To The Best of My abilities.

Gustav Stickley and the

American Craftsman Movement.

 

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Me at Craftsman Farms -Gustav Stickley’s home.

 

As I sit typing this from my own “stickley” Table, Lets discuss his influence on American culture and Furniture. Many people are familiar with the term “Craftsman” it invokes of bungalows and Historic neighborhoods, or maybe “Sears craftsman” But, how exactly did it become a movement in Art, Architecture, Design? One so ingrained in American society to be easily recognizable?

 

Stickleytable

Steel inlay carved into my Stickley table.

 

One man did much of the heavy lifting, borrowing from Morris’ British “Arts and Crafts” , Gustav Sickley designed and built fine furniture made by men, not machines. It was intentionally simple, the beauty was in the honesty of materials and joinery. the complexity in the materials and methods, not in “False adornment”. It was real, solid wood, with quality joinery and functional designs.

 

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My very real Stickley table I found in an alley, that led me to instigate “Arts and Crafts” 

 

Stickley  was also responsible for the publication of the iconic “American Craftsman” magazine which along with discussions on the current methods of wood and steel working, design trends and trade discussions. It also featured heavy political discussions of the day, he published works by Anarchist, Socialists and Libertarians. He saw a worker, as a craftsman who created a value and a beauty to society.

Steel&Stickley

As Stickley was so am I committed to the honesty, and natural beauty of the materials, designs and workmanship. To Truly become an American Craftsman…Life is so short, the craft so long to learn…

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia to fill in the blanks…

Stickley’s new furniture reflected his ideals of simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials. Unadorned, plain surfaces were enlivened by the careful application of colorants so as not to obscure the grain of the wood and mortise and tenon joinery was exposed to emphasize the structural qualities of the works. Hammered metal hardware, in armor-bright polished iron or patinated copper emphasized the handmade qualities of furniture which was fabricated using both handworking techniques and modern woodworking machinery within Stickley’s Eastwood, New York, factory (now a part of Syracuse, New York). Dyed leather, canvas, terry cloth and other upholstery materials complemented the designs.

Those ideals – simplicity, honesty, truth – were reflected in his trademark, which includes the Flemish phrase Als Ik Kan inside a joiner’s compass. The phrase is generally translated ‘to the best of my ability.’

His firm’s work, both nostalgic in its evocation of handicraft and the pre-industrial era and proto-modern in its functional simplicity, was popularly referred to as being in the Mission style, though Stickley despised the term as misleading. In 1903 he changed the name of his company again, to the Craftsman Workshops, and began a concerted effort to market his works – by then including furniture as well as textiles, lighting, and metalwork – as Craftsman products. Ultimately, over 100 retailers across the United States represented the Craftsman Workshops.

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Good Wood Hunting!

Looking for the perfect piece, searching for the perfect piece…

Finding the right wood, whether looking through a dumpster, a wood pile, or some freshly sliced timber — knowing what you are looking at is an art.

Identifying the species, age, growth pattern —  is it Dry? Cured? Kilned? Is it an “Old Growth” tree or Urban Forested?

 

 

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Juniper From Jerome

 

Three main ways I get wood.

ONE

Urban forested: These are yard trees cut down or blown down, which are milled into useable slabs. Usually has one or both live edges.

 

Mesquite-slabs

An Entire Mesquite tree from Sun City

Slabs of Cedar

Himalayan Cedar

Walnut For Barrio Gran Reserva

 

Assorted woods and wood shopping.

TWO

Urban Foraged: Wood found in dumpsters, ally ways, or curbside.

With all the remodels in historic neighborhoods If you are careful you can find some real “Old growth” treasures.

Dumpster score with Miss Bane in Coronado.

In short I use many methods to get the woods I use, but I want them all to be as beautiful and sustainable as possible. Knowing what is useful, what is not, what is firewood, what will not burn.

This entire show was found wood.

THREE

Reclaimed: Found in yards, or online purchased, maybe even from a “barn wood store”

This wood is usually old, either a demolished building, or someone was storing it for quite some time.

Green Goddess house of herbs was all reclaimed wood from a Bar in New River.

 

Old growth Fir “found”

 

Kitchen and bridge in Ghent, NY made of wood found on site.

 

Grand Avenue Pizza Again…

Carson Wheeler, Friend, Pizza maker, and Wood Connoisseur…

Slabs of Cedar

Himalayan Cedar

The premise was simple “A contemporary twist on a picnic table”.  So, we started with two giant slabs of Himalayan Cedar…

Cedar Close up

At 2 1/2 inches thick, this was a massive chunk of wood.

Then I cut one slab in half to make the benches, leaving the second slab intact for the top…

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Next comes the all too familiar X frames with a steel  30-degree take on an old classic.

Pizza Maker

We have a picnic Table

And Carson was happy… The End.

 

 

 

My Story part 1

This week I will start off with something new, something difficult. I will tell my story. In pieces. Kinda like Tarantino it a bit.

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Photo by Niba Delcastillo

Without them I would not be doing what I do today, Building beautiful, sustainable furniture.

Phoenix Public Market

Lets start at the Phoenix Public Market where I learned the importance of sustainability while helping set up “The Community Exchange Table”.  In between checking in/out the produce of local gardeners, small farmers, urban foragers etc., we dug into Permaculture, Sustainability and Community at its very core, and explored how everything we did impacted our environment. Both good and bad.

Bikenatthemarket

Riding up to the market with freshly foraged prickly Pears.

 

Coronado Neighborhood

The burgeoning Coronado neighborhood as community was growing, so were connections, opportunity, and idea. I had stumbled on this gem of a neighborhood while registering people to vote in 2004, only to return in late ’07 and buy a house.  A beautiful neighborhood just outside downtown Phoenix proper, where neighbors are friends and community is strong. With lots of new homes being remodeled I would bike through the alleyways foraging for wood and steel, I would “dumpster dive” and find beautiful hard woods. I even found the Stickley Table that is now in my own living room.

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The Hive.

While volunteering on an art installation at the Shemer Art Center, I connected with a wonderful man I call “yoda”.  Yoda and Julia had an amazing art space on 16th street or as we call it “Calle 16”.  In early 2013 Yoda invited me for a sort of residency where I would tend a Cactus nursery and build some things out of my dumpster scores.  It was a 20’x30′ space that had formerly been the parking lot: no roof, no shade, just an endless supply of time and creativity.  This would be know as “My Chaos” or officially as Zoo Micro Nursery.  Which is where my story begins. 2013 The Hive

Welcome

Welcome To My Chaos