Sunday, July 27, 2014
It was my nephews birthday, and he and my son are like brothers.
When you visit my blog for the first time and my ugly mug pops up, you probably thought to yourself "what is this inmate all about?!"
I'm about family.
There's nothing I wouldn't do for them, especially the little ones.
In fact, last year for his birthday...I....was....ELMO.
If this furniture business all goes in the crapper, I at least have something to fall back on. Be warned...I draw the line at clowns and princess's.
Earlier in the day I picked up a bunch of free steel stock from my welding teacher, hit the shop to work on a lamp for my boss, and finish up a project that I was doing for a friend's art piece.
I have to say, although it's nearly impossible to see out of those giant foam heads, the joy that children exude when a guy walks in wearing a costume of their favorite hero, is unimaginable.
For that brief visit, they truly believe a Ninja Turtle is in their very yard, visiting them on their birthday.
In a world full of distractions, those kids define the meaning of "being in the moment".
My son couldn't stop telling me about his encounter with the Ninja Turtles, and later that night we were sitting on the steps and I was telling him to always "be in the moment...every moment", because when they're gone, they're gone. Max looked me dead in the eyes and said "I will NEVER forget tonight DaDa."
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I spent a good part of my youth with these people, and we were a pretty tight knit group in a "Goonies" or "Stand by me" sort of way.
Life comes and goes and people move on, but there were a couple of people who ended up falling in love and getting married from our little gang, (insert...AWHHHHHH here)
Tina and John got married, and have stayed that way for quite a few years. Tina contacted me on Facebook after I posted the last lamp, and stated that she wanted it.
That lamp has moved on, so I said that I would make her one.
When you have a history like we do, you have to respect that history and do something beyond some shit that you just knocked out to satisfy a creative itch.
So, whatever I had cookin' got put on the back burner, and I decided to dive into a more personal project.
I have been doing a lot of carving/shaping of wood at work lately. Mirror brackets, stair railing ends, and what not. It's messy and laborious and I don't have a firm grip on the art of it, but I was going to take a crack at carving a lamp base.
My goal was to have it look like an old school Chicago street light.
The street light just took me back to my youth because when they came on, you would have to go home and AT LEAST check in just so your parents knew you were still alive.
I carved and shaped some hard ass Hickory. The top looked exactly like the street light would, the base...was giving me trouble, but I kept at it.
During my lunch break I was kind of mocking it up when Randy (my co-worker) came into the shop.
Randy is a very talented guy and I trust his opinion, so I throw the ol' "whaddya think??" at him, and Randy says "it's pretty cool...it looks like E.T".
Randy was 100% correct....it looked like fucking E.T.
I managed to carve E.T. out of a block of Hickory, which is great, if you're trying to make a E.T. statue.
I have zero ego. Sometimes you need new eyes and a honest mouth to let you know that no matter how much work you put into something, you may have missed your mark....by a few thousand yards.
So guess what? E.T. went the fuck home.
I started over.
The heart was made from a cut off from a locker door that my other co-worker (Zack) used to make a garbage can in the bathroom we're working on.
The heart idea was taken from a sculpture that is mounted to a barn door that I see at work every morning.
The leather accent and the wire mesh...those are just an attempt at doing something a little more whimsical.
I want to expand on the materials I use and figure out a way to apply them with a refined appeal.
On Saturday afternoon, the couple stopped by to pick up their lamp.
The lamp itself, in those moments, became very secondary as we sat and bullshitted for the next couple of hours.
20 plus years have passed by since we all hung out, and those 20 plus years didn't matter one bit. It was the same as it was when we were children.
I can sell a piece to any schnook with a wallet. When you sell a piece to a lifelong friend, and see the joy in their heart, and you can walk through life knowing that a piece of you lives with them....man, THAT is a good feeling.
Monday, July 14, 2014
First was the rain...not just an average rain, but a "build an Ark" down pour. It usually takes me 10 minutes to get to the shop, but that turned into 45 minutes because the streets were flooded at the over passes.
I was still about 10 minutes early and when I pulled up, the street was thick with black smoke because a factory one street over was on fire.
When I get into the metal shop, there is water pouring down from the ceiling, everything is soaked, so I spend a little time getting buckets to catch the water and cleaning up.
Now I'm ready to work...and I couldn't hold on to a tool to save my life. I mean, I have never dropped so much shit in my life.
