Monday, December 22, 2014
I get asked what I want for Christmas at least a hundred times per season, and I find myself just making up shit to appease said gift givers.
Everyday is Christmas for me. I see something I want...I get it, or at least work towards getting it until I get to the point that if I have to work that hard to get it, then I don't really need it.
When it came time to get something for my sister, I went into panic mode.
My sister is straight. Beautiful house, 2 amazing sons, her and her husband have great jobs, so what could I possibly BUY her?
My sister hosts all the dysfunctional family gatherings.
Thanksgiving 2014, I'm sitting in her kitchen as she is preparing to feed the herd. She basically rips a shelf off a wall to lay on top of her sink, so that she has added counter space.
I'm watching this go down in amazement because....well...it was effective. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective.
I decided to make her a sink spanning shelf. One with a dedicated purpose and appeal.
Never in a lifetime would I think that something so simple would take so much work.
Find a slab, work it into a usable condition, make the feet, 7 coats of Danish oil, let that dry for 3 days, apply spar urethane finish.....FUCK, at that point I'm thinking I should have gotten them some bullshit bluetooth speakers or something.
It's done. It came from my hand. It was made with love and consideration.
Love and consideration....That is how you get a gift for someone.
Nobody or at least a very few can wrap their brain around my obsession for vintage workwear and denim. I don't expect anyone to get it, or gift things of that nature to me. It's the "TRY" that makes a gift priceless to me.
A couple Christmas's ago, my sister-in-law gifted me drill bits and a Carhartt sweatshirt. I've never cracked open the drill bit set, and I've worn that Carhartt sweatshirt just about every working day since I got it.
I have more drill bits then Home Depot and more Carhartt then Carhartt, but she bought me a gift based on what she knew of who I am, and THAT is what made the gift special to me.
At this stage in my life, it's not about the material, it's about the meaning.
That's my lecture in gift giving 101.
Next up is what I'm calling the "GERTRUDE" desk.
We built an advertising agency called Gertrude, and the owner commissioned me to make 2 desks.
The only reason I took on the commission, is because I can do whatever the fuck I want.
The only stipulation is the desk top size. I'm cool with that because it has to be a specific size to accommodate their existing desk top layout.
Here's where gift giving comes back into play...The owner gave me and my coworkers (Zack and Randy) a bottle of Knob Creek Whiskey and sent us off to a steak dinner as a Christmas gift.
He didn't HAVE to do that. I don't drink, but it's the "love and consideration" that he put into his gifts to us, that is not only going to earn him a couple of desks, it's going to be two pieces of art.
Kindness goes a long way in my book. Sometimes an act of kindness is a gift itself.
An act of kindness says "I stopped all the distractions of my life to take YOU into CONSIDERATION."
I really hope everyone that actually reads my posts has a wonderful Christmas.
I have always loved Christmas and even more so now that I have a son, and I can be a part of his excitement and joy.
Take care, get fat, and I'll be back in the New Year with more tales of the obvious!
Monday, December 15, 2014
While I was working on it, it dawned on me that this particular piece isn't furniture...it's sculpture.
It's a functional collaborative piece between me, nature, and an unknown backyard lumberjack. Sounds pretty fuckin' fancy, right?
In theory, it CAN be used as a table, but you could use a milk crate or a cardboard box as a table too, This is a little more than a table.
When I first hoisted it up on the work table, almost losing a testicle in the process, it was a tree stump. A tree stump with very interesting contours. Contours that I chose to accent. A table has a base, and this has a platform. A platform used to elevate it and show it's shape at an appealing height.
Perspective is a crazy mental tool. It enables us to see an outcome in whatever way pleases us.
If your car got trampled by a wild herd of buffalo, you could use your perspective to say "my car just got destroyed" or you could use it to say "wow, I've never seen a herd of wild buffalo in Chicago before...cross that one off the bucket list". Do you see where I'm going with this?
As far as this stump piece goes, I choose to see it as functional art, others will choose to see it as a coffee table. It's easier for me to view it as art because it's from MY hand. I made it. I know it's weight, it's curves and crevices, it's balance, it's flaws. I know what it was before and I know what it is now. For Joe Blow coming in off the street...he doesn't know shit about it, his eyes tell his brain it's a table and to move along, and he'll most likely listen to his brain.
