Monday, June 26, 2017
It's a motorcycle show with bands, booze, bikes and everything that you would imagine a motorcycle show to be.
Our presence there was par for the course in terms of who we are and what we represent.
Among vendors carrying t-shirts that say shit like "if you can read this, then the bitch fell off", and patches that say "certified asshole", along with the ones carrying made in China bolt on parts for your 30% made in America motorcycles...we definitely stuck out.
"Cool shit man" was the phrase of the day, which was good for the ol' ego, but another common phrase was "so....what do you guys DO?"
So, let me get this straight...you're standing in our booth, surrounded by all this cool handmade shit, and you're asking me what it is that we do?
"We sell insurance fucko...the stupid phrase t-shirt vendor is across the street"
As much as I would stare blankly at these people while thinking "how are you so fucking dumb?", I also realized that maybe it wasn't such a dumb question.
We're a Walmart society.
We're conditioned to accept the nicely packaged products that some blonde bitch on TV is telling us to buy.
We're taught to go buy disposable shit that we don't need.
We're bred to not remotely give a fuck about quality, but be concerned with price.
We're programmed to not acknowledge the hand that built the house.
So, you walk into our booth which smashes every one of those talking points, and you're left scratching your mullet, thinking to yourself "what the fuck is this", until it's actually vomited out of your mouth, to which I then have to come up with a smart ass response.
It made me realize that the deck is stacked against us, which is fine because I don't play cards anyway.
All in All, the response was great and the people enjoyed something different.
All right...picture explanation time...
Chain lamp...I've posted many before, but this is the first one made using a jig.
We made a jig to keep the chain straight which made the product to be cleaner and much faster to make.
Devils tail wall hanger....because I felt like making one.
Concrete top sink...This is for our bar build out at what will be called "Tavern 57" in Chicago.
It's one of 3 sinks and one giant bar top all made from concrete.
Concrete is a really cool medium to work with, and we don't work with it as much as I'd like to because it's stupid heavy and I'm old. Truth.
New website, more retail work, doing outdoor street fests...we're finding our way.
We're trying new things to see what works, to see where we fit in and it's all essential in order to grow.
Somewhere there's a dude playing guitar in his moms basement, and he is the best guitar player in the world, but until he get's out of his moms basement and plays for an audience...no one will ever know and his talent dies with him and everyone misses out.
Get yer dick (or vagina) wet. Go outside your comfort zone. Try new things. Take the plunge, otherwise you'll never know.
Could have or should have, just doesn't cut it.
This show was exhausting. Me and Zach both missed out on time with our family this weekend, but it's those sacrifices that dictate our future and the future of our families.
This is real life. You pay to play.
There is no such thing as luck. Either you put in the work or you didn't.
Anyway...now that the weekend is over, it's back to building. I swear to god that my face hurts from 30 hours of fake salesman smiling.
Have a good Monday my friends.
Monday, June 12, 2017
The bowling alley top bar is a custom order.
We were given "inspiration" photos, and tried to comply with all the little details as well as added a few of our own.
The coffee table is just us fucking around with color.
I mean...why not?
Shit is just bland-blah-boring sometimes, so why not fucking blue? Add blue...see what happens.
2 of the 3 lamps are for Jaunt. The 3rd lamp is for Motoblot.
As much as we'd like to sell as much stuff as possible at Motoblot, it's also a way to showcase and network.
It's a motorcycle show. Maybe someone will wanna walk around with a fucking lamp all day, and maybe not, but what they will know, is where to get it if they like it.
We've made enough cash and carry items so that we don't totally eat shit, but we want to showcase some bigger items as well.
We're also going to have t shirts and shop rags for sale and once the show is over, those items will be available at www.makerschicago.com , in case you live in fucking Idaho and don't wanna make a 23 hour drive to look at motorcycles and buy a couple of dirtbags t-shirts.
I've been thinking lately (you all know what that means) about "moments".
If you dissect an average day, you realize that most of that time is filler bullshit, and the things that define what will soon be your past, are "moments".
How do you have more moments and less filler time?
I don't fucking know, but if I did, I'd be able to make Tim Robbins bank account look like my daily deposit.
One thing I do know is that we need to spend less time focusing on what we need to do later and be present in what is happening right now.
Here's an example...Saturday night, my son wanted to ride his bike. He just grasped the whole bike riding thing the day before and he wants to get better at it. Although it was already 9pm and the house was a disaster from a sleep over the night before, I am in no way going to hinder his progress in the fine art of bicycle riding.
We went to a school across the street that has a big empty parking lot. Off he goes exploring every inch of that parking lot on 2 wheels, and I'm sitting on the curb freaking the fuck out over everything I need to do when we get home.
I caught myself.
Here I sit, a gorgeous night, cool breeze, clear sky, bright moon, and I'm sitting on a curb consumed by dishes and putting shoes away?
It took me a minute, but I was able to clear my mind and put myself in the moment.
The result was staggering.
Not only did I enjoy the moment more, but I can tell that my son was happier because I was really present in what was going on.
Yeah, we went to bed hella late, and no, I didn't finish all the stuff that I wanted to finish, but so the fuck what?
What I gained from being present in a moment, totally trumped all the bullshit that I didn't finish in my self allotted time frame.
Did anyone die because I didn't put his flip flops away, or because I only did half of the dishes? I don't think so, but I do think that both he and I will remember that moment for quite possibly a lifetime.
Don't let shit slip past you because you're busy creating laundry lists in your head.
Immerse yourself in the real, the present.
Time fucking sucks. There's never enough of it, so the ticks of the clock that you get...ya gotta make that shit count.
As a parent, we love to pat ourselves on the back for all the wonderful shit we teach our kids, when in reality, it's them teaching us.
Play with me...read to me...watch a movie with me...this is their way of saying "hey asshole...forget about laundry, and be present with me because I'm only going to be young for a little while and when you're the one shitting in a diaper again, and I'm off doing adult shit, you're going to beg god to have all of those moments that you missed...back, and you don't get them back, you just sit there being sad in a shit filled diaper."
I'm not gonna be the sad old man in a shitty diaper.
