Saturday, March 30, 2013

FACTORY BEAM COFFEE TABLE PROGRESS

I don't usually post on the weekends, but I'm up with the birds...
 I made a lot of progress on the coffee table this week.
The hardest part was trying to come up with a base for the top.
 I decided on ripping the left over beam. I didn't want to do a base like that at first because I've seen it done before, but I realized that wasn't the real reason. The reason was that I didn't want to do the work because....well because it sucks.
 Cutting beams with a $20 hand saw is murderous, but I realized that if you put in the work, you'll reap the rewards (I haven't figured out exactly what those rewards are yet).
 Anyway, after I muscled through cutting it, I couldn't sleep knowing it was so plain Jane.
I had done some reading about a wood carver/sculptor/furniture maker named J.B Blunk.
 He's amazing, and I was inspired (which is rare), so I carved in a slight curve at the bottom of the base with a draw knife.
 I learned something about wood carving...it's hard. Even to make this little tiny curve took a lot of control and labor, but it added just what I needed to keep my brain from obsessing over it.
 I cut and polished some angle iron which I'll be using to secure the top to the base.
I gotta say, it feels pretty good to be working a larger piece again.

Friday, March 29, 2013

HANDMADE REVIEW

I originally ordered this from a shop called "we the people" on Etsy for my niece who is going to Paris on spring break.
 Then, being the selfish bastard that I am, decided to keep it for myself because I haven't been on vacation in 5 years so why should I bestow a gift upon a child who is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime? (sorry Sol)
 Anyway, Kara at We the people has lived all over the world and makes jewelry from vintage artifacts.
 I'm glad I stumbled on her Etsy store because when I'm not hoarding things for my greedy little self, I am, amongst many things, a excellent gift giver.
 The prices are beyond fair, the quality is outstanding, and if you're ever stumped on what to get mom on mothers day, We the people is the place to go so your mother doesn't regret your birth...anymore.
 Check em' out at www.wethepeopleWTP.etsy.com

Thursday, March 28, 2013

AGING

No big break through on design innovations with these.
 They're crates. (insert yawn here)
It's not so much about the crates but about aging them to look like they've been sitting outside a barn for 60 years.
 These started out as new wood but I'll lay out the steps that I used to for this effect.
1. beat the shit out of the wood. (hammer, chain, bash some screws)
2. wet the wood
3. rub dark stain on while the wood is wet. Really push the stain in.
4. mix white enamel with water. Who says water and oil don't mix?
5. dab the white on a small area and drag it across with a rag
It's a fun little effect, and there are a zillion blogs about different methods of aging wood.
 If I could only find a method to make my old FACE look new, I'd be in business!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

GOING FULL ON FLINTSTONES!

While Mid Century Modern, Shabby Chic, Steam Punk, Reclaimed/Repurposed are words you see and hear thrown around to describe the hippest of the hip in terms of furniture these days, I'm changing the game with this one.
 I'm going FLINTSTONES!
This is the beginnings of a massive coffee table.
 It's a 17" wide by 7.5" thick beam that I obtained from a demolished factory.
I would pay money to see the surveillance footage of me relocating this 300lb monster into my truck.
 Most people would bring along something with....wheels. But me? I'm a caveman. Your "modern ways" frighten and confuse me.
 In typical caveman fashion I went to work on it.
Cut it down with a hand saw, used a draw knife to remove all the nasty wood, hand planed it to get down to some more visually appealing material, then sanded it.
 It has some significant splits, so I applied some Dutchman's on the top and on the bottom I'm mortising in some steel to insure it remains in one piece for the next 100 or so years.
 I'm conflicted on what to do for a base. I want to keep it low.
I'm sure I'll spend the next few days staring at it while consuming way too much coffee, trying to come up with a idea for the base.
 That's part of the fun of it though.

