Sunday, August 28, 2011

Conspire to Inspire - Sharing Inspiration

As I anxiously await the closing date on our new home here in Colorado…and the subsequent delivery of my tools, I’ve found myself combing through several folders, on my hard drive, filled with images I’ve copied and stowed away under the guise of inspiration.  Tonight, as I was looking through a few old folders that I hadn’t dug into in quite a while it occurred to me to pull together a sample of what inspires me and share it here with my online friends.
I’ve written before about some of the woodworkers who inspire me; my Dad, Norm Abram, Marc, Tommy, Steve, Neil, Doug, etc…  It’s not always woodworkers themselves that inspire me though.  Over the past several years I’ve really enjoyed reading about and exploring nature, other cultures, architecture, design, sculpture, art and even sustainability and re-use of materials.  All of these things have contributed to the drawings and ideas that now populate my sketchbook.
You all know how much I love to load up my posts with pictures, right?  Well buckle up and hang on for a little ride down inspiration lane.  I’d also like to hear about what inspires you in your woodworking.  And for my friends who read the blog and aren’t woodworkers…I’d love to hear what inspires you in your craft as well.  I know that some of you reading out there are writers, actors, painters, photographers, knitters and who knows what else.  If there’s anything I’ve learned over these past years of exploration, it’s that inspiration can strike from anywhere.  Your passion just might fuel the next drawing in my sketchbook…but only if you share it.  J  Here are a few of mine.
Here are some of my favorite pictures I’ve collected of buildings in my travels online.  I really like clean lines and its buildings like these that have inspired some of my ideas for boxes and art pieces.

Here’s a piece that is designed with the inspiration of the building in which the original resides.  This is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hillside Table Lamp that was designed for the Taliesin Estate.  I’ve located a set of plans online to build this lamp and would, very much, like to attempt it soon.

Those of you who know me well know that I’m a big fan of mid-century modern design.  There’s just something about the lines and the choice of materials, especially in Danish modern design.

I also like how the 50’s and 60’s produced pieces that were creative interpretations of common things like planters or sideboards.

Finally, we couldn’t discuss my love for mid-century design without revealing my holy grail of Danish modern design, Poul Jensen’s Z Chairs.  They are a regularly searched for item on e-bay as I hope to bring a pair into our home sometime in the near future…preferably without having to dip into Danger Boy’s college fund!

I really enjoy much of the art from the 30’s though the 70’s.  Some of the artists that move me are Piet Mondrian and Josef and Anni Albers.
While the colors and design were hijacked for a few years there in the 80’s (sneakers, cars, hats, bags, etc…) I’m still very drawn to Mondrian’s original designs.

His influence on the De Stijl movement inspired one of my favorite furniture designers, Gerrit Rietveld, to modify the design and color of his now iconic Red Blue chair.

I even built my own interpretation of a Mondrian design a couple years ago.

Josef Albers embarked on a journey of several decades of experimentation in color and form.  These are two of my favorites from his Homage to the Square series of paintings.

I don’t have anywhere near the funds to purchase an original Albers piece from the Homage series, so I’ve done the next best thing…framed pages from old art auction catalogs so that I can enjoy the spirit of the pieces while being reminded of just how expensive an original work is!

This picture was taken at our old home back in Minnesota.  We’ll be strategizing on a new place of prominence to display these pages here at the new house once we move in.
Josef also collaborated on many projects with his wife, Anni, a renowned graphic and textile designer in her own right.  Together they designed both paintings and textile patterns that are still inspiring many artists today.  Here are a couple of Anni’s designs that stand out for me most.

Much like the blending of inspiration and creative ideas represented by the likes of Mondrian, Rietveld and the Albers, I always find it interesting to see examples of woodworkers who blend art and sculpture into their designs.  I am remiss in having logged the name of this designer, but I really enjoy what they did with this piece.

While I don’t recall the name of the artist I do remember that both the bench and the artwork are made from salvaged materials.  While I’m not as passionate as some about using only repurposed material, I do have an appreciation for the efforts and for the hidden beauty brought out in something that would otherwise have been discarded and forgotten.  Here are a couple more pieces built on that same premise.  Very creative design and problem solving skills shown here!

You may be picking up on a theme here.  Modern, sharp lines and unusual configurations really seem to draw me in.  Here are a few examples of wall designs that I could really see myself trying to mimic or interpret in my own way in our own home.

I’ve attempted a few designs in one of our previous houses, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Sometimes though, the wacky and chaotic will grab hold of me.  There are still a lot of box structures and sharp details in this design, but I could really see myself living in a space like this.

I’ve also collected pictures that family and friends have posted of winter scenes.  While I do appreciate all the colors of spring and autumn and the vibrancy and sharpness of summer, there is just something about fresh, clean snowfall on trees and solitary tracks of footprints in the snow of winter.

Maybe I’m a minimalist…just don’t look in any of our junk drawers or file cabinets!
While there are many more categories in these electronic folders of clippings I’ve rambled on long enough and am keeping you from expressing your own inspirations.  I will beg you to indulge me for one more moment though.  It would be a crime to not mention one of the persons who inspires me most…my favorite artist, woodworker and fellow collaborator in all things cool and fun…my #1 son, Danger Boy.
Now go look around and be inspired!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Shop Fever

After looking at over 60 houses in the last month and a half, we finally made an offer on a place last week, here in Colorado.  After setting up shop in the garage at the last three houses we’ve owned, I’m heading down into the basement.   The new place has an 820 sq ft, walk-out that will make for a great workshop area. 
Here are a few shots of the space.  Pardon the current owner’s things.  Can you believe they use all this space for storage?!  Sheesh! 

I'll need to put up a wall and door to cordon off the laundry and house mechanicals, but the layout is great.  The laundry, furnace and hot water heater are all contained in the same area in one corner of the basement, so I won’t be giving up any of the open floor space.

There are even bathroom rough-ins along the same wall in another corner.  If we ever decide to put a bathroom in down there, I’ll still have a good sized open area for the workshop…and I might never come out of the basement.   All in all, I'll be able to keep a nice long run of space that should give ample work area with lots of natural light.  There are three windows and a sliding glass door that leads out to a patio that’s covered by the deck above.  I’m going to like having the option of wheeling the planer out onto that patio space when I really need to make a mess!

We should get the inspection report today.  There are a few things that need some attention, but our inspector said that we’ve picked a great house…very solid with no major issues and no structural, moisture or foundation concerns. 
We really like the style of the house…a bit of a funky, retro-mod kinda feel, so we’re excited to get a good report and get the process moving along.

I’m hoping to get the Second Wind Workshop up and running fairly quickly.  There are quite a few projects that will need to be done to make the space really work well, and I suppose there might be a list of other house projects already in the works too. 
One of the looming projects is the rescue of some really great, heavy beams that run along the vaulted ceiling ridges.  One of the previous owners painted these massive wooden beauties, so I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with the best paint removal solution.  Anyone with any experience or brilliant ideas…please share!  My initial though is a lot of belt sanding, and that would be MESSY…and dangerous (the beam that runs along the living/dining room is quite high.)

I’m looking forward to reporting back with updates and hopefully some woodworking projects in the works soon.  I’ve got a couple more bent lamination ideas I’d like to jump into, and I’m itching to get a little musical too.
It’s going to feel good to finally get into our own place again.  Danger Boy is bouncing off the walls in our two bedroom apartment.  Somebody get this kid a yard!  One of the wisest things we did during the move is to bring the Legos.  Too bad we couldn’t set up a mini table saw and band saw in the apartment.  I guess Legos don’t leave as much dust behind.