Sunday, March 30, 2014

a live edge coffee table

we delivered another nice claro wlanut slab coffee table this week.  the slab is one of a pair we bought back in january, specifically for this project, and in the meantime, sold the other one to another client who just happened to be looking for a small dining table exactly the size of the other slab.  
sometimes you just get lucky.  clcik the photos to enlarge them.
so here it is, onsite friday morning .. a cloudy day, but still a warm object with a little light.
at one point, i considered straightening the flair, but decided to not even ask .. the
live edge was just too nice ..
the base design is one we have used before in flat, 1/2" steel, but the tubing is a little more refined.
we added our dark bronze patina to the natural, polished steel.
 earlier in the process, i took the base to the client's home nearby with a piece of half inch mdf cut the to same size and shape as the actual slab.  i then took a couple photos ...

 and then, with a little creative photoshopping, added a photo of the the sister slab from the table below, which by that time was already finished and shipped.  this mockup helped the clients visualize the
finished table in their space .. it took a minute,  but was well worth the effort.  compare this photo with the onsite photo at the top and you can get a handle on the 'power of photoshop'.
all for now.  enjoy your sunday ...

more on the dart cabinet

pretty fun project here ...
my designer client, nina, had an idea for a cabinet to go in the room with 
we started with a chalk sketch on two of the 'best' ( a relative term) of six red
barnboards that had been salvaged from the client's property, and designated them
to be the doors for the cabinet.  click the photos to enlarge them.
we then added some structural poplar pieces that we later covered with barnboards, but these pieces actually hold the cabinet sides together and provide the structure to secure the cabinet to the wall.
working with the barn boards 'as they are' is always a challenge when you are totally accustomed to
lumber that is straight and flat and has integrity.  
one must 'go with the flow', and cast all aspirations to 'perfection' aside.
we added some chalkboards and dart holders
the red 'box' below the shelf is held in place with rare earth magnets, and is removable to access a space that will hold the cable box for a nearby, wall mounted tv.  the red leather tab was chris's brainstorm.
and later this week, christina young, the decorative painter on site will add the lettering i 
photoshopped on in the photo above to the top of the cabinet.
last thing we did was add a coat of linseed oil, which made the red pop, 
and gave the cabinet a fantastic warmth.

we hung it up friday, but forgot to take pictures !  
we'll be back there later this week and we'll take some then ..

Saturday, March 22, 2014

tell the story

                                i'm gonna leave this here for a minute and come back to it later.
it's an important thought and i don't want to lose it, (again).

ok, i'm back ... below is my attempt at on observation on the letter above:

so kurt vonnegut is one of my favorites.  like my father, he was caught up in world war II and made the best of it.  in kurt's case, you might say he made a career of it, and i go back to his books from time to time for his insightful writing and sense of humor.  i recently read the book of his collected letters, and while some are mundane, others are brilliant and totally make me stop and think .. the one above is a good one. click it to enlarge it and (hopefully) be able to read it ...
others are below at the end of this post.

what to make of the letter above.  hmmm  ..  i am a member of the the guild of vermont furniture makers, a group with 30 or so members throughout the state.  .. kate pace owns and runs a company called 'route 7 social' that is engaged in helping small businesses like ours market their products.  the guild recently received some state money in a grant designed to increase business activity and job creation, and we engaged her services to use social media to help us do that.   after imploring, (without much success), the list of suspects to add content to our guild of vermont furniture makers blog  , she has more or less taken over the production, (writing), and promotion of that web address.  in that effort she is visiting and profiling all thirty artists in their studios.   i had an interesting conversation with her on thursday, when it was our turn, dan's furniture, sam's metal work, and will's banjos.   one of her observations from visits with other makers are that many of them describe themselves as 'not into self promotion', and 'want to let their work speak for itself'.  that's all well and good, and i understand completely.  but often, objects themselves don't have all that much to say and just sit there quietly, waiting to be 'discovered' ...  as kurt points out, "people capable of loving some paintings or etchings or whatever can rarely do this without knowing something about the artist."  so without the story, as kurt suggests above, 'there goes the ballgame right there'.  i agree that the object is only one half of the conversation.   i'm often curious why i write what i write and why i actually enjoy and look forward to doing it, and have come to the not unsurprising conclusion that, while it is not for everyone, i have a story to tell about the stuff we make, and sharing that story gives me some sense that what i am doing has an audience and is part of a dialog.  so, my humble advice to other artists is to 'tell your story'.  there's nothing more deflating in my experience than to drop off a piece, have the client say here's your check, thank you, see you later..  there's more to the ballgame than that.

