Monday, November 24, 2014

THE MOVEMENT

This weekend I spent my Saturday cutting, grinding, welding, drilling, and hammering.
 When I'm making something for a friend, the vibe is completely different. You see, I KNOW where it's going when it's done, so the work I put into a piece is effortless.
 These hooks are going to my friend Zach Meyers.
Zach is about to launch his website on Thanksgiving.
 Let me give you some background on this man...
Zach is a farmer, a father, and he makes the baddest workwear you could ever put on.
 To call his clothing "workwear" is like calling my work "furniture". It's more then that.
We became friends from me simply ordering a pair of overalls a few months back.
 I thought I would just place an order, and they'd just ship them out, but it wasn't like that at all.
After I sent an email inquiring about how to order, Zach sent me his phone number, which I thought was kinda weird.
 I called, we talked for about an hour, 5 minutes of the conversation was spent on sizing, the other 55 minutes was us talking about what we do, what we make, being fathers, our ethic, our dedication to our craft, etc. It was crazy. I just wanted some overalls, and I ended up with a friend.
 He's launching his website on Thanksgiving. www.zaceusa.com
I had made him some of these railroad spike hooks a few months ago, so that he could give them away to the first 10 people who ordered a pair of his overalls when his site launches.
 I can't tell you how much stuff he's sent me, and when he said he'd like some of those spikes for his home, well, say no more.
 Most people who know me, or read this know my affection for handmade goods.
I try to promote those people who are really chasing their dream as much as possible.
 All of Zachs stuff is made in Ohio on vintage sewing machines. Zach has employed and trained 5 Amish families to sew his pieces.
 Most people don't give a shit how their clothing is made or where it's made.
I'm here to tell you...you should care.
 When you buy from people like zaceusa, you're feeding families, not fueling some CEO's Ferrari, and you're definitely not keeping the China/USA trade machine chugging along.
 I've always preached through this blog about supporting those that are making their dreams happen, but also look at what your support does for a local community.
 In terms of the quality and style of the clothing, I can tell you this...you will not find better quality in a pair of jeans Period. The quality is so high that I guarantee his denim. I don't even know how to thread a needle and I personally guarantee another mans work. Let's say you order a pair of jeans from zaceusa, and something happens...crotch blows out, seams come unraveled, they spontaneously combust, if zaceusa doesn't make it right...I will.
 When www.zaceusa.com launches on Thanksgiving day, just check it out. You really have to see it with your own eyes.
 For me personally, it's not about clothes, it's about community.
What I mean by that is that there's a growing network of craftsman who all make different things, and we all support each other anyway we can. It's a movement...a real tangible movement, and I'm honored to be a part of it.
J10customs, Lion and Anvil, zaceusa, Kooth brand, Entimos coffee, breclaimed...we're just a bunch of guys trying to make a better life for our families, by doing what we love.
  Check out all these guys, google em'. Maybe they make something for you maybe they don't, but be aware of whats available to you.
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET...SON


Most people hate their job.
 I am not one of those people.
A few months ago I took a chance and made a job change. The change wasn't really in "what" I was doing, but more of  "where" I was gonna do it.
 Day one of my new job and I meet Zack and Randy. I have a few years on them, and these 2 are a very tight knit team. So tight that at their regular lunch spot it says "Zack/Randy" on their receipt.
 I've never been the type to walk on a job and start the "friend making" process, I just kinda walk on, do my thing, and bounce.
 There was a short warming up process, and the length of that process usually depends on how much of a shit head you are or aren't.
 Fairly quickly I proved my worth, and 2 became 3.
For the last few months we've done some amazing stuff, and not a day goes by where laughter (sometimes uncontrollable laughter) isn't a factor in our daily routine.
 I've worked with a lot of individuals over the years, but I've never worked with 2 people that have mastered the "make it work" philosophy.
 These are 2 pieces that have come from their vision and been executed in a collaborative fashion.
Randy comes from a concrete family from the east coast, and hence the concrete tops on both these pieces.
 Zacks background is deeply rooted in cars.
I don't know shit about cars, but what I have learned is that those with a mechanical background approach building differently, and we definitely do things differently around here.
I have a lot of respect for these 2 guys because in this line of work, there are a lot of guys who see it as a job, and then there's those of us who view it as a way of life.
 When they're not at work, they're off building post apocalyptic style motorcycles, while I'm off building furniture.
 Another factor that contributes to an unstoppable team, is the fact that there are no egos.
When situations arise, and ideas are thrown into the hat, the best idea wins. No feelings get hurt because every one of us has had an idea that has either been shit on or accepted, and we roll with it, because trying to facilitate a bad idea takes too much time.
 The only downside to this 9 to 5 environment, is that by the time the weekend rolls around, and it's time for me to do my own thing...I'm spent.
 Not creatively spent, physically spent.
I really wanted to get some work done this weekend, but I had to get new tires, it was my dads birthday, we had an electrician coming to the house, laundry, grocery shopping, kid from schools birthday party that we totally missed because I couldn't be around 20 plus 4 year olds on a Sunday.
 It used to drive me crazy when I wouldn't make it in to the shop because "life" was stealing time from me. It's a little easier to swallow now because my job provides me an outlet to fill that void.
  So, I will post photos of these pieces when they're completed (clear coat, LED lighting, etc) at www.facebook.com/breclaimed.
 I remember a long time ago, there was this old timer. He kinda looked like a current Willie Nelson.
He was hand mortising these $1500 lock sets on a job we were doing and he was doing it with the precision of a brain surgeon.
 I had come back from lunch and I was telling him that his work was really amazing, and he said "son, if you do the same thing every day for 52 years...you fuckin better be good at it."
I said "wow, 52 years...you must've seen it all." and he said "nah son, I ain't seen nothin...yet"
 There have been moments while I'm working on something and I'll think of that old man, and I'll mutter "YOU ain't seen nothing yet...son."

