Thursday, January 30, 2014

FINALLY...A NEW HANDMADE REVIEW!


It's been a really long time since I've reviewed a handmade product.
 While I was in the shop a few weeks ago, I came across a length of fire hose.
I cannot for the life of me tell you why I picked it up. I think I was looking for the business end of a extension cord and saw it peeking out from under the work table, and pulled it out.
 My first thought was "wow, this is some heavy duty shit", I mean, I don't think I've ever actually held a fire hose, because I'm not a fireman.
 I tucked it away and got back to work, but while I was working, I was trying to think of things I could make out of it. My first thought was a belt.
 I destroy belts. Carrying wood and steel all day, over time just destroys a belt, even leather belts get eaten away.
 The next morning I started researching fire hoses, and all these things came up that people make with fire hoses. I was not looking to purchase anything because I had a piece of fire hose and I'll make something myself, but the last site I clicked on was a place called www.j10customs.com.
 WWW.j10customs.com does mostly leather work. Really beautiful handcrafted leather work.
The prices on his leather goods were a fraction of what Bill Wall or Gaboratory are, and a little more classic as opposed to "yuppie biker ornate".
 Aside from j10customs leather work, he makes these wallets out of...fire hoses. Reclaimed from a Colorado Fire Dept. which means that these wallets once extinguished peoples burning homes.
 I need another wallet like I need another tattoo, but sometimes you bust out the credit card and treat yourself. I justify it to myself as "research".
 My "research" has been in my pocket for a week now, and 7 out of 10 times someone will ask me where I got it from when I bust it out.
 These guys should load up the inside pockets of these wallets with their business cards when they ship em' out, so I don't have to talk to other humans and I can just hand out their card.
 Buying handmade stuff online is always a crap shoot, but coming from a quality aficionado like myself, you can bet the farm that this thing will probably outlast your own existence.
 So, check out www.j10customs.com for yourself,

Monday, January 27, 2014

PLAYING THE HAND YOUR DEALT



Sometimes shit just doesn't go your way.
 How you manipulate the situation back into your favor, is what separates you from the herd
I REALLY wanted this top to work for the Viking Table base. There came a moment when a voice inside my head said "change gears B, this one will just have to wait".
 I have to admit, I was upset and disappointed for the entire length of a cigarette. I stomped it out, went back in the shop, and began working on a new base.
 The "old" me, would have sawed that bitch in half and broken a bunch of expensive tools, but the "new" me took a look at the situation with rational eyes, and forged ahead in a new direction.
  The material for the top had so much metal in it (nails, spikes, screws, old washers) that I could not surface it (to surface it means to flatten it out). I chewed up a planer blade trying to do it by hand, and you couldn't imagine what it would do if I tried to run it through a planer machine.
 The next issue was joining the 3 pieces. These pieces are usually glued, but because I couldn't plane the edges before gluing, the edges wouldn't be flat against one another to hold the glue.
 To make a long boring story short....it wouldn't work and I moved on.
It is now on it's way to being a 8' dining table with a polished steel base.
 I will tell you how I did manage to join the top.
I inserted 1/2" thick steel rods, and then installed slats on the bottom, and when it's mounted to the base....you could park a small pick up truck on top of it, if you so desired.
 I went to the shop on Sunday to make up for lost time, with the intention of mortising in some walnut Dutchman joints.
 Once I got there, I realized that I forgot the walnut.
I decided to make a couple of dutchmans out of steel, and HERE is where working with someone else would have come in handy.
 It would've been nice to have someone there who could've said "hey bro....your glove is on fire" while I was cutting the steel. I knew something smelled funny, but it took a minute to register that my glove was burning.
 The first thought was "stop-drop-and roll", thanks to my second grade teacher, but I opted for the obvious and just took it off and stomped it out.
 After mortising the dutchmans into the top, I stood back and not only admired the piece, but I admired the power of will power.
 At this point, this table is 80% will power, 15% skill, and 5% material.
By NOT giving up, my success will very shortly be able to be measured in dollars.
 

Monday, January 20, 2014

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR...


