Thursday, February 27, 2014

i can see clearly now

 i'm a firm believer in getting all the light you can into a house in vermont.  
the upside of that is you get to see out good too.
 this client called me back in october with 'a problem'
 he loved the view from his living room through the front door
when it was open, but he felt 'closed in' and like he was missing something 
when the door was closed, and i agreed.  our first plan was to make a new door
to match the glass layout in the sidelights, and you can see that concept in 
the drawing below.  click the photos to enlarge them ..

 but then, after i made a simple photoshop mockup of what it would look like
if the glass went all the way down, like my front door below,
the clients decided that that was the way to go for them too.
photoshop is your friend
this is our front door at home, and you can see the full height glass
 back door through the left sidelight.  so, ground floor on our house,
there are three full height glass doors and two full height all glass sidelights.
we did a little practice run at the shop, routing the door panels out on the cnc.
  will has now turned my old office closet into his dust free banjo finishing area.  the glass in
the doors made it so i didn't lose the light from the closet window when will was finishing.
we did this panel to glass thing a few years back for another client and trevor has
definitely dialed in the technique on the cnc.  first 'test' pass above.
final pass ... where there were formerly rails and interior stiles, there is no paint.  
where there was just a molding, he left the paint .. that is just amazing to me.
pretty close in the corners too
easy to square up though .. the view through our back door below .. after a quick mental count, i realize between the wood shop, the finish room, the new metal shop, the house, and the old metal shop, 
there are 15 doors with full height glass.  i really like light.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

the cherry bedroom piece

so how did we get from the sketch above ..
 to the piece we installed last tuesday ?  well, i'll tell you, it didn't happen overnight.  click the photos to enlarge them ..
we started with this photo that was actually taken, i am surprised to note, on the 5th of february, 2013.
from that photo i made the collage above in photoshop, and though i can't find them now, i sketched four different concepts, from which i made the four slightly different cad drawings below.
and the winner is ...
  this one .. that was all fine and good to go and we had a deposit and we ordered the wood, and then ... another more time sensitive opportunity presented itself to us
at that time, my bedroom clients were in the process of raising their coastal connecticutt house that had been flooded by hurricane sandy 7 feet and doing a total remodel of that property, so they allowed to do a 'quick painted kitchen' at another local house, and before we knew it that 'quick painted kitchen' became about 5 months work.  so, in late october, we finally got around to using the cherry we bought back in march and got this project underway.  the original intent was a kind of shaker piece with minimalist details, but as we went on we had some consultations and added some detailing based loosely on this sideboard and a some of the other pieces we had created for the clients in the past.
 so on we went, adding details to the verticals of the face frames, an edge inlay on the main counter, borders on the drawer faces, custom cast drawer pulls, and paneled case ends.  that all took a minute.

ready for finish below
 until we finally arrived at last monday, the photo below, and the day before the installation when all the finished parts had to be finally glued and applied to the cases, final assembled and then 
disassembled yet again, and loaded into the van and the truck and carried up a flight of steps 
to be installed at the client's home.

 we had done a preinstallation level check and the room was remarkably level plumb square and true and we were able to move through the installation and clean up in a remarkably short amount of time.  all in, all done ... great project ... incredibly patient clients ... glad to have our shop back ...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

mystery chest

we've got a really interesting piece in the shop for repairs today .. nothing major, a loose stiffener, replace some funky newly added screws with something more appropriate, add some steel supports to the lid .. it's in remarkable shape for its apparent age and we're wondering about its origin and approximate date .. all the nails and hardware are original and hand forged, and we've all been happy to have the carvings as company on this snowy day .. any thoughts, send me an email or leave a comment .. thanks!  big snow coming ...
 click the photos to enlarge them
how bout this guy?
crusades anyone?
 nice hardware ..
i don't think i've seen one like this .. it reminds me of tombstones or engravings in its execution ..

