Sunday, August 30, 2015

a fun steel based console

well this one was interesting ... it started with husband and wife clients who were looking for 'interesting wood'.  they had already committed to a small slab of claro walnut that i had on hand for their coffee table and were wondering what else i might have 'around'.  i just happened to have this curved log of cherry that was sawed up by my friend mike stock of stock's tree care in west pawlet.  it came from the edge of a house adjacent to the 16th tee at the dorset field club where
we had done some work back in 2012.

the concept started as a full length bench, but after taking the mockup home with them, they decided a behind the couch console table would be more appropriate.
i made a couple of photoshopped sketches from the taller mockup

because the base looked kind of empty with the top up at table height.
we took elements from these two previous pieces

and combined them into the finished piece... the steel end pieces were originally 'temporary' to keep the top piece flat while we worked on it, but we all liked them, so they stayed as part of the finished design.
cool project !! the clients are happy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

painting class

please bear with me a bit here as i digress from my normal writings on woodworking.  there is so much more to life, and with the recent death of two close friends, the fact that time is finite and slipping by daily is on my mind ... for the moment, for what remains of summer at least, i am trying a new regimen:  into the shop by 9:00, out by 4:00, with an hour for lunch, (and sometimes, a nap).  more time with friends and family and other interests ... 
we'll see how long that lasts.  the checkbook is still, and always will be, in charge ...
click the photos to enlarge them ... 
so here is horst, my painting instructor, a few years back, with his painting, 'calligraphy'.  actually the image says 2006.  i've known horst well since the early 70's.  he's an 'old' master now, at 91, and is still painting away in nearby arlington.  i went for a visit a few weeks back, asked for some 'lessons' and now we're at it more or less weekly.  today was my third 'lesson'.  so far, his advice has been mostly 'try that bigger brush'. 'try that palette knife' .... 'use that whisk broom some' ... 'stop!' ... stuff like that.  it's a challenge ... the top photo is the results of today's lesson, and one of those paintings was a 'duet' where we passed the brush back and forth a bit without saying much ... at first i was a bit, hmmm, miffed? he was painting over my stuff !!!  in the end, when i got home, kit and i agreed it was the strongest of the bunch.  see if you can figure out which painting that was, and i'll post it at the end.
the other two 'classes' are below ..
8/11 .. 'paint something representational' was the task ... in this case he cropped off more than half of what i painted after i 'finished' .. much improved, it was, by the chopping ...
next week, i get to use white with the black ... with the black for now, i think i'm channeling robert motherwell, learning about 'volume', 'form', 'power' .. etc.  working my way up to color.  no rush .
 you can read more about horst in this blog post, 'the artist in his studio', from 2010 ...
 to get a good sense of horst's style you can see more of his paintings on my website.
a few of my clients have bought paintings, and you can too!

as promised, this image is 'the duet' ... power, form, space ..
on another subject, i took some new pottery out of the kiln monday ...
 go out and play!
pottery close up ...
update 10 17
this week i told horst i wanted tot do something maybe 'a little more representational'.  i didn't get far with that but ... i can try that at home.  i like this guy's style, which should work well with my drawings
but for now with horst i'm enjoying learning how to handle color with a palette knife.  here's one he painted in 2014 .. we bought that from him at christmas and that's how the painting class thing started.
about 30" x 40"  sort of a hans hoffman guy

stay tuned

Friday, August 21, 2015

r.i.p. ethan

well it's not often you lose two friends in a span of a week or so, but sometimes, i guess, it just happens.
we attended a memorial service last sunday for a former employee who started to work for us as a senior in high school.  he and will both took part in the target program, an alternative program in our local high school, burr and burton.  he continued with us for about 6 years after he graduated, and became our first employee cnc enthusiast, and its main operator.  will also did the target program where kids do academics in the morning and go out into the community to work in the afternoons.  will's journey took him to vew-do the balance board company where he learned about computers, photoshop, marketing and customer service.  ethan and will were friends from the time we moved to dorset in 1996.  i could go on and on here, and i did mumble for a bit at the service, but will actually summed it up perfectly in a post he wrote on facebook ... so, i'll just say here 'what will said' ...
click the photo to read it .... it's a heartfelt one.
here are a few photos of pieces ethan worked on that will found in the archives ... 
he was really good with turning, upholstery, and with the inlays ...

 early days ... about 2002 ... with mark and david rasmussen

                                                           R.I.P. ethan .. we're gonna miss you ....