If I do end up shitting in a diaper, that'll be sad enough as is, so by no means do I wanna add to it.
We convince ourselves that all the tasks that we do, are for them.
They don't give a fuck.
They want you.
They want you to be present in all their new found experiences.
You owe it to them.
And ya know what?
The world would probably be a much better place if you did.
If you gave them the time they needed, then they wouldn't spend the rest of their lives seeking outside approval.
What the fuck do I know?
I'm a glorified carpenter.
I have no psychology degree. In fact the only degree I have is deodorant.
I am aware, and I am damn good at reading my kid.
When I'm over occupied with distractions, his demeanor changes. My goal is too at the very least be aware when that shift takes place, and adjust accordingly.
It's not just about children, it can easily be applied to every other life situation.
I'm at a stop light, and to my right is a outdoor cafe. Every mother fucker there is staring at their phone. Why bother? Why go out? Is it that painful to engage each other now?
It's Monday. It's gonna be a long, hot and dirty week for us.
Enjoy your moments.
Monday, June 5, 2017
That is extremely rare because most questions I get asked are different renditions of the same questions, but this time...I had to do some head scratching.
The question was an honest inquiry, and nothing offensive, just momentarily perplexing.
"What's with all the skulls?"
Fuck. I don't know. I've never given it a whole lot of thought until that particular moment.
Was is my punk/hardcore/metal roots? nah.
Am I obsessed with death or dying? nah.
I had to dig deep.
Deeper than I thought I would, and I had to sort through some baggage and personality traits.
Then...the light bulb went on.
You know how rat poison or other shit that can kill you, usually have a skull and crossbones on the label?
Well, it's sort of the same warning.
I'm not concerned with being ingested, but I believe my affinity for skulls is basically a warning label.
You want to know me? You want to get close to me? Proceed with caution then.
It's my way of saying "I'm not looking for friends, or business ventures, nor am I willing to accept anyones bullshit or baggage. Tread lightly...you've been warned."
Why am I so guarded and introverted?
None of your fucking business...that's why.
Those who know my demons have gone through a screening process. They have EARNED a spot in the ranks.
These people have paid their dues, gone to battle with and for me. They've seen me rise and fall and been there every step of the way.
You don't just walk into my soul like you own the fuckin place.
Knock first mother fucker, and I decide if and when I'm opening the door.
So the answer to the "what's up with all the skulls" question, is exactly that.
I'm actually more of an ocean than I am a skull.
I'm vast and beautiful, intriguing and interesting, but also dangerous and violent, and if not respected, I will swallow your ass up in an instant and you'll never be found again.
But ocean rings, or patches, or t shirts would be pretty fuckin gay, and not nearly as spooky and cool as skull stuff.
So there ya have it.
Stuff we built...
Another coffee table and side table set going to the fine gentleman who just got a coffee table and side table set..his name is Mike, but I'm gonna call him Noah cause the fuckin guy is getting stuff in deuces!
Rolling table just slammed out for those wacky marketing genius's at Limitless Creative.
They needed a rolling table for a NIKE event in 24 hours and we delivered that shit in 4 hours.
Go above and beyond for your customers, crush their deadlines, make it a pleasure to work with you.
These people are our bread and butter. They deserve our best and they get our best.
We have so much stuff coming, and I actually just looked around the shop the other day and had to catch my breath. It's a creative hurricane, and me and Zach are finding a sweet spot in our working cohesiveness.
We've always been able to feed off each other, hence being in business together, but we're reaching a new level of that.
It's fluidity...like water...like the ocean (HAH!)
Fuck the ocean. I'm actually terrified of it.
Had a run in with a Bull Shark, well, almost a run in, had the shark been paying attention, and I've never stuck a toe in salty waters again.
Maybe that's where my occasional "God complex" comes from?
While Jesus may have walked on water...I ran on water like a Nigerian during the last 100 yards of a fuckin' marathon.
All righty...lot's of cool shit built this week and apparently, lot's of new self discoveries to boot.
Head on over to www.makerschicago.com where you can buy our goods and while you're doing some good ol' healthy internet shopping, shoot over to www.witnesscompany.com and get some skull rings, so that people will stay away from you...works like a charm.
Monday, May 29, 2017
I was going to skip a blog this week.
I do that that sometimes just to let my thoughts back up like Friday traffic in Chicago.
Since I'm up at this ungodly hour, I figured "fuck it", it's Memorial Day, and from my observations of society lately, at some point today, everyone will have their faces jammed in a phone while life is passing by, so maybe I'll contribute and give folks something to read.
All this stuff here is going to our retailer Jaunt in Arlington Heights.
1. console table made from old bowling alley lanes
2. live edge bar cart
3.cafe chair with swivel table top
4. stitched steel desk lamp
The way a retailer usually works is...you make and piece and they consign it, and once it sells, you get some money in 30 days, or the have specific requests and you wholesale it to them.
They gave us a bunch of money and said "make us cool stuff".
Trust and belief.
The two ingredients in any successful relationship.
By Jaunt doing that, they were saying "I trust that you won't blow this money at a shady titty bar, and I believe that you guys will make us items that we will be able to sell".
It's the equivalent of letting a chick leave her tooth brush at your house.
I'm loyal to a fault.
"Do me good and I'll do you better"..."do me wrong, and I'll super glue the locks on your house and set that bitch on fire while you're sleeping"-That's basically my life mantra.
When someone goes out of their way for me and especially my son....there's nothing I won't do for that person.
That's more so on a personal level. In business, the extremes are toned down a little.
We've been pretty lucky to have good customers and we've built some really solid relationships.
We've also had our share of shit birds.
There are people who look at me and see the tattoo's, the dirt and sawdust ridden clothes, and take me for one who is easily manipulated.
Bitch, I read "The Art of War" when I was 15, so trust me...I see right through the tactics.
Here's a couple tell tale signs of when a customer is going to be a piece of shit...
1. the promise of a lifetime of future work before you've even started on their current project.
This is done in order to get you to make this customer a priority above all else, and as leverage to slip in a bunch of free shit, because they have soooooo much FUTURE work for you.
