Perfection is elusive in the best possible circumstance. I practice the art of justifying the imperfect by necessity. Like a blind guy who has an enhanced sense of smell, I have developed the ability to explain my shortcomings as a craftrsman in such a way as to somehow make them acceptable, at least to myself. It is a survival technique. Nothing of which to be proud.
I've really done it this time. How long has it been? A few months? Clean and free of all things furniture and then Boom!
A FRIGGIN' TABLE BASE
I tried to abstain. I chained myself to the heater and slid the keys across the floor when it got bad. But that pile of junglewood taunted me from beneath the tarp, beside my house, in and under the reign of the rain and the rain.
I made another cool piece of furniture long before the year was up. I said I wouldn't but I did and I did it like a jackvegan pounds bacon.
Well, I hardly really did anything. I didn't even mill the wood. Just hacked out a couple of notches here and couple of notches there and ruthlessly dumped resin all up in there to fill the massive gaps, that's all.
The anticraftsmanship I now practice for backyard projects is an attempt to find the line where imperfection is no longer beautiful, where Wabi is no longer Sabi. It isn't passive aggressive artisanry as much as it is aggressive aggressive hackjob whackmanship. It isn't limited to where my hand touches the wood either. It is the decisions I made. I was sticking my tongue out at my square and my tape measure as I hacked away at the rain soaked wood. Then at the last minute I try to reel it back in just a little bit, to keep it cool.
Like how Bode Miller skis: He says that if he isn't just about to crash, he isn't skiing hard enough.
Whereas Bode seems to have a sort of magnetic assistance and a defiant focus that blows my mind, the big drips of epoxy running down the legs of my table base are no ballet. I might have taken it too far this time.
Those epoxy drips aren't funny. Them ain't beautiful. They are the manifestation of something deep within me that I don't intentionally agitate. This table base is the bitter fruit of my aesthetic exhaust pipe.
That is what happens when Ikea decides to sell a side table for $3.99. People like me start doing things like this. Thank you Ikea!! After making chocolate the other day, as I licked the back of my neck clean, it struck me that I could never do that with epoxy and sawdust! Chocolate may well be the best medium in the world. It sounds impossible for one medium to be better than another medium by definition but chocolate has pleasantly defiant aspects and this is one of them.
I know a thing or two about medium. One semester in college I got my report card and had five 'C's. No pluses and no minuses. I couldn't believe it either. Someone once told me that the coach only notices the first guy and the last guy but without the 'C', greatness and failure are like the walls of a deflated balloon: Undefined and flapid.
As I make the transition from whatever I was doing before, to making chocolate, I realize that my departure might not have such a huge effect on things. So little so, as a matter of fact, that it inspired a proposal. I propose a moratorium on all furniture design and manufacture! Enough is enough! Unless you have something really sick to add to the pile, go do something else. Put a usb port in it and call it done.
No more interestingly paired materials and surprising transitions. No more architectural stacks and broken planes. No more coldhouse porn regurgitated Dwell stainless furry fastened knockdown ice cube cozy cowhide bullshit! Enough!!!
My advice to you is to go to the vintage store and buy some used furniture. Get something good. There is plenty of good furniture out there and we don't need more.
I am including stuff made from reclaimed wood or recycled materials. No nothin'.
People who are good at furniture would also be good at other things. If you know anyone like this, encourage them to figure out what that is and to go do it. It will be better that way. Come on, no new furniture for one stinkin' year.
I got a call from a buddy and he set me up with a tiny gig. Get, crate and ship a painting for a guy back east. This guy's x wife had this painting that he painted back in the 60's. I think they have been divorced for a long time and she has had the painting for something like 30 years. He likes it and wants it back. There used to be another one that was green and said something like "red red red" on it in green but it got lost. I know. How do you lose a painting that big?
It is a big 6'x6' red canvas with the word 'green' written in red on the red background.
I grabbed the giant painting and got it home like Jed Clampett meets Sanford and Son. You try driving on the highway with a giant 6'X6' floppy ass kite covered in cardboard boxes that had been patched together with 30 year old tape in a little Japanese sewing machine pick up truck.
It turns out that the guy who painted it is involved with a fancy gallery in NYC and this crate was going to his house.
I made the crate for it and I stepped back and thought about this opportunity. I called Ruppert and told him the story and said that if he wanted, he could come over and paint something on the crate but he had to do it instantly. He rode his bike over and knocked this out with the dregs of paint we found in my garage (not bad pickin's) and some borrowed colors from the woman who lives across the street. The brush he used was fashioned from a tuft of dry aged nostril hair, gum and a doll arm.
I did, I shook the baby, the little bastard. It was the turbidity that made me do it. My numbers were high, my resources are low and I have a school of fish a floppin' that need to be fried. What am I talking about? Good friggin' question. I am not saying that I have bitten off more than I can chew but I am definitely talking with my mouth full.
