Sunday, December 29, 2013
I can honestly look back and say "I had a good year."
My kid started school, I made new friends, avoided tragedy, made a bunch of cool stuff, sold a bunch of cool stuff, kept a bunch of cool stuff, gave a bunch of cool stuff away...I can only hope this upcoming year brings more of the same.
As far as this final piece of 2013 goes...
The top is a slab of Mahogany that I picked up while I was getting the wood for the high top tables from Hoyne lumber. It was leaned up against the saw, and while we were searching for some rough cut Hickory, the guy said "I can sell you that cut off for $25." It wasn't what I was looking for, but I won't pass up a slab of anything...ever.
Mahogany is too pretty. For what I do, it's just too slick of a wood.
I think that is why a lot of traditional woodworkers snicker at me. They know what's under the saw marks, and they know the woods full potential, and I do too, I just don't want it.
When you sand and shape it to perfection, you're left with a piece of wood that could have come from anywhere. The mill marks and splits and chipped corners tell it's story.
My goal is to keep that story intact.
This top had some splits in it so I added 3 steel Dutchman joints.
The base was buried in the finish room at Salvage One for 2 years.
I routered channels on the top of the base and inlayed 4 steel bars to mount the top to.
I'm not one for resolutions. I execute resolve on a daily basis.
Why set myself up for failure by breaking promises to myself.
So my resolution is this..
I will look back on my past, only to improve upon my future.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
I've given my reasons for not taking on custom work, and they still hold true.
There are always exceptions, and sometimes they don't always have to do with the piece, they have to do with the person.
My old boss from way back had contacted me about building some high top tables for the Wrigleyville Rooftops.
I'm not a huge fan of "gas pipe furniture". I still believe that building gas pipe furniture is for people who can't weld, but I do understand their aesthetic as well as they're place.
I also have a new respect for pipe fitters, because my shoulders were wrecked after building these.
Me and my old boss share the same work ethic. In fact, I would have to credit him for cultivating my work ethic.
This guy would walk into meetings with billionaires, wearing flip-flops and shorts, throw his feet up on the conference table, and take em' to school.
He never compromised who he was, he did what he did, he did it well, and never apologized.
One day he told me "having money isn't about having "things", it's about freedom. The freedom to do what you want, when you want."
I never question his vision or intention, because I know that whatever it is, is part of a well thought out plan.
With that being said, THAT is why I took on this custom work.
What we have here are 2 48" tables with 2" thick solid Hickory tops, that are built to withstand any punishment that you would expect out of a place that has 3 or 4 hours of "open bar".
Friday, December 13, 2013
On those days, I have a moment where I wait for the bottom to fall out.
Aside from spending 45 minutes trying to wake a 4 year old up for school, my day started and finished well.
I had a couple small jobs booked, and if things worked out, I would stop by Salvage One to finish the Miller sling back airport seating.
The first job, even though being a outside job when its negative 3 degrees, went well. I literally had to "will" my hands to work, and because of the cold, I finished in record breaking time.
I ran over to Salvage One.
The guys were out doing pick-ups and the tools were locked up, so I proceeded to sand the table tops for the Miller piece by hand.
After sanding them, I used a brush lacquer finish.
The dry time is amazing, but lacquer gives me a migraine.
I knew they were in a hurry to get this piece on the floor, because some tv show being filmed in Chicago rented a ton of stuff, and the place looked a little empty.
By the time they got back, the table tops were dry and ready to be mounted.
This photo doesn't do the piece justice, but you get the idea.
Pack it up, head over to my second job, killed it, back in the truck to head home.
My son had his cousins come over for popcorn and chaos.
After the excellent day I had, and the kids playing, with the Christmas tree lit up in the background, I thought I was safe. I thought I had dodged one of life's sucker punch's.
I did dodge it, but I did get clipped.
Laura and Max called me into the bathroom.
There...on the toilet...is my son...taking a dump.
Big deal right? He's been potty trained since the summer, I've seen him crap a million times.
Max is afraid of 2 things.
1. being sucked down the drain when I empty his bath water
2. falling in the toilet
The sight I walked into, was him, sitting on the toilet, WITHOUT his child toilet seat.
A milestone...yes, a big deal worth blogging about...no. It's what he said to me and what I heard that made me want to write about this "event".
You see, what he said to me was...
"Da-Da...I don't need it anymore!" (referring to his child toilet seat)
But what I heard was...
"Da-Da...I don't need YOU anymore!" (referring to me.)
Monday, December 9, 2013
I figured that out while doing laundry.
I was at the laundromat at 5 a.m with all the junkies and scumbags, watching my clothing chase each other around in circles ,rooting for the red plaid shirt to win, but it kept getting trampled by the black hoodie.
I was listening to Thelonius Monk, and a little voice in my head said "you are happy now", and I was.
In that gross place, at a ungodly hour, doing a mundane chore...I was happy.
It made me think about "happiness". Happiness is that guy that draws a Hitler mustache on you when you're passed out, or pops a finger in your butt when you bend over to get the shampoo in the shower (I guess that depends on where you're taking a shower and who's in there with you, cause it might not be happiness, it may be Tyrone).
It's elusive and sneaky and those who chase it are just as doomed as my red plaid shirt.
Most of the time, I don't recognize happiness until he's moved on to his next victim.
I don't bother searching for him because he comes and goes as he pleases.
Our relationship works, and quite honestly, people that appear to be "happy" all the time, scare the fuck outta me.
It all comes back to balance. Light-dark, rich-poor, happy-sad, one doesn't exist without the other.
Speaking of "balance"...
The ironing board table is complete (as you can see).
