Friday, June 29, 2012

what a week

well, i'm gonna try your patience here. i haven't been writing much lately, (too busy, the weather's too nice, pick an excuse ) so i thought i would catch up with a monster post summarizing the last week or two. here goes:

the photo above is not from the guggenheim, but rather from the house where we delivered the circular bench this past thursday. fit like a glove, as the saying goes.
the pictures were a challenge as the light was intense at the top of the steps late in the day ... you get the idea. the stairway is three full stories and is a 6' radius at the outside of the curved railing
the bench went to the same house as the swinging bench
and we've got two claro slab dining tables underway in the shop .. a ten footer and a twelve footer. both slabs are from the same log and are going to two different clients, one in chicago, and one in northern vermont. one of the table tops will be finished in a satin black color, which should be interesting as it's the first one of these tables we have made to be stained. the sample was elegant, so i'm looking forward to seeing it finished ... this week?
the 10 footer will have our regular natural finish, and both slabs are now routed for the bases. on to the finishing room monday with this one.
while we're talking about claro walnut, we're also working on some pieces for an upcoming show at a new venue in the berkshires opening on the 21st of july. it's a converted mill space in housatonic, mass., near great barrington, and while i haven;'t seen it yet, the space looks fantastic in the photo above. we started out figuring on a minimal presence, but at the urging of the organizers, we're now making a bigger effort. we're working on a couple of pieces using the small claro slabs we purchased back in february.
we've got a funky mdf desk mockup going, which sam will fabricate in steel this week. i'm not sure yet about the vertical things and we'll have to see as we go along. i might try some more polished rebar instead.
we've also got this coffee table slab. the base is completed and will be like the one we finished recently. i've decided not to reinvent the wheel with every piece we build. enough is enough.
also early last week, we started a new pool table. this is a long story i will eventually tell in a dedicated blog post, but for now, here's what we have so far ...
a bunch of parts roughed out, the slate, the slate support pieces and below,
a mockup of the leg details and and full size drawing. the table will be walnut, with quilted maple panels, which will veneered earlier last week.
and we've got this very funky bench project in the works, proceeding from the sketch above,
to the cad drawing ...
to the actual thing nearly completed. the last thing will did friday was cut the back on the cnc and he'll fit it up and fabricate the round cap on manday ... it's made from reclaimed white oak. hopefully, it will be ready to roll out by the end of next week.
and, speaking of rolling out, the benches for the copper top table left tuesday and are now on the porch in connecticut. i'm waiting for a photo of the whole setup from the client ... these are, like the table 11' long and have reclaimed chestnut x bases with new, distressed and painted ash tops.
and, that copper top table and benches led sam to create this 8' table for one of his clients. he'll be making matching benches with steel x bases soon .... 'take an object, do something to it, do something else to it'. this is a perfect ...
and we cut this quickie elm slab desk top from a slab we purchased at berkshire products ... in the door; meet with the client and cut it to shape; apply some finish; out the door last wednesday ... love a quick turnaround. still with me? almost done now .... my A D D is kicking in and it is a BEAUTIFUL day here in vermont ...
this one was a rescue operation ... it had been previously altered (20 years ago?) with some bad cast iron rail hardware that never quite was iustalled correctly. if you touched a post, the whole bed wobbled and swayed and seemed ready to collapse. we reversed the 'repair' by removing the 'improved' rails, patching those moritises and made new wider rails that were attached through the original bed bolt holes. new bolt covers and a ply mattress support and this bed is ready for the next hundred years. nice turnings and design. solid as a rock ...

and it seems things are picking up a bit ... these are just a could of projects that popped into the design quay this week ... more on those as they (hopefully) progress.

i'm outta here ... time to go watch the orioles ... click this one .. it's one of my best bird photos ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

flloating the deerfield

sam and i had a great float on the deerfield river in massachusetts last week. we signed on with harrison anglers, run by the brothers, tom and dan, who operate several drifts boats on the deerfield daily. dan was our guide and he had to work pretty hard to turn the day around after a slow start in the morning ... after the water from the dam release caught up with us and we switched to stripping streamers, the fish cooperated and the afternoon was great!
we lost count after a while, (always a good sign), but on the way home we figured between the two of us we caught more than fifteen, probably less than 20 good, energetic and feisty rainbows. most were wild fish which the guide could identify at a glance from the stocked fish the state provides..

