Thursday, February 12, 2009

Urban Hoes: An Agricultural Movement

You can call me "Raised Beds" Charley.

As the apartments I have been working on are winding up, I am thinking about what to do next.  I scheme all day long as I caulk baseboard and fill holes.  I came up with a plan that has legs.  Jessie and I are planing to devote our back yard to some raised beds for some serious urban agriculture. They call our neighborhood urban.  
Why don't I offer to build raised beds for people?  That explains the poster up above.  I put one up at a coffee shop. It occurred to me, however that this was a much bigger idea than me running around dropping boxes in people's yards.  It is a movement!  Urban agriculture is something that makes so much sense and it is timely.  This economy is a perfect setting for flat packed urban farming products!  Think of all the roof top square footage that could be producing yummy healthy local grub.  Sell them through the dreaded Home Depot or some massive box store.  It could be the new fondu set or exercise bike.

***I am going to post a few ideas on this blog.  If you want to poach one, please consider hiring me as a consultant, at least***

I thought Urban Hoes could be a good name.  It is very dynamic.  It reminds me of the ButtJoint Studio.  My old place on SE 26th and Division.  That is Scott, the guy I shared the ButtJoint Studio with, his mother and his sister.  I bet his mother was proud of him, standing under that logo.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fewer But Cooler Things

I caught myself doing something that I think I have been doing subconsciously since I was a little boy.  When I rinse my mouth after brushing my teeth, I made a sound like a ricochet.  As if my spit were a bullet that is bouncing off the porcelain.  Ptweeing!  I am not sure but I think I have been doing it forever and have just not noticed.  I have no recollection of when it started. It feels very natural to me.  I would have to try not to do it and I have other fish to fry.

I just sent a box down to a new client in LA.  It contains a little Parsons table and bench for a kid's keyboard.  I made one for my kids because we got them a keyboard and we had nothing to put it on.  It is a challenge to have a kid and keep your place looking good.  The tidal wave of crap that flows through the doors opened by the arrival of a new baby is something they don't tell you about.  We shoot for fewer but cooler things.  
This thing took me longer to pack than to make! Another reason why you have to make k.d. furniture.  I hope it makes it down there with no problems.  I have posted a pictu
re of my packing and shipping department facility in action.   It doubles as our dining room.
That is Madeleine making some heart shaped Valentines cookies.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Be Warned! Posting exposes a dark underbelly.

I mentioned earlier that I am and have been interested in the concept of palimpsest.  I like the idea of manipulating something to create a history.  Seeing the history in an object lends dimension to it.  It begs questions and causes subliminal assumptions. Take a scratch  or a dent on a table leg, for example.  It got there somehow.  It was probably a careless maid wielding a vacuum, or some reckless kid crashing his scooter.  Not that every blemish is considered so thoroughly, of course, but the accumulative effect of these micro stories carry undeniable aesthetic weight.  

In NYC, I loved checking out old apartments and seeing these weird things like a truncated door jamb or a seemingly random piece of trim disappearing into a wall.  Walls that have been painted and patched and repainted and repatched for a hundred years get richer and more interesting the wonkier they become.  The corners of the rooms are actually rounded, having been filled with multiple layers of paint.  Imagine the interior square footage lost to coats of paint on Manhattan Island alone!  At $700/month for a parking space, all that paint could be significant.  And how much does it weigh?? Gads.

I want to try to reproduce that 100 year old tenement look with new construction.  I call it Tenement Chique.I did it with furniture and it looks and feels great.  It would be a lot of work but one could do it.  The tough part is to make the layers of history seem appropriate and natural rather than contrived and forced.  I find inspiration for this stuff everywhere.  As a matter of fact, I took a picture
 of something that I will probably not use but it tells a crazy story.  The picture is of a bathroom door in a house I am helping fix up.  Those two gray spots on the door tell a dark and sordid tale of distilled crapsmanship and laziness.  What I think happened was that the last guy who painted this door just painted around the towels that were hanging there rather than taking them down.  I wish there was another answer but the forensic study I made revealed the cold hard facts.  My homage to history shall be temporarily sidelined, for this palimpsestic aberration should not be preserved and celebrated, nor should it be studied and discussed. As a matter of fact, I am going to deny it ever happened.  I almost fear posting such information.  People don't need to know about these things.  

Sunday, February 1, 2009


It is not an infrequent occurrence.  I love getting my eyes opened by my kids.  I spent a long time this weekend making a bunch of blocks.  They are pretty basic shapes.  My thought was to just make all the dimensions double starting from 0.75".  That way all the blocks would stack up nicely and walls will be nice and straight.  Lemme tell ya, making blocks is not a lot of fun.  It is all milling.  Loud, dusty and boring.  But with thoughts of my kids creating long beautiful Bauhaus block buildings in my mind, I forged on.  

I fashion myself to be a lateral thinker but leave it to the kids to really tear preconceptions down without a hint of concern or remorse.  Leo, my 4 year old, built this structure first.  

I don't actually have a shop right now.  I had a fun furniture studio around the corner from my house in se Portland but I had to give it up in July for a variety of reasons.  It was called the ButtJoint Studio.  Since then, I have been surfing my friends shops, jumping on their table saws or dulling their jointer blades.  It is pretty pathetic.  It ends up taking me about a year to make a cut.  Below are a couple of pictures of my home workshop.  The clamps are on a little keyboard stand and bench I am making for a client down in LA.  The router is my set up to take down the 300 miles of sharp edges on the blocks I made.  These pics are from today and yesterday.   I am shopless and I am saying "yes" to all kinds of projects right now.