
Sometimes we all need a hand. Sometimes we lend a hand to friends in need. When these people just continue to make bad decision after bad decision...well, we start to not really give a fuck.
All of my friends and acquaintances are adults. I have on many occasions gave that helping hand, and I have turned my back on equally as many.
Cause I'm a fucking dick head?
No, because when I've gone above and beyond in 99% of those situations, my help was shat upon and I became a crutch.
The same life that is killing you, is trying to fuckin kill me too. So, while the axe wielding life is chasing us through the woods, and you're wildly running and flailing and screaming, I'm navigating the woods with the precision of some world champion Parkour kid.
To my friends that are clinically depressed, emotionally imbalanced, or the ones that will actually value my advice or appreciate my helping hand...I'm here for you 1000%.
To the ones that do the same dumb shit over and over...go fuck yourself, I'm not buying a new black suit for your outro party.
Everyday LIFE kicks me in the balls. I've learned to take it like a champ and move forward.
In moving forward we managed to knock out this cool little industrial light fixture for my buddy Dr. Andrew Carr (who has a fucking brain tumor and fights to live everyday and doesn't talk about painting the walls with his brains because some chick dumped him, or he's 2 car payments behind, or he blew his life savings on blow).
The other forward mention via photography, is a entry bench with a bunch of bullet casings mortised in.
I call shit like I see it. Always have, always will.
I know suicide is a real touchy subject, and I fully understand the medical side of depression and chemical imbalances. There's no treatment for a dumb mother fucker that can't help themselves from constantly doing dumb shit.
One of the many gifts I received from becoming a father was learning a very valuable lesson. The lesson I learned is that life isn't all about me.
Many people depend on me every day, and I simply can't afford to do dumb shit and make horrible decisions.
Yeah, it'd be a blast to blow all my money on cocaine and strippers and then possibly gamble away whatever money I can scam or steal, but that's really not conducive to what I've struggled to build.
Ok, that's nice and depressing for a Monday morning.
Try to make it through the day without killing yourself...somebody probably needs you around.