Monday, June 29, 2015
busy for us these past couple of weeks.
I managed to squeeze in a little project to test my skills.
We had a bunch of steel cut offs piled up under the band saw, and I uncovered a piece of old growth lumber. The lumber wasn't a significant find, it was one length of beautifully aged 2X8. There was just barely enough to make a small table top, so that was my starting point.
I wanted to make a funky little base for it in order to take away from the fact that it was going to be such a small piece.
There was barely enough steel to eek out the base, but at the end of the day I feel as if I had made do from "doo-doo", and THAT was the point...take a bunch of shit and make something.
The next piece is a Whiskey sample crate that was created for a photo shoot by a client who is launching a new whiskey brand.
I actually kind of fell in love with this crate and didn't really wanna let it go. I love crates of all kinds. I don't know what to put in them or where to put them, but that's all secondary. They all seem to tell a story, and they define their age really well, the older the better, and the ones with cool markings...forget about it.
We spent a large chunk of time on a timber stair project with glass walls and steel railings. I tried to get photos, but they all suck. There isn't a good angle to get it all in a photo. You'll just have to take my word on the fact that the project came out really well.
It seems like the more difficult or involved a job is, the more fun we have.
Some jobs are solely for the money, and those tend to be the jobs where me and Zack are at our funniest. It's a constant blend of laughing and building.
I was telling Zack how I wanted to get my son a skateboard for a few weeks, and the other weekend I had showed up at the shop and Zack had put together a skateboard deck for my little dude.
He just did it out of the blue.
To my son, it's a skateboard, and he's super in to it. To me...it meant a lot more.
There are a few people who have gone above and beyond for me...Keith from Lion and Anvil, Luke from Mildblend Supply, Christophe Loiron from Mister Freedom, Zack Meyers from ZaceUSA. I have a hard time accepting acts of kindness. I'm grateful, but I always feel as if I owe something in return. When someone goes above and beyond for my son....fuck, I'm almost stunted. I'll send gifts of gratitude to those who have extended their hand to me, but when someone extends their kindness to my son, I feel forever indebted.
Kindness....just when I think that society has completely lost it's fucking mind, an act (or acts) of kindness renew my faith in mankind.
No matter how large or small an act of heart felt kindness is, it has the ability to change ones perspective as well as uplift a soul who witness's the ugliness of humanity on a daily basis. By "ugliness of humanity" I am referring to the average assholes we all encounter everyday.
The selfishness of mankind is enough to make you wanna crawl in a cave and only come out when dinner is ready.
I think it's a sad fact that we just expect people to screw us on a daily basis, it's become the norm, and we're calloused to it.
So, let that lady with her one bag of cat food hop in front of you in the grocery line, let that guy parallel park on a main street without laying on your horn, hold the door for the lady holding 2 kids at the mall...when you see someone struggling, at the very least, offer help. You'll change a life as well as your own.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Thursday morning when I got to the shop, I did my usual routine of cleaning up, unlocking the job box, wrap up some extension cords, and just my average day prep things, but usually once all that stuff is done,Zack would walk in.
Even though I was very aware that he was going out of town, I kept looking at the door. It's very strange how your mind gets so accustomed to a routine. It took me a little while to shake that routine and start actually doing something.
A couple months ago, we were on a stool/chair building binge. Zack had started one with a hand bent steel chair arm and back piece, but the chair never got around to getting some legs. I figured there was no better time then the present to finish that one up.
We have a 500lb. box of railroad spike cut offs. It's always bothered me that I couldn't find a use for the remainder of the spike,
We saved them because we knew one day we'd figure out a use for them, and I put them to use on a new mason jar planter.
Friday we had a framing job in the building, so I figured I'd knock that out as a way to get ahead of the game and basically keep busy.
About an hour into framing, I notice this guy standing in the doorway. He's on his phone for a good 5 minutes or so, and I'm thinking he's probably going to ask about getting some work done in his space.