A buyer will be lured in by it's appearance, but a buyer of my kind of stuff will ponder all the how's and why's and most likely create their own scenario of it's birth before they choose to take ownership.
I remember being on acid as a teen. On that particular trip I figured out the meaning of life (who hasn't on acid?). The difference is that I spent the next 6 or 7 hours of that trip, telling myself "don't forget, don't forget, don't forget". My epiphany was that life isn't about answers and outcome, it's about the how's and why's. How did you get there? Why did you do that? It's about embracing the steps along the way. It's about knowing yourself.
I never forgot, but I never applied it until much later in life.
The "how's and why's" are what give things their character. Things aren't always what they seem on the surface.
So that's my synopsis for Mr. Stumpy tree art table.
The bottom pic is of a desk I'm working on.
There's a bit of a story on how it came to be on my project list, but I'm going to refrain from elaborating on it until it's complete.
What I will tell you is that I found the top in the garbage, and someone evidently had a little accident with fire and that top.
I'm not 100% sure I can salvage the top...so far it's interesting, but we'll have to see what shape it takes on.
Well folks...The holidays are upon us, and for the next couple of weeks we're all gonna be busy as fuck. I hope you all have a great holiday, and hopefully I'll be able to provide some reading material while you're recovering from shopping, family fights, and food comas.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Looks like a tree stump, right?
Well, I can honestly say that tree stump furniture isn't really my thing. I've seen a lot of really cool stuff, but it's never really been the style that I am personally into, which is EXACTLY why I embarked (get it, em-BARKed?) on a stump project.
I mean fuck it, step out of your comfort zone once in awhile and see what's out there.
It wasn't so much stepping out of my comfort zone as it was stepping into an uncomfortable zone.
For one...it's heavy and awkward, but I'm no stranger to heavy and awkward, so it's more of a complaint point. Second is the de-barking. The process was a 0.0 on the fun meter, but the fruits of the labor were delicious.
The fun part was going into all the cracks and valley's with a scoop chisel, and really giving accent to all the contours of the wood.
Once she was all cleaned up, I had to come up with a base.
The base was going to be tricky because at the end of the day....someone chopped down a tree. Have you ever chopped down a tree? It's not a pretty process. One side was a clean cut, and the other side was an abortion. I don't own a mill saw, so I had to work with the ugly as opposed to fixing the ugly.
My brain loves these situations. When these situations arise, my brain releases all those fun chemicals, and to be quite honest...I get high.
That's one of the wonderful self discoveries that my craft has taught me.
I made straight steel legs for the back, and where the wood jutted out 2" on the bottom, I was going to make smaller legs pitched at a 15 degree angle therefore leveling the top and no one being any the wiser of the front leg height difference
Not really the equivalent of discovering the "god particle", but I found happiness in my solution.
I welded up the back legs, and wouldn't you know it...I ran out of welding wire.
I didn't have time to run to the store because I had a family day planned, and running to the store is murderous to momentum, so I mocked up the front legs with wood.
So now when I go back to the shop with a fresh spool of wire...all my measurements are done, and I can cut, weld and finish.
I fully understand that stump furniture isn't everyones cup of tea. This piece isn't about a stump, it's about the beauty of getting lost in something outside the parameters that we set upon ourselves.
How will you ever know what you're capable of if you don't leave your mental couch?
In these blog posts, I only show you what I want you to see. I have made so many ugly, unfunctional, and just plain awful pieces in order to get to the good. It has to work that way. I embrace the failure.
Failure equals learning, learning equals knowing, knowing equals application, and proper application will usually lead you to success.
The barrier rests on failure. Most people can't get past the failure, because we're designed or conditioned to not accept defeat.
What I'm telling you to do is OWN your failures and use them, make them work for you.
Remember this...feel free to hide your failures. No one says that you have to show the world how bad you fucked up. File em' away, learn from them and use them to your advantage the next time around.
The only reason I decided to go on about failures is because there was a split second that I was actually intimidated by a fucking tree stump. Once I recognized that feeling of intimidation or fear of failure, THAT'S when that tree stump became my bitch.