My old friend Happiness helped me out on this one. I can tell he's there when I'm working on a piece because I work non-stop, and I usually don't remember what my hands just did.
Whoever buys it is going to be very lucky. I did the "GOOGLE" test on it. I typed in "Vintage Ironing Board Table", and...NOTHING. There ya go...one of a kind.
There may be a little hiatus in blogging with the Holidays coming up, I always kind of throw that out there, but always find something to bore you with.
So, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Friday, December 6, 2013
You know the scene...traffic down to one lane, while 5 guys stand around looking at one guy in a hole. Not a bad gig, if you can get it, but it's almost a catalyst of why our country is such a disaster, and why things are so expensive.
I've been at both ends of the spectrum.
I've been in situations where I've called my boss and said "get this guy outta here, unless you like paying someone to watch someone else work", and I've worked on some amazing crews.
For instance, I worked for a commercial builder and we were building DrumBar on the 18th floor of a hotel downtown. The hotel fired the contractor (my boss) because he was a total shit bag, but hired all of us to finish the project. Once we were released from the clutches of our evil boss, this guy Aron Lafonde became the foreman, and let me tell you...it was like watching a fucking ballet. Everyone worked together and everyone worked. It was a great example of the human machine.
Those days are gone and now I'm a one man army.
Yesterday I went to Salvage One to complete the ironing board table.
I mounted the side shelf, and lacquered the piece. Collin then shows me a vintage Eames or Miller airport section seating piece. It had a I-beam sticking off both ends where they would secure more sections, so he wanted to put end tables.
He took me up to the 3rd floor table graveyard. It's a room packed with orphaned furniture that was either broken or just ugly.
We found a table that had a 1.5" thick cherry top. I brought it down to the shop, chopped it up, and mocked it up.
It's a little strange to have a hand in modifying a piece created by one of the design greats. I was very concerned with making sure the end tables looked like they belonged there.
When I got home, my buddy Jim brought me not one, but TWO factory carts to work on.
One is a piece of shit that I will de-shit, and the other is amazing.
Then I went to Home Depot with my brother-in-law to pick up the trim for his kids room that I've been renovating.
After the smoke of the day cleared, and I laid in bed with my family, I thought about those 5 guys looking at the one guy in the hole. No matter how easy the job, or how much money....I'll always be the guy in the hole.
Monday, December 2, 2013
After a job I did a couple of Saturdays ago, I stopped by Salvage One on my way home.
I was shooting the breeze with Collin and Marcus at the front desk, and I had mentioned how I had been studying these industrial ironing boards. I was going on about their design, and how great they were, and Collin says "we have one on the 3rd floor, it's been here for like 2 years".
Up to the 3rd floor I go, and down to the shop comes a industrial ironing board circa 1930.
Ironing board top...removed, shitty brown paint...stripped, base post,,,cut down to desk height, stitched up top intended for something else...cut down and installed, cut off from top...cut down for a side shelf...voila'!
There's some finish work to be done, and I'll be posting pictures of the completed piece very soon.
Here's why I chub up about these industrial pieces.
There was a elegance that piggy backed function in these industrial pieces from 1920 into the late 1950's.
It was a time where people took great pride in their craft. It was also a time where employers cared about their workers as much as they cared about their profits.
If someone had to stand in front of a ironing board for 8 hours a day, the employer provided them with a bad ass ironing board. In turn, the employee takes ownership of that tool, and pride is born. With pride, comes quality.
That got lost somewhere, and the result is evident.
Look how GOOGLE treats it's employees...Chef provided meals, work out facilities, spa's, for the love of God they even have a GOOGLE bus that picks them up and takes them home.
This treatment works, and I bet you never hear someone at the water cooler bitching about how "this place is bullshit!"
I did a job for a couple that relocated from Dubai last week. I had to install a large wall unit entertainment piece that they had shipped from Dubai.
They were so hospitable, and by their location and quality of the furniture in their home, they had god money.
The gentleman watched me put this thing together. That shit usually drives me crazy, but I didn't really mind this time because he seemed so interested in the process of making this thing happen.
When I was finished, he said "judging by the quality of your tools, I knew you were a craftsman when you walked in, and your precision and execution confirmed that."
I was flattered. Like, super flattered. Usually customers just say "how much?", cut a check, then lock the door behind me.
In typical "ME"/ ugly American fashion, I blurted out "I AM a motherfuckin' Craftsman".
Monday, November 25, 2013
I'll break down the .45 part first.
The whole table is based off the 45 degree angle.
I spent a total of 5 minutes being awake in Geometry class in high school. If I had any idea of how much I would use geometry in my everyday life as a adult, I think I would have been less concerned about getting home so I could beat off, and more focused on what was being taught.
That's the past and I earned my "self-taught" life badge anyway.
Lately I have been making quite a bit of rustic pieces, and I felt like doing something more contemporary, but still keeping it raw.
A lot of furniture I see lately is what I call "Pseudo-Steel". What that means is, a lot of steel tube, or steel veneer. I get it. Steel is expensive and heavy, but when you put your hands on a piece of SOLID steel...you can almost feel your forehead slope a little bit, as you regress to caveman status.
That being said...this is solid steel and walnut, my 2 favorite materials living happily ever after.
Now the Love part.
We had our first parent teacher conference last week.
Why I was having anxiety...I don't know. He's 3, what are they gonna say?
I wasn't really worried about what they were going to tell me. My mind was just being blown by the fact that I...me...probably the most immature man on earth, was attending a parent teacher conference.
I am known for blurting out the most offensive and inappropriate things in the most delicate of situations. It took a lot to bottle it up for 20 minutes.