Instead, he comes in and says "couldn't you have done this yesterday, or can't you do this after hours or something? We work upstairs and we can hear everything!"
Usually in these situations, I try to be diplomatic, and if someone is at least nice about it, I'll try to accommodate them, but this entitled prick came at me the wrong way.
My response was "Bro, I'm sure you can hear everything I'm doing, because what I'm doing is construction and it tends to be loud. If my work here is upsetting to you, then you're in for a world of disappointment because what I'm building here is a DJ booth for the DJ service which is moving in this space. Seeing as they have contracted us to build them a structure for rehearsing their DJ sets...my few hours of framing should be the least of your concerns, unless your a huge fan of techno/hip hop and house music, in which case, today would be the best day of your fucking life."
Wordless, he slithered away.
It dawned on me that this pussy stood in the doorway working up the nerve to come at me like a tough guy, which he failed miserably at. Had he walked right in, been nice about it, I more than likely would have at the very least attempted to soften the reality of my work.
The highlight of my weekend came on Saturday.
My girl had to work Saturday night, and I had left the shop somewhat of a disaster, so I asked my 5 year old if he wanted to help me clean up the shop. He knows I have snacks stashed at the shop, so he was all over it.
We get there and the little dude went right to work, I directed him to the snack cabinet and it appears that I had eaten all his Minion gummy snacks, so I compensated by asking him if he wanted to learn to weld. The excitement on his face was priceless.
I propped him up on a stool at the welding table, went over the safety basics that I personally never adhere to, and spent the next 20 minutes trying to get him suited up.
I had to rig the welding helmet to snug up on his little head, and the gloves were a little less easy to navigate around his tiny hands, but he managed to get them in a semi workable position.
I laid the first bead and explained the movement to him. The next bead, he held the gun and I guided his hands. The next few attempts were all on his own.
Not too shitty for a 5 year old.
We both gained so much from that.
He walked out of the shop with a sense of self confidence that could be seen in his posture, and I walked away with a sense of pride that all fathers should feel.
He'll probably never forget that day, and neither will I.
I'm no teacher. From time to time, we'll get someone who will offer to work for free so they can learn to build. It always puts me and Zack in an uncomfortable position, because we find no enjoyment in shitting all over someones aspirations, but we're also not in the teaching business.
Learn the hard way.
Get hurt, break shit, lose tons of money, have your ego stomped on, set yourself on fire from time to time, pull metal shards from your eyeballs, and THEN come talk to us....and we still won't let you work with us, but it will be a much different conversation.
Pay dues and get respect. Follow that format and everything will be A-OK.
Monday, June 15, 2015
My friends Johnney and Erica run a custom leather shop called J10 customs.
Besides the leather work, Johnney is an iron worker and he has been on the road for a little bit, and in the meantime, Erica has been running the leather business and taking care of the family.
Erica had recently posted something on Facebook which prompted me to invite her to be a guest blogger.
If I was ever in a bar fight, I would definitely feel more secure with Erica having my back.
When I invite a guest blogger, there are no guidelines, no editing, no nothing. The people I invite are welcome to say what they want and how they want to say it.
Check out www.j10customs.com
Blog/Blogging...what is it?? Bitching and logging it??? A Bitch Log? Well I'm good at that!!
I'm know it's not all that all the time, I've read Brian's blogs and they are very insightful and inspirational. Now, I don't think I'll be inspiring anyone today, but hopefully I get some heads shaking "YES!! Exactly!!"
Here we go...here's my "B" log...