It's the dangling carrot tactic and believe me when I say I will snatch that fucking carrot and beat you with the stick it was tied to.
2. Promise of payment.
This is when a customer goes above and beyond to express how money isn't an issue and how they have no problem paying. This is usually done before you've even given them a price on anything.
When I hear that speak, I automatically shut down.
I shut down because what they're really saying is "I don't really have any money at the moment and I'm desperately hoping to string you along until I can either get some money of flat out ditch your ass".
Good customers go about things in a very sensible, cut and dry manner.
Shitty customers have a tendency to whip their dick out before even buying me a drink.
It's business though. There's gonna be good and bad.
If you get a bad vibe and you proceed because you're hungry, well...be prepared to eat shit.
The good eggs...give em' your best and never take them for granted because they are your foundation.
I'm off to the gym, then to the shop to hopefully knock out what I need to so I can get home and get some yard time with the fam.
Now, put your phone away and engage those around you.
Monday, May 22, 2017
It's a motorcycle/hot rod street fair with bands, bikes, beer, a pin up contest, film festival and a slew of other shit. (www.motoblot.com )
We don't do the street fair scene.
A lot of folks that kinda do what we do, happen to love them. In fact, they make their money for the year by doing them.
I really want to spend 12 hours a day for 3 days, sitting behind a table, in the blaring sun, with thousands of people working their way into a drunken stupor, about as much as I want the inside of my asshole tattoo'd.
I don't like crowds of people. I get real squirrely at those types of things.
The reason we chose motoblot to display our goods is because the moto / hot rod culture is one that is near and dear to us. The other reason, is that it's put on by the same people who do Riot Fest, and I know from first hand experience how they run things.
If you look at their website, you'll understand why we decided to represent ourselves there.
As much as those street fairs weird me the fuck out, it's probably going to be a lot of fun.
I want to meet the people that buy our stuff, or at least just like our stuff and our down with what we're trying to do. I want that connection, that interaction.
You see, social media has made it real easy to make friends all over the world, and not have to spend any time with any one. I don't wanna knock it, because I have made some really close connections with some really great people via social media, but goddamn if I don't want some human interaction.
I wanna hear your story over a coffee, I wanna meet the dude that "LIKES" every photo we post and tells us how bad he wants to quit his sucky ass job and make knives, because he was inspired by us.
One day I took my kid to The Bean and Maggie Daley park last summer.
My son is playing in the playground, and there's this dude lookin' at me, and I'm thinking to myself "man, I think I know this guy from somewhere", and the dude is thinking the same thing, cause he makes his way over to me and says "Breclaimed?"
Turns out to be Christopherrabbit from Instagram, and we chat it up for a few minutes, but both of us had out kids, and it's a big crowded tourist haven, so in lieu of what was a really nice conversation, we had to ensure our respective children didn't get abducted.
But THAT is what I'm fuckin' talking about.
I'm a slow starter, but once you get me talkin'....I don't shut the fuck up (Zack will confirm that).
So, if you can...come visit us at motoblot.
Allrighty then....on to the photos
Cool ass lamp, big ol' LED edison bulb, I didn't think I'd be into the bulb, but I discovered that...I'm into the bulb. If you're not into the bulb guess what....you can change it. It's a light bulb. Real easy to swap out.
You don't NOT buy a car because you don't like the windshield wipers, right?
Lastly is our helmet/jacket hanger as seen here on display at the Witness Company lair.
The owner of Witness was very involved in the chopper scene, and it's only fitting that his gear is parked properly.
I love seeing our stuff in use. These hangers will be available at Motoblot in many variations.
We try to switch them up as much as possible, so everyone gets something unique.
Thanks for checking in.
Come visit us next month at Motoblot, hell...come visit us at the shop anytime.
There's only 3 rules to visiting the MAKERS shop...
1. be cool
2. don't play with the tools
3. bring coffee
Monday, May 15, 2017
The first question was...
"Are you going to tone your blog down now that it's connected to your website?"
The short answer to that is...Fuck no.
The second question was...
"Do you think you have to appear more professional now that you have a website?"
My answer to that is....I don't "appear" to be anything. We are professional. In fact, we're very fuckin' professional.
I don't even really know what the fuck that means. Am I supposed to dress up like the fuckin' Monopoly Man when I go to the shop?
"Appear professional". This isn't a scam. We're not selling vacuum cleaners door to door or doing an infomercial on some magic cream that makes your dick bigger.
We don't alter our appearance or verbage when we meet clients. Most clients don't give a shit. We're not making talking coffee tables. If a client doesn't like the way I look or speak, they never have to see nor speak to me again once their piece is in their space if they so desire.
That question kind of bothered me because I'm not a fucking idiot.
Yeah, if we have a meeting with Starbucks or a Bar owner, or a home owner, I'm gonna try to not smell like burnt metal, but if we're meeting you at 2pm, chances are we have been building shit since 7:30am, so my apologies if I offend, you'll get over it.
I understand society is all about appearance, and I still don't give a fuck. It's not like we're babysitting your kids, we're making you pieces out of steel and 100 year old wood and leather and bullet casings and barbed wire and a whole slew of other dangerous shit.
I'd buy a motorcycle from a guy in a bunny costume if the price was right. Once the paper work is signed and I go riding off into the sunset, I never see Mr. Bunny Suit again.
Things like that get me a little worked up, and what's worse, is that the question is actually a common occurrence.
Let me get to the photos because we all have shit to do...
Chain lamps..they're happening...you can buy em' now...they're not that expensive...they're really fuckin' cool.
The coffee table was a custom build for an old friend.
It was built from reference photos that he text to me of his existing decor.
It was a perfect match apparently, because he ordered 2 more.
Nothing makes me happier than when our clients are stoked.
When all your work, all your worries disappear after a client receives their piece...THAT is the ultimate gratification and THAT is what we strive for every single time.
Thanks for dropping by and thanks for all the positive feedback and support on the new website.
It's Monday...Lets "appear" to be happy, let's "appear" to be grateful for another day above ground, let's "appear" to treat each other with kindness and respect, let's "appear" to give every moment the best of us.