Last week I pushed my precious Garnier Merlot through a two penny rental filter and now I am feeling guilty. I swear I could almost hear baby Baccus cry as I basically disassembled the wine that had a year and a half of pampered barrel life. Then I throw it into a tub and expect it to find itself again. In an ideal world, I add no sulfur, I use no pumps and I let gravity assist the wine as it flows through unhindered lines from the vine to the toilet. Unfortunately, in the words of the venerable Ice T, "shit ain't like that."
Life throws you curve balls and what you have to do is adjust your swing. I would still consider this wine a base hit. Don't discount the Texas leaguer. If it weren't for mediocrity, greatness and lowliness would share a thin wall and I am not a proponent of that. Some things are actually better than other things and if I have to fill the space in between, I'll do it. There is a lot more room to play between the end points. Besides, extremes get too much attention.
I was just checking the google stats on my blog and the data is truly remarkable. There was a wild spike in my visits on May 12th and I am trying to find out why. From May 1- May 12 there were no visits, then all of the sudden on May 12th BOOM! 2 visits! Out of nowhere I'm going friggin' viral! and I don't know why.
Well, whomever you are, I thank you because I truly believe that you are at least partially responsible for this great contact I made in China. Linda from Duchy Group. They have ways of finding out who is hot and a spike in visits like the one I experienced on May 12th really opened doors for me. It is very complicated but on graph paper it looks a lot like a tsunami.
anunusuallylargeseawaveproducedbyaseaquake, a spike in blog visitsorunderseavolcaniceruption.
Other designers are probably going to wage jihad on me for posting this but my gratitude outweighs my fear. I haven't used these guys yet but if their product is half as good as their presentation I am sure they will do a bang up job. Please tell them I sent you. I am guessing you will get the VIP treatment if you do. Let me know how it goes.
I don't know why I did it but a while ago I started posting vids on youtube. It is an extension of my prairie scream. I have no agenda, I just want to create an opportunity to thank the academy and I don't know how else to express my gratitude. (Not that I have actually hardly even seen a whole movie at once in the past fuckteen years.)
You never know what is going to please people. At least, I don't. I aim to please but I am not always accurate. Case in point: magic jewelry box videos. You would think people would love a 48 second movie featuring an interesting box and some legitimate Belgian yodelhumming. Well, if you thought that, you would be at least two things; in agreement with me and wrong.
Of all my 26 antivideos, why has this one struck such a cord? Why are people so inclined to take all the effort to click thumbs down? Do those 6 people want me to take the video down? Would the 5 people who gave it the thumbs up stand with me if it came down to a bare knuckle affair? With me on the thumbs up side, that would be 6 on 6. Let's meet in Nebraska or somewhere and have it out. (I am a coaster so for the sake of convenience, I assume that all the people who dislike the video live on one coast and all the likers live on the other.)
I will take the vid down if my side loses. That is my promise. And what the hell, I will give t shirts to all who attend and two shirts each for the winners.
Is it so wrong for a man to love a sign? Not a sign like a Sign From God but an A-board sign you might see on the sidewalk in front of a business. I am making some signs for a new restaurant that just opened on Alberta here in Portland called Natural Selection. One blade sign that will hang above the entrance and one A-board that will age gracefully on the sidewalk.
The materials and the design are built to accommodate the weather and to change with age. Metal will rust, rough cedar will green/gray, colors will fade and history will be recorded. Looking forward to decay does not sound optimistic in general but in this case, it is. These signs are going to look better and better and better.
The frame for the A-board is made out of one piece of the famous junglewood. I sawed it on the '56.
I had been trying to get my beautiful wife to consider accepting this sign into our family as a member. An intimate member. I was surprised that she seemed warm to the idea when I first brought it up. You can imagine how awkward it was. We both decided together that it would be too hard to explain to the kids and let it go.
These messy, through tenons are the physical embodiment of the loose, overshot lines of a quick sketch. To me it indicates an infinite, unfinished, hopeful element. It adds life to inanimacy because it invites inquiry.
Everything is not so defined that it closes the door on subjectivity. Rather, it is a subtle, aesthetic catalyst for an emotional interaction between someone and something. It is neither discrete nor exclusive.
good old Ruppert oil slapped the turnip and cabbage summa cum-laude
Even the refuse generated by this project please me. I am a sucker for a trophy, having won very few. But tell me the powers from beyond weren't shining on me when I generated this off-cut when I plasma cut the "S"s for the blade sign. I humbly accept this great award.
And here is a piece of metal I was testing some milk paint techniques on. I'm keeping it.
Extra added bonus!
All in all it was a bountiful project. Thank you, good night.