The first part of his report card was religion. "Max understands who God is and who Jesus is, but is unable to recognize that Jesus is the SON of God"
I... wanted to blurt out "NO FUCKING WAY. You guys are amazing, because I don't understand who God is and I went to 9 years of Catholic school, and in 4 short months, my 3 year old has mastered the "God Concept" ?"
I didn't blurt that out. I nodded and smiled like a good boy.
That whole meeting could have been done in under 10 seconds...
"Is Max being an asshole?"
"see ya next quarter."
Monday, November 18, 2013
You won't hear women say that too often, but I'm talking about the little things in life.
I like laying in bed with Max playing IPAD games, I like following Max and his mom to school in the morning on my way to work, I like my Friday night ritual of hanging out with my brother-in-law Diego and his wife Sandy while their son Matias and Max go Ape Shit.
It's all these little things that are woven into my days that make life bearable.
It's not that the little things haven't always been there in one capacity or another, it's just as you get a little older, a little wiser, and throw a child into the mix, that you start to recognize how fast time goes by, how precious and valuable time is and what it is that makes you happy.
I'm not fucking Buddha or Yoda, nor am I telling you anything you don't already know, BUT....ya gotta admit that after reading this, all the little things in life that are important to YOU, have just flashed through your head.
With that being said, my job here is done. As much as I want everyone here to buy my stuff, I write these passages to share my brain and on occasion...to make one think or at least reflect.
In the spirit of "the little things" (keep your penis jokes to yourself) I knocked out a pretty cool picture frame.
I really like making the little home accent pieces like the railroad spike hooks and the wine bottle vases. I wanted to add to the small things, and while searching for a picture frame at Target, I decided to make my own with scraps.
The body of the frame is from a cut off of the farm table, and the angle iron is a cut off from the table I re did while garbage picking.
I hand mortised the 5x7 recess for the picture.
This is my useable prototype, and I'm definitely going to add to it.
I'd like to hinge a piece of glass for the photo cover, and maybe figure out a cool way to illuminate it.
The devil is in the details.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
We've all uttered those words, but the fact is, we're not "too old", we've just got to a point where "we're too SMART" for whatever it is that we feel that we're too old for.
I often wonder where I would be if I didn't start touring the world with punk rock bands when I was 16 and rode that into my late 20's.
Where would I be if I went and got a engineering degree, and got a nice 6 figure job? Would my life be any better?
I don't know. I don't care. I chose this.
I decided at a early age, to dream. I decided to do what I have to do to survive while I chased various dreams.
One of two things are gonna happen...
1. I'll chase my dreams to the grave
2. I'll have my moment in the sun.
In order to pursue a dream, one has to sacrifice stability. You shun from the 9 to 5 slavery, and you put your days together as you see fit.
I, by no means, am knocking those who chose to get a degree and a good job. In fact, I have moments of envy.
I work hard to balance both. I'm not special, or unique, we all work hard and we all have different dreams.
Ok, I just had to get that out of my brain.
I finished the Farm Table project.
I work alone most of the time, and I'm forced to carry stuff by myself . So, keeping that in mind, this ridiculously heavy table can be broken down and loaded in the back of a YUGO if need be.
It's definitely a Industrial Heirloom piece. A piece that can be handed down through generations.
Even if it was involved in a house fire, the base would stand up, and one would just have to get a new top. I doubt that can be said for anything IKEA has to offer.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Their kids put a really nice party together for them, and I, on my never ending journey of self discovery, learned a couple of things about myself.
1. I should own a suit. Just one. Just in case. If I should have to act like a adult once every few years, I should at least LOOK like one.
2. I wish I knew how to dance.
If it were back in the day when I used to drink, I would've danced with everyone and everything...then vomited on a piano and punched somebody in the face, so it's a good thing I don't partake these days.
There was a moment in the evening when Laura asked me to dance. Being the mother fucking gentleman that I am, I accepted her offer and began to awkwardly sway as I destroyed her high heels.
She pulled me in close and whispered in my ear "let me lead", and I whispered back "I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS."
I know you're waiting for me to assimilate this experience to this Copper factory table, so here it goes.
Me and this particular piece danced.
There was a lot of pushing and pulling on my end, and I think in the end, this piece was happy when the song was over, and I went and sat down hoping not to be asked to dance again.
It's not that I'm not happy with our dance, I busted a couple of impressive moves.
I took a Copper laundry pan that was discarded on a roof, and turned it into a perfectly fitted top, To my dismay, that's where our dance ended.
I'm never fully satisfied with a piece...any piece. People say that's a good thing. "A sign of a true artist". To that I say "BLAH-BLAH-FUCKITY-BLAH".
There are just some pieces that don't NEED a whole lot done to them. I have to accept that and move forward.
If you knew how much time I spent staring at this piece, thinking of how to make it better, you would think I was bus stop crazy.
It's just one of those situations where you do the best you can, you try to have a little fun, and then you call it a night....kind of like my dance.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Cintia owns a store in Logan Square called Reform Objects. Me and Cintia go way back.
When we were kids we hung out in the same group. I used to ride her home on the handle bars of my Bicycle and do real dicky stuff, like jumping off curbs and slamming on the brakes, sending her flying into various lawns, but she's one of my longest running friends.
Her shop sells really sleek Mid Century furniture, and we were talking about her business and my work. I was telling her about how I'm not sure what's harder....building this stuff, or writing about it.
Anyway, I wrapped up the sewer cap table this week. I'm not sure if I'm really stoked on the piece itself, or the fact that I finally completed something on the project list.
Here's it's origins...the base was a light fixture (or at least PART of a light fixture), the post is 2" steel pipe and a coupling, and the top is a sewer cap.
Fred Sanford would be very pleased and keep his "you big dummy" comments directed at Lemonts lazy ass.
