Monday, March 31, 2014


Man has roamed the earth for millions of years.
 That being said, your chances of doing something truly original, are about the same as hitting the Powerball.
 Well, pack your bags Momma, cause we're going to mother fuckin' Disneyland!!!!!
That's a very "tongue in cheek" statement. Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it hasn't been done.
 Here's the deal, Marcus from Salvage One had brought back a couple of shitty old gates. While talking with him about them, he had the idea of flipping it and making a "X" base.
 Brilliant idea. I ground them down, chopped em' up, and welded them into shape.
When I got home, I thought about what a great idea that was for the base, but I really had to do something to compliment Marcus's idea.
 I knew what kind of stock I wanted to use, I knew that they had to be joined, and I knew I had to think outside of the box.
 I am so intrigued by leather workers.
Those guys have a skill that is so primal and yet so precise. Primal in the sense that they're making stuff from the skin of a animal, and precise in the sense that when they're done with a piece, it looks like it came out of a machine.
 I started poking around the j10customs website. I went there because there is a lot of leather pieces to look at. That's when the light bulb went on.
 I decided that I would "stitch" the wood together...with steel.
Idea's are just idea's until you pull them off, and I was determined to pull it off.
 I went into the shop with the intent of doing a test run on a piece of scrap. It's smart, yet I never do a test run. It's always do or die, but this time I decided to put my big boy pants on and do a trial run.
 I bent 1/2" steel bar, grabbed a scrap piece of wood, drilled a couple of holes, then smashed the steel in with a 3lb hammer and ultimately turned that scrap piece of wood into tooth picks.
 I thought to myself "ok, that CAN happen", then got to work on the top.
This time, I took a chisel and mortised in the curve of the steel bar, allowing the steel to slide through the holes effortlessly. Then, I cut and drilled a piece of steel plate for the bottom, fed the round bar through the holes, screwed the plate to the wood, welded the round bar to the plate, cut the excess round bar off, re-welded and ground  it smooth...twice.
 I'll be worked. I stitched wood with steel. I can't even sew a button on a pair of pants, and I basically stitched wood with steel.
 Between Marcus and Johnney Renyolds from j10customs, I made a discovery that inspiration can come from those around you. It can sneak up on you. You just have to recognize that it's there for the taking, and it's up to you to take it...and run like hell.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Luckily, I've been very busy.
 More so with my other work, but before tax time, you take what you can get.
Last week, I had a client that needed 5 bar tops replaced. I did them in 1/4" aluminum. They came out beautiful, but I had to drive to the moon to get the material. The perk to driving to the moon for material, is that for some ungodly reason, the prices are way cheaper then buying in Chicago proper.
 I figured as long as I was out there, I would pick up some steel for a project.
What that project would be...I wasn't sure, but knowing what you're gonna build is a minor detail.
 I get in the shop Thursday morning and knock out some 14" hairpin legs.
There's been this live edge pine slab that has been sitting there for 5 months. I never really attacked it before, because it was in pretty lousy shape.
 Collin had brought me some new slabs that I was going to dive into, but this ugly slab of pine was giving me puppy dog eyes, just sitting there all alone, away from the new cool wood.
 I walked back over to it, picked it up, and said "come on, let's do this".
I chopped it in half. One side was a mess, and the other half was in decent shape, and I, of course, took the side that was a mess.
 I mean, fuck it. As long as we're going down this road, why go for the easy kill.
At one point, Collin came in the shop and saw the two pieces sitting there, and said "you picked the shitty one on purpose, eh?" and then he walked out.
 I've spent the last few years around some old school cabinet makers, the best in the biz, in fact.
When they select wood, they pick the flawless, absolute most perfect pieces. They spend hours pulling stock. I get it. That's how they were taught, and that's what their client base demands.
 Me? I go for the ragamuffins. At Salvage One, there's kind of a running joke that my pieces are the equivalent of "the ugly girl with the great ass".
 Back to the coffee table....I put in work. I stitched her up with 4 Dutchman joints. While I was sanding it, I took some extra time to round off the inside edges of the splits. It's a detail that may go unnoticed, but to those that do notice, it will exude a sense of pride.
 I'm happy with the outcome and this ugly girl is content with her makeover.
Back to the cabinet shop, as long as I'm thinking about it...When I am doing work at the cabinet shop, and the guys have a client or whoever in there, they always make an effort to introduce me.
 They never say "this is Brian, he's Roberto's son-in-law, he's a cabinet maker, or furniture maker, or carpenter", They always say "this is Brian, he's Roberto's son-in-law, he's an ARTIST".
 I've been called a lot of things in my time, and coming from those guys, I'll take the title of "artist" as a compliment.

