Lots of productivity this week as we continue to busy ourselves and our hands. Like most of you, we are filling our days with creativity. There is a lot of raw material in our workshop, just waiting for attention, and there has never been a better time than now to focus on it. It doesn't feel so bad when we have a project in front of us.
In the first picture of the gallery above, you'll see a large bowl that I made after discovering that I had a sizeable chunk of Black Cherry wood in the corner of the woodshop. On our Rikon bandsaw, I trimmed it down its irregular shape so that it would fit within the "swing" dimensions of my lather--about 16". Turning it started out as a bumpy ride, the lathe was bouncing like a car on uneven terrain, but quickly evened out. Large pieces take more time and elbow grease, and this one was really worth it; turning cherry can be a real dream. Our studio/workshop is up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, out on Eastern Point in Gloucester, so I seldom have time to really sink in and get fully immersed in completing all of my dream projects, making all these recent completions quite satisfying.
The next image in the gallery that you see is a Victorian painting of an unidentified gentleman. I found this around Halloween at a store in Gloucester called Second Glance--a treasure trove of castaway items, available for purchase. The painting was in a large ornate "casetta" type frame, which might be even cooler than the painting. Both are badly damaged and have many obvious losses of material. In the case of the painting, it is likely that something punched through the surface, puncturing and removing part of the canvas, which also has a great deal of cracking, blanching, and crazing. Andy is trained as an art conservator and teaching me the ropes as I assist him in a variety of restoration techniques. I will do the restoration of the frame--first with a cleaning, then taking moulds of existing frame, filling the mould, and then recreating the plaster. Once the plaster is adhered to the surface, matching and toning the frame to go with the original coloring begins. I love gilding, but this frame will not be receiving a 24k coat--would be far too expensive(gold is soaring on the market these days) and time consuming for a project that is meant to be for education, and will probably wind up on the wall in our apartment. If a client wanted gold, it would happen, but we'll practice using metal pigments and see how well we do...stay tuned.
Another project that we're working on is making game boards. We have an abundance of wood in the shop right now that we've been using. For our first board, we used Red Oak from Longleaf Lumber, Fishtail Oak (Lacewood) that a friend gave us, and put a White Oak boarder on it. The wood strips were cut on the table saw, glued together (laminated) in alternating color, clamped, planed, cut again, laminated again in corresponding game board pattern, planed once more, sanded and oiled. The process is not quick--good things take time they say--but it is well worth the investment of time for an object that will be lovingly utilized for years to come.
Raise your hand if you've had more meetings and webinars than ever in the past few weeks. Same.
Because the meeting quotient is high, we needed a little desk/work table to take meetings--no internet out in the studio or shop is a double edged sword. I looked around the shop and found a "live edge slab" --more Cherry. I get my live edge stock from Higher Standard Woodcutting in North Reading, MA--check the Facebook page--he mills awesome local New England species. The wood has character. From amazing burl figure, knotholes, streaking, and spalting. They call this "woodworker's delight". You will not find this type of stock or lumber at a big box store, or even really at the specialty stores, especially if you want a reasonable price. If you're in the market, call Higher Standard.
When I spend time flattening, finishing, and sanding, I'm doing my best to highlight the natural wood, and usually opt for legs of a different material, and when I can. I like to add legs that came from some other furniture life. In this case, there was a table destined for the dumpster outside the school I work in--so I brought my drill next-day, and pirated the parts. These legs are fully adjustable, which is rather desirable when making a table with a flexible purpose.
I have made many live edge tables, and what I love best is being able to study and marvel at the life and the history of the wood; it's so unique and tells a compelling story about the tree. The Grandaddy of the live-edge tradition is George Nakashima. If you've never heard of him, you've probably seen some example or iteration of his far-reaching influence. He let the wood be the wood. Gorgeous. Honest. True.
Tiger King. Have. You. SEEN IT? It is undoubtedly some of the most confusing and interesting television I have seen in a while. I don't tend towards reality shows, but I did jump on the bandwagon with this one. We are living in one of the strangest and most unprecedented times of ever. Our schedules and plans have been flipped and turned and altogether thrown away. Despite the fact that most of our days are spent indoors at home (thanks New England weather) each day requires a great deal more effort to create meaning, value, and to have some fiber of "normalcy". SO, if anything has made me feel, at all normal or well adjusted, it is Joe Exotic. This is a guy has a LOT of crazy going on and is filming most of it at any given time. I won't spoil it for you if you have plans to watch it, other than to say, if I have learned anything from watching Tiger King, the rest of us are doing just fine.
Current mood: slightly angsty = ready for my next project
Coffee: Dockside Single Origin by Breakwater Roasters--local Gloucester roaster
Song of the Moment: Ti Mon Bo by Tito Puente https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXBgJ2ajjQs
Weather: high wind and rain--good thing we got those 8 yards of mulch done in the sun yesterday!
Hope you are all safe, following the recommendations, and helping to "flatten the curve".
What is everyone up to these days? How are you doing? What's cooking?
We're living through something interesting. "May you live in interesting times"--isn't that some sort of folksy old curse? Some say the origins are English, others say it's Chinese; whatever the origin, the phrase/curse is now the reality. We are truly living "interesting times"
I eschew the news. It never seems good. For my own mental well-being, I can't stand to sit idly by in sweatpants as well-coiffed strangers tell me all of the odd stuff going on out there. I find out what I need to know like a lot of you in a multi-prong approach: online, part social media/add in news site to taste, talk to other people, shake and serve. We all have our own recipe and approach, and that's okay.
The way I'm dealing with all that's happening is by keeping my hands busy. I'm making art--spoons, bowls, gilding, drawing, cooking, flipping vinyl to the B-side and then onto the next record. See the pictures below:
1. I took a picture of wilting tulips reflected in tin foil.
2. "Stay Gold" gilded sign on glass--based on a movie quote from The Outsiders, which was inspired by the Robert Frost Poem Nothing Gold Can Stay.
3. Photo of my husband, Andy that I took on my Nikon d90 for his work headshot (shout out to the team at ADJ!). Photo taken in our workshop in Gloucester, MA and later edited in LightRoom.
I've always loved the part in magazines where the interviewers ask about mundane things, products they like, and about their general disposition. So let's try something: ask me anything, I'd love to take requests and answer your questions.
Mood: Focused/Mellow, ready to hunker down and get things done.
Coffee: Tarrazu by George Howell Coffee Roasters (George is credited with inventing the Frappacino, and is also the main reason as to why we all wax poetic on coffee like it's wine--brilliant work George + team!).
Song of the Moment: Here They Come by Hamilton Leithauser.
Give it a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgYmFG4AiDA. I think you'll enjoy it. I first became aware of Hamilton Leithauser through a collab. album that he did with Rostam--I heard a song from it on the radio when I was driving a rental car in California. Lately he's getting some good airtime on Sirius XM channels XMU-35 +AltNation-36, which are on my Top 5 channels. Cool to see good artists doing their thing and getting it out there.
I'm going out to the studio now. Andy and I are making cutting boards together. I sense more GH coffee in near in my immediate future.
Until next time, be safe, wash your hands, and stay gold.