I almost forgot why I brought up the Cintia reference. Someone had contacted her about a custom piece. The women wanted a really rustic/industrial table, so Cintia referred her to me.
I like the fact that I've become a authority on these kinds of pieces. It's great for my already inflated ego.
I let her know that I had a few pieces available, and that if she wanted something custom, it would be very expensive. I explained that if I do a custom piece, I have to stop all my other work to focus on making someone else happy, and the whole reason I do this is to make ME happy.
Needless to say, I never heard from the potential customer, and that's ok.
I would rather build for the customer that understands and respects that.
As much as that limits a client base, the one thing that isn't for sale is my integrity. .
Monday, November 4, 2013
All weekend I've been obsessing about them.
They've gone through so many changes in my head, and this morning I finally pulled the trigger on the copper top cart.
I decided to go with copper boat nails and roves. A copper nail with a rove (it's like a washer) acts as a copper rivet in hand boat building. They're expensive, but necessary.
I know a lot of people shit their pants when they see the prices on some of this stuff, but before you soil your chonies, you have to understand this...In SOME cases, not all, but some, a lot of research goes into a project. I've done so much research on fucking boat nails, that I feel compelled to build a boat (if a talking rock tells me to gather one of each animal on earth, then Houston, we have a problem)
There have been some pieces that I've made, that when you add up time and materials, I've made a total of about $7 per hour off a piece.
So why do it?
Labor of love. I love doing this. If you love what you do, then it's not "work".
There is also a balance that one has to embrace, and learning that balance takes time and patience.
The balance is this...for every piece that I eat shit on, another one de-shits it.
Most of the ones where I financially lost on, have opened new doors or opportunities or learning experiences.
So, that's that. I thought I'd throw it out there. A informed customer is a happy customer.
I got the stickers printed up. I'm not that happy with the actual printing quality, but you get what you pay for. If you want a few to slap on your kids lunchbox, email me a mailing address and I'll send em' off. firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good Monday if that's possible.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The better of it is....that you have 4 projects going on as opposed to having 0 projects going on.
The worse of it is...that you have 4 projects in various states of completion, or incompletion, depending on how you want to look at it.
This is my newest endeavor.
My boy Collin went out on a pick in some shit hole and kept me in mind while he scooped up as much rusty, nasty metal as a weirdo like me could possibly hope for.
This is what I'm calling a "Farm Table". The base is steel and the top is from some 100 year old planks. How do I know it's 100 years old? Funny you should ask...after all this time, I can actually tell the age when I cut it. Believe it or not, wood milled within the last 50 years is still a little moist in the center, and this slab was bone dry.
That is why "old growth lumber" is so expensive and so sought after.
This is the type of piece that makes me want to sell my kitchen table on Craigslist for $75 and move this bad boy in it's place.
There is still work to be done on it, but it's provided me with a excitement that will expedite it's completion.
Over the next few weeks, all 4 of these pieces will hit the showroom floor, and that will put me close to Christmas, and then I take a little break. I'll spend that break thinking of new pieces and enjoying the Holidays.
I'm a sucker for the Holidays.
Friday, October 25, 2013
We had talked about doing 2 benches to go with the table, but it's overkill, you may as well just prop up a whole tree in your dining room at that point.
We didn't want to do another table like the vagina, because it would de-value the first vagina, I mean, if you're gonna drop that kind of dough on a vagina, it better be a one-of-a-kind...vagina.
I'm a coffee snob. I visit various coffee shops, and they all have these long, high tables that you can prep your coffee or look like a asshole typing away at your laptop.
So now you can visualize where this piece is headed.
This slab had a pretty big split. It's wood. It happens. In my eyes, it's a beautiful disaster. It enhances the character of the slab, as well as showcases the hand of a craftsman.
On a personal level, it's says "you're kind of fucked up, but I'll fix you, I won't give up on you."
So I stitched her up, made her strong and beautiful, and one day I'll send her off into the world to be amazing.
Share my daydream with me for a second....Let's just say there's a day when there's a 6 month waiting list for one of my pieces, and my biggest dilemma is what color Range Rover to buy...I would still want to build at Salvage One.
It's kind of a funny situation, because I don't work there, I just kinda "do work" there.
I feel like that guy in "office space" that gets fired, but still shows up to work everyday.
I like building there because there's so much stuff to be inspired by...just laying around...like, everywhere!
I was out in back, and saw this rusted clump of iron. Through the corrosion, I spotted a little sliver of leafing detail. I took it back inside and started grinding away, and what was beneath was stunning.
If I can Frankenstein some parts, it will be a foot stool, if I can't, it will be a little side table.
Whatever it becomes, it's going home with me.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I put in a lot of work stripping the paint, and fabricating a copper top for this cart, but this whole "copper" business has thrown me for a loop.
You see, my preconceived ideas for 99.9% of my projects don't go much further then what I'm about to do with a piece the moment I'm standing in front of it.
Nothing ever goes as planned, so I set my goals real low so that I'm never disappointed.
The problem with this isn't in execution, it's more financial.
My idea, as I was beating the shit out of this copper top, was to run copper bar stock along the edges to give it a more finished industrial look.
It's too expensive. period.
That one detail would make what would be a $500 cart into a $1500 cart, and what good is it if no one will buy it?
My other problem is...I can't give up. I don't know how to give up.
It would be so easy to chuck the copper top, put on a kick ass wood one and be done.
It's the equivalent of having sex, and right before your going to have a orgasm, you get up and go do the dishes.
One way or the other, I'll have my proverbial "orgasm".
Friday, October 18, 2013
That phrase runs through my head at least once a day. What it means is, you have to be more then what you appear to be, you achieve that by constantly pushing yourself.