Monday, March 25, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Since my girl is a photographer, I had the genius idea of getting her a MAC for her birthday.
 The problem was...where to put it. Trust me, if there was not a designated space for it, it would remain boxed up till there was, and it that case, I may as well have just drove around releasing hundred dollar bills out of my car window.
 Here are two facts about me that won't win you a dime on Jeopardy...
1. I wake up ridiculously early
2. I take the garbage out
 Luckily for these two things because when I went to take the garbage out at 4am, someone had disposed of a butcher block counter top.
 The last thing I want to do at 4am is drag a greasy, disgusting 8' slab of butcher block back to the house.
 Out of the 8' length only 3' of it was remotely usable. The usable size was perfect because it fit snugly in a space where we couldn't do much with anyway because of the shape and size of that part of the room.
 So I worked the top, got a solid 1/2" steel bar base done and VOILA....hand made birthday card on steroids.
 I'm sure she was under the impression that she was getting a desk made from garbage for her birthday (who wouldn't be excited about that?)
 Now, she knew I was making the desk but never really saw it, and she was clueless about the computer, so while she was at work, her brother and I, lugged it in and set up the computer.
 Her brother filled her iTunes up and loaded up some photo software, violating as many federal piracy laws as possible.
 I missed the initial shock and awe because I was dead asleep by time she got home, but I was pleasantly awoken by a very happy birthday girl.

Friday, March 22, 2013

FRIDAY'S HAND MADE REVIEW



I have been in the market for a new wallet chain.
 I looked at a lot of different chains before I came upon the braided leather ones.
This particular one comes from Bill Eidenmuller of WHLIMITED.COM.
 There are a few people making these, but most of the ones I saw had these Tassel things dangling off them. I'm not into anything with a "tassel" period.
 Most of the ones I saw were between the $30 and $60 range.
The WH LIMITED came in at $54 and I chose theirs because of a few things...
1. the key ring style
2. the integrated key holder
3. the color options
4. the fact that it was tassel free
 The shipping was super fast and the packaging was really classy.
Packaging to me is the exclamation point on a piece and it is a symbol of pride in ones work.
 Quick story...my girl bought a Ralph Lauren hand bag from Macy's. She spent 2 hours searching for the perfect bag, plops down $400 and the cashier chucks it in one of those ugly plastic bags that I use to pick up dog shit with. Nice, right?
 Unfortunately every hipster that works at Whole Foods asks me where I got my wallet chain from, so I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot of these.
 WH LIMITED also make wallets and Ipad covers and I'm pretty sure they do custom work.
In the future I plan on contacting Bill to make me another one but with a fatter braided leather part to accommodate my larger and heavier Ron Bryant wallet.
 To sum it all up, I'm glad I paid a little more because I got a little more.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

LIVE AND LEARN

So this guy email's me because he has a brilliant idea that he wants me to facilitate for him.
 He apparently had a couch that he wanted to replace the existing legs with hairpin legs.
He wanted to give it, and I quote "that mid century vibe".
 I'm not really in the "vibe" business, but I can get some 4" hairpin legs knocked out for you.
Humming through my head as I reply to his request, are the words of 2 of the literary genius's of our time...Jay and Silent bob. "75 bucks little man, put that shit in my hand".
 Guess what happened....I got em' done, and our mid century modern affcionado blew me off.
After I let him know that they were ready, he scheduled a pick up and blew it off a total of 3 times, which to me is adding insult to injury.
 Now the old me would have tracked him down through his email address and launched the hairpin legs through his front window, but the new me bolted them to this awesome 60 year old crate.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MORE TAIL.

I was convinced that I was going to be the only person who thought that these were a good idea.
 After I made the first one, I did a search to see if anyone ever made one before. I found nothing.
That means one or both of two things.
1. the idea is retarded
2. the idea is outside the box.
Regardless of which one it actually is, someone decided it was a great house warming gift, and I...could not agree more!



Monday, March 18, 2013

A GOOD WAY TO START THE WEEK

I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone for taking interest in my ramblings.
 In a short time, I'm at 100 plus views per day. I'm not sure if that's successful in nerdy blogger world, but for me, it's huge.
 Unless it's just one person with dyslexia who views it 100 times a day.
If you do like what I'm doing here, pass it on. Tell your mom or your coworker or your hair dresser.
 I'm a pretty grass rootsy type of guy, so I try to avoid the big machine as much as possible.
Thanks again.
 Oh, and feel free to comment or email any ideas, or questions, or requests.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

