Thursday, January 29, 2009



How do you restore an American Antique?
Put a velvet rope around it!!!

My looney friend Zack introduced me the concept of palimpsest a decade or so ago as we were looking at what is left of the old raised train tracks going through the meat packing district in NYC.   It has become a consistent source of interest for me.  I love the idea because it is like a still picture that contains a whole movie.  A sort of transdimensional section of time embodied in the physical traits of an object or place.  

When I used to do antique conservation we would sometimes add piece of wood to an old piece of furniture.  I would take great pains to match the wood grain and create an invisible seam so that the finishers could then beat it up appropriately to match the old patina.  As a matter of fact, during the 1980's there was a movement to dip and strip antiques and refinish them to try to achieve the look the piece might have had when it first left Duncan Phyfe's shop back in 1845. 

Suddenly everyone came to their senses and realized that all of the character and history of these important antiques were in the bumps and dings.  They would send the pieces to us at Carlton House Restoration and we would spend many expensive hours essentially faking 200 years of history into 40 hours.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Armed and Dangerous

I feel a little better now that my kids have bows and arrows.  Of course, the arrows have suction cup heads but they will leave a mark on your forehead if they are suctioned on there long enough.  To be specific, a perfect circle hickey bruise will appear and will not go away until everyone has seen it.  

I have made my kids a ton of toys.  I do it for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is this big pile of wood I have in my side yard.  They are pallet stickers from overseas and the wood is unbelievable.  I am limited by the dimensions (3.25" x 2.5" x 6.6') and the fact that there are about 16 different species, so it is hard to find two of the same for any given project.  I have managed to crank out a lot of stuff.  

I bought the wood through Craigslist from a guy in WA just outside of Vancouver.  It was in a huge pile by some train tracks.  He lived in the house there sandwiched between the highway and the tracks.  He looked like he used these boards to pick his teeth.  His neck was as thick as a stump and the heels of his hands could be used to resole my work boots.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Right To Bear Arms

 My wife works at a really sweet toy store called Spielwerk.  They are the exact type of retail business that is about to get squashed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  From what I understand, if nothing changes, all toys that do not carry the US lead inspection sticker will be illegal to sell.    Because of this, my wife is concerned not only about her job, but the availability of these German suction cup arrows!!  She was going to use her discount and pick up a couple of toy bows and suction cup arrows before they are black market material.  As a matter of fact, if you want some toy bows and arrows you had better git on down to your local toy store and load up before The Man takes them away.
This reminds me of what happened here in Oregon when it was announced that Obama won the election. There was a run on gun stores and huge sales at gun shows because people are afraid Obama is going to take away their bang bangs.  Now it is happening at toy stores!  What next?

I think I am going to make the bows myself, anyway.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Knock knock.

Who's there?

Koview kevy butt ding-ding.


Koview kevy butt ding-ding.

I can't even say that.

Say "koview".


Say "kevy".


Say "butt".

Butt ding ding.  Got it.  Koview kevy butt ding-ding  who?

Poo in your shoe.

My kids (4 and 6) hit me with this knock knock joke today and I thought it might be a keeper.  Leo told me that koview kevy butt ding-dings are monsters that poo in your shoe when you are not looking.  They are mostly pirates' pets.

Of course, I am thinking there is something beautiful about this joke.   Something important and significant.  And it isn't just because my kids did it either.  Something Eastern, something big.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

I am not a very political guy. I pay attention, I vote, I am overwhelmed, so I think about furniture design or something.  Since I have had kids, I have been inspired to create things for them.  How could I not?  As a result I have had several products that I thought had legs and might work for me.  Jumping into the kiddie product market is no picnic.  I got bullied and spanked and sent to my room with no dinner by the industry and that was before the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act!  With this bill, we are looking at a major change in the proliferation and availability of any toys outside of the big hitters of the toy industry.  Guys like me will no longer be able to offer products for the under 12 year old set.  If you want to buy a hand made toy car you better be prepared to pay the $1500 it is going to cost the groovy toy maker to get it inspected for lead, even though he whittled it out driftwood.  The other option is to head to the seedy part of town and get them from some creep in an alley.  
"Yo, Psst... handmade wooden animals from Germany, check it out."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

That Was Quick

So much for my job in the manufacturing sector.  I quit.  It was hell.  I quit in a blaze of glory. Sometimes it feels really good to just say exactly what is on your mind.  I realized the uniqueness of my situation and completely indulged in behavior that would only work in that situation or maybe in a Patrick Swayze movie.  It was awesome.  I pan out on me triumphantly walking away from the plant with my middle finger held high.  I wrote the whole thing down but I think it is too long to put here.  Maybe I can post a pdf if you are interested in reading it.  

So my daily inspirational bike ride is not happening and I am back to where I was last week but with a more commuter friendly bike, a freshly sharpened set of chisels and one less company I have to worry about working for.  

Just so you know, I am a designer with two kids.  I have some experience in the juvenile products industry and I am a little nervous about this bill that seems about to pass that will make all child related products have to prove that they are lead free.  It is a bad bad bad bill for a bunch of reasons.  I feel powerless against it so I have been thinking of ways to circumnavigate the system.  I don't do toys anymore.  I do sillyfunctional sculptures for small handed people.  Think it will work?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I got a job in the manufacturing sector!

Everything is going to be different tomorrow.  I am starting a new job as a lead cabinetmaker (or something)  at a boat interiors fabrication shop (or something).  I am sort of surprised to have gotten the job seeing as how I felt like the guy was going to fire me at the interview.  It was a very strange interaction that lead to my new position which I start tomorrow.
My guess is that it will take 1/2 an hour to get there by bike.  When I lived in NYC I commuted by bike over the brooklyn bridge from Greenwich village to Fort Greene for school.  Then I commuted from our apartment in Cobble Hill to my studio in Long Island City.  Those were about 25 minute rides too.  Besides the obvious blood pumping goodness of a bike ride, I always had at least one or two interesting thoughts.  
I am going to write about the thoughts generated during my commute.  If not, I will make something else up.