My first "push" was the letter stamp.
I was like a 4 year old on Christmas morning yesterday, when UPS delivered my letter stamp set.
I chewed through the packaging, grabbed a hammer and piece of leather, and WHACK!
Instantly I was like "this is bullshit, this shit doesn't work". I had to chuckle at myself because I of all people know that nothing is ever THAT easy. Once I regained my composure, the stamp worked just fine. It gives a very elegant effect.
Next "push" is another KLIEN table from by homie Jim Bigwood.
It's been here for a couple of weeks, and as much as me and father time kick each other in the balls, being patient paid off.
I was doing a job for a woman downtown. I was packing up my tools, getting ready to leave, when she asks if I can take a big piece of "metal" off of her roof.
My first impulse was to run to my truck and peel out, because usually when something is supposed to take 5 minutes, it takes 2 hours.
She was a nice lady and kindness goes far with me, so I said "I'll take a look". By saying that, there was no commitment to do it, which is one of my favorite Jedi mind tricks.
I hike up to the roof and this giant piece of "metal" is a giant piece of Copper. Cha-Ching.
Instantly when I saw this piece of copper, my head replayed a show on the Discovery channel where Jesse James builds a motorcycle out of copper. It was great because he was basically like "I don't know shit about copper, but I have a network and a blank check so I'll have the best copper smith in the world teach me how to work this material".
Well, I don't have a network or blank check, so I'm just gonna fuckin' wing it.
I'm not building a motorcycle, I'm making a table top, so how hard can it be? It should only take like 5 minutes, right?
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Kind of. Here's where it stems from.
There are 2 things that leave me satisfied, sex and learning.
Sex because, well, that doesn't need much explanation, and if it does, then you're doing something wrong, and I can not help you.
Learning. I love to learn. I wish I had that thirst in my youth. If I did, I'd be a millionaire by now.
When I speak of learning, I'm not speaking of being taught, I'm talking about cultivating a interest or idea. I don't want someone to teach me, I want to discover it, on my own terms, then apply it.
I woke up Friday morning with the idea of wrapping these wall vases in leather.
I've always thought that being able to work with fabric would be such a awesome tool to have in ones arsenal. Truth be told, that shit scares me. Nothing puts the brakes on anything quicker then fear.
Well, that morning I took a step to overcome that fear in a "practice what you preach" approach.
"Big fuckin' deal, you wrapped a piece of leather around a bottle" you say? To that I say "yeah, basically, but what have you done that you've been afraid to do? Nothing? I thought so".
What I did is I took a shot at doing something that has eluded me due to my own fear of failure, and ended up making something that I think is already pretty cool, and made it a little better.
In terms of anything that has to do with working with leather, this is as rudimentary as it gets, and I'm ok with that. I did exactly what I set out to do, it worked, and now this element doesn't seem so scary.
I won't be on "Project Runway" anytime soon, but I do plan on incorporating more leather into my work.
Friday, October 11, 2013
So we've established that you guys are a bunch of perverts, and that's all right.
Back to business.
There's a secret room at Salvage One. Buried beneath it's treasures was a dilapidated shop cart. From my research, I discovered this to be from the neighborhood of the 1920's.
As I stated before, my goal was to find the middle ground in restoring this. I achieved that middle ground, at least I think I did. It's been done in such a way that it's character is still in tact, yet it can still compliment a living space.
It's a strange vibe working on this kind of period piece. I feel more like some kind of professor dusting off fossils in a museum then I do a carpenter. There's just a different level of care.
The other day I was looking at my Pintrest account. I had a very proud moment as I looked over my body of work for the past year and a half. Not too shitty for a guy without a formal shop space. Not too shitty at all.
Monday, October 7, 2013
After 5 plus years together, a beautiful child, a great dog, and a home that we worked hard to create together, how could you do this to me?
I was betrayed.
NO, I didn't walk in the door to find the cable man humping my girl on the kitchen table. If that was the case, the first words out of my mouth would have been "Hey...I EAT there."
What happened was much worse.
She went and bought a shelving unit from TARGET.
I'm not sure if any of you know this, it's a secret that I've been keeping...I build (wait for it...)
furniture. There, I said it, it's all out in the open now.
All joking aside, she was actually looking out for me. She see's me working like crazy, and didn't want to bother me with a petty piece. She even went as far as trying to assemble it with a butter knife.
None the less, it's tenure in our home was under 24 hours.
I was in the home depot parking lot at 5:45 Saturday morning, waiting for them to open so I could get some steel to make a REAL shelving unit.
Having that piece of garbage in my house was like a crucifix under a demonically possessed persons pillow.
Although my Saturday was hijacked by this project, the end result was very nice and the moral of this story is...A closed mouth doesn't get fed.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
I really wish I had taken a "before" picture, but who wants to see a picture of a turd anyway?
Needless to say, it was in pretty lousy shape.
These carts aren't that rare. They're cool, and a lot of people do them, but what I've noticed is that people do too much or too little. My goal, is to find the in between.
One reason I like working on stuff there is that you don't have to look too hard to find what you need.
After I ripped the dilapidated decking off, I had a "oh shit" moment about what I would use for new decking. After spending a whole 5 seconds looking around I found a burnt piece of 2"thick old growth wood. A little scraping and sanding revealed a toasty brown thing of beauty.
I walked out of there that day looking like a coal miner.
Phil Cisco at Maximum Tattoo finished up the logo. It's very "Gaboratory-esque" which I wasn't expecting, but I really like. You'll see it plastered everywhere very soon.
My buddy Jim dropped off ANOTHER cart for me to work on last night.
While loading up the other cart in his van, I noticed about 20 cases of French bread.
