Monday, April 28, 2014

SIT ON IT!


I guess I'm showing my age by making a "Happy Days" reference in the title, but I wear the lines on my face as a badge of honor.
 Chairs are overlooked by the average person. Nobody puts a lot of stock in them. We pull one up, plop our fat asses in em', do what we're gonna do, and proceed with our lives without giving them much thought.
 When you make furniture, a chair build is almost a right of passage.
They're not easy to build. There are a lot of factors and a lot of math that go into building them, but when you complete one, you feel like you have arrived within your own skills.
The other night my niece said to me " I like your chair. Can you sit in it? It looks so...delicate."
 The answer to that question was "Of course you can sit on it, I wouldn't make something that you couldn't use."
 By her asking that question, it solidified the design. It's SUPPOSED to look delicate, it's supposed to demand a thought. You're supposed to look at it and think twice about dump truckin' your ass into it.
 Once you've made friends with this chair, you'd be more then welcome to sit in it. It's your friend, it will support you and give you comfort. So essentially I didn't just "make a chair", I cultivated a friendship between a human and a inanimate object.
  I could go on about the how's and why's of this piece, but I think you all get it.
Lately, I've been getting more comments on www.facebook.com/breclaimed and more emails.
 To me, success isn't measured in dollars, it's measured by the affect that you have on people.
This is an invite to everyone to leave comments, or post pictures of things YOU create on my facebook page.
 When people leave kind words or send photos of things they make, it's motivation for me. It means people understand you, people want to SHARE with you. In this day and age, that actually means something.
 Sometimes putting yourself out there can propel you past what you think you're capable of. Shit, I'm living proof.
 Over the weekend, I lost an acquaintance, and the world lost an artist, a mother lost a son and so on.
In thinking about the passing of Brooks Blair Golden, I couldn't stop thinking about how much work he had in front of him. He was a "producer", meaning that he was constantly creating. He was always pushing forward, and in his passing, there will be a lot of beauty that won't come to fruition from his hands.
 It is my goal to steal from death as death has stolen from me. What that means is, I'm going to create. I'm going keep moving forward. I'm going to exit this life one day, and what I leave behind will last for generations. When I leave this earth my son will find me in what I've created, and in doing that, he will never be without me...and you should do the same...leave something behind, something beautiful.
 So, outta respect for Brooks, I'm gonna sign off in the manner in which he would...


Be golden.
 
 



Monday, April 21, 2014

NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER



Ever since I posted a photo of the book on www.facebook.com/breclaimed I got slammed with inquiries about "how much is it?" and "where can I get one?"
 While there is no better feeling then doing something that people are genuinely interested in, I am sorry to inform those interested parties that "it's NOT for sale" and "there's no place to get one".
 The purpose of the book (which is more like a catalog or a really expensive and fancy Resume') is for when I meet with potential clients, I don't have to try to show them photos of my work on my phone.
 I can't tell you how many times I've encountered potential clients and felt like a complete tool as I'm scrolling through photos of my kid taking a dump, trying to find a picture of my work.
 So now, I can bust out the book, and look all fucking professional.
The other copies will go to designers and Salvage One.
 I've talked about doing a coffee table book before, and doing this one puts me one step closer to doing something available to people.
 Now that the book explanation is out of the way, let me move on to the Punishment chair.
Building chairs is like building lamps. They become more sculpture then furniture.
 Right now, I have about $12000 worth of furniture sitting on the floor at Salvage One. After a brutal winter and tax time, furniture sales slow down for a minute. I decided to seize the moment and just do something funky.
 What you see in the photo are the very humble beginnings. What this chair has going for it is the fact that I'm able to walk away from it for a week and make a thousand changes before I actually touch it again.
 One thing I really wanted to try to execute is some Danish techniques. For some reason the old school Danish designers loved to cut a hole in the middle of something and then jam another piece of wood through it. Well, that's how the chair back sits on this one. I mortised the chair back all the way through the seat. The difference is that the Danes would use a piece that was perfectly square, and I used a live edge slab. It's a little tricky with a live edge slab because the shape changes as you get farther up the piece.
 The legs on the chair are gonna go. The current welded steel legs served their purpose in giving me a starting point, but it's the end of the road for them now.
 When I walked in on Friday, I was telling Collin that I wanted to make a chair. I'm convinced that if I walked in there and said "I wanna make a exploding disco ball", they'd be like "sure, go for it!".
 While we were chatting about the chair idea, I said "does anybody buy just one chair?"
The response I got was one of the most well timed and inspirational responses that I've ever fished for, and the best part of it is that I don't think he even knew of the impact.
 His response was "Sure, people will buy one chair.......if it's a really fucking cool chair."
Challenge accepted.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"AIMING LOW AIN'T NO WAY TO GET HIGH"


