Saturday, December 22, 2012

The writing on the wall; today's project

Words above the bed has been on the honey-do list for a while. Checked that one off the list today! I thought about ordering vinyl but wanted a more casual look.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crown journal

192 pages, handmade paper, light tan leather with stencil art on the cover. $20.
3.25" x 5.75"

Journals on hand for sale

Rich dark brown leather makes the "Sumter" journal durable and useable. 192 pages; handmade paper. $30
7.25" x 4.25"

Another handbound journal

5.75" x 3.5" with 192 pages, handmade paper and rich, dark brown leather. Unique "buttonhole" spine design. These journals lay nice and flat when opened. $25.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When you think of Italy, you might think of large places like the Roman Colosseum, the leaning tower of Pisa, and San Marco Plaza in Venice. But for the past month, as I spent time with the people of Italy traveling from Rome north through Tuscany and on to the French border near Bobbio Pellice, I was reminded again how small space is in Italy. The farms are small, most homes are small, some apartments are downright tiny, and of course most cars are small because the parking places are always too small and far between.

In the middle of my trip, near Florence, we visited some friends who live in the most tiny homes. They are part of a mobile ministry, using about 85 "containers" for living quarters, offices, the kitchen, laundry, and even showers and restrooms. They're used to tiny spaces and being efficient in every way. (Amazing the delicious meals we enjoyed around huge outdoor tables!)
One of the team members, a Crocodile Dundee look-alike from France, made a great impression on me with a tiny house he built from trash. Dominic collected wood scraps from wood pallets and discarded windows to build an amazingly creative and beautiful cabin.  The most impressive part of his story is that he not only built once, but that he disassembles and rebuilds it every time the team moves to a different city. (The other container "homes" are transported by truck intact.)
The front of the cabin.

The cabin is heated with wood via this nice heat/cook stove.

 Handmade furniture throughout. Notice the use of bark-on logs for the legs of the bed.
 The cabin includes cubbies for artsy but useful objects.

 Off-the-grid lighting.

 The terrace with handmade dining furniture

The water supply.

I love the three little windows set high in the back side of the cabin.

Amazing use of boards that are too short and too small to create a sufficient structural support.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Ridiculous Optimist

This from my great-grandmother Winkler's poetry book © 1907:

The Ridiculous Optimist

There was once a man who smiled

…Because the day was bright,

…Because he slept at night,

…Because God gave him sight

To gaze upon his child;

…Because his little one,

…Could leap and laugh and run;

…Because the distant sun

Smiled on the earth he smiled.
He smiled because the sky

…Was high above his head,

…Because the rose was red,

…Because the past was dead!

He never wondered why

…The Lord had blundered so

…That all things have to go

…The wrong way, here below

The over-arching sky.
He toiled, and still was glad

…Because the air was free,

…Because he loved, and she

…That claimed his love and he

Shared all the joys they had!

…Because the grasses grew,

…Because the sweet winds blew,

…Because that he could hew

And hammer, he was glad.
Because he lived he smiled,

…And did not look ahead

…With bitterness or dread,

…But nightly sought his bed

As calmly as a child.
And people called him mad

…For being always glad
With such things as he had,

And shook their heads and smiled.
~ Samuel Ellsworth Kiser

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Organ transplant

The Organ Transplant

I found an organ donor before Christmas and last weekend we completed the transplant. This particular organ had been stored in a warehouse for many years, but was still in amazingly fine condition despite lack of refrigeration or heating. It was made in 1879 according to the label in side and the case was hand carved from cedar wood. The only other Smith American pump organ like this one I can find online is in a museum in Australia.

This organ was left behind in a storage building and the new owner, as he was cleaning up the shop and “organizing” just wanted it out of the way. Some friends helped with the loading and unloading process and the man who owned it actually made the delivery. We only lost a small piece of trim along the way and he stopped and picked it up.

Now you might wonder, as did my wife, why on earth I would volunteer to be the recipient of this instrument, allow me to explain. A few months ago as I drove down Highway 16, I saw what appeared to be a piano in a pile of trash put out for collection in the Fall Cleanup our city conducts each year. I turned around to see what it could be and found part of a piano (the hammers) and an ancient Epworth pump organ in deplorable condition. My son, Jonatan and I borrowed a pickup and took it home to my studio. Sadly, the organs pedals were missing so I couldn’t pump it, but reaching underneath, I pumped the bellows by hand. It sang for me, a deep melancholy melody as if glad to voice its sorrow of years of neglect. But without pedals, I really couldn’t play it properly. Something in me just wanted let it sing!

So I searched the internet and found a pump organ museum just sixty miles from Mom’s house. I contacted him and he said he might have some pedals I could use. But when he saw the photos, he suggested it was beyond repair. He offered to give me one so the next time I went to Kansas, I made a trip with my brother to Sharon Springs and visited one of the few pump organ museums in the world. After we completed the tour, we went over to his shop and he showed me an old pump organ that had been painted white and all the stop knobs were removed. It did seem to play fairly well, though the bellows leaked some air. We took it to Mom’s house and hauled it to the basement. Much scrubbing revealed a slightly lighter ivory paint, cracked and yellowed from years and painting over an oiled finish wood. It sounded beautiful, in its airy, clunky way. But it was too far from home and the van too small, so it stayed 643 miles away.

I cleaned out my studio, moved all the book making leather and paper into it and set up work benches and lighting. Then I got the call from the organ donor and we completed the transplant last Sunday afternoon. Certain members of my family found little amusement or joy in my new acquisition. In fact, there was a bit of a row after the organ was implanted safely in the studio. My participation in the disturbance fell sadly short of the expectations of the other familymembers and in my joy I accidentally whistled the as I walked away, a very bad idea in hindsight.

As I scrubbed layers of years off my “new” organ, as it sat under the sunny window, beautiful hand painted detailing began to shine through. Close inspection of the stops revealed graceful hand-lettering and I found more hidden featuresthan I knew could exist on an organ. But the best part is that this baby can sing! What amazes me most is that something made 133 years ago can still perform its intended function with finesse. With fourteen stops, strong, tight bellows, and efficient pedals, it lifts the rafters with its voice. I wonder what the neighbors think!

I’ll have to reorganize the book binding area again, but what a contribution the new addition makes to the room! Not only do my outlets for creativity fight for space, they fight each other for the hours of my day. They devour my life with their sweet gnashing teeth and I enjoy every minute of it.