If we're an appearance based society, lets at least try to appear human.
Monday, May 8, 2017
Me and my son picked him up from his hotel on a beautiful Saturday morning, and gave him a little tour of Chicago, outside of the tourist traps.
Let me tell you a little bit about Dr. Carr...he looks like a body builder, that went to prison, where he was broken out of the joint by the editors of GQ magazine....That's just looks. Don't judge, because this big, tatted up, well dressed teddy bear collects chemical engineering degrees for the fuck of it.
So we're driving through the asshole of Chicago, and Dr. Carr has on these big silver and brass rings, and I say "hey, let me try that skull one on".
I've never worn jewelry in my life, but in that moment that I'm driving with this massive piece of carved brass on my hand, something changed in me.
He got his rings from a place called Witness Company (www.witnesscompanyusa.com).
When I got home from our outing, my 7 year old son, dug out every gumball machine ring he had and adorned his tiny hands with those tiny pieces of junk to look like Dr. Carr.
That's when it clicked.
I love fine denim, artisan made clothing, rugged leather, but all those things will wear and die over time, but jewelry...hand crafted, artisan made jewelry...I can pass that down to my son.
When I exit this life, my son can look down at his hand and remember his old man, if only for a moment.
When something interests me, I study it like I'm going for a masters degree in whatever it is that interests me.
I studied the process, the people who make it, the history...I probably looked at every artisan mens jewelry maker on the internet, and they all brought me back to Witness Company.
Stuff was either cheesy, over the top, over priced (for me), or just not interesting enough for my taste, but Witness was just the right fit for my style, ethics, and budget.
I was inspired to make the skeleton hand jewelry display.
I'm not sure if it will work, because I don't own any rings yet to display on that piece, but regardless, the challenge to make a skeleton hand out of steel filled me with a huge sense of accomplishment because let me tell you...that shit was not easy to make.
The next piece is a commissioned clothing display for Botteligera in Rome Italy, which is a mens clothing store that highlights American made brands.
The last photo is me working on a chain lamp.
As Zack finishes up the website, we have been creating pieces for our webstore. One of the many things we will be offering, are these welded chain lamps.
This is the product that we'll eat shit on because the amount of work that goes into them, definitely did not dictate the price.
We made them more affordable, because people should have them. They're rad as fuck. But there is a huge gap in what we deserve for them and what we can charge for them.
We're combating the process by simply being better prepared to make them by making specific jigs, and ordering the electrical guts in bulk.
Everything we have worked for over the last couple of years has brought us to this moment.
The moment when all of our work, all of our creativity, all of our soul, will be available and easily accessible to the public.
It's time for us as well as time for you.
In the age of consumerism, you now have a choice.
You no longer have to settle for made in China bullshit, or big box store garbage that every other swinging dick has.
You can choose quality. You can choose products that out live you. You can choose to surround yourself with art that exudes the quality and individuality that represents you.
Or...you can save a couple bucks, shop at IKEA, or Urban Outfitters, or Kay Jewelers, or any other outlet that rapes you of quality, integrity, and purpose.
It's your money...I don't blame you. We've all been conditioned through out our lives to settle for mediocrity. That's why McDonalds, Starbucks, Ikea and a shit ton of other market manipulators make billions of dollars.
Break free. Don't settle. You're an individual not a consumer or customer #224795...you deserve better.
Until you figure that out on your own, you remain a means to someones bottom line that satisfies share holders.
How fuckin' bogus is that reality?
Monday, April 24, 2017
Since that one left, we had talked about making more, but never got around to it.
Fast forward to now, and the last one we made went to our retailer (Jaunt) and didn't last long there, as it was snatched up by an interior designer, so of course we had to make another one.
Next up is the motorcycle helmet/jacket rack version 2.0.
Version 1 was all steel, and version 2 gets warmed up with wood.
I'm sorry but wood and steel are like bacon and eggs, it's just never wrong.
The merging of motorcycle culture with what we do is something that's been a long time coming.
When you look at motorcycle culture with it's engineering, attention to detail, it's ruggedness, it's vintage appeal, it's quest for freedom, etc...well, I just had to find a way to bring the 2 together.
As "dirtbag" as the biker life style may appear, there's also a elegance to it, and that's where we try to wiggle our way in to it.
Speaking of "merging", the last photo is a merge of classic mid century modern, with a dirtbag MAKER appeal.
All steel coffee table with custom rusted top.
The appeal of mid century stuff has always been it's super clean lines. Well, the lines don't get any fuckin' cleaner than they do on this little bastard, but the material and it's application tug it towards a different direction.
As I read back on this particularly boring post, I have to help out the readers that can't read between the lines here, because there is a underlying theme...
DO SHIT DIFFERENTLY.
Be the game changer,
It doesn't really matter what you do, but whatever that thing is that you do...do...do it differently. (like putting 3 "do's" in a row in one sentence).
Find an angle and work it, customize it, change it, and own it.
We all strive to be different. We color our hair, put jewelry in our genitals, tattoo our faces, etc. We go to great lengths to separate ourselves from the herd, while simultaneously thirsting for acceptance.
There are a lot of cats out there that do what we do. Some suck, some do cool shit, but the pool is deep.
Our daily battle is always "how do we make this cooler?"
Even if it's just a teeny weeny itsy bitsy bit cooler on the simplest of things, the bar needs to be raised.
THAT is what is going to separate you from every other swingin' dick out there.
There are 2 things that scare the shit out me...1. being mediocre and 2. Great white sharks.
I've thrown a lot of shit in the garbage because I wasn't proud of it. I'm not delusional. I know that I'm not going to hit a home run every time I step to the plate. But every time I do step up to the plate, I'm going to try and hit that fuckin' ball as hard and as far as I possibly can.
Monday, April 10, 2017
The first jammy is a Walnut, steel, and reclaimed wood rolling bar, which was made for our retailer Jaunt in Arlington Heights.
We had made the trek out there a couple of weeks ago to drop off some goods, and they sent us back with a few live edge slabs to do "something" with.
