Old machines are a bit like an old friend. They are consistent, predictable, and faithful. Though I haven’t researched it, a Stroke Sander must be one of the earliest sanding machines ever made. They are still made today and range from the basic (which requires skill) to the highly sophisticated (which requires technical prowess). Mine ( a Davis Wells) is old, it is basic, it requires skill. Unlike a feed through (wide belt or drum) with my old sander the operator determines the amount of pressure and the location to be sanded. If you remove the guards you have a large drum sander. With some minor additions, you have an edge sander. You can even file your finger nails (but your finger tips will most likely be included in the manicure) or grind a nice groove in your finger. In short, it can hurt you if your stupid but it is a great and productive machine that is usually low cost. My other favorite machine is one that can kill you if your stupid but I’ll talk about that later. Here are a few photos sanding showing my old friend at work.
So as not to make my blogs a bore, I have separated up my report from the show.
When it comes to my favorite things at the show, my last but definitely not least, is Jenny Booth. She has done to an elk shed (not to be confused with a wood shed) what I think no man or woman has ever done before. I asked her if she needed glasses to do that intricate work or did the intricate work cause here to need them afterward? I don’t remember her answer, but I will always remember her work.
A couple of my own personal honorable mentions are Scott Armstrong, the king of kick-butt veneer and one of my all time favorites Thome George. Twig doesn’t even come close to describing his furniture
The Cody High Style has come and gone again, and again it was a very well run show with great pieces designed and built by great artists. Are they artisans or artist? I’m not sure I know the difference. If there is a difference, then at this show the line is steadily and increasingly blurring.
And the winners were…my friends and fellow creators. Jimmy Covert, ever the maker of the finest kicked up specimens of the much revered Mr. Molesworth. With Jimmy’s stuff you will always get your Molesworth. Kevin Showell and his rocking horse made a run for the roses and got them, and they should have. What a beautiful piece! Doug Nordberg takes the antler furniture to another level. Antlers have become ivory or is it porcelain? I know…bone china. Whatever it is it looks great.
I’m sure with a few keystrokes and clicks a person can learn the origin of our Labor Day holiday but at the moment I can’t tell you what it is. Maybe it’s because our family was a little confused about how to observe or celebrate it. You see, more often than not we labored. And that is OK! We recreated on other days but seldom the official one.
As I mentioned in my last blog, we just took a little holiday last weekend to be with friends we love in one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been…Lake Powell. Three glorious days on a houseboat, in a swimming pool that is around 180 miles long and 600-900 feet deep. And the landscaping! Wow! Only God could have done so well. Hey wait a minute…he was the landscaper. It is a seemingly endless source of shapes and lines and texture. But here are a couple of thoughts I want to leave you with:
First: Even though I and my Susie enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, it wasn’t long until I felt the pull of my tools, my craft, my art. I love what I do and when I’m away from it, the longing to get back to it grows as the time passes. In her extraordinary book, West With the Night, Beryl Markham discribes this pull so beautifully after she is away from her flying in Kenya for too long. I can’t give you the exact quote, so I guess you’ll need to read the book. You won’t regret it.
and Second: Given that this is labor day, and an election year, and there is a good deal of unemployment, I’ld like to throw out a quote of my dad’s (he was a general contractor) that at first reading may seem very self serving on his part, but let it sink in and I think you will find it is or is very close to the root of the employer/employee relationship.
Upon returning to the jobsite after running some errands, here’s what he said, “Well, did you guys make me any money today?” Frankly, at the time his question pissed me off. I was 19, and life then was about me, an attitude that if left unchecked, will lead to ignorance and stupidity. But think about it, isn’t that why For Profit business’s hire people? If you do not make money for the company you work for, then why should they employ you? Another way of looking at it is this…If you are able to make money for the company you work for, then why would they let you go? As impersonal as it may be, we are all either assets or liabilities to our employers and that includes the self employed incidently.
I know this may be a bit of an over simplification given the complexities of the job market and employers, but if the thinking of new college graduates looking for work were more along these lines, then there may start to be more hiring.
It has occurred to me that square, cubic, straight, flat and angular design elements are pretty much man’s idea. They seldom occur in nature and thank God for that. A recent trip to Lake Powell was a revelation as to the endlessness of light, shape and texture. An inimitable playground for the imagination. “Hey that looks like a shark’s mouth” or “there’s a pith helmet 20 stories high” or “look a field of dinner rolls” or flowing cake batter or you name it you can probably see it. And ya know what…this visual playground is made up almost entirely of sandstone, sand and water. It is almost completely devoid of flora and fauna. Those are completely different pallets.
Sometimes you need a tough finish and sometimes you don’t. In the case of a dining table I prefer to use a finish that will endure most of the punishment that normal dinners dish out. And yes the pun was intended. I use conversion varnish, which in short, is a post catalyzed film finish that is about as tough as you can get. Little Bobby however, could still damage it with a fork tine.
Sometimes I want a delicate finish which for me is a concoction of tung oil, varnish and wax. This is more of a subsurface finish. Why would I want that you may ask? Because I’m a tactile kind of person and when I look at and then touch a nice piece of wood I want to see, touch and feel the wood and not a plastic film. The down side is it needs a coaster under your drink and a wax from time to time. Delicate requires a bit more maintenance but is well worth it for the beauty and feel factor.
I remember once when doing some operation (other than stocking brick and mortar) with my dad that required a higher level of feel and touch, I was wearing work gloves. My dad said to me ever so gently NOT! “Do you wear your gloves when you hold hands with your girl friend and does she?” “No” I said. His point was and still is, sometimes you need the protection of a glove (or film) but sometimes you don’t and shouldn’t.
Done at last! “A Tavola” is the colaboration of a bronze/ceramic sculptor named Richard Pankratz and a woodworker/sculptor named Dan Rieple. Hey, that’s me! But enough about me.
It has been a great pleasure working with Richard. He is a serious artist that thinks quite a distance out of the box. He and I combined our talents to create what both of us agree is an unusual dinner table. Purple heart, maple and exquisite bronze all sculpted into a soft and sensual piece that you can actually eat off of. ” A Tavola” or “To the Table Let’s Eat”, was a head scratcher but working with a fine, fine artist like Mr. Pankratz was a not only a Fine Idea but a great pleasure.
Here is a little teaser pic. You’ll have to wait for the rest or better yet, join us in Loveland, Colorado for Sculpture in the Park August 11th and 12th.
A few years ago I won several awards at the Cody High Style show for the desk I call “The Least of These”. As I have relived that day and have imagined the possibility of future awards, I can’t help but think how similar it is to the Oscars or the Grammys. I know…it seams quite a stretch to make this comparison, but it isn’t the ceremony or the awards that are the topic of this posting.
Remember how the recipient goes up on the stage and after a little gushing and blushing they begin to go though the list of all the people they want to thank. For me it would go something like this…
“I would like to thank my Publicist, my Bookkeeper, my Photographer, my House keeper, my gardener, my Lover, my Wife and my Friend. Oh ya, did I mention that they are all the same person? That would be my Susie. Thank you very much.” And then I would sit down next to her and get a sweet kiss and a look that says, “I love you.”
I can say without hesitation that I would not be designing or making anything very interesting were it not for her encouragement, and even her brutal honesty. She is simply the best!
Let us never forget what our loved ones do and why they do it.
Finally, in the words of a fictitious shrimp catching chocolate lover, “That’s all I have to say about that.”