Thursday, August 20, 2015

r.i.p. virgil gibbs

well, we lost a friend last week.  when i came to town in 1971 after traveling around for a couple of years, michael and meg were running a small business called 'virgil gibbs boots and leather' in the center of what was then a funky little town of a couple thousand people. kit and i also lived in the center of that town,
and since vgb&l became sort of a hangout place, we hung out there.  time went on and in 1973, we all bought some land in towns nearby, got married, and built some houses.  none of us really had much of a clue what we were doing regarding building houses at the time.  one friend bought an old backhoe and an old john deere bulldozer.   i bought a book and read up on carpentry ... rim joist, rafter tail, header ....we all worked together on each other's houses.  it was, in hindsight, a kind of a magical time in vermont.  land was cheapish. our first building lot was $7000., our first mortgage $25,000.  we were bartenders and there was no tax on tips .... anyway, we all go way back.
michael and i went on to become full time carpenters after we moved into our houses, and went on to have kids and raise our families.  there were, in 1974, five of us who built houses that year, we worked together, and we're all still friends today.  michael went on later to become a builder and i went on to build furniture.   above, in 1976, we are raising the frame of my first wood shop/garage at our house in arlington.  
mike's easy to spot in the photos above as the only bald guy. 
later, after his divorce, michael built a house next door to ours on goodwood lane in dorset, and was our neighbor for a couple of years there before moving to california and remarrying.  as one friend said recently, 'he added the spice to the stew'.  an excellent observation ..

open studio, 2003 with kit and mike and friends at the shop.  the tall guy there on the right in the blue shirt was one of the five 1974 house builders, as was the shorter women in the white shirt standing with him ..
so, we made a box ... with some reclaimed wood from a project michael did in downtown dorset that miraculously ended up in my garage when i needed it for the box.  it had come to me when we did some work on that house a couple years ago.
i only hit a few hand wrought nails when i resawed it for the box wood.
i put a little leather inside for 'virgil gibbs'
r.i.p. mike
y'all enjoy your friends and every healthy moment ... onward ...

from this week's manchester journal to read it ...
added this to the leather inside in the end

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

a few words about golf ....

golf ...what a strange game ...i never played when i was younger, and dabbled at it a couple times a year starting around 2005 with my friends pat and thea.  they moved away in 2007, and i continued to dabble for a couple more years with my friend and former furniture maker bill laberge.  i've been playing with some intention once a week or so, rarely more than that, for 3 or 4 years now.  for me, it remains a tough game, somewhat resistant to my efforts to improve.  last week, i was reminded of a post about golf i wrote in 2008.  it seems i've still yet to master that consistent perfect combination of everything on the mental check list, and the relaxed natural swing required to execute all of it.  but, as updike says, sometimes 'the tyranny of causality is suspended, and life is like a dream'.  that about sums it up.
 it was the 17th at dorset, a 120 yard extreme downhill to a small green about 25 feet from a large pond.  i was playing with my friend mike, a fine all around athlete and excellent golfer.  he was telling me about a frustrating round he had played the previous saturday.  at the 17th of that round he declared that the only thing that could save his round was a hole in one right then.  he had a near miss, but the gentlemen he was playing with actually holed his.  it was hugh's '4th and a half hole in one'.  hugh claimed 'the half' was a hole in one he got playing by himself once that no one saw ... anyway, these guys are lifelong golfers who tolerate my hacking attempts at the game, and seem to have a good time regardless.  now, here comes my great shot ...with visions of holes in one in my head, i teed off, struck the ball nicely with a high arc and landed it in the short rough about 40 feet to the left of the pin. the pin was just beyond a deep and steep walled sand trap about 3' from the edge of the green and the green sloped beyond the pin toward the pond,.  i was playing with a borrowed 60 degree wedge and struck my ball nicely.  it arced high, and hit just a little short of the edge of the green and it dribbled down about 6 or 8 feet to the bottom of the bowl.  typical.  i stepped in to the sand, and without much thought, took a nice swing with a relaxed follow through.  the ball miraculously floated up and onto the green, stopping about three feet from the pin.  i holed the putt, and mike declared it 'an excellent 4' or something like that.  i finished the 18th with a  nice drive, a fine 3 wood, a chip to the edge of the green and a race to the car to beat the downpour coming from the west.  the guy who played the first seven holes wouldn't have recognized himself on the last two.
above is updike's great golf shot ... an inspiration on difficult holes ... from this blog post in 2008 ..
 the ninth and beyond
' oldest continually operating golf course in the u.s.' or something like that