Saturday, February 8, 2014

a small claro wlanut dining table and some other stuff

 we got a call today that the claro walnut slab table we finished recently was successfully delivered to brooklyn yesterday .. yee haahh.  it's always good to hear from happy clients.  when they placed the order for the dining table above, they also purchased the coffee table i had for sale back in november, so they got a double dose thursday.  i hope to get pictures of the pieces on site soon.
 the design was similar to others we have made with our standard steel trapezoid base.  the new one had the dark bronze patina on the steel, rather than the polished steel on the larger table above.
 sam is cruising through the metal work in his new shop
the dining table started with one of a pair of slabs we purchased recently
and after we smoothed it out and fitted it to the base
we put a little finish on it ,, nice curl!!
a fine slab, all around
at the same time, we finished this reclaimed chestnut coffee table, which will be 
delivered to a local residence on presidents day weekend
those same clients also received the walnut table they ordered for their home in connecticut
it looks like a regal spot for it ..
and also in the works is a coffee table with a new base design using the other claro walnut slab.
since it was the adjacent slab in the log, this table will have the
same figure as the table at the top of the post
we did a little mockup with some mdf and the base .. more on this one later ..

i'm going to be posting something here about taking quick 'record' photos .. this one was taken in the shop, during the day, with all the florescent lights on, and without dealing with the reflections.  it's an excellent example of a rushed photo that, with a little effort, could have been a lot better.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

why we make things, and why it matters

hmmmm ... i think peter korn has been looking over my shoulder for the last 40 years ... and, he has the way with words to get what he has been seeing down on paper so i can understand some of the things that flit through my brain just below my level of consciousness ... like things i try to verbalize sometimes when people ask me about how or why i started making furniture , and 'do i like it as much as i seem to'? etc .. i didn't always know how to answer those questions, but now, some of it has kind of been explained it to me through mr. korn's book.  my friends bill and steve and pete and all the other folks i know who have been struggling through making a living as furniture makers, builders, potters, glass blowers, masons and sculptors for the last 35 years, are part of a cultural thing, and, as mr. korn says, most craftspeople he knows 'kind of stumbled into the party' while they were looking for 'a good life'.  amen to that.  in the 60s and 70s we were in fact searching.  'back to the land' .. 'self sufficiency' .. 'organic gardening' with sam ogden ... 'living the good life' with helen and scott nearing .. an alternative path to the life most people the generation before us, (our parents), were living.

when i started as a carpenter in 1973, like peter, i was fascinated by the problem solving aspects of the job. then the dexterity and skill thing relating to quality added another level of challenge and interest.  from there, it took just one short lay off from my carpentry job in 1979 to transition to full time furniture making, and ultimately, the good life i was seeking.  i have been lucky, i am the first to admit.  building stuff has been very good to me.  i have had the benefit of a supportive family and community, and amazingly, a steady supply of wonderful and interesting clients.  i have worked hard for sure, but it's never really, and still doesn't really, feel exactly like 'work' .. it's just what i do, and how my life goes.  peter's path was similar to mine to start, but along the way, after experiencing a bout with cancer, and a typical struggle to make a living building furniture, his path moved away from furniture design and building, and into education and school building.  but, his roots are my roots.  his background thoughts are my background thoughts.  the 'engaged pursuit of quality' is a rewarding pursuit that as furniture makers, or any other kind of artist or artisan, we get to buck up to everyday.  in my humble opinion, the 'engaged pursuit of quality' is a concept for everyone to pursue daily in his or her field of endeavor.  it's a great concept.

i also like what peter has to say about design, and how 'it begins with two things, the intention to create and a problem to be solved'.  and how it is a 'skill like any other' and can be learned, which i can attest to personally, as i had not a clue about design when i started making stuff ... kit was the one with eye, and she painstakingly taught me how to 'see' ... four years of college and a degree, and not one single art course.  design can be learned, and some people take to it more easily than others for sure, but if you put in your time and choose your references carefully, you can most likely find you own voice.

another thing peter discusses that is important to me now is that as his focus changed from furniture making to school making, his work changed from 'working with things to working with words', and one of his biggest surprises was 'how much he took to writing'.  that has also been a surprise to me too after 700+ posts and six years of writing this blog.  i spent 16 years getting a formal education, during which i avoided writing pretty much at all costs.  now, for me, as for him, it is just 'another medium through which we think'.  as peter mentions for himself, (now that he has pointed it out), 'working with wood, words, (and for me the five other people in my shop), are all different forms of the same essential endeavor'.  anyway, the book is a good read if you're looking to think about why we make stuff and why that is a good and important process.  friends who have attended his school have good things to say about it, and at some point, i am planning to pay him a visit up there on the coast of maine ... enjoy!  you may not fold over as many pages as i did, but there is something there for everyone ...
more info, more book reviews, and interviews at this link

and lastly on the 'why we make things' subject, i remember reading something recently that bono said in rolling stone regarding lou reed's passing.  i can't find the exact quote, but he said something about lou like this:
 'the nice thing about people who spend their whole life making things is that 
after they go, we still have the things'. 

2/13/14 .. found it ... here's the actual quote