He explained that he got them from a buddy who owns a bar and he was going to drop them off at a homeless shelter.
From time to time something happens where I have a renewed faith in humanity.
If it were me, I would have taken Max to feed the ducks until they fucking exploded, But luckily, someone else saw a greater good.
Monday, September 30, 2013
If there is one thing about me, it's this...I RARELY ask for help.
It's not a "I'm so independent" thing, it's more of a "I'm as stupid as I am stubborn" thing.
In order to take this not so stunning photo, I had to carry this table up a couple of steps, and into the sun light. Somewhere between where the table was and where it is...lies one of my testicles.
The silver lining to that dark cloud is that I can now belt out Michael Jackson's "I want you back" like nobody's business.
Enough about my balls.
This was another table from the KLEIN tool factory.
These are not from a manufacturer. While working on them I make up stories about them in my head
I imagine some guy, working the midnight shift at KLEIN, back in the early 60's, bored out of his mind because he's already read the same newspaper cover to cover 3 times and still has 6 hours left on his shift. and decides to weld up a project table, not for it's function and more for passing time.
Little does this man know, that some 50 plus years later, some asshole has chopped it up and has written a story on the interweb about it.
I tip my coffee cup to you, "Mr. Midnight shift Klein tool factory worker". Although you most likely are dead and gone....your project table lives on.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Grinding this new table down has been excruciating. Just when I think I'm done, I discover a new section that I missed.
I should be referred to as "THE MAN OF STEEL" not because of my superior strength and stunning good looks, but because I've blasted so much fucking steel and paint up my nose this past week, that I believe it has fused with my DNA.
Today I will finish the wood top and bottom shelf. I'm in a race to the finish line so that my boy can hopefully sell it at the last outdoor Randolph Market.
This photo has nothing to do with furniture, but we were lucky enough to have family portraits done by Martin Sorrondeguy (check out his latest photo book "GET SHOT") this past weekend.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
I was able to work on it whenever I had free time and everyone there was super nice, but not having it outside my kitchen window was driving me a little nutty.
I obsess about...everything.
If I have a bill due, I can't sleep until it's paid, if I have to go to the post office, it will haunt me until I go.
Once I started this piece, I walked into a whole new brand of crazy.
Luckily, it's pretty much done.
The first finish coat has been applied, and Collin is going to add the next two coats with some buffing in between to give it that hand rubbed appeal.
I spent the last half hour at the shop just staring at it. There's a lot to look at.
The term "Functional Art" is used best to describe this piece as opposed to "Table"
I'm glad and the world should be glad I'm not a salesman. If I worked there, and someone said "excuse me sir, how much is that TABLE?", I most likely would go into a tirade along the lines of..."TABLE? That's not a fucking TABLE. A table is something your kids spill Cheerios all over, or you toss your mail on! This is something you look at, you discuss it. This is a piece that will OWN a room, it COMMANDS attention. Table...get the fuck outta here."
Yeah, that probably wouldn't work out so well.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
This one is going to be more of a challenge because it's pretty...whatever.
Don't get me wrong, it's cool, and super heavy, but there's no "WOW" factor, so I have to create it.
There was a steel top on it that I already cut off. I really wanted to get the paint stripped off before the rain, so I could let it rust outside, but I think I'm going to have to do the old Muriatic acid trick.
I have a lot of ideas to make this more appealing as well as useful, the problem is that I really hate buying materials for pieces like this. I'd much rather just come across something that works for it.
It's funny how the universe works, because more often then not, something will fall into my lap.
I've never had so many projects going on at the same time, and I'm not sure if that works to my advantage . If anything, it's a exercise in patience.
I would love for the day when I can dedicate all my work time to these pieces. At this point, I pick away here and there until I get to the home stretch, then I go full retard to get it done. It's a sucky formula, but it's the only one that I have to work with.
There's a couple of things on the horizon that I'm excited about.
Phil Cisco from Maximum Tattoo is doing a logo for me. Once that is done, I'm having this guy Santiago from Brooklyn screen printing me cloth furniture tags as well as some t shirts.
I've had a couple other people working on logos, but I'm not the guy that is gonna pester someone to do something for me. I check in on progress a couple of times, and if nothing happens...I leave it alone. These are friends who were doing stuff that never came to be, and it's not worth it to get worked up over it. People have lives, and shit going on...I get it. If I hired some hot shit designer to do something, and had to wait months, I could promise you that there would be a "hot shit designer" in an emergency room somewhere, having a computer removed from his rectum.
You get what you pay for, and if you paid nothing, you should expect nothing.
Friday, September 13, 2013
1. You work fast and efficiently
2. The end result is beautiful.
This one is done and done.
I'd love to get all wordy about it, but it's Friday and you all have better shit to do.
Have a good weekend.
Me and Max will be at the Screeching Weasel stage tonight and the Los Crudos shows on Saturday.
It's a puck rock weekend, and I vow not to touch a tool...at least until Sunday.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
This has been one of the more difficult projects because it was already cool when it was brought to me. It's almost easier when you get your hands on a real turd, because then, the possibilities are endless.
I understand the average buyer, and most of them can't see things for what they are.
This is more then a factory cart. It's a piece of American history. It's from a time when people went to work clean, and came home dirty. A time when you went to work and made more then a wage, you actually made something tangible.
What I made was some really cool shelf brackets out of 3/16" steel.
I'm a humble guy, but I do want to pat myself on the back for these, for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that I haven't had to touch that Chinese bender in a while, and while making these, something just clicked, and I feel like I fully understand this tool now.