One of those slabs happened to be a live edge walnut piece. It was a really funky shape. It was one of those things where you're like "that's really fuckin' cool, but what the hell do I do with it?".
Well...that's kind of what we do. We take some shit that you wouldn't think could be much of anything and weave it into something rad.
What it was woven into, was a 2 tier rolling bar, with the walnut slab being the serving tier.
Before I move on to the next items, I gotta vent.
I know a lot of you love it when I go off on a tangent.
Zack was reading a article in a certain magazine which featured a build out that we did awhile ago.
As he read on, he stated to me "next month they're featuring the top 5 "MAKERS" in Chicago".
I said to him "did you do a interview, because I don't remember doing a fuckin' interview".
I don't want to sound like I downed a big ol' cup of hater-aid, but I'll be damned if I didn't have a "what the fuck?" moment.
I mean we have literally yanked material from garbage cans and whipped them into pieces that have sold for thousands (plural) of dollars.
I mean who is more definitive of a "maker" than the guys who call themselves the fuckin' MAKERS?
I was kinda bummed out.
I had a moment where I was like "exactly who's dick do I have to suck on to get an old fashioned atta boy?"
The thought was fleeting, and whoever it is exactly, well...they can suck their own dick.
We have operated on fumes. We have fought for every penny we've ever earned. In our darkest moments, we have continued to create beautiful pieces, and will continue to do so.
We don't do what we do to win popularity contests.
Quite the contrary, we're way more "go fuck yourself" than we are "look at me".
So, Kudos to the top 5 makers in Chicago next month, because that accolade and $3 will get you a cup of coffee.
Just had to get that shit off my chest...moving along...
Steel motorcycle helmet and jacket holder prototype for THE BIGGEST MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURER IN THE FUCKING WORLD -TOP 5 MAKERS IN CHICAGO!!!!!!!! (heh-heh)
There's changes being made to it, and that's the fun of prototyping. They have ideas, you have ideas, and little by little they merge into something great.
Lastly is my night job.
Me, my son, and my brother in law are doing a little apparel company called Pilsen Mfg.
It's a way to teach my son work ethic, me to poke around in an industry that I have a love for, and my brother in law is the guy bringing it all together.
The Japanese have been doing reproductions of American work wear since the early 90's.
They mostly keep those wears on Japanese soil to avoid legal issues.
Our first offering is a reproduction from the defunct Fincks Overall Company out of Detroit.
As a kid, my grandfather had some Fincks stuff, and I was in awe of the pig. I didn't know what the hell the slogan meant back then, but as I grew up, I based my wardrobe on durability, meaning the clothing I wear has to be "as tough as a pigs nose".
I almost felt compelled to just get that one out of my system for sentimental reasons, before we move on to original designs.
So...go to www.pilsenmfg.bigcartel.com and pick up a shirt if ya got a few extra bucks burning a hole in yer pocket.
I think people truly WANT to support small business's, but just don't know where to go.
I get it. Most small business's are just kind of stumbled upon as there isn't an advertising budget.
I think I'm going to compile a list over the next few months, not just to help fellow business's, but to show people that there is a community of dream chasers out there that deserve to be supported.
It's way more personal when you shop small and you generally get better product because the little guy can't afford to shit the bed.
It's Monday...another chance to do better.
Till next time...keep the wheels spinin' and the beaver grin'n.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
As the website and webstore draws near, we have been coming up with home decor items to peddle.
I'm a guys guy, but candles and stuff that smells good have always been a weakness of mine.
In doing research on the world of "MANDLES" I discovered some of the absolute dumbest shit you can imagine...candles marketed to men that smell like "fart", "dirty sock", "whiskey", and a slew of other tasteless bullshit.
Here's a news flash...nobody wants a candle that smells like a fart.
Can guys be gross? sure, but no more and no less than any other gender.
Our candles are far from novelty.
These are art pieces. Every aspect of it is art. From the steel holder design, the hand painting, the scent blending, the wax pouring, etc. It's craftsmanship focused into a 2"X4" sculpture.
You're basically buying mini sculptures that you can set on fire and it will smell good.
We're doing a lot of one off's and things that are made to order, like the hand painted clevis hooks too.
Going into a online and retail format is a great way for us to push our creativity and just have fun and get loose.
We didn't get into this because we like refinishing table tops or doing lame production stuff. Although we do and will continue to do it, the farther our creativity gets pushed, the better every aspect of our business will run. Basically, if we're happy...you're gonna be really happy. Just a bunch of happy fuckers doing business.
Part of the exciting thing to me about these candles has been the learning process.
Even at my age, I'm constantly trying to learn something new. I need to be constantly challenged. It's what makes you feel alive.
There's a science to candles, there's math, there's the thrill of working in a unfamiliar medium.
Excitement in your work.
Think about that.
How many people wake up and say "I can't wait to get to work so I can underwrite this insurance policy", or "come on Monday...I have some fuckin' awesome tech support to provide!"
There's nothing wrong with working for a check. Most people are cool with it. It's justified by most because they'll say "my job affords me to do all the things I want to do", and that's cool, kudos to you.
I haven't been on a real vacation in 8 years. Why? Not only can I not afford one...I don't really need one.
You see, a lot of people do shit they hate 40 hours a week, 51 weeks out of the year, to go get stupid in Cancun for 6 days and 7 nights.
Shall we do the math on that? My math equates to "you're getting fucked".
I love what I do, so I don't feel the urgency to get as far away from it as possible for a week or two a year, nor do I give a fuck about what people think about my car, so I don't need a new one every year, or a big house that has rooms I don't even go in.
"Brian....don't you want MORE for your family?"
Fuckin' aye right I do....THAT'S why I'm working my ass off, doing shit I love, because as much as I want to give my family the world...I need to be happy and fulfilled too.
I don't wanna be miserable and end up looking at my family as a bunch of thankless free loaders, I want them to ride or die with me. I want them to be fully invested in my ups and downs, but when I get us to the other side, it's going to be as much them as it is me.
That is LIVING to me.
Life has a price, and we kind of get to choose how we pay.
There's no right or wrong way.
I don't write these things to tell other people how they should live.