Knock over a box of drill bits, grinders falling out of my hands, the piece itself spent more time on the floor then in my hands. In my first 10 minutes of working I literally stopped and thought "what the fuck is going on here?"
I took a minute to compose myself and started again...only to grind through the knuckle of my glove and remove a little skin, accidentally welding a piece to the work table, then tripping over a bucket i used to catch the rain water and cleaning up that whole mess.
Honestly, it was non stop. I had to chuckle to myself because it was like The 3 Stooges (minus 2) trying to build a lamp.
The mishaps kept coming and at no point did I ever get a firm grasp, but some how I got the piece done.
I'm like a "cat lady", but with lamps.
If I could keep every single lamp, I would. I've actually dumb downed my collection, because we don't have the room or the need or enough outlets to house the lamps I've made.
Truth be told, for all the work I put into lamps, and all the lamps I've sold...they don't bring in a lot of money.
I'd rather keep em'. I'd love to have a wall of shelving that displayed every lamp I made.
One of the reasons I'd collect all my own lamps is because every single lamp is made from pieces of other projects. It's like finding a 2 for 1 sale.
When I'm all old and pooping my adult diaper in a La-Z-Boy, I could look at my wall of lamps and correlate each lamp and it's origins.
This lamp in particular is made from cut offs from a project I'm working on at the Lacuna Arts building.
We're doing a womens bathroom/bridal suite for their event space. It's not just any ol' bathroom remodel.
It's glass walls held up by giant timbers, poured concrete counter tops, crazy hand formed sinks, hand carved wood mirror brackets...it's really something amazing.
I'm lucky to be working with 3 creative younger guys and a designer who seems more focused on opening our minds and making us be creative beyond what we think creative is supposed to be.
It's a great departure for me because I'm so used to working completely alone.
Needless to say, I didn't take the lamp home. I brought it to the front of the store, fired it up, snapped a few pictures and walked away.
I'm ok with walking away. I need another lamp like I need another tattoo.
The lamps have become my experiment in sculpture as well as buffer pieces in between bigger projects.
The bigger project I'm working on now is a solid Hickory beam breakfast table." Breakfast table" just sounds more pleasant then "400lb. table".
There's a lot of shaping, mortising, surfacing, and lifting going on with this project, so it's gonna take some time. In the meanwhile, there's more cut-off's so there will be more lamps.
Monday, July 7, 2014
It's been a long time since I've been on a reclamation mission, but there is a reason behind my sudden adventure.
I started a new 9 to 5 gig last week.
I was really conflicted about taking it on. My schedule was something that took a long time to establish. I was able to build more, furniture was selling pretty well, I felt that BRECLAIMED was starting to gain some momentum, but 2 things happened.
1. I was starting to feel stagnant. I wasn't feeling as excited about pieces as I used to.
2. I'm no dummy. I understand how furniture sales work. It's a constant feast or famine situation.
When you live in Chicago, and you are involved in the trades, here is an equation that you can bet the farm on...
SUMMER=GOOD and WINTER=BAD.
An opportunity arose for me where I would be in a position to do what I do, but on a larger scale, with creative freedom, and working around creative people. It's an environment where you are not asked to "think outside the box", you're asked to take "the box" and turn it into a amusement park.
So what's the problem?
The problem is a 40 hour work week, and then trying to keep my machine rolling.
I was forced by my own words from my last blog entry..."change your outlook and you can change the outcome".
So now, the approach to my work and how I execute it has to change.
I no longer have the ability to walk into the shop blindly. Everything has to be thought out, materials have to be in place, a course of action has to be made, and then all that's left is execution.
It's all just a exercise in time management, and I think that my work will benefit from it.
Since the big change in my schedule, I already have 3 projects in motion. I haven't had 3 projects in my head at the same time in over a year.
I have relocated my hunger. Losing that hunger is some scary shit, just ask any artist.
It's not even that I lost my hunger, it's that what i was doing became easy and convenient. It's like getting way too comfortable in a relationship. Like, where you start taking a dump with the door open, and stop shaving, and or showering. Behavior like that can murder a relationship. You gotta stay on point and keep it fresh, otherwise it can very easily all go to hell.
The same rules apply when you're creating. Stay on point and keep it fresh.
In closing, the pieces will come a little bit slower, but they'll definitely be seen as a evolution of my hand. There's no rush to bang out pieces, but the pieces that come forth will be some bad ass shit, I promise you that, and I ALWAYS keep my promises.