Monday, November 10, 2014

WHERE THE HELL IS MY SAW?

Saturday morning I woke up with the birds (as usual), and as I sipped my coffee, I was slightly perplexed at what I wanted to do with my day.
 It was a rough week, I had a trip to the movies planned for the family in the early evening, a giant pile of laundry, and if I did go to the shop...what was I gonna make?
 I remembered seeing a giant beam a couple of weeks ago, so I let my mind play with that for a few minutes. I had thought about using that beam for a floor lamp because I have this old engine hoist that would pair well with the beam, or depending on the size of the beam, maybe I'd do a desk?
 Once I started thinking about the desk idea, I made a deal with myself that if my saw was in the shop, then it would be a desk.
 My saw has been traveling lately and I wasn't sure it would be there. I thought it was in my truck, but it wasn't, not in the job box either. Whatever I was going to make would all hinge on where I left that damn saw.
 I got to the shop, flipped on the lights, and there she was. Done deal, time to work old friend.
The purpose of the saw was to rough in the mortise to receive the top. It's necessary to do it with a circular saw when you're working with large pieces of wood, and frankly, I have mastered it.
 The beam wasn't as tall as I thought it was, but I made the trip and the saw had spoken, and to tell you the truth I just let loose and did whatever my hands and material wanted to do.
 It was very liberating. No plan, no sketch, just letting go and blindly creating.
I think the Buddhists would be proud because for a few hours, I was able to let my brain converse with my hands without me interrupting them.
 At some point it stopped being a piece of furniture, and became something else. What that something else is...I don't know, but whatever it is, it fulfilled me..
 And isn't that the point? Fulfillment.
Fulfillment is what we search for unknowingly all day every day. When we eat, when we fuck, when we work, when we talk, etc, etc.
 We're on a constant quest for fulfillment, and find it throughout our day, but rarely stop to appreciate it.
 Have you ever bumped into an old friend, and you have a conversation, and walk away from that conversation feeling so fucking good? That's fulfillment. Actually, that's you embracing your fulfillment.
  The only way to see fulfillment is learning to let go.
We as humans hold on to so much.
 I had a good friend that died this summer.
He died because he couldn't let go of his mothers death. Not letting go led to bad decisions, self medication, depression and eventually death.
 It happens all the time. We all know someone way too young who's heart exploded in their chest, because people hold on to so much garbage, and let it rot inside them until it fucking kills you.
 Not me...I'm letting shit go.
I'm harboring nothing and leaving myself open to anything and everything.
 It's not "hippy thinking", it just makes sense.
If you're awake and present in life, it will show you things. It will show you beautiful things.
 This is what my craft shows me. These are the things I think about when I build. This is my freedom and my therapist.
 I've made it very clear throughout my posts that I don't give a fuck about money or accolades.
I write these posts because I want to share.
 If just one person is inspired by these posts, to knit a sweater, or build a chair, or paint a picture, or get lost in their childs smile, or their girlfriends kiss, then my work is no longer my own, but communal.
 Take from it. Take from me. Fly free.

Monday, November 3, 2014

GANG-STAR



Whenever I'm feeling like I'm in a creative slump...a new lamp lights the way.
 It's not even a "creative slump" that I was feeling, it's just that I haven't had the time to really sit with any interesting materials.
 Last week I was searching for some steel at work when I saw this star peeking out of a toppled box,
It was guiding me like the north star to a ships captain. When I pulled the rest of it out of that box, it was like discovering gold.
 I'm assuming it was a piece from Texaco, I'm assuming it had something to do with gas, and I'm assuming it was super old.
 I'm not a digger, or a historian on Americana, but I know when I see something like this and within 10 seconds I've already configured it into a piece, well...that to me IS gold.
 Based on the fact that I will not come across a piece of industrial Americana history like this again, this one has entered the private collection (at least until I come across another one or something better, or I need emergency surgery).
 Not only is it important to me based on it's uniqueness, it has a time stamp. It came to me when change in my life has been abundant. A time when new living situations, new friends, and new prospects have entered my life.
 Those moments don't have a price tag.
Do I NEED another lamp? We all know the answer to that, but what I may need, one day, is a reminder of when life was cruel but good, hard but fulfilling, and each day gave way to the prospect of a better future.
 I can click it on, and the light passing through the star will light the way for me, kind of like "memory insurance".
 When a piece has a story, it's hard to tie a price tag to it. It's a part of you. Just as I made IT...IT made me.
 To most people, it would just be a cool lamp, and to be honest, I saw a cool lamp at Target the other day.