Your job is important because...I need tech support, I need my insurance policy, I need my orders delivered, I need food.
We ALL have a purpose.
We took our son to the aquarium a few weeks ago. I stood at this giant tank and stared at this big ugly ass fish. I was looking at this thing, swimming in circles, eating shit that happened to float by, and this big ugly bastard looked as content as he could be.
I thought to myself, "what a miserable way to live...just content...no highs, no lows...just content". All this fish has to do is try not to die.
I don't want to live by just trying not to die. I need some tragedy, some success, some failure, a whole lot of real love, and a sense of fulfillment in my work.
Keep it simple.
Kids will teach you that...as long as you listen to more than their words.
Monday, March 20, 2017
I hop over to Instagram where I'm hoping to be saved by photos of guns and motorcycles, but I'm stopped dead in my tracks by a post from DannyDixxon from www.Dixxonquality.com.
I don't remember the exact post, but after reading it, I was overwhelmed by a sense of hope.
Things have been rough for me lately.
My fathers health and it's effect on our family, work and financial stress just reigning punches down on me, a constant feeling of being on the verge of drowning at the shallow end of the pool.
Like I said, I can't remember the exact post, but it definitely cleared some of that head fog, and I felt positive again.
I shot him a message, letting him know that his post gave me some hope, and we went back and forth for a little bit and my attitude and outlook has been changed for the better.
I made him this helmet rack with the leather stitched double X's as a sign of gratitude.
Follow DannyDixxon on Instagram. There's a lot of shenanigans but a ton of positive stuff coming from a guy who clawed his way to where he is now, and knows the road to being in business for yourself.
He told me 3 things to do when the chips are down and you wanna quit.
2.Get more creative
2.Become more social
The next piece is a result of #2 on that list.
We had to deliver some product to or retailer Jaunt in Arlington Heights (www.jauntchicago.com) and they sent us home with some slab tables to be re worked because they just wouldn't sell in their current state.
The next morning me and Zack re worked one of the legs from the slab table, into this sleek 2 tier walnut side table.
Our best work comes out on these collaboration pieces.
Very little discussion takes place. Each person plays off what the other is doing, and it all falls into place flawlessly.
One day I want to set up a GOPRO camera, so you all can witness the process. I think that people would see what it's like when things get created from the soul. There's a lot of staring and walking around the piece being created that would have to be edited, but that's the process.
If you know us, and you know our work, you'd be able to see this piece somewhere and be able to say "that's some MAKERS shit right there."
That's the goal.
You see a Nakashima table and you know it's Nakashima, you see a Dunbar chair and you know, or a George Nelson piece....That is the end game.
When your work is defined by itself, and it can stand alone and say it's name without speaking...THAT is a makers nirvana.
Following your passion and listening to your creative soul is a bumpy ride. You have to have balls of steel and know how to take punches when they come in bunches.
You have to get up, wipe off the blood and tell the universe that she punches like a little bitch. Or you can stay down, turtle up, and live with defeat.
I can't live with defeat.
I can't tap out.
I can only dig deep, I can only get more creative in my attack.
In the end, you can't throw your hands up and say "it just didn't work out", because YOU created the "IT".
"IT" didn't give up...YOU did.
Monday, March 6, 2017
There's been some personal drama in my life that I'm trying to navigate, but I'll get to that shit once I run through our builds (cause that's kinda sorta what my blogs were supposed to be about).
Live edge rolling bar cart for our retailer JAUNT in Arlington Hts.
A lot of times me and Zack go off and build stuff on our own and sometimes we merge. This cart is the result of the "merge".
I like building like that. It doesn't happen enough. Business volume sometimes dictates the divide and conquer method.
The next one is a coffee table that was commissioned by a group of co workers who's co worker is getting married.
Better than a toaster or a SHAM-WOW.
Lastly is another wall organizer, which was designed to help sloppy mother fuckers get organized.
My fathers bad health took a turn for the worse this week.
He's cheated death a few times, and he seems to have dodged the grim reaper once again.
Call it the luck of the Irish, call it being a stubborn bastard...I don't know.
The emotional toll these situations put on a family is brutal.
I found myself operating in a daze all week.
Everything is touch and go. You panic every time the phone rings, I found myself scrambling to get information from my mom, brother and sister.
Emotions bubble up inside you that you've repressed for years.
You tucked all those feelings away in some dark corner of your brain, and one by one they surface to pay you a little visit.
I tucked them away in the first place because I had no need for them, I was done with them, but with the recent situation, they came out, and I had to acknowledge them again.
I'm a different man since I tucked those feelings away a long time ago.
I'm able to see them in a different light. I've grown past them. They're there, but they're not so painful anymore.
Delicately put...Me and my fathers relationship had always been strained.
It was either strained or non existent. More so in my youth and early 20's, and after that, it became cordial for the most part.
I wasn't the easiest kid to parent, but I also now acknowledge that I have never known enough about him or his past to gain any insight on why he was the way he was.
After going to see him in the hospital on Sunday, I realized that his past nor our past really matters because you only have today.
Do you all hear me? Stop for one second and take it in...you only have today.
Your past should only be a point of reference, all things good or bad. Your past should be a tool and not a crutch or an excuse.
Ask yourself...If I only get 24hrs. at a time, do I really have time to hold on to negative memories, feelings or emotions? I'll answer that for you...NO you don't, you have shit to do.
It just sucks that sometimes you gotta figure that out when it's too fuckin late.
Me and my old man are never gonna toss a football around in the backyard, nor will he be giving me piggy back rides, or push me on a swing, but at least in my head and in my heart, he and I are in a good place.
Let shit go my friends.
Call your dickhead brother that you haven't talked to in 10 years, reach out to that friend that drew a giant penis on your Iron Maiden album cover when you were kids...cause you only get today.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Jaunt is a well curated shop in Arlington Heights Illinois. If you're in the area, check em' out.
When Zack and I started on this rollercoaster, we always had the vision of just making what we make, and having a long career of being creative in our own environment, with complete autonomy.
Shit doesn't always work out how you plan right outta the gate.
Sometimes, most of the time, you do what you gotta do to keep the lights on.
Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes those jobs ride shotgun and your original vision gets stuffed in a duffel bag and thrown in the trunk.
Pull over, pop the trunk, and open the bag.
There are the jobs that pay the bills, and there are jobs that pay the soul, and whoever said "you can't have your cake and eat it too", is full of shit. Why can't you eat your own cake? It's your fuckin' cake.
You just have to put in the work. It's a lot of work, but it's all relative to where it is you really wanna be.
I know I can lay tile, frame a house, install cabinets, whack in hardwood flooring, weld gates and fences all goddamn day, but is that what is gonna pay my soul?
For me, I need more than a check. I need a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, a positive reinforcement from a customer who is thrilled by their purchase from our hands.
You gotta find a way to get there.
You claw at the wall until your fingers bleed and at some point, you're gonna make it to the other side.
If and when you decide to go into business for yourself, you're going to notice that there are voices in your head. Don't freak out...it's totally natural. The voices are there to guide you.
Frequently, these voices are going to tell you two things.
The voice is gonna tell you "you got this, don't give up, work harder, be better, you're almost there", and the other voice is gonna say "fuck this shit."
It all boils down to which voice is louder.
The positive voice at least offers up suggestions...work harder...be better...THINK...move outside of your comfort zone...and shit like that.
The negative voice doesn't offer any advice. It doesn't say "give up on this dream....and drive a bus", or "quit now...and work at Whole Foods", it just tells you to quit.
Enough dream crushing for a Monday...
Pictured are a few of the home goods that will be available at Jaunt Chicago, except the last photo, which is a steel heart sculpture that Zack made on Valentines Day from nothing but scrap steel cut off pieces that we're piled in a bucket under the chop saw.
The definition of "create" is...to make something, from nothing, and create he did.
Listen to that positive voice and tell the negative one to shut the fuck up.
Monday, February 6, 2017
My sons teacher had asked that I come in on Friday and speak to my sons class on career day.
For most, it'd probably be more of an inconvenience than it would be anything else, but for me it was more of an anxiety ridden roller coaster.
For one, I spent most of my life being a foul mouthed shithead with absolutely no governor on my vocabulary, so I felt like "keeping it clean" was going to be a huge task.
Secondly, I'm extremely passionate about my work, so the fear of being overly animated and dangerously dramatic was also a concern.
The last thing I wanted to do was say "Ya know how your dad comes home from work sometimes and he's a total asshole? Well kids, it's probably because he hates his fuckin' job. At HIS job, he probably has to ask someone if it's ok to take a piss, or ask another grown up what time he could eat a sandwich, or maybe he got screamed at by his supervisor for being 5 minutes late because YOU didn't want to put your fuckin' shoes on." Yeah, as much as I wanted to go there, I knew that I couldn't.
I invited Zack to come along.
We're a 2 man show and Max loves Zack, but I feared that Zack would decline such a tempting offer.
I thought it would be a great idea to make lil MAKERS shirts for his class. I figured if I totally blew it, the kids, at least, walked away with some free shit, and everybody loves free shit.
Me and Max went to his God fathers house to work on the design.
Max's God father/uncle Martin has a silk screen company called "Flooded Dots". Max was extremely involved in the design process and was really excited to be a part of the printing process as well.
The big day was upon me, and when we were about to leave the shop Zack said "go ahead, I'll meet you there." When we met up at the school, Zack was dressed in full work shop gear.
Dirty ass apron, respirator, goggles, welding helmet, welding gloves, fully loaded tool belt...he looked like a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the creepy German dude from that movie Hostel, and it was awesome.
We walked into the class room and the kids eyes lit up when they saw Letherface, I mean Zack.
We went through his outfit and talked about the purposes of it all. The kids were very inquisitive, and eager to share their stories of how they built a birdhouse with their dad or fixed the refrigerator with their grandpa, it was really a beautiful thing.
At the end of the presentation, we handed out their "Future MAKERS" shirts, and my son finished out his day being the coolest fuckin kid in the class.
Now, when I pick Max up from school looking like a filthy homeless man who was set on fire, his class will know that Max's dad isn't a stinky bum after all, they'll know that he had just been making some cool shit.
On the subject of making cool shit...the other 2 photos are some cool shit we made.
The first is the "under attack" coat rack, with hand painted steel arrows blasting through a piece of old growth wood, and the second is a industrial towel rack for a customer who was kind enough to send a photo of it in use.
There was a very satisfying feeling to letting a small group of children know that making, creating, using your hands, using your brain, can be a rewarding career choice. That life after childhood doesn't have to be computers and cubicles. That you are free to dream, free to be creative, free to hone your skill into an art.
I'm guessing that the underlying message might have been too abstract for them, but the seed has been planted and only time will tell if it makes it to harvest.
Monday, January 30, 2017
That's great right?
You will be able to order items that are easy to ship like the 2 items shown in the photos, along with t-shirts, the staple railroad spike hooks and.....and....uh....and...
That's the hard part.
We can make just about anything.
I'm extremely confident in that statement. But the creative process is the most frustrating part. Always has been and always will be.
It's not always a question of "what" to make. Sometimes the question is "is this something I can feel good about making 10,15,20,100 times a week?"
At the end of the day, any given piece that comes out of our shop has only had a maximum of 4 hands on it.
It's me and Zack and that is it.
This weekend, we took our son to the Museum of Science and Industry.
I had a hard time containing my excitement because apparently a lot has fuckin' changed since my 5th grade class field trip.
As someone who is sort of in the manufacturing business, it was very interesting and exciting until we reached a thing the called "the TOYMAKER3000".
You put a $5 bill in a machine, choose a color, type your kids name in, and then you watch the completely automated process of a TOP being assembled all the way through packaging and distribution.
Max was elated with his new top, and I was utterly disgusted and depressed.
Prior to visiting the TOYMAKER3000 I was fixated on a World War 2 section of the museum where it was showing factories bustling with humanity making things that would ultimately decimate humanity, but none the less, it was humans working side by side. A lot of the photos depicted these men and women looking filthy and tired, but what I noticed in most of the photos, was that they were smiling.