think briefly about the 'famous funriture makers' .. krenov, wendel castle, nakashima, garry knox bennet ... while their work 'spoke for itself', they all spoke up for it too ... picasso, jasper johns, ai weiwei, story tellers all ..

some more of kurt's letters .. click the photos to enlarge them ..
 'we may end up miles from here' .. love it

one of the more poignant ones above, on the draft ...
and, on quitting smoking ...
and, last nut not leasgt

one of kate's photos from her visit thursday .. good one!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

more new projects

 following up on some stuff from the previous post, and getting some other new projects underway.  happy to clear the decks a bit and make room for some new stuff.  we hung the big mirror yesterday, all 13' 5" of it.  it was interesting as the building is old, the floor and ceiling or both out of level and when we hung it up level, it was just so obviously wrong that we had to move it around until it looked right with everything else that is going on there.  as it hangs now, the right end is about 7/8ths higher than the left end but it totally looks 'right' given the other stuff that is going on .. haven''t had to do that for a while.  click the pictures to enlarge them ...
 and the cherry bookcase clients will be in town this weekend ... that piece will be 
 and the dart cabinet is happening now ... it can be fun working with crooked old barn boards.
 you certainly can't be fussy, and you definitely have to go with the flow.
 and it's been a good excuse to have a dartboard next to the chop saw for a while.
recipe for a railng .. cut a bunch of steel up into very specific lengths, and weld it all together,  
then take it to the client's house and bolt it to the posts you put there last week ..
 looks easy when it's done ...  
and sam's got a couple other table bases in the works.  the one above will have a danby marble top.  that's 1" rebar .. polished .. it's a nice look and the rebar is becoming popular with our customers .. 
 and another nakashima style base 
he's just making the base.  the client is making his own top.
and there's a new claro walnut table happening too ...  4' x 8' x 2.75" thick, with a 
beefed up steel base to go with the beefier slab.  it's gonna look good.  we've done
heavier base before in 1.75" steel, but this looks fine in our regular 1.5" steel.
the price of steel has increased so much lately that it's hard to justify working in the thicker stuff.
 the slab had a few surface, non structural, cracks that we filled with our usual advantech tintable epoxy.
chris finished the chest of drawers for the shaker piece .. we may install that tomorrow.
and trevor's underway on a new 60" round walnut table with a 22" crotch walnut inlay in the center of it.
more on that as we progress ... all for now ... dan
update: i'll do a complete blogpost when we're finished


Saturday, March 15, 2014

three weeks in the life of dorset custom furniture

there was a book i read in college that i sort of remember, called 'one Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich'.  it was by alexander solzhenytsin, and i remember it being a long one, kind of like this post is going to be.  the hero was 'a common carpenter' unjustly imprisoned in a soviet labor camp ... we, on the other hand, are just 'common funriture makers', getting through the last three very busy weeks. 