Why do some women have to try and prove something!!?? Eh gad! Why do you have to saturate everything in pink?? We know your a chick on your "hog" because you ride like a jackass...we know your a chick in your overly jacked up truck because you drive like a jackass! Men ride and drive like jackasses too, but their not wearing a "I'm a boy" sticker on their face! Oh and nice pink "concealed" gun...it's fucking bright pink! That shit is NOT concealed! Why the need to "tell" everyone you're a chick??? Pink Browning sticker on your douche' truck that you don't drive over 30 in...drive that shit like you stole it! I can hammer shit like a dude, drive anything, shoot whatever you want me too, but I don't have to express that I'm a chick doing it!! I sent a friend a picture of what I was making that day and I sent "fucking man shit!" along with it. Her response was, "no, that is girl shit too! work your leather magic!" I cut leather that is as thick as concrete by hand (it's not, but it feels like it!), I hammer and cut copper rivets, using an old railroad track as my foundation. All the while, singing in my head, "I've been working on the railroad"...the clank is so loud I should probably be wearing ear plugs, but that shits for girls...lol...I do all kinds of man shit because my Man is on the road doing REAL man shit! I do it because I have to and because I love it!
I work hard at what we do (Johnney and I), but I don't feel the need to put pink and glitter on it just to show everyone a woman did it. I get that some women feel they don't get treated the same as a man...well hello ladies, we are not the same as men!! We're emotional wrecks! Crying and bitching all the time and logging it! LOL! We gossip and whine...some men do too ha! We are not physically the same (although some dudes look like a lady & ladies look like dudes). There are things I just can't do, physically. I can't carry a dresser that I refinished into the house, it shall remain in the garage until a "man" can come help me. Now I know there's ALOT of women out there that are legit (no pink, just badass!) I know you personally!!
My point is, just do what you love to do without having to "girlie" stank it up. Be you! Stop trying to do man shit and put a bow on it. If your badass, just be badass! When you ride, just ride and when you take your helmet off and your long hair flows out in slow motion like in a movie and all the dudes jaws drop, THAT'S when everyone knows your a woman!!
And stop wearing that fucking blingy shit!
Alright, gotta go put some makeup on so I look pretty!
Monday, June 8, 2015
Things have gotten busy, and for 2 guys to accomplish what we have this week is crazy.
Monday started off kinda slow, so we took advantage of a "creative day".
We did a bit of brain storming in order to come up with a couple new items for the makerschicago Etsy shop.
Brain storming isn't the right word for what happened, because we didn't really talk about anything, we just kinda started making stuff.
The result of that freestyle build was...Zack came up with a hanging herb garden, and I came up with a leather wrapped mason jar holder.
Although I like how mine came out, I have never in my life said "goddammit, I really could use something to hold this fuckin mason jar". So in that sense, I'm not really sure it will make it to the public.
Zacks on the other hand...it's functional, especially if you cook. My girl is always cutting fresh herbs that have polluted our kitchen window sill, and in the spirit of actually being able to SEE through our window without a view obstructed by the Basil and Rosemary jungle, Zacks hanging herb garden would free up some space.
Once we finished up our little creative project, a check was dropped off for a 60ft. patio enclosure, so we wasted no time getting ready for that ride.
We gathered up the steel and the cutting/grinding symphony was performed.
The next morning was a weld-a-thon. While Zack was in the shop welding the plates to the posts, I was upstairs at the patio welding the supports to the posts and setting them as Zack would bring them up.
We welded for 9 hours straight...non-stop. 2 welders burning at the same time.
"Safety first" is not in our vocabulary. That being said, we both suffered "weld burn" all over our faces and arms, so the next morning we both looked like we had fallen asleep on the beach in Costa Rica, but at the expense of our flesh...all the posts were fabricated and set.
The next morning we set the glass...200lbs each. Tempered glass basketball backboards. You can clearly see in the photo that they're backboards, right? For some reason, every single person that walked by while we were installing them would ask "are those backboards?"
It's hard to be polite when your flesh got burned off your face and your pressing 200lb. glass and people want you to confirm the fucking obvious.
That afternoon, the patio was complete and we moved right on to a conference table build.
There's nothing I enjoy more than being in the shop.