It's like riding a moth. I would have to be able to type in multiple dimensions, simultaneously to accurately explain what I do all day. I would also need a new alphabet just to spell the words. Designing an alphabetter is on my list and I'm not talking about making another wacky font. It is time we revamped our system. I mean, Double U? Where's my Double N 4 M? Gimme a break.
In the meantime, here is one way to make chocolate:
What I got out of that Documentary ADD And Loving It is that I must have ADD. My neighbor said it made him think the same thing about himself. You too?
So a couple of days ago I was having what I call a chocolate temper tantrum. I continue forward hoping it will get easier if I do it a million times, but for now tempering chocolate remains predictably hectic. After I pour the chocolate into the mold, I slide it into the fridge for a few minutes. I should clear the shelve in the fridge before I get to this stage.
I am frantically moving stuff around in the fridge with one hand to make room for the full, flimsy, mold tray in my other hand. In the process I knocked a full quart of yogurt onto the floor, covering my sneaker.
I looked at the stark white creamy clean blobs on my beater Chucky T's and I realized I ought to give an update on my war against Nike for raising the price of Chuck Taylors beyond my means. Or even worse, beyond their worth. Here is a link to the original post back in July 2009
$44 for sneakers that wear out in a summer. Please. I have been rocking these ever since.
Oh Crap! This just in, I just checked and now they are $50!! Well they can suck it. I'm going to wear my old ones til I die! Unless I get distracted.
I wear them pretty frequently and they are holding up well. I am mending them as they devolve. I sew like Rambo. A child couldn't work on these kicks even if it was legal!
I am pleased to report that my Dalmation felted tootsie cozys are holding up strong!
Music is by a band that used to play called Action Daddy
I have entered the transitional furnichocular period of my career. Two very exciting things in one week.
I couldn't make the Armory show to see those bad benches because I was busy studying cacao with Steve Devries in Costa Rica.
Now I know a lot better what I don't know about cacao. I had very high expectations for this trip and it surpassed my hopes. I was not only surrounded by but steeped in knowledge of cacao. I am too intimidated by the depth of what I learned to try to detail it here. What I can say is that we will be making better chocolate because of it.
I went to a coffee shop today and ordered a decapitated Al Pacino but I got a decaffeinated cappuccino. I didn't bother sending it back because I was celebrating and there weren't nothing gunna to change my good mood.
The benches at which I have been hacking away are complete! Not only do they look amazing but I still have all eleven fingers.
They are made from wood I bought from a very creepy dude, next to some train tracks, who could twist my head off like a bottle cap if he wanted. His arms looked like legs with hands that grew from where his neck was supposed to be and his thumbs were like well seasoned iron skillets. He had a mustache that grew over his lip, between the gaps in his teeth and, as far as I could tell, right down his throat. That freakin' guy!
The exciting part is that they will be showcased at the Armory Show in NYC March 3-6. If you are in the neighborhood you should stop by and sit on one. The 56" length gives the book matched slats in the middle a nice little bounce. I want to keep all four of them. They will be in the lobby. If you show me a picture of you on one and I will send a free t shirt!!
It is all reclaimed pallet wood. Below is a picture of the pile.
My self serving and manipulative understanding of Wabi Sabi has gotten me out of more than a few tight spots. Wabi Sabi is not a panty dropping mustard and peach schnapps shot but an aesthetic that lauds the beauty of imperfection. A crack in a tea pot, a nicely misshapen circle, a broken spider's web. This works well with the unique personality of my craftsmanship. There was a time when a craftsman would try to make something so perfectly that it looks like it was made by a machine. Well, I am changing all that. Flaws tell stories while perfection is sterile and bleak. That is why I strive for imperfection and darn it if I haven't done a good job so far. I mean, when I make something you can really see the craftsmanship. There is a lot of craftsmanship in each piece. Tons of it.
The question is how far can I go? When does the beauty of imperfection turn ugly? Having a checked piece of wood (wood with little cracks in it) is one thing but what about a stupid idea? How about an honest mistake or some good old fashioned laziness? Fine artists get away with it all the time, why shouldn't designers?
Remember these Coors cans? Finger slicers.
So dumb that it's beautiful?
My next year's New Year's resolution might be to try to be a little less perfect and a little more beautiful. Either that or try to stop cramming crumpled bills into my pockets when I buy a pack of sunflower seeds with a 20.
Quitting smoking is like living without punctuation. I'm not talking about the convenient absence precipitated by the advent of texting. Oh no! I wish my lack of interval was a matter of efficiency and convenience. Instead, my days feel like more of a run-on sentence with no end in sight.
A plottless streaming volubilithon. Forilla.
I need to form a new segue. Chokers used to catalyze my efforts and now I have a wall to jump over every time I switch tasks. And that is a frequent occurrence when you have an attention span of a moth.