Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I Dig This T-Shirt


I picked up this shirt in Pierre South Dakota at Runnings Farm and Fleet Store.
I love the all-purpose farm and feed store!
One stop shopping for bunny rabbits, beef jerky, anti-freeze and cool t-shirts.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The "Accidental Business"


photos courtesy of domus, new york

A couple years back I found myself with a glut of cherry, maple and walnut wood scraps & cut-offs from furniture & cabinetry jobs I had finished.
Wood is expensive & precious so I didn't want to just throw it away. I figured I'd use the scraps to make cutting boards for friends & family and offer them as nice little handmade gifts. Furniture jobs kept coming & so did the scraps and suddenly, I found myself in a shop full of experimental cutting boards. I started to think I might be able to sell them on the street or at some little craft fair-or if nothing else, continue to give them as an all occasion gift: housewarming, wedding, birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah...
One day, I ran into a friend, Jim Seffens, who has an art studio/storefront in Hell's Kitchen. He was telling me about his annual holiday group show and arts & craft sale. When I asked him if he would be interested in selling my boards, he said sure. I thought I might end up selling a couple boards, but they sold really quickly and I ended up even having to borrow clamps and collect other scraps from friends to make more.
When the holiday season ended, a neighborhood shop DOMUS, approached me about selling my boards year round. A year and half later, I continue to sell my work at DOMUS and it has been featured in a number of design blogs & in "This Old House" Magazine.
The success of this endeavor has inspired me to take the design elements of the cutting boards even further into a collection of furniture.
What's really neat about this "accidental business" is that it came from wanting to come up with an artful way of not wasting scrap wood. Sometimes the simplest ideas can prove to be the most inspired.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Also A Carpenter: David Lynch


David Lynch

Best Known For:
Film Director and Artist
Loves:
Coffee, Wood and Big Boy Restaurants
Construction Experience:
Furniture Designer
Eagle Scout
Currently:
Showing his artwork at Fondation Cartier in Paris
Hosting a "David Lynch Weekend" dedicated to Transcendental Meditation
Favorite Tool:
Meditation
Sensitive Carpenter Level:
Fire Walk With Me

Monday, May 21, 2007

Coffee Bean Floors

Ah...that delicious first sip of morning coffee is anticipated and longed for as you wake to the deep, lush and wonderful smell of French Roast, Sumatra Mandheling or Eithiopia Yrgacheffe brewing. I really do enjoy nothing more than a great cup of coffee.
Recently, a client of mine asked me to prototype a coffee bean tile to use as her new kitchen floor, a coffee bean terrazzo if you will, so I've taken my love of the delicious brew to new extremes by infusing the wonderful aromas with polyurethane resin.

Once people discover you work with plastic, they have all sorts of ideas that involve plastic. I've spent less time working with wood and more time becoming somewhat of an expert in release agents and the multitudes of molding materials.
Here's what I discovered prototyping the coffee bean terrazzo:
  • Coffee bean floors are not a casual weekend warrior project
  • Green unroasted beans have more moisture than roasted beans, so when combined with the 2-part polyurethane the moisture creates bubbles
  • As the plastic cures, it heats up and releases vapors which mixed with the coffee beans, smells really good and then really weird
  • Even a sub-par casting came out looking pretty awesome
  • It's a really expensive process
And just an FYI-David Lynch has his own line of fair trade organic coffees available to purchase on his website. His slogan is "It's all in the beans...and I'm just full of beans".

Thursday, May 17, 2007

David Lynch Furniture

"I day-dream of furniture" -David Lynch

David Lynch designs furniture. I think that's really cool.
He seems to like everything I like-wood, designing furniture, coffee and David Lynch films.
Influenced by mid-century minimalist design, David Lynch created a line of furniture a few years back and sells it exclusively through Casanostra, a design company based in Switzerland.
Pictured are a couple of those pieces. They are simple and complex-eye catching and improvisational-much like his films.

His furniture is also featured in the movie Lost Highway, where his personal home (designed by Lloyd Wright) serves as one of the settings. An article from Form Magazine further discusses David Lynch's design influences and inspirations.

His aesthetic, lifestyle and vision inspires me. I also day-dream of furniture.












Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Twin Peaks & Douglas Fir

Driving into the small town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer, FBI Agent Cooper notices the 200 foot tall trees flanking the highway. He dictates a memo to his assistant Diane that he must find out what kind of tree this magnificent specimen is-"they're really something". Once in town, he is informed by Sheriff Harry S. Truman that those trees he saw were Douglas Fir and they are the central industry of Twin Peaks. The eerie serene music of Angelo Badalamenti plays as the milling blades are sharpened and Agent Cooper begins his mission of exposing the dark underbelly of a small town in the Pacific North West.

