Monday, January 18, 2016

'it's not THAT gay."



The other morning, Zack had walked into the shop as I was wire brushing a length of chain, and the only words he muttered were "another chain lamp? you should do something different."
 Sometimes, that's all I need to hear.
This lamp is a gift for my friend and jean maker Zace Meyers.
 I've spoken of Zace in various posts before. We always seem to call each other when we're at some type of cross road in our lives. For those that don't know of Zace, he is a jean maker from Ohio. What sets him apart from other jean makers is that where most people in that industry will just approve a pattern and send it off to a factory to be produced...he IS the pattern maker, he IS the factory, he IS the accountant, he IS the marketing dept., he IS shipping and receiving, he IS research and development.
 Currently he IS at a sort of "new beginning" in his life, and I, as a friend, wanted to make him something.
I wanted to make him something so he can remember when the life page got turned.
 You see one day, I'm bringing my family down to his farm, and there will be a moment when Zace and I will be sipping coffee by the light of that lamp, and I'm going to say "remember that shit?..."
 The next few photos are from a interior job we have been working on for several months.
Several months because the only things that were not custom made on this project, were the screws. I have a feeling that, if we had the machinery to make our own screws....we'd be making custom screws too.
 What you can't really tell from the photos, is that this entire project is steel, glass, and rift cut red oak.
All the steel railings were fabricated in the clients back yard, all the balusters (the pieces that go up and down) were hand milled.
 When we first took on the project, we assumed that you could just order up 10' balusters from any stair part retailer. I'm here to inform you that no you can fucking not just order up 10' balusters, because I called every stair part manufacturer in the country and was either laughed at or hung up on. So, on to plan B, except the problem was....there was no plan B. Plan B turned into like plan K after brainstorming options for what was becoming "these stupid fucking balusters".
 Let me tell you all something. If you don't reach a point in your craft or career where you ask yourself at least once a day "why the fuck am I doing this? Cause it sure as hell isn't for the fame and fortune."...then you're doing something wrong.
 Here's an example as to why we do what we do...we're building out a space for a client, one of the elements for this space is an old factory window. Now, we simply could have jumped on Craigslist and bought one for around $35, but we said fuck it, we'll make one. Friday, I'm building and aging the window frame while Zack is welding the steel for the window panels. A couple hours later, Zack sets the steel inside the window box and says..."that's kinda gay.", where I reply "it's not THAT gay". He goes back, welds up some more pieces, sets them in the box and says "wanna go to lunch?". We're on our way out and the client happens to be walking in, so we say, "we're finishing up the window, wanna check it out?". They come down to the shop and their eyes bug out, and the one gentleman exclaims "IT"S PERFECT!!!!!!".
 That is what we build for. We build because it defines us to ourselves, but our motivation comes from a customers excitement.
 If what is mediocre to us, is amazing to a client? Well, they're in for a big surprise.
Hard work doesn't always pay off in dollars. We're living proof of that. We've gotten fucked more then a red light district prostitute, but we forge on because we love our craft, we love the environment that we work in every day, and we love our work being appreciated.
 

Monday, January 11, 2016

I'M NOT FLATTERED, YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE.



First Lemmy, now Bowie....and Keith Richards is still alive.
 Aside from losing 2 legends in music, 2016 is starting out rather well.
Although the new bar build wasn't quite a 2016 build, it rolled into the new year.
 This one is a cleaner version compared to our other 3 rolling bars. The rusted steel face is from a freight elevator, the top is from some old factory joists, par for the course around the MAKERS shop.
 This past weekend, we had opened the shop to the public.
It was a good  time. A lot of people came through, a lot of people from other business's in the building hung out to just talk and drink, and quite a few people had inquired about "workshops".
 We have played with the idea of teaching classes. It would probably be as funny as it would be fun, but it probably will never happen for this reason and this reason only....we can't teach people how to THINK.
 Sure we could teach you how to use a saw, how to weld, how to chisel mortises, we could have you building fucking bird houses in no time. We couldn't teach you how to look at an old window or door, and turn it into a rolling bar, or how to chisel away at a rotted tree stump and turn it into a coffee table, or any of those types of things that we do. That's not taught. You either have it or you don't.
 What I can teach everyone without anyone spending money or stepping foot in our shop is this....
If you are going to replicate what someone else has already made, it doesn't qualify as an idea.
 It's good to look at other peoples work, it's great to be inspired by someone else's work, but do you, don't do THEM (whoever "THEM" might be).
 Here's an example.
We have a client that is bringing these massive wood slabs to us. They need bases for these slabs, and the ones that have bases, they need those to be modified.
 I'm a student of the late great George Nakashima.
I love his work, I love his style and approach.
 These slabs are something that Mr. Nakashima would  manipulate into stunning pieces of art. We could have turned those pieces into replicas fairly easily, but instead, we did what WE do, not what Mr. Nakashima would have done.
 So, not only would we not be able to teach one how to think, we could not teach one how to have creative integrity.
 In every aspect of culture, it has become acceptable to take someone's ideas and make them yours.
In art, advertising, music, photography...you name it and someone is replicating someone else's work.
 I'm not claiming that we have re-invented the wheel, I'm just saying that our wheel is gonna be way fucking different then your wheel.
 They say "imitation is the highest form of flattery", I say..."imitation makes you an asshole".