Monday, September 29, 2014

"LIFE'S MY BITCH"


It's done and it's home.
 3 coats of Danish oil, a lot of rubbin', Linseed oil and a torch, and that was my Saturday afternoon.
I read about a method of finishing steel by applying linseed oil, and then baking it on with a torch, so I took a crack at it.
 Even though it's kinda messy, kinda dangerous, and more time consuming, the result is a clean, matte brownish finish.
 I started my Saturday by painting my kids room at 6am, then I installed trim and a new threshold in the pantry, then I finished the coffee table, then...we went and saw "The Box Trolls".
 Sunday, I started skim coating my kitchen.
The building is 120 years old and needs a lot of work, but we're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
 I really need to wrap this move up, and soon. I need to get back to producing pieces.
Not so much for financial reasons, but in creating pieces, it's where I find my peace.
 Operating my life in a constant state of chaos is taking a toll on me.
Some people thrive off it, and then there's me. I put a lot of effort in keeping my life in balance, and when it gets thrown off, I struggle with correcting it.
 I've spent the last year or so putting the pieces of my life together in a manner in which I dictate. It's very liberating, and there are sacrifices involved, but it's all worth it, because you come to a point where you find a "peace".
 Now that a home renovation and move has come in to disrupt my peace, I have discovered a way to take control of the chaos.
 I use time instead of time using me.
I break every task into increments of time, then I complete those tasks in the time that I have given myself.
Would I really like to take a break and have a cup of coffee while I'm installing this floor? Yes, I would, but no, I won't, because I've only allotted myself a specific amount of time to complete my goal.
 You see where I'm going with this?
It's more difficult then you think, but if you can reel it in, you can conquer the beast known as time.
 I make furniture. Breclaimed is the name I have tied to that. "B" is for Brian, everyone has a difficult time stating my name for some reason and refer to me as "B". Reclaimed means to take back. In essence, Breclaimed is about me taking back me.
 The furniture is just what I do, and that's what most people see. For me, Breclaimed is about taking my life and situations out of other peoples hands and putting it back into my own.
 I chose to give that little break down because, no matter what is going on in your life, you have the ability to take control of it.
 Life is too short to let it have it's way with you, and it will if you let it. That's why some asshole made a zillion dollars off of printing merchandise that states "Lifes a bitch".
 Maybe I can make a zillion dollars off of printing merchandise that says "Life's MY bitch".

Monday, September 22, 2014

MOMMA DON'T LIKE CHEAP!


We've all seen these kind of coffee tables a million times before.
 The reason we've seen them so much is because they're cool, they just are, period.
They're like jeans...everyone owns a pair of jeans. Why does everyone own a pair of jeans? Because they're cool...always have been, always will be.
 This cart was at my work, and I had asked my boss if I could buy it. He told me to take it because he said he knew I would do something amazing to it. With that being said, there are 2 reasons that I'm taking my time with it.
1. If someone is confident in my ability to make a broken cart "amazing", then "amaze" I shall do.
2. It's for MY home.
 I haven't had a coffee table for almost 5 years. We didn't have the space, and we had a baby. I read an article that children most frequently injure themselves on coffee tables because they're the perfect height for splitting their heads open on, But now, my baby is creeping up on 5 years old, so I think I'm outta the weeds...or with this table, I'm heading into the weeds.
 These carts are on wheels, and if I think that my pride and joy is not going to attempt to surf this mother fucker across the living room, well, then I'm more delusional then I thought.
 As a father it is my job to crush as many of my childs dangerous dreams as possible. There was a moment while working on this table that I said "HAH-HAH..not so fast little guy". You see, I figured out a way to keep this piece as a coffee table as opposed to a means of transportation for my son.
 I put legs on it. Simple, effective, and a cool aesthetic. The legs keep the wheels just barely off the floor, which prevents my floors from getting damaged as well as prevents my son from getting damaged.
 I used the posts (as seen in the first photo) for the legs. I also had to replace all the wood for the top.
The cart had some original stamping, so I had to be very careful as to not sand it off.
 Right now, I'm working on removing the rust from the wheels, then I'll move on to a final sand, then a hand rubbed oil finish.
 As we get ready to move to a new place, the candle is being burnt at both ends in terms of working, working on the new place, and working on new furniture for the new place.
 Our home will be a work in progress for the next few months. I feel that, if your home is right, then you're right.
 It's a large space in an old building, and it needs a ton of work. Since gutting it wasn't really an option, my goal is to transform it's "oldness" into "coolness".
 Luckily, for the past couple of months I have worked with a designer at my 9 to 5 that has mastered the art of turning old into cool, so hopefully I've learned a thing or two.
 Ill keep posting progress on the coffee table, and I might do some home improvement posts if I find them interesting enough.
 Hopefully I can get back to making pieces that will be for sale in the next couple of weeks, because...as much furniture as I make for our home, at the end of the day, momma doesn't like cheap, and to be honest, neither do I.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BREAKFAST IS SERVED