The second reason is...I really wanted to add a bottom shelf. I had to figure out a way to mount the shelf in a manner that made it appear to have always been there. Ideas are great, but facilitating them is a whole new ball game, so when you have a idea and are able to make it happen, well...it just feels good.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Being in bands, being an artist, and doing what I'm doing now has put a lot of good people in my life. In this new venture I was contacted by a guy I went to elementary school with.
His name is James Bigwood, and I haven't seen him since 8th grade.
Thanks to this blog and social media, he contacted me to let me know of some vintage factory carts he acquired.
Now, he very well could've flipped these "AS IS", got a pocket full of dough and moved on, but he saw something more in them, and chose me to re-birth them.
That being said, these carts will get the respect and innovation that they are deserving of.
There are 17 carts of all different shapes and sizes. He dropped this one off yesterday, and we made a feeble attempt at catching up on 27 years that have come and gone.
Not only am I stoked about these pieces, but I do look forward to being involved with someone from my childhood.
It's times like these that I wish I had a cool warehouse loft home like that Janet Jackson video from the 80's, because I would keep every single one of these carts. But I don't. So our goal with these is to make something very home owner friendly without the asshole price tag that most people that sell these put on them.
After looking at Etsy and Ebay, I see what most people are trying to rape buyers for, and I think it's kind of a dick head move.
It's my opinion that most people who buy this sort of stuff deserve a quality piece at a fair price.
I'd like people to walk away feeling good, instead of feeling like they just got hustled.
Karma has no interest in money.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Not so for this Laborer.
I have to seize the moment when I can, so on Sunday I went and put in more work on this piece.
I put the final sand on, grinded down the 3rd base, and while rummaging through Salvage One's finish room, I came across some black metal flake paint and proceeded to paint the bases.
All that is left is putting a finish on the top, make a stretcher for the legs, mount the top, and then you will all be spared from having to see anymore photos at bad angles of this table.
While working on this piece, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it's like to own a hand made piece.
It's hard for me to put it in perspective because I made almost everything in our house, but there is a small painting that was given to me by Anthony Lewellen. It hangs in our bedroom and it really holds a special...something.
I guess that's why people collect Art. There's a personality behind it, a soul, a reason, a hand.
If you really think about our lives, most things we own are processed, mass produced, and cold.
whereas when you have a piece from an artists hands, it brings a warmth and a soul to your environment.
I don't know. That's just the wacky shit that runs through my head when I'm working.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I was going to use it as a shelf for a funky table I'm working on, but if I cut off what I needed, there would be too much waste, and spalted maple isn't really available at Home Depot.
Then I considered cutting and joining the two pieces to make a table top, but it would be a pretty useless size table.
So when in doubt...make a bench.
Spalted Maple is on the softer side, so the climate was good for taking a crack at carving.
After I carved the "B", it was sort of camouflaged, so I needed to figure out a way to make it pop.
I wanted to keep it natural, so stain wasn't a option.
That's when I came up with the stupid idea of torching it.
Guess what...fire and wood on the decaying side aren't a good combo for furniture, although they are perfect for camping.
I'm not sure what I was thinking, but the second the flame touched it, wooosh! Bench on fire.
I've torched a lot of wood with very cool results, but putting a flame to wood this dry was not the smartest thing I've done.
Once extinguished, I had to sand all the charred wood, and what was left was inside of the "B", which made it "pop".
I painted the legs a really cool burgundy.
I could go on and on about this bench, but "Doc McStuffins" is over and King Max is demanding I feed him like right fuckin' now.
Apparently they haven't taught him what "give me a minute" means in school yet.
Monday, August 26, 2013
These wall mount wine bottle vase's would be in the $35 range, and consist of all the stuff I have laying around, or cut offs from other pieces.
It's kinda cool to have something that was part of something else.
I'm always open to ideas, so feel free to shoot me a email of something you think would be a good gift idea. If I use your idea, I'll make you one for free.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
The initial shock and heartbreak is over for me and mom, but let me tell you...Monday...shit is gonna hit the fan.
Let me paint the picture for you.
We chose a Catholic Montessori program for him.
Not a cheap endeavor, but when it comes to your kid, you want and do your best.
Last week I got to visit the school. I met one of the teachers (who Max doesn't have) and she was kind and engaging, and had a real good vibe. Her classroom was set up in all these stations where kids can gravitate to whatever sparks their interests, and that's how they learn.
I walked out of there that day feeling very proud and confident that we did really good for our boy.
Well, first day of school is a whole different can of worms.
Max's teacher had the personality of a fucking funeral director, the classroom is empty, except for some tables and chairs and 4 books (2 of which Max can recite word for word), and there's 5 other kids in his class.
Laura was raised in Pilsen with 3 brothers and a sister who beat the shit out of the four brothers and anyone else on the block who looked at any of them crooked. Needless to say, Laura comes from tough stock, and on Monday, I'm letting the pitbull off the leash.
My question is this...why in the fuck is my son spending his first day of school in a room that resembles the day room of division 6 at Cook County jail? (that's a whole nother' story of WHY I know what the day room of division 6 at Cook County looks like)
It's his FIRST DAY. We paid for this shit? Are you kidding me?
All I know is this...come Monday morning, If that room doesn't look like a clown car fucking exploded in that room, it's gonna be the verbal equivalent of 9/11.
I have to work Monday, and I won't be able to contain momma bear, so it's a good thing it's a Catholic school, because only God himself can help them.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Anyway...I was able to put some work in on this piece today.
Of course I pick the hottest day of what was a lame ass summer, to grind and cut steel.
I managed to get 2 out of 3 bases polished, and the middle base chopped up, so that the top cross bar doesn't interfere with the open center.
I literally grinded until I had nothing left to grind with anymore.
The good thing about giving a piece some time, is that you get to keep a eye on how the wood is acting.