 
A couple of weeks ago I was expressing how I wanted a project that was more challenging and involved...well, here it is.
 The original spark was a trestle table. It's turning into, what I am calling a "Viking" table.
It's being deemed the Viking table because when it's done, you would envision a horde of Vikings dining at it.
 After welding up the cross bar, I threw a live edge Pine slab on it, which looked cool, but when you sat at it, your knees hit the cross bar.
 The old manager at Salvage One was notorious for using cool materials in order to make absolutely pointless pieces. On the fourth floor, there is a room that he used to create these abominations, and in that room, he took these beautiful 12' long old growth boards and bolted them from floor to ceiling for no apparent reason or purpose other then making it difficult for ME to remove and use this material.
 A good chunk of a build day was wasted just trying to get these monsters into the shop to be cut down for the table top.
 I also dug up these really cool cast iron corbels which are actually vintage sink mounts. I'll have to modify them a bit so that they have as much function as they do aesthetic.
 From the looks of the picture, one would say that I was pretty close to sending this off to market. I am not anywhere in the neighborhood of "close".
 The top is 8'X3' and has to be planed and joined entirely by hand, and most likely will take weeks.
THIS, however is a perfect time to embark on a long running project.
 Furniture sales slow down this time of year because everyone is recovering from the holidays, and people in Chicago are so over being fucking cold that they don't want to leave their caves.
 I am going to work on some other projects through the creation of the Viking table.
 One of those projects will be BRECLAIMED t-shirts. I have secured BRAIN KILLER who is a Chicago street artist and a guy that I grew up with. You can GOOGLE him to see what he's all about.
 The shirts will be hand screened in San Francisco by Martin Crudo (singer of hardcore legends Los Crudos, as well as my brother-in-law).
 There will be a select few given away and a small run for sale.
If you follow this blog at all, you will see a pattern. That pattern is family. Some of the family is blood and some is extended. I out source very little if anything at all.
 I make great efforts to bring "family" into what I do. I do it because my pieces are "alive" to me.
To be able to look at what I've created and to be able see the souls of  those who contribute to what I call my art, is sacred to me.
 When you upcycle, or recycle, or reclaim, or whatever you wanna call it, it means that you're giving something new life. I'm taking it a step further and not giving it new LIFE, I'm giving it new LIVES.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

EMBRACING CLUELESSNESS

Last week I walked into Salvage One and all my projects were done and on the floor for sale.
 I didn't have any preconceived ideas for a new project other then Collin loosely mentioning that there was a customer that wanted a 9' Trestle table.
 There has been this giant, semi-rotted beam that I've been tripping over for the last few months, and I decided to see what was under the rot.
 I cut 6' feet off the length so that I could at least move it around, only to discover that 6' of beam is still a formidable weight to man handle.
 Once I removed all the nails, I went to work with a couple of draw knifes. Peeling layer after layer of rotted wood and revealing a nice chunk of wood.
 Next, I cut 2 pieces down to 28" (with a dull hand saw).
I stared at those 2 pieces and it screamed "BORING" at me. I dug up 2 old bar table bases and cut em' up, and then mortised them into the bottoms of my beams.
 I never had an idea of what to build that day, or any selected material to build with, I winged it, and I'm still winging it, and I'll wing it until it turns into something.
 As far as a Trestle table for a customers request....probably not gonna happen.
This has become an experiment in freedom. A exercise in "don't think...just do".
 As adults, we work within the realm of "structure".
Wake up, have coffee, get the kids to school, take this route to work, have lunch, back to work, pick up the kids, make dinner....all within increments  dictated by minutes.
 It's no wonder people go bus stop crazy and shoot up a supermarket, or ride the train butt naked!
Everyone needs to let go...a little bit. Let your brain go everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
 I used to think that those people who paint themselves at sub zero sporting events were crazy.
I get it now. You work at life all week, fuck it, paint your titties blue, scream your head off, and I'll be cheering you on when I see your crazy ass on the jumbo-tron of life.




Monday, January 6, 2014

HELLO 2014.



I survived the Holidays.
 As enjoyable as they are, there is always an element of impending doom that lingers in the background.
 I want to take a minute and send my love and condolences to my sister-in-law who lost her father on New Years Eve. Her father (Joe) was a photo journalist and a great man with a infectious aura of  kindness. I am absolutely horrible in those situations, and for someone with such a big mouth, I am ALWAYS at a loss for words.
 My first project of 2014 was another Factory Cart circa 1930.
A nice way to ease into the New Year.
 We've all seen them re-done before, There are no great leaps in furniture design happening here, but it was a very shitty cart that was  re-done exceptionally well.
 One of the more unique features is that the top is made from  flooring reclaimed from a Chicago police station.
 You can't really tell from the photos that the slats have alternating blue and white strips.
I never bothered to ask the history of the reclaimed police station flooring, I just chopped it up and put it in place.
 In my opinion it was the perfect piece to ease into the new year.
There is a restlessness inside of me that I am trying to calm. My goal for this year is to take on more difficult projects and execute a higher level of craftsmanship. What that means is, slowing my brain speed down to meet my hand speed.
 It's really a exercise in consciousness. Being aware of every moment. Believe me, it's much more difficult then it sounds.
 Most people probably don't think that furniture making is that deep, but for me...it is.
For me, it's as much about self  discovery as it is about making a cool piece.
 THAT is what separates me from the rest of the herd, and I believe it shows in my work.