After making the last table, I really wanted to make one for my kitchen.
 As much as I loved the last one, it was just too heavy to lug to a second floor.
The wood for the top was taken from the demo of an auto parts store that opened up in 1940.
 Once I cleaned the grease and dirt off, it revealed this really funky green paint. I liked the green, it was sort of a time stamp for that era, but there isn't anything green in my house except for a few plants that will be dead shortly. I sanded the green off, but I did manage to keep little hints of it's existence
 I don't think that I've ever built something solely for myself. There have been times when I've completed a piece and been like "yeah, I'm keeping this.", so going into this table with it's selfish intent was a little strange.
 I built it around these ultra modern bent walnut chairs that were given to me a while back, but while thinking about the build, I started to look at vintage industrial chairs.
 I love industrial seating from the 40's, but they are expensive, and rightly so. Couldn't I just build them myself? Of course I could, but the amount of work that goes into making one (or 4) doesn't really pay off.
 In the amount of time that it would take to build them, I could build 4 other pieces that would generate the capital to buy some vintage ones and still have some cash to stash.
 I like the idea of blending something vintage with something that came from my hand to complete the picture.
 While building this table, I kept thinking about the 1940's and my obsession with it.
I don't even know that much about the 1940's historically, but what I do know is that it was a time when building and crafting was in full swing. There was a pride in the worker that intrigues me.
 Even the way they dressed when they went to work, it exuded a pride in their work and a sense of self. These days, in my line of work, guys put on their shittiest clothes to go to work. Just walk through Home Depot at 7am and you'd think they were handing out hot meals for the homeless, but look at a photo of a factory worker from 1940 and he looks like James Dean.
 Wouldn't you, as a home owner, prefer someone working in your home that doesn't look like someone who just stumbled in from a bar just a few short hours ago?
 I think I'm connected to that era because I believe in that sense of self and the pride that one puts into their work.
 Over the years the consumer became more interested in getting things done quickly and cheaply, and was willing to sacrifice quality. How in the fuck did THAT happen?
 What kind of jedi mind trick took place that informed the masses that cheap half assed work was "good enough".
 I used to sell out. I would give a customer a price, they would knock me down, and I would eat a shit sandwich, but over the last few years, I have figured out that the people that utilize that tactic, aren't the people I want to work for anyway.
 I'm a threat to the average consumer now because I know my worth, and I'm an asset to the clientele that WANT quality work.
 Whenever I hear someones sad story about how the world has had it's way with them, my response is "everyone cuts their own deal in life." That statement is slightly debatable, because there are some uncontrollable circumstances that can really put someones life in the crapper, like...having your legs eaten by a shark, or Cancer, or some other brutal act of nature. For the most part though, peoples lives are messed up because they made bad decisions.
 Once you know your worth, the bad decision making becomes a thing to look back at and chuckle about. It's true. I wouldn't write about it if I didn't live it at some point.
 So, know your worth, go make some shit, hug your kids, and dominate the week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

