Tuesday, 21 July 2009

somewhere over the rainbow

Sat, as ever, on a chair. At me red desk.

In front of me is a mug of brandy coffee, an ashtray, inhaler, little liqueur cup, two abalone hearts inside. In front of that lay eight peices of shell, with a heart drawn onto tracing paper, glued onto flattenned surface. A few files.

Its been a heady time of late, a couple of trips to london in a couple of weeks, lots of company, old friends and new.
I've met some really beautiful, unique people, all through my oldest friend. He is a lucky chap to have such a supportive (in their own way) posse. Me and he met when I was eight, he moved from tasmania in 1989, into england, falmouth, 21 marlborough road. I lived at 69 marlborough road, cornwall, tr11 3ln. Love him to bits.

Whilst in london, and here at base HQ, for quite some time, I've been drinking an awful lot. It never really seems like an awful lot until the next day, also I work throughout the day aswell as drink. Somedays I can't work, but most days I can and will and do. Its the daftest, softest kind of question I ask myself, when I ponder whether its helped the depressions I've always had, or exacerbated them.

In honesty, before the first drink, when I've tidied, had my fill of tea, brekkied, showered, whatever, I know the answer. Without the booze, recently, I would have gone down into the pits of insanity. I'm teetering, some days are given to the madness, other days I have enough fight in me to beat them.

I despise this culture we live in. Recommended daily guidelines. Warnings everywhere. Its almost as if humans have not been on this planet, continuously flourishing, for the past few hundred thousand eons. Let's all moderate, behave, not complain. The most pathetic, disappointing era is passing before our eyes.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

a patch of sunlight and maple shavings

Hello again, as the title suggests, I am sat in a patch of sunlight, amongst maple curls and splinters.

A new neck has begun. The other three aren't quite finished, but for the sake of their existence and my sanity, I'm leaving them stew for a month or so. The trio started off together, two guitars and one bass neck, the attatching bodies have been bumbled over, about 80% of the heart and soul of a guitar is in the neck and head, 9% in the bridge, and the remaining 11% is dished out accordingly.

This new neck, mostly carved now, is a continuation and departure.
Continuing with the theme and layout scheme, departing of the walnut burr, which I've used now on 3 leckies and 1 acoustic.

The burr of any wood; walnut, oak, maple, et al, comes from the tree's trunk.
How it is derived is a master stroke. Unlike other veneers, where the wood is sawn along the grain, the trunk is turned, and then layers are "peeled" off (with saws). A bit like a log rotisserie. The result is a warped, usually small leaf of veneer. With all the knots and swirls and eyes and faces. I will hopefully never calculate how long I spend simply looking at a peice of burr.

This new neck, flamey mapled and as feline as a cat called cathryn in a catsuit, will have oak burr on the fretboard and headstock, plus the usual trimmings (roughly 35 separate inlays, hardwood purfling) .

Sadly, this excites me more than my reserved character can convey. I had a choice between the oak or this very pretty quilted veneer(can't remember what wood). Earlier this week I felt like a walk. So I walked, 6 hrs and ten miles in a straight line north, through hedgerows, under fences, over railway lines, fell down a bank into brambles and nettles, got chased by cows, jumped over a fence into a stream, lost my bearings, carried on till my legs could carry me no more. Woke up in a nook in an oak tree.

Choice of veneer made, I took the train home. No choice there, my legs felt like they had hurt feelings. Tired, hungry, cold, me head felt like it had been nourished and swathed. The next jaunt takes me to who knows where.

Monday, 20 April 2009

life on other planets

Its been a little while, a week on twitter with its dramas, ups, downs and sideways can feel like a longer amount of time than a week. Recently I've had to confront those little twats and detractors in my head, the ones that have been mocking my performances at work, even when I've only had a couple of hours on twitter in a day, and have completed a few tasks that take a lot of concentration.....still those monotoned 'wipes in the matter drone on....."you could have done this..." . . ."if you do this job today, it will allow you to do that job tomorrow"...."so on and so forth"

I'm not grumbling in any spectacular fashion, from one angle or another I'm not even grumbling in the slightest, I love my twitter friends, they are, simply put, some of the nicest, cleverest, funniest and quirky people I've met in years.

Again this isn't disdain. I love my job. The pay is non existent, the hours very long, the work fiddly and achesome on the eyes, a mountain of pre thought and a molehill of effort, one neck will have about twenty different processes, and altogether about 60 components eventually becoming the coherent one neck. That is a lot of work, and as I'm discovering there is a specific order for each of these tasks and components.

Component 1.a.ii. Yeah right! Shoot me if I ever get into that nonsense.....no one should know.....no one should want to know...

The point is, I've become a half decent twitterer, modest numbers, I like it that way. For a while, my work has been really getting in the way of twittering. Bloody work! How dare it. I've been rushing through certain jobs to tweet, some days have gone, sometimes just reading and looking to see who's out there and what they've got to say. This does not get the purfling moulded, shell cut, hearts inlayed or naff all else done. I don't resent the time talking to tweeps, that is what its all about and why I do it.

It ain't the easiest life I could have chosen, most of the time I haven't got a clue. I refuse to read the books on what I do. So that means I have to figure out how it can be done, with what I have, and what I can use. I feel "busy" at the moment, and want to make the most of that, get some momentum going. Sorry for waffling, I can't be arsed to change things or clarify.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

home is where the art is

So much to do, so much to say. At time of writing I am sat in my comfy chair, in front of a lit fire, that is the swivel chair with arms. Ikea, found outside down the road. Upholstered by moi (pretentious french designer), sat on for many an hour, and many more will follow.