"Diane, 6:18AM room 315-Great Northern Hotel up here in Twin Peaks ..slept pretty well... non-smoking room-no tobacco smell..that's a nice consideration for the business traveler-hint of Douglas Fir needles in the air-"

Fir ( Douglas Fir, Oregon Pine) is a softwood that comes from trees growing in the U.K., Canada, and the Northwestern United States. It's a straight grained reddish brown wood with a pronounced growth ring pattern and the occasional purple streak. Fir has many uses throughout the home building process-from framing and other structural elements-to finish work like trim, cabinetry and flooring. Douglas Fir is a warm "homey" feeling wood that is as elegant as it is casual. It's available in many different grades and serves various functions according to its grade. Main considerations in grading wood are its width and the number of knots or the "clarity" of the wood.

Being a softwood, Fir is pretty easy to mill and the sawdust emits a smell like baby powder & honey. One of the most interesting uses of Douglas Fir I've ever seen was in a turn of the century home that had floors and stair treads made from quarter sawn fir. The quarter sawing process created a swirly, camouflage-like grain pattern that was truly amazing. From its sturdy usefulness, to the rich layered grain pattern, it's no wonder that Douglas Fir is a favorite of this week's muse-David Lynch.

Monday, May 14, 2007

David Lynch Week Kick Off

Ever wonder what David Lynch has to do with carpentry? Quite a lot actually. This week I will be focusing on all things David Lynch-the artful filmmaker and also...sensitive carpenter.
"Catching the Big Fish-Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity" is Mr. Lynch's new book about his experience as an artist and the effect that meditation has had on his life and career.
It is a sort of meditation in and of itself-more than a book about meditating. Lynch offers a window into his mind and reveals his thoughts in a personal, funny and heartfelt way and he discusses his love of wood.

In a few pages he talks about working with wood and how he loves to chew on Ponderosa Pine pitch . He says the flavor "will make you crazy, in a good way"- ironically, that also describes the author.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Green Furniture

My experience of furniture making has always been to wait for the tree to grow, harvest it and use the wood. Here's a way to make furniture without chopping down a tree.....
Ready Made Magazine has a DIY tutorial on growing your own "lawn" couch.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Home Improvement Show Biz

We've all seen the show...A married couple from Akron or Boise have a room in their cal-de-sac nestled tract home that they "just never got around to".
The couple is looking for a zen adult getaway with a warm sense of elegant style that can be enjoyed by family and guests and last but not least...contains storage for all the kids toys that litter the room. All of this for under a thousand dollars.
Enter Phoebe and Chet, the designer and carpenter. Phoebe is known for her offbeat sense of style & color choice and faux painting skills. Chet is known for his svelte, tanned, shirtless torso and an endearing G-Rated sense of humor. These are the trustees of the Caldesac family's zen multipurpose paradise. ..for under a thousand dollars.
Thirty minutes pass by with little tension or effort. Chet finishes off the "meditation alter/toy chest" with a couple of knock-knock jokes. A series of camera dissolves gives us the anticipated "before & after". We almost forget the incident where Phoebe burned herself with the hot glue gun in an attempt to fasten grass from the lawn to the black & white photos of the children playing with puppies and turtles that now adorn the faux marble mantel.
The reveal is a tearful reunion of the Caldesac family and their new favorite room. She "loves it!" and weeps in appreciation. He likes that the colors aren't too crazy & they left his recliner in the room. A wonderful new space for the Caldesac family done in 30 minutes and all for under a thousand dollars, $938.46 to be exact. Really?....
I watch these shows and love them as a viewer, but rarely do I actually consider them believable as a designer and carpenter. The budget & time line for these shows are laughably unrealistic. Housebuilding, cabinetry and furniture fabrication fall into the easy category of summer camp boondoggle weaving. From my experience (with both boondoggle & cabinetry) construction is a bit more of an investment. The truth about Chet is that he probably makes between $5,000 & $10,000 an episode and has a fair amount of off camera help. There are people who specialize in buying & negotiating material prices and those who assist with the actual renovation tasks (painting, cutting, nailing,sanding,etc..) And that's not considering cameramen, electrics, catering,etc..
So the show about that room that cost $948.46 and was completed in 2 days actually took months to plan and had a budget of over a hundred thousand dollars all to make an "affordable DIY project".
I love watching home improvement shows. The ideas, the personalities and the drama are the real elements-but if I'm designing a home, a shelf, or a piece of furniture, I hope no one expects Phoebe or Chet. I don't have a production staff or a home in Malibu where I can cultivate my tan and all the latest knock-knock jokes.

 

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