The title of this post is from a song by one of the bands I used to play for.
 Apparently, Matt Bessemer (our singer) was quite the wordsmith.
The funny thing is, I played in that band for almost 10 years, put out 2 albums, played 100's of shows, and I don't know what the hell he was singing about, much less the words to our songs.
 This kitchen island was actually started by Collin at Salvage One a few months ago.
He was making it for his kitchen, but then he went and bought a house in Oak Park, and it wouldn't fit in the new digs.
 I wasn't too excited...at first. I'm not a big fan of finishing something that someone else started.
As I was thinking  about it, I figured "it's all in the family" anyway, so I kind of built off the ideas that he had wanted to do in the first place.
 One of his ideas was a "dump tray" on the top. If you were chopping a bunch of stuff up, you would just throw the waste in the tray and then dump the whole thing out at once.
I was showing Marcus this old machinist tray and telling him how I was thinking about cutting it into the top. I was trying to get him to talk me out of it, because in all honesty, I was afraid of fucking up the top. It didn't work, because Marcus said "you should do it...you'll be glad you did."
 Well, once those words stopped haunting me, a whole new set of words came by to haunt me. Those words were from Matt Bessemer..."aiming low ain't no way to get high". A set of words from 2 different bright people, was influence enough to take a deep breath, and make it work, and work it did.
 The next feature is the pot/pan hanger. That feature was born out of me being lazy and NOT wanting to make a second shelf. I did fabricate a whole steel track system so you can slide the hangers back and forth to accommodate whatever size pots and pans you have, which ended up taking more time then making a shelf...of course.
 Next up is a hand fabricated towel bar. No great leaps in engineering there.
To sum it up, it is a very functional piece.
 I've discovered a "change" in myself over the last couple of months. I've learned to listen to others, I've learned to take suggestions, and I've learned to let people in a little bit more.
 What happened to the control freak that would do the opposite of someone's suggestion just out of pure spite? I don't know. Maybe it's age, maybe it's Prozac in our water supply? Maybe, it's taking the words from my parents that I pass down to my son, which are "you are who you hang out with".
 The people that are in my immediate inner circle are intelligent, creative people.
Some of them are dreamers, and some of them are doers, but what they all have in common is a respectable vision.
 So, my dear friends and family, I hear you all, I listen to every word, I digest it and from time to time I apply it, because after all is said and done (you should have all seen this line coming)...no man is an island.



Monday, April 7, 2014

HELLRAISER

I finally made it into the shop on Friday.
 Things have been very hectic lately as far as work goes. Run here, run there, squeeze this job in, bounce to another one, run back and finish this job, load tools in, load tools out...so by the time Friday rolled around, I cleared the schedule because I just NEEDED to be in the shop.
 Some people drink, some people do drugs, I....I need to make things. I need to throw my apron on, go in my hole, crank the tunes, and get lost in the act of making something.
 I knocked out a few sets of railroad spike hooks for Tete Charcuterie (a restaurant on Randolph) and The Music Exchange, but after that, I was kind of lost.
 There's never a shortage of projects, but it was Friday and I didn't want to start on something that would be left along side the other unfinished projects.
 I was kind of moping around the shop like an Ogre looking for food, and I spotted a length of chain.
I remember my cousins used to have these chain link candle holders, and I remember being intrigued by them. As a kid, I couldn't comprehend how they made a chain stand up like that.
 For all of you who weld chains into something, I'm sure you'll agree that it's pretty awkward to work with.
 In the shop, there is another chain suspended from the ceiling with a hook on the end of it. I hung my length of chain from it, and let gravity do it's work by keeping it straight as I tacked each link.
 At one point, Marcus walked in the back and said "Whoa! you're going full on Hellraiser, eh?"
I disassembled an old and very ugly lamp to get some lamp guts so I could mock this up and see how it looked once it was illuminated.
 I could have stayed and tweaked things here and there, but I had to pick my son up from school.
You see, it was Friday, and I had ordered a "pea shooter toy" from Plants vs. Zombies for him, and today was the big day for him.
 If you ever want to torture a 4 year old, just order something for him that has to be mailed.
At the end of the week it was win-win for my son and I.
 He learned everything there is to know about the postal service and got his prize for executing patience, and I made a lamp.
 Later that night, after devouring a Pizza,  Max and I were sitting on the couch, one hand tucked under the waist band of our pants, like a couple of frat boys, and Max says "I REALLY like your lamp DaDa...AND my Peashooter" and I said "awh thanks man...I really like...YOU."