About a year ago I bought a book, Handmade Music Factory by Mike Orr, which gave me the confidence to try my hand at making my own string instruments. I already have a guitar. I also have a violin, accordion, ukulele and several other instruments as well – all content for future posts. Don’t let this mislead you. I am a terrible musician – just ask my wife. I would love to be better, and I could certainly spend less time doodling and more time practicing. However, at this point in my life I know that just ain’t going to happen. But it doesn’t stop me from being passionate about music and specifically the aesthetics of music production. Traditional folk instruments like a cigar box guitars (CBG) or diddly bows or a washtub bass are attractive to me not just because they are hipster-cool, but from a very amateur woodworker and musician point of view they are fairly simple to make. This one took about 6 hours once I had collected to proper tools and materials.
How does my CBG sound? If you ask me to play it, it sounds a lot like my regular guitar – terrible! I plan on making more guitars, cigar box or otherwise, and honestly hope that I get better at their construction, but that is almost secondary. As with many things, the aesthetics are almost more important for me. I love the way my cigar box guitar – that I made – looks hanging on my wall.
I included two versions of the drawing this week – one completed in my typical image making style, and one as snapshot of a byproduct of that process. I did this because I though that each was pretty cool, and this blog is about forcing myself to experiment in ways I cannot do on a commissioned piece. I posted a picture of the original drawing and guitar on my instagram (@stevehaske) if you want to see that. I draw the item with a black pen on paper – this time I went larger than usual on an 18×24″ drawing pad. Then I scan the drawing into the computer. I could photograph it, but I like the better control and resolution the scanner provides for flat objects. The only problem is that my scanner is made for 8.5×11″ paper, so I have to scan it in many times and then piece it back together in photoshop. When doing this, I have often marveled at the accidental cubism that is created when overlapping all those misplaced layers. This time I dwelled on it. I emphasized a few things as I imagined Braque might do, but pretty much left it how the scanner made it.
Moving from the cliche part of sunny Southern California to Virginia meant that we had to deal with seasons. And it turns out that we moved during a doozy of a winter. With record cold spells and snow dumps, I needed a coat. People from places with real winters might think that not having a thick coat is ridiculous. I say that living in places with below zero weather is ridiculous. One thing is for sure: winter lasting this long is ridiculous.
This coat was purchased at the local Good Will, so I can only imagine the history it might contain. Perhaps it was stitched together in a far off land of mystery and intrigue. Perhaps purchased at Smith and Sons’ Men’s Shop in 1967 by Karl Washington, and worn everyday that winter to his bearings fitting job in Dayton, Ohio. Or maybe it was lost in the back of James Celeritas’ closet and only found after his funeral. Or last month Bill Nueston decided he needed a change of pace, gave away everything, and moved to Southern California.
See the coat in person here – http://steveresteve.tumblr.com/
I don’t want to give the impression that I have too many toys from my childhood cluttering up our classy home decor. They do clutter up boxes in the back of the closet though. I had to hide them when the boys got old enough to notice them and harbor an intense, evil desire to utterly destroy them. Jetfire here is one of the few surviving Transformers. I have lost most of his accessories and he has some pealing stickers and yellow, cracked plastic. The patina of a well used toy make it more valuable than any ebay collector will ever know. I say this fully seeing the contradiction as I wrap them in protective plastic and hide them in carefully labeled boxes in storage.
I have been feeling the pressure of that all-present abstraction we are all subject to – time. The days slide by in a slippery goo.
I have long romanticized about being able to live without sleep. How fantastic would it be to be able to be productive 24 hours a day? Or be unproductive – It would be up to you! Then again, I would probably still fill that time with anxiety and a general sense of unfulfillment.
This big clock not only services as timekeeper, but also as a very effective wall filler. At 3 feet across it can be seen from many a vantage point without any excuses for not knowing what time it is: time to get off your ass and make it happen.
Come sail away. Come sail away with me … once I put the sails on.
On my second anniversary with my first wife, we celebrated with some gift giving. (It will be 13 WONDERFUL years this year, and gift giving isn’t as common any more … because I’m a jerk.) She gave me a model ship kit that I had been jonesing for … for a while. I don’t remember what I gave her. Diamonds? Anyway, I was really excited about getting to work right away on this 3 foot long, 3 foot high, detail-ridden beauty. And I did for for many weeks during grad school. I listened to books on tape – yes, tape – and carefully filed and glued and bent small delicate pieces of wood and metal. Then I got busy with other things and it lingered, sometimes for years. It always got picked up again when I had the space and time. I felt so amazed at the beauty of the wood grain and classic design every time I finished a major portion, like planking the hull or assembling the cannons.
Then we had kids.
Baby proofing the house meant putting up high or even away things like files and knives and large breakable boats. Once The San Mateo was put away it was out of itinerary as well. For about 6 years.
Now we are finally in a space that is roomy enough to have the boat and necessary tools out, and the boys are old enough to respect my space, I just might make some meaningful progress. Sail on.
ZAP! BLEEM! POW! ZAPHOOEY!
My wife and I started collecting piggy banks many years ago for the typical reasons, namely save money for some romantic trip to an exotic place like Italy. The caveat for our collection was that they had to be unique and WITHOUT removable plugs in the bottom. This is that they would be interesting shelf items to attract the eye, but not the hands in tight times. The plan has always been to cash out someday. Due to the closed off nature of the pigs, it would be dramatic. A “Flying Pig Party”, I always called it. I even have a Christopher Guest style documentary all worked out in my head.
However, that special day has not come . . . yet.
This happy porker is actually from one of those far off places – a Taiwanese night market. I bought it there during a business trip and stuffed him home in my carry-on. He is hand-carved and, unfortunately, does have a removable plug in the bottom. Because of this and his larger size, he mainly holds pennies and nickels. That might also be because the quarters were too easily removed when laundry day came. Who’s to say?
This drawing was done with an extremely unexotic tool – a ball point bic pen.