Monday, March 10, 2014


"If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life"
 Ummmm...kind of.
Although last week, I would have much rather been in my dirty little corner of Salvage One, I have bills to pay.
 My client wanted these wood walls built for the Wrigleyville Rooftops.
For those of you that aren't familiar with the rooftops, it's a place you go eat and drink all you want for a set price, while the Cubs lose across the street.
 They're actually really nice, and this one in particular has a executive club feel.
I am a one man show, and carrying 2000lbs. of wood and tools up 5 stories worth of stairs and on to a roof, kind of takes a dump on the above mentioned cliche'.
 The roof was covered in ice and snow, and there is steel bleacher seating erected above me. It was a 50 degree day, so not only was water pouring down on me, but huge chunks of ice were succumbing to gravity and falling on my head.
 But...once all the material was up there and I actually began working, I felt alive.
5 stories above the city, a little sun peeking through, a non-painful wind, my tunes, and a client that stopped by once to bring me a cup of coffee...THAT, to me, isn't work.
 That kind of work is what I call "productive meditation".
Once it's all laid out and framed, you're able to get lost in your own head.
 No breaks, no lunch, and by 6:30pm...the job was complete.
At that point, I sat down with the last shred of daylight, and embraced the cliché.
 If you're doing something you hate, go look in the mirror and ask yourself "what the fuck am I doing?"
 Then, ask yourself why you're doing it. Security? To pay bills?
Security is a lie, and the bills are always gonna be there.
 Unless you're doing something you hate or merely tolerate, in order to finance what it is you REALLY want to do, you're wasting your time.
 In some cases, a person doesn't even know what it is that he or she really wants to do. In that case, I have no words of wisdom.
 Some of those passions have been repressed because people are concerned with what others think.
If you wanna be a clown, or some other wacky shit...go for it. But be the best clown the world has ever seen.
 I'm not the Dali Lama, but life is short. The last thing you want to do is be 75 years old shitting your diaper in a La-Z-Boy, thinking about all the things you should've done or could've been.
 You can always get another job, but you don't get multiple chances at time.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Little? Hardly.
 Me and Marcus (he works at Salvage One) were talking about lighting in the shop while I was working on this one.
 We were talking about how lighting is the most functional form of sculpture.
I've seen some amazing production lighting that is beautiful, but I don't feel "sculpture" from it.
 I've seen a lot of handmade lighting that screams "sculpture". So, there really needs to be a certain element present that defines the particular piece. What that element is...I have no idea. You just know it when you see it.
 I would be very interested in seeing how a thick rimmed glasses, pink socked, tight jean wearing art critic would view this "sculpture".
 I don't know any professional art critics, so I'm gonna make up my own. His name is Phillipe' Douche".
 Here is what Phillipe' Douche' had to say about my newest works....(from here on out, you have to read in a British accent)
"This is my review of Brian McQuaids latest piece titled "THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE".
The title of the piece stems from a childs song, expressing the youthfulness trapped inside the artist, while the tall steel structure conveys anything but the size or delicacy of a child.
 This piece is clearly a sculpted self portrait of the artist. The steel frame representing the hardened exterior of a man, while not brought to a completely polished finish, he is expressing his potential to be a polished artist, a so called "diamond in the rough".
 The steel mesh represents the thick skin of a man, although the steel is impervious, it is still transparent, allowing those to see inside of him.
 On the back of the piece, he has mounted a vintage pulley. This vintage pulley represents his inspiration. That inspiration stems from a time period when the country embraced the working class and a time when the craftsman was a honored part of society.
 Lastly we have the light...The artist used a cage light, that is brilliantly suspended through the aforementioned pulley.
 Whilst the light is the artists creativity, trapped inside a cage, hidden behind the thick skinned steel mesh, it is still able to penetrate and cast a warm, comforting glow for those who are close to it.
 When I caught up with the artist, this is what HE had to say about it....
"Yeah man, it's a really fuckin' cool lamp. I made it all out of steel and like it? I can hook you up, get ya a good deal on it. For $20 extra, I'll throw that shit in the back of my truck and drive to yer crib."
 I do say, truly, a diamond in the rough."