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".