 somebody turned loose the shoppers.  in addition to the 4 or 5 jobs we typically have in the works at a time, we had a flood of small jobs going on and many requests for new designs and price quotes.  some of those turned into new work, some not, but they sure kept me busy.  so, rather than detail all these projects individually, i'm going go through them all in one post right here, right now.  click the photos to enlarge them .. here goes.
this one's been in the works for a couple weeks ... the clients' house is local, but they don't live here full time, so we had to wait for them to come up for the weekend to try the mockup in their living room.
after photographing the mockup, i photoshopped a photo of the top of this table 
on to the mockup top as it was made from a slab from the same log.
the real thing is now almost ready for finish.
and we had a cutoff from another big slab that we made into a bench/side table above.  
this one is for sale and ready to go at the drop of a hat ... +/- 18 x 26 x 18 high.
call me at 802-867-5541 for detaIls
and we also did a little filling and sanding on this slab. +/- 36 x 80 ), it's also available and would 
make a nice desk, large coffee table, or small dining table .. no reasonable offers or ideas refused .
first coat of finish only .. it's the log mate to this headboard ..
 around the first of the month we installed some large steel turnbuckles that sam made for our kitchen clients from last summer.  they were an afterthought to fill up some of the high open space and it was quite a project to install them in the finished room.  here are some others that he made previously.  view the pictures there to get a sense of their scale
they did look great as an architectural detail when they were up  ..
and while we were there, we got to see the finished vanity from last summer.  
it now has all its hardware, marble and lights now, and is looking pretty sharp ..
and sam completed one new beltbuckle design for a friend, and quickly sold four others without even trying. the four would have made a great picture, but came and went so fast i missed them.
the original in the photo above was not quite finished at photo time.

 will shipped out another vermont banjo, banjo number 26 for him  ...

all vermont wood and inlay details

chris completed one of the more challenging chair projects to come through the shop lately.  
it involved copying a family chair for a friend's sister ...
certainly a challenge, and chris did a great job with it ..

it's at the upholsterer's now, and it should be ready next week sometime.  gold star for this one.

and now he is involved in retro fitting a big shaker cabinet we made in 2006.
we're adding a  case with four drawers that has to be removable to access the valves
for the radiant heat that are in the wall behind the cabinet.
the original piece is 10 feet wide and 8.5 feet high

 on a personal note, i'm still working on my pottery .. i'm gonna fire the kiln tomorrow.

and we had time for some cards with old friends (long time friends, not really old friends, though we are all getting up there).  the gentleman on the left hired me for my first bartending job in vermont in 1971 and we've all been friends ever since.  his wife, mary rita, across the table from kit, 
is my favorite mixed doubles paddle tennis partner.

and while i'm on the subject of paddle tennis, in the opening round of the mixed doubles championship last weekend, my friend linda and i were defeated by the father/daughter team on the left. they later made it to the finals where they were barely beaten by my friend mary rita, above and her partner paul, who is one of the top mens players. mary rita is on the winner board for either/both womens and mixed doubles championships for the last 10 years or so

 linda and i lost in the finals of the consolation round, but in my mind we we won the informal award for 'highest combined team age'. we lost to susan and jonathan, who is will's age.  we had about 50 years on them, so the fact that we made it through the day still standing was a victory for me.  it's a fast sport.
and it is still definitely still winter here, though it's headed for 50 degrees today
depressing thursday morning...
hopeful, thursday afternoon
 we're also working on a few more projects for the hill farm
we made an old butter churn into a cocktail table with a steel top for the pool room .. 
had to add some sand for weight and levelers for feet .. cool object.
and we're making a fourteen foot mirror for the dining room there
and a cabinet for the dart board.  i hope to finish that this week.
and some barn board picture frames

and we're restoring a cool empire bureau and talking about bar stools
and yesterday a new claro walnut slab arrived ..
it's gonna, in the end, be about 48 x 96 after it's trimmed
wrestled it into the shop with six people and the forearm forklifts

and this week, we completed the rebuild of the spindle on the cnc router.  8 years since it was new,
and it's good as new again now ..
will cut this 1/2" high nameplate with it.  he has finished #26, but this is plate for #23,
which he skipped and is working on now
see more banjos here now
 and sam has several railing projects in the works.  these should go in next week sometime.

and i'm starting today with a clean slate for monday .. all or now. long one ...