Being in Chicago, we can get 3 seasons....in a week, and wood is temperature and humidity sensitive. You can have a great piece of wood, then in a weeks time it has split and done all kinds of crazy shit. This slab is holding strong. It's done all the fluctuating it's gonna do, and THAT is critical.
A little more grinding, shaping, and sanding, then we can move to finishing, and THEN....this vagina goes up for sale. (I can't help myself)
Monday, August 19, 2013
Collin from Salvage One gave me this piece of wood.
It was a cut off from a table he was making. I was thinking of using it for my "plan A" table, which has recently become my "plan...Q" table, but after coffee and cigarettes, I saw a different future for it.
I had to do some research on it because it's a very strange piece of wood. It's "Spalted Maple".
You would think that one day you would be dragging your victim through the woods, and you would say "Your last moments will be spent tied to this beautiful Spalted Maple tree."
You'd be lying to your victim, because there's no such thing as a "Spalted Maple" tree.
When wood is "spalted" it means it's in a state of decay. Interesting, eh?
This particular piece is in the very early stages of spalting, which is good because it's still stable.
It's stable, yet delicate. I'm not used to anything delicate. I'm used to pieces that I can beat the shit out of.
Since the natural beauty of this wood is so unique, I've chosen to make a simple bench, which should be used as a table, because one shouldn't being rubbing their fat ass all over a beautiful slab of wood like this.
But, if you buy it, it's yours. you can wear it as a hat if you want.
To keep it interesting, I carved in the Old English B logo, just because I've always wanted to do it, and I put a small walnut Dutchman in a split in the corner as opposed to just cutting off the end.
There's a whole ZEN vibe to this type of wood. A finding of beauty in everything, even death and decay.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Collin over at Salvage One, went up to Michigan and brought back some of these slabs.
The other day, he sent me some pictures of the wood and said he wanted to do something crazy.
I'm always down for something crazy, so I swung by today and picked them up.
I actually drove straight to Robertos shop and started cutting and joining.
I'm a little intimidated by "good" wood, because I've mastered the art of making horrible wood look good. It's hard for me to find a start point because the wood is pretty to begin with.
Luckily, in this situation, the wood has such a odd shape that the shape is my "ugly" starting point.
I'm going to square up the ends, manipulate some steel work bench bases that they have at S1, then sand it till it's as smooth as a....vagina?
It's going to be a unique piece that I'm really excited about.
It hasn't even been in my possession for 5 hours, so I can't even imagine how funky it's gonna get over the next couple of weeks.
Monday, August 12, 2013
When I say I did "nothing" what I really mean is I didn't do work.
Actually I did drop off a piece to Salvage One on Friday with Max and shot the shit with Collin over there for a minute, but that's not really work either.
Laura had a photo shoot on Friday and Saturday, so it's difficult for us to be simultaneously productive.
After her shoot on Friday we had a little cook out and the kids played amongst themselves while the adults discussed how ridiculous religion was. Moments like that are rare and I think for once, all the adults were on the same page, and we all knew we were on the same page and everyone felt it and embraced it.
Saturday, Laura did shoot number 2 so I took Max to see grandma.
Sometimes making the journey there is a pain in the ass and I leave feeling empty because I only hear about some chicken that was on sale, or how much water my sister got in her basement after a storm.
But this time, me and my mom got to talk about some real life business while Max practiced his underwater skills in her pool, and this time I left feeling very satisfied
After I got home, we looked through Laura's shoots, then went out for $60 worth of coal fire pizza.
Usually, I would throw a shit fit over dropping $60 on pizza, but, it was really good, the people there were nice, and the family left feeling very content. So...$60...well spent.
Sunday, Laura had to go to work in the afternoon, but we managed to get Max some park time. After that he played with his cousins and I thought about the work I had in front of me. Thinking about it was as good as doing it after having a weekend of the most wonderful amount of...nothing.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Not really, but that's what I keep telling myself.
I love it. It's surprisingly comfortable and feels like a piece of glass.
Money is money. You make it, you spend it. This is worth more to me then turning it into a few bucks that I would most likely blow on some worthless shit.
I'll never get rich making furniture because I truly do not care about selling furniture, or maybe I will get rich making furniture because of the fact that I don't care, who knows?
The universe will have it's way with you either way.
My father in law was talking to me yesterday, mind you, this is a man creeping up on 80 years old. He was telling me about these tables he's been making because the custom cabinet business is really in the shitter, and when business was good, he never had time to do things he wanted to do. He spent his life making things for other people.
But now he has time. 65 years later....and now he has time. That's some bullshit.
I, on the other hand will mostly make things I want to make. I don't want to be 80 and say I wish I did this 65 years ago.
Money comes and goes, but years....years always stay behind you.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Sunday morning I was looking at vintage shop stools on EBAY. I have no intention of purchasing anything, I just think they're pretty interesting. The design is cool, but the wear is what I'm interested in. I like to see how they've held up, and what kind of material is able to take decades of abuse.
Well, I stumbled upon a cast iron, adjustable stool base from the 1940's. There was no seat, just the base, and I have a giant beam and a appetite for winning this item and giving it a new life.
It will be a few days before I know if I'm the winner of this item, but I decided to carve out what will or would be a motorcycle-ish type of seat.
They way I see it is I have nothing to lose but $30, and I can take my time and chip away at the seat when I'm bored, or I'm in between projects.
It's also good practice. I'm already feeling more comfortable in knowing what a piece of wood will do if I take off a little here, a little there, curve it here, flatten it there...
Maybe with all this carving business, my lifelong dream of being the weirdo who lives in a cabin in the mountains and carves bears with oversized genitals, is a little closer then I think.