Music blaring, coffee brewing, lots of laughing and bullshitting, and shit gets done in a very harmonious fashion. I've said it before, but the way Zack and I work...there's no delegating, things just get done. We're both very aware of what needs to be done, and we're both aware of what the other person is doing, so there is no need to bark out orders to each other.
If you can find someone that you can work with like that, you better hold on to that.
I spent the better part of my career working alone, because when I was in a team situation, there was always conflict. I wanna correct myself because there was one crew I worked on that was amazing, but when that project was over, everyone went their own way.
Happy-happy-joy-joy...wanna hear something fucked up?
We got an order for some hooks. Immediately we packaged them up and sent them off.
Friday morning I get a text from Zack telling me the customer got his order...the box was empty.
Our wonderful postal service decided that a heavy package headed to Beverly Hills was worth opening and removing our product, and then proceeded to deliver an empty fucking box.
I couldn't get to work fast enough. I was so embarrassed by the postal services thievery.
I made the customer brand spanking new railroad spike hooks and we shipped them off within hours of receiving his notification of the situation.
You can say whatever you want about what we make, but I'll promise you this...our customer service will always be our back bone.
Our service reflects our pride, and you won't find 2 prouder bastards than us.
Monday, June 1, 2015
We finally did it.
You can now actually purchase some of our smaller items.
After a couple of years of selling to a select few, we have opened up a Etsy shop so now anyone can own a piece of us.
These are just a few of the items that we sell on our Etsy shop.
The idea was to make smaller, affordable, and easy to ship hand crafted home decor items.
Neither Zack nor I are very computer savy, so suffice it to say our start may be a little bumpy, but we can muscle through pretty much anything.
Can I be completely honest?
It felt really good to put together and ship out our first couple of orders.
It was like a weird high.
I've worked really hard over the last few years. I not only worked at getting my skills up, I worked at changing who I was personally, I worked at how I view the creative process, I worked at how I approach and manipulate materials, I've worked and conquered so many things, and now I'm able to package that journey up, and ship it off. It really feels fucking amazing.
I don't really give a shit if we have 2 sales or 2000 sales. We created something we feel strongly about and made it happen.
Me and Zack have endured shit that would break most peoples dreams into a million pieces. No matter what turd got thrown at us, we put our heads down and kept grinding.
I liken our situation to 2 people running through the forest in some bad horror flick. You're running and dodging obstacles, one falls down and the other picks them up, the other one falls and gets picked back up, and this goes on and on, except in our movie, the chainsaw wielding maniac never catches up, that fucker is way behind, but we're still running with no intent of stopping.
I get high off accomplishment.
If you think about life, accomplishment has a shelf life.
When you're a kid, life is a speeding train of accomplishments. Your ABC'S, wiping your ass, completing levels of school, navigating relationships, mastering a hobby or interest. The accomplishments come in rapid succession. Then you reach a point where you're cool. Decent job, a house, a family, friends...shit like that, but then what? You're done. You've made it. Do you sit back and let someone else take the wheel at that point while you sip a Martini on your deck?
I don't know, cause that ain't me.
I need to make goals and constantly smash them. That's what gets my blood pumping., and what's happening in my life at this very moment is a testament to that.
I don't get high, I don't drink, I think.
I'm constantly thinking about my next move.
Where am I gonna go, how am I gonna get there, what do I need to do?
Be better to do better.
It is actually maddening to a degree.
When the day is done, the brain keeps going. There are moments when my girl will say to me "what's up, you seem like you're somewhere else" and even though I just completely built us a new bed...in my head...I just smile and say "nah, I'm cool."
It's Monday, and I should really wrap this rant up because ya'll got shit to do. So, in closing....hop on www.etsy.com search makerschicago (one word) and pick up some stuff to jazz yer home up. You're really getting some quality handmade goodness, and if you hold it up to any Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware, or World Market garbage that you may have purchased in the past, you'll not only see the difference, you'll feel it.
You're not just buying wood and steel, you're gonna own a little bit of soul.