Then we scurry over to the toy machine, and no human. No need,
Somewhere down the road of life, humanity has become de-valued.
Not just in a sense of work or industry, but in general.
Fuckin' women having their heads chopped of in Saudi Arabia, children starving in Syria and Venezuela and a million other places, people gunned down in the streets of Chicago, and a long list of daily atrocities against humanity, and why?
Because the human life has been de-valued.
Even down to dating. Now, people just go to Match.com or Tinder or Christian Dating, and you just scroll through, find a mate, and boom...yer balls deep in someone.
There's a value to going to a bar, or a party, striking up a conversation with a person, and either striking out or hitting a home run, that has been stripped away.
It's fuckin sad, disgusting, and pathetic, and that's become the norm.
We have a rule for guests in my house, and that rule is, when you walk in, you put your phone on the counter.
If you're gonna be here, then be HERE. You don't like it? Get the fuck out. Period.
The answer isn't a wall, or a tax, or a embargo, or a war.
The answer is a value and respect for humanity, the human hand, the human brain, the human heart.
I can't say it's THE answer, but I can say it's MY answer.
Go forth and try to be human.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Things started off well until Tuesday when I got home from work.
Kicked off the boots, hopped in the shower and realized I felt kinda weird.
Made my boy some dinner and afterwards while we were walking the dog, I started puking like the fuckin' Exorcist. I made it back in the house and hugged the toilet bowl for about 20 minutes, My boy checked on me periodically to make sure I wasn't dead.
The next morning I text Zack to inform him I wouldn't be in.
I've taken one day off in the last 2 years, and on this day, I stayed in bed until my son got home from school.
I made him dinner to which he shortly launched it directly in my lap.
I was on the mend, but he had it bad.
I made it to work the next day feeling like utter shit, but we knocked out a little job for VH1, and the minute we wrapped, I headed home to play nurse.
Thursday and Friday we wrapped up a couple giant 4X8 butcher block prep tables and a little coffee prep table for the bakery build out.
Friday on my way home from work it hit me...Donald Trump became the president of the United States of America, Really? The dude from Home Alone 2, and the TV show that fires people, THAT is the dude driving the bus now?
Don't get all fuckin worked up, because the people that love him...they would suck his dick on the 50 yard line at the Superbowl, and the people that hate him, would mutilate their own genitalia on the same 50 yard line. The relationship with this guy is an extreme love/hate, and I for one put zero energy into liking or disliking this president or any other president.
In my house, in my world...I'm the fuckin' president.
I'm responsible for keeping 2 humans, 1 dog, and 1 bird, happy and healthy, alive and well.
Be the president of your own life.
Once you become president of your own life, ask yourself "am I a good president?".
We're so easily distracted by "issues" and seldom do we conquer our own issues.
How can you act globally when your own life is a disaster. How can you put any faith in a government that only acknowledges you by your social security number and your tax returns?
You're a 9 digit number to the powers that be, but I'm "Brian" and "Dad' to the people in MY "country".
The pot has finally boiled over in our country, and the proof of that happened on Saturday when an entire fucking gender took to the streets.
The beauty of those marches was that they weren't necessarily protesting Donald Trump per se, it was a show of voice, it was an unprecedented show of unity, it was a sign of a undeniable force.
We need more of that.
People need to stand up more and in numbers to make sure the governing body does right by the people,
and WE...need to get our shit together.
Some of you will say that I'm being selfish by retracting into my own little world and claiming to be president. Allow me to explain...
We live in a country where people are STILL being judged by skin color and by what does or doesn't dangle between their legs. How fucking ridiculous is that? What is even more pathetic is that, THAT is the core...the fucking CORE of a lot of the issues.
I don't wanna play with you guys. If that's your mindset....enjoy the sandbox all by yourselves.
Some of you will get my point, and some won't. The beauty of a blog is that the shit I write isn't up for discussion. You read it, take from it what you will, and move along.
President Brian fuckin' McQuaid...signing off.
Monday, January 9, 2017
We're starting 2017 off with a cafe/bakery build.
There are a lot of different pieces to be made like display counters, coffee stations, shelving, bench seating, etc., and we've already made 3 of these communal tables
It's a good way to start the year and one could only hope it's a catalyst for what's to come.
Zack is chugging away on the website, as I have succumbed to the fact that I am technologically inept.
It'll be nice to direct customers to a website as opposed to showing them photos of our work on our phones. It'll also be good for those who want to purchase items that are easily shipped.
One of those easily shipped items will be the tshirts which are in design mode right now and I've procured the help of artist Brian Busch (google him) to do some lettering work.
So there is some exciting shit happening for 2017.
New Years Eve, we were all sitting around chatting, and people we're announcing their resolutions, and when the potato landed in my lap...I had nothing.
My mantra has always been "don't make promises you can't keep".
Did I look back on the previous year and contemplate where changes for improvement could be made?
kinda...no...not really. I'm pretty aware of my shortcomings, and I'm pretty good at attacking em' on the fly.
There are things we can change and there is this thing called the universe which will just have it's fucking way with you no matter what you resolve to do.
The universe always seems to find a way to give you the proverbial ass fucking throughout the year, no matter what you do, or how hard you work, or how committed to your resolve you are.
It's the universe. It gets really bad PMS from time to time and we are merely human tampons.
I've learned over the years that no matter how great things are going, to always be prepared to get kicked in the teeth.
Remember those "Life's a Beach" tshirts from the 80's or 90's?
Life is kind of a beach. One minute your having a good ol' time, and before you know it, you're stuck in a rip current with sharks circling you.
Swim parallel to the shore line and slowly make your way back to shore.
All you have to do is NOT fucking drown.
When the universe has stuck it's universal sized penis in your ass...swim parallel to the shore and don't fucking drown.
Stay calm, stay focused, and you will make it back to shore.
So, in closing maybe I do have a resolution for 2017. No, it's not to avoid drowning, I mean, that's just a given. It's more about staying calm and focused.
Those 2 traits aren't gonna save you from a universal ass fucking. That's coming at some point. But staying calm and focused is gonna get ya through it.