at one point around 2:00, sam caught three good fish in 5 minutes, anchored in the same spot. the front of the boat is usually the best seat.
the deerfield drains a huge area, from stratton mouintain in vermont to the connecticut river in shelburne falls. there are, i think, 9 flood control dams along the way and on the +/- 10 miles that we floated, not a single private residence and only one state campground with camping and one with some cabins. aside from the tubers, kayakers, and rafters, it was a very remote and wild seeming river.
'good shoulders' on this one ...
i caught my share though

beautiful, healthy fish ...
we got out and walked for a minute while dan ran the rapids. it wasn't dangerous, but i think there must have been some insurance issue.

and dan discussed the 'tube hatch' with us, a novel theory to me. he says if the fish are just lounging around and not eating, when a raft or tuber goes by they get all excited and defensive, and hit your fly with a vengeance, which, in fact, seemed to be the case. we caught fish while folks were floating all around us.
probably more pictures than you needed to get the idea but i have to put them somewhere where i can find em when i need them ... harrison anglers; you can't go wrong.

Friday, June 22, 2012


so i finished this book a couple of weeks ago. i read a review of it somewhere, i don't remember exactly where, but i thought i would like it. i'm interested in how the mind works, as mine often seems such a mystery to me. aha moments and all. i've read other books on thinking and drawing and memory and i almost always seem to come away with something, at least temporarily. usually temporarily. but i have acquired a personal design library. a lot of the good stuff i like is in there and i think i'll add this one to it. i asked the librarian to buy it, which she was kind enough to do, but she also asked me to write a review of it, which this kind of will be. i'm sure it's more than she's looking for, but the book was more than i was looking for too ... anyway, you can see from my postits (there's a section on inventing them in here) that i thought some of it was important. i go to the library on saturdays and i'm late with it. i spent a half hour reviewing my postits, and now, here i am writing. i'm trying to hit the highlights. click the images to enlarge them ...
hold it up over your head when you need it ...
early on he talks about dylan and how he wrote like a rolling stone. well, actually in an interview with ed bradley that i was lucky enough to see when it ran, (you can see it here), dylan says he 'didn't actually write it'. it was a bit of 'penetrating magic', or as mr. lehrer says, it was like a ghost writing that song.
in the 60 ,minutes interview, bradley asks bob about that and can he still write like that? dylan famously responds something like 'you can't do something forever; i did it once, and i can do other stuff now, but i can't do that.' ... insight, inspiration, the creative process; always a mystery to me, even after this book.
next we spend some time with milton glaser, a titan in the world of graphic design, who discusses drawing and thinking and the fact that 'art is work'. amen. he also hits on the subject of 'drawing as thinking', a concept dear to my heart .. i wrote about that myself in 2009.
but then next, we have to think about stuff to get creative ... kind of absorb it all, let it rattle around in the brain and let the subconscious (right side of the brain) blend it all together for you and spit it out, someitmes fully formed, or not. that's where the work comes in.
and then, we talk with more musicians like yo yo ma, the cellist and brief discussion of emotion, and performance, grounded in acquired skills and then the risk of creativity, the casting aside of perfection, which brings to mind a couple of our favorite phrases 'perfectly executed' as in dead. 'the perfect is the enemy of the good' ,,, stuff like that. from there mr lehrer goes on to pixar and 'toy story', 3m and postits, a visit with david byrne and a discussion about 'letting other stuff in' as an inspiration. this guy is rangy ... i loved it .
and towards the end, he reinforces one of my main touchstones, the sharing of ideas. in our shop, we have the phrase 'all of us are smarter than one of us', and here lehrer reinforces that truth ... i could go on and on, and i have, but i think personally, for me, this is an important book. other people will disagree, and i have read at least one fairly critical review. fortunately, a book is different for everyone; maybe it will work for you, maybe it's not your cup of tea. try and get it from your library first ...

i leave you with two last thoughts

Friday, June 15, 2012

a claro walnut slab coffee table

we delivered the claro walnut sllab coffee table to connecticut yesterday. it was one of the slabs that we received back in february. one is slated to shortly become a gallery piece and two are still available. the clients found our website, and, coincidentally, they have a second home in the area and were able to stop by, select the slab the like, check out several base designs and finalize the details. it was one of those projects that went along quickly and smoothly from start to finish. i hope to get an onsite picture at some point as jim said it really 'completed' the room. click the photos to enlarge them ...this was our original photo shown on our blog ...
this is the side they selected and the details we decided on during their visit ..
the cad drawing
after the second coat of gloss ...
sam's welding jig that we made on the cnc ...
parts and pieces ... in the end, we used our blackening finish ..