THE ART OF DETERMINATION

I was determined to make a rustic breakfast table.
 Part of the inspiration came from a trip to Pottery Barn with Laura.
As we walked through the store, we were both commenting on how contrived their "reclaimed" furniture was.
 It's so manufactured and so precisely distressed that it seems that they had perfected the art of "soul removal".
I mean, their furniture is heartless and cold, but I guess it's a wonderful package for the instant gratification market.
 I put it in the category of "mall art". Sometimes I see mall art, and for a split second, my head is telling me that it's a beautiful painting that would bring my living room to life, and then I think of anyone that comes to my house and says "no shit? you bought a painting from Pictures-R-Us!"
 So...this is about as real and rustic as it gets.
The wood is actually a mixture of Hickory and Oak. It is widely used as road construction lumber or tunnel lumber. It's the type of lumber they use in coal mines.
 I'm an industrial kind of guy, so I like to use materials that were meant to sustain severe punishment, and I have come to terms with the fact that I have to sacrifice beauty for durability.
 I attempted to make the wood "pretty", but the planer I was using would not accept the material. It would flat out stop as soon as the material touched the blades.
 So I grabbed a belt sander with 50 grit....I sanded for hours...and this wood flipped me the bird.
I'm not going to fight nature. It is what it is.
 It's not a table for everyone, but for me, it's a sense of accomplishment.
I enjoyed hand mortising the base, I can now take that application on to other projects without fear.
 A great piece of furniture has to have soul.
There are a lot of manufactured pieces that still have heart. In fact, when the heart of a designer is projected through a production piece...well, that's why Eames and Henry Miller are so popular, they had that down to a science.
 I've had to turn down quite a few projects lately, and I was talking to someone who was telling me that I should hire someone. They were telling me how most successful artists have "interns" that create the work while the artist direct them.
 I'm not ok with that. If you buy a piece from me, it came from my hand, period.
Do I lose out on money because of that thinking? Yes, I absolutely do. I would be livid if I bought a painting that I thought was from an artist and have it turn out to be made by an intern.
 My thinking is this, if you have sought me out in order to acquire one of my pieces, wouldn't you rather just wait for it?
 Who has ever said...."I need a 500lb table right fucking now"
When it comes to custom work, it's only semi-custom because I'm going to build what I want.
 Most people are cool with that and some I send to other craftsmen that I know who will make exactly what someone wants.
  Money is great, but I won't let it turn something I love into something I hate.
A lot of people say "wouldn't it be awesome to make a living by doing something you love to do?" My answer is this " wouldn't it be awesome to make money doing what you love and NOT turning it into a job?".



Monday, September 1, 2014

MEATHEAD

I remember the most obscure things people tell me, then I replay them in my head for the rest of my life.
 I used to be a gym rat.
I was always a little guy growing up, and when I discovered lifting weights, my life changed.
 I learned dedication.
I was in the gym everyday. I would get upset if the gym was closed on Christmas morning.
 I learned that if there's something you don't like about yourself, you can change it.
I learned about pushing past the boundaries that we put on ourselves, and here's where I tie this whole post together.
 I remember talking to this giant motherfucker at the gym.
This dude was like massive, but he was also a chemical engineer who probably made more money then most of us  will ever see (never judge a book by it's cover)
 We were talking about sets and reps, and he said "there's no set amount of reps, start lifting and once it starts to get difficult to push the weight...THAT'S when you start counting your reps."
 Most people would give that method a shot, and then go back to their old ways, including myself, but I applied that theory into every other aspect of my life.
 This table has been one of the longest builds I've done.
The material is unforgiving, and it's been hot and humid.
 I picked up the forgotten piece for the second set of legs as well as "found" some more material so I don't have to elaborately correct my 1" too long fuck up.
 I finished the second set of legs on Saturday, it was getting late in the day, and in my head I had decided I was going to use steel for the bottom stretcher.
 That decision was made when I realized that I would have to use the wood that I allocated for the stretcher to correct the fact that I made the legs 1" too wide for the top. I had come up with some more material during the week, so I had plenty of stock to go back to my original plan, but my plan "B" was so much easier.
 I was going to bore 1" holes and epoxy a 1" steel rod as a stretcher...easy breezy.
I sat there for a few minutes, dripping sweat, covered in saw dust, staring at the base.
 I could have drilled those holes and inserted that rod and been done in 5 minutes.
It's not about being "done", it's about making the best piece that I can.
 So I spent another hour mortising that unforgiving wood. It was the right thing to do. For the piece as well as for myself.
 There's a ton of guys that do what I do. A lot of them are way more skilled then I am, some of them have better vision then I do, but at the end of the day, I can go home to my family, and look in the mirror and know in my heart that....there's not a motherfucker walking on gods green earth that will ever out-work me,