KEEP IT SIMPLE

This was my first endeavor in building with reclaimed materials.
It all started from some 2x12's left over from a job.
 I had them in the back of my truck, and one day I decided to make a outdoor bench.
I cut the dovetails for the bench with a hack saw because the blade has a thin kerf and it was a little easier to control because those blades have some give.
 The bench came out pretty cool, and I had absolutely zero dollars invested in it, but what hooked me was the fact that while I was making that bench, I was so lost in my own head that it reminded of me when I used to paint.
 "This is not a picture of a dovetail bench" you say. You are correct my dear readers, it is not. But that bench I was talking about, ignited a spark in my fairly vacant brain, which created this and a slew of other pieces.
 Now THIS table is a slab of 3" oak that I found. I wasn't even sure if it was wood or not with all the gross crustiness that encased it. In fact, I scrubbed and scraped so much that I didn't even have to sand it by the time I got down to the wood
 I had taken left over angle iron from a job and mortised them in for the legs.
I was leaving the shop with my completed project when this guy walks by and offers to buy it.
 I politely declined. I declined because I didn't make it with the intention of selling it.
My Father in law asked me what I was talking to that guy about, and I told him he offered to buy the table. He said "he owns CONVERSO", and I'm thinking "good for him, I own this table"
 I had no idea what a CONVERSO is, so thanks to google, I found out....let me share my findings
CONVERSO is where you go when you want to buy a $75000 (yes...3 zeros) Nakashima coffee table or a $6000 Dunbar chair.
 We're all fragile beings, whether we admit it or not, and there's nothing wrong with reveling in the affirmation that something you did was good by someone who has their hands on the best.

Friday, March 15, 2013

THE "HANDMADE" REVIEW



I'm going to try and review a handmade item once a week.
 The purpose is to promote other craftsmen and to help people who are interested in my revolution, see what's out there.
 So...here we go.
 This is a handmade wallet from Ron Bryant from onetoomanydesign.com.
Now, this guy defines "handmade". I wouldn't be shocked if he had cows and snakes in his backyard to produce his leathers.
 Not only does he cut and stitch, but he also makes the silver snaps.
My only specification for the construction of this wallet was the "B" and he did the rest.
Lets talk about price...don't freak out...but, it was a well spent $500.
 I got a GUCCI wallet  some years ago that was over $500 and fell apart in 6 months.
My son will be rocking this wallet on his first trip to Daytona bike week...in 20 years.
 He makes much more then wallets so check out his website...onetoomanydesign.com

Thursday, March 14, 2013

EVIL SHIT!

This is a devil's tail...toilet paper holder!
 Now usually the devils tail is mostly found on old school bobbers and choppers.
Since my mid life crisis is in full swing, and I can't afford a bobber or a chopper, I have to curb my desire to acquire some new debt.
 From a metal working standpoint, and as basic as it seems, it was pretty challenging.
I cut the tail from some 3/16 X 2" stock with a grinder, then bent some 1/2" round stock, inserted a 1/8 rod, then gobbed on a ton of stainless flux core, then shaped it with a grinder. I also torched it to put a little bend and give it some movement.
 It's a great gift idea for a motorcycle enthusiast, or just your average evil bastard.
Everything I make is field tested, and the early reports are confirming signs of giggling may occur when you wipe your butt.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

START A REVOLUTION!

Not so much a political revolution, but a hand made revolution.
 By a hand made revolution I mean that before you go to Walmart or Target for something you need and or want, take a little time, search around, and see if someone is making what your looking for by their own hands.
 Is it gonna cost a little more? YES. Is it most likely going to last a long time? YES. Is it going to change the plight of the Chilean students fighting for a free education system? FUCK NO.
 There are things you're just not going to buy hand made, like a microwave oven, or DVD player.
Yesterday I was a walking hand made billboard...
1. Hat-not 100% handmade, but it was altered by hand
2. jeans- not 100% handmade but completely restored by hand
3. wallet-handmade
4. wallet chain- handmade
5.key chain- handmade
 Trust me, it's not about me, or what I do, or what I'm selling, it's actually way bigger.
It's about the return of the Craftsman and the return of the Seamstress, it's about your local butcher shop and local farms. It's about the working class actually doing work instead of figuring out how to work the system or screw their boss.
 It's about the calluses and Carhartt's. The people who aren't afraid to get dirty, to take a chance, to try and fail then try again.
 It's about people reclaiming their humanity and getting back to...people.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WHEN A IDEA TURNS INTO WORK

I shouldn't complain.
 These little boogers have turned into...work, and work turns into money.
Now, I like money, but I find no joy in repetition.
 I'm in a creative slump anyway, so I guess being busy with these things is a good buffer.
Maybe it's the weather, or having a sick kid, or tax time around the corner, but I got nothing.
 I used to be able to look at a shitty piece of wood and come up with a million things I was going to make with it. Now I look at it and say..."wow, look at that shitty piece of wood. It would look great if it was on fire in a pit on the beach".
 These things come and go. When I used to paint I would go through this all the time.
It's like once you're on the brink of losing your noodle over it, something clicks and you go on a 6 month tear of making some cool stuff.
 Maybe with warmer weather will come brighter ideas.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