Paul, what's all this about? You bought me here to say that? You're talking about a chair for goodness sake.
Bear with me, its not just bad furniture I want to talk about, its my immediate surroundings, my bedroom/kitchen/livingroom/studio/workshop. In other words my home/bedsit/castle. We all have them, its nothing to be ashamed of.

I live in a 4×5m room, with a little kitchenette in an alcove. Its in a usual hovey terraced road, a lovely road, a road where you drop a penny and find a pound. Obviously its a building like yours and countless others I've lived in. I have a couple of desks that I alternately use, a big bunch of records, a crappy stereo and a bed. Best of all I have a beautiful fireplace and sash windows. Sashes are expensive. It costs me money just to have sash windows, but they're worth it.

I spend far too much time here in isolation, but having an environment that suits you is hard to find, and your own company hour after hour is at times lonesome and tedious. When I moved out of the flat I shared with my partner, hannah, I left behind a well decorated comfy warm domestic paradise. It was safe and far cheaper than what I have now, but living in what some consider reduced circumstances enables me to just create. That is all I wanna do. Make stuff, all guitar shaped and otherwise. Stuff, well built and built by me.

In my home I have comfy chair, and not so comfy chair, but the latter can go up a lot and its spinning action is great. I only mention this not to make you feel bad for my lack of sofa, but to paint a picture more of the person who tweets shite and who you chat with. Lack of sofa and creature comforts like tv are all deliberate. I may be right I may be wrong, but I'm perfectly willing to say that I like living in what I feel is an antiquated life. It is simple. Modern life now and modern life then is not so simple. For now ta ta x

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

to infinity, but 1st get some groceries.

Hello, its a continuation really and finding that my feet are down there. Before delving in to the nitty grittola I am hoping I will verge and get in a trailblazing paragraph or two. Alas this is not to be, so I widen target from barndoor to barn.
The jump from 140 characters to as many as you want is almost slightly more restrictive, as a bad tweet can be deleted or forgotten about as it disappears down the timeline, a blog I am guessing should go a little deeper, and a miss with so much ammunition is not impossible. So many words! All you have to do is choose the right ones and place them correct order.
Oh, content, yeah content. I forgot about that. Is it better to restrict yourself to what you do? The people you hold the dearest? The circumstances you are in and what got you there? We all have a past, so maybe your history? These are stumbling blocks for me so I will not choose.
I want to talk about what I do, so I will, and again the gaps will be filled by either you or me somewhere down the line. I touched on the standards of craftsmen last time, and its a subject worth talking about, as it has got me where I am.(?)
I work with handtools only. No machines at all, this started towards the end of carpentry career, when I started getting more private work, and in peoples homes the noise and dust created by power tools is very intrusive, so for the sake of my clients atmosphere and ambience, I left the corded abominations at home.
A bag of tools can be very versatile, and in any case a woodsmith who can't do it by hand is to me a skilled labourer. A craftmen needs a few essentials, decent chisels, a nice mallett sharp saw but most of all it is about cutting or planing to a marked line. If you can mark a line and cut to it then it is only the accuracy of the line that will determine the fit and ultimately the finish.
I really don't want to blab on about the standards of carpenters, or joiners, there are still some of the oldschool and some amazingly gifted people out there are creating stunning peices.
What I do is now different and especially these last eight or nine months have been, well, new. In the past when I was designing and making furniture I taught myself mainly while referencing the archives of books published on the subject, there are hundreds, my brother was also doing similiar work, so the path was well beaten. If I stumbled or hit a block, I reached for a book or called phillip up.
This probably sounds as naff as, but I kinda see what I want to make in my head, and once the idea is crystalline I then have to work out how it could be done. I will not compromise when the result is determined by time. I will very happily spend 20 to 25 hours filing the abalone down to the components of a palo on a headstock, and then a spend a few hours each day inlaying them. Few people do this these days as you have laser cutters driven by motors piloted by a computer. The results are flawless and quick. And incredibly soulless. entirely soulless infact. im not saying that my work is it, or the sh*t, or anything, i choose the hardroad because it really aint about churning them out, its about the journey and in the end i have an object that has been poured over. every detail and part is as important as the next. they are to me a work of art.
hence the title i give myself is artisan, i think that means you're an artist but you work a bit more and drink a bit more.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Hello is surely the best way to start off. I will disclaim the following and let you know I am aiming for barndoor.
Its been an odd day, in a kind of odd way. Have been on some fab painkillers that have an unfortunately giddy side effect, so there will be gaps, casms even where I am relying on you to fill, and failing a good filling, just have a sympathy or two .
So there it begins, twas a wondrous sunny morn, and I have recently been letting myself sit in the sun in my gaff, without feeling pressured to work. It is a cats life for me in the sun, and having a nap in the afternoon to me is living la vida.
Work has had its moments mind, and when the grindstone can take no more of my sizable hooter the results before me are staring to really get somewhere, they aren't just guitars, well they are, whaaa? I spend so long on them that conversations and pet names have long been part of my day, and most days they are what I awake to, have dinner with and say goodnight to. It might sound brushlike and daft, but its the standard of a bygone era that i aspire to.
Historically an eyeblink ago men would spend many years as an apprentice, they would hone their craft, and created wonders that when examined made you think how in gods balls did they do that? I'm not talking only of faberge cream eggs but buildings all around us. Huge projects would commonly have lasted a mans working life, and in many cases generations of the same family would work on the same building, like a cathedral you know what I mean. All without electricity, steam engines and only completed through herioc engineering and meticulous attention to detail. Wonders!
Well that was not what I thought writing a blog entry would be like, and I can't bring myself to apologise any more than I haven't already.

Saturday, 21 March 2009