THERAPY SESSION

Well, this is MY blog and I'll do with it what I want.
 This is my boy.
I'm sure I will spend the next 15 years violating child labor laws in such a manner as to make a Chinese NIKE factory look like Chuck-E-Cheese.
 In warmer weather he likes to work outside with his old man, and when I say "work" I mean picking up a hammer and whacking the shit out of whatever I'm working on.
 In colder weather, I'll hear a knocking on the window, and there he is, still in his pj's waving to me.
He's aware that when it's cold out, he can't come out with me, but he has deemed it "his job" to strap my gloves on for me, and he's content with supervising from the window.
 Even though most humans view me somewhat along the lines of an asshole, to this guy...I'm pretty cool. I make sparks.
 He's spent this winter being sick a lot. Not so much unlike any other kid living through a Chicago winter, but this last stint made us parent up and take him to the doctor.
 I was prepared for the first question "is he drinking enough?" It took every fiber of my being to not blurt out "just beer and wine, but he stays away from the hard stuff". But before I could open my big mouth I had a vision of a pretty fist being jammed in my eye socket. I'm that guy that makes jokes at a funeral, I'm at the top of my comic game when I'm hurt or terrified.
 To make a long story short, the doctor tells us he has pneumonia.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my girls face change. I could almost hear her brain trying to figure out how to crawl into his little body and eat the virus.
 After the waves of panic, and a doctor that deserves a Oscar for his calming performance, the reality shined down that it's gonna be fine.
 It's funny how sometimes tragedy makes way for clarity.
Children are like little wood carvers. They take a big chunk of wood (us) and over time, they chisel away to reveal something strong, timeless, and beautiful...(us.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

SHOULD I OR SHOULDN'T I ?

This is a live edge oak slab that my tv sits on.
 I spend many evenings wondering if this slab of wood is as sick and tired of "shrek", "wreck it Ralph", and "Tangled" as I am.
 It has 16" hair pin legs which I have grown to hate more and more with every West Elm or Pottery Barn catalog that comes in the mail.
 So I'm thinking of getting rid of the legs, finding some dimensional oak lumber and making a saw horse base for it.
 I guess if I ever decide to sell it I could market it as a twice reclaimed piece.
Wait a second....Maybe I'm on to something....since reclaimed and repurposed furniture is so hot right now, I could market myself to trendy masses by saying "my stuff is sooooooooooooo reclaimed, in fact, it's reclaimed from a reclaimed piece!"
 Double reclaimed...how ya like those apples Pottery Barn?!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!!

This is one of the first (and last) comission pieces I've done.
 It's a live edge cherry bench.
The reason I say that it's one of the last comission pieces is because I discovered that working around other peoples specifications just isn't much fun.
 In my day job, I do things exactly as people want...all day...every day, and that's just fine because it's not "happy fun time", it's a job.
 You see, after watching a guy in the shop replicate some Dunbar chairs, I came to terms that I'm not a furniture maker, I'm a artist that makes functional art pieces. There's a huge difference, and I'm very comfortable with living within that difference.

Monday, March 4, 2013

WHEN I'M NOT MAKING FURNITURE...

This weekend my brother-in-law flew in to play a show with his band Los Crudos.
 So he employed me to help with security, and I came to the conclusion that I...am...old.
I feel like I got run over by a truck, then the truck driver gets out and beats me with a bat.
 I can lift barn beams and manually bend metal all day long, but catching flying humans, and standing in front of a thousand person stampede is just...retarded.
 Instead of enjoying the energy, all that kept running through my head is "I can't feel my legs...I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS!"
 So this morning I'll take my vitamins, change my diaper, and go play BINGO.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A GREAT CLIENT.

FitPro West is a gym in the West Loop.
 I've done a bunch of construction work for them, like putting in floors, installing diamond plate,
just real general stuff.
 Happy to say that they just might have the coolest towel hooks in any locker room in Chicago.

Friday, March 1, 2013

FINDING A PURPOSE FOR...ANYTHING

I broke a wrench.
 I'm convinced that only my dumb ass can break a wrench.
So in the spirit of viewing life in a glass half full sort of way, and avoiding the urge to punch something...I made a key chain.
 Now I just need to find a way to market it to the hipsters.