Thursday, September 26, 2013

100 Miles an Hour

What a great month!
I've been lucky enough to spend some time outdoors, which is always fantastic.
I was in Marshall, Illinois to help my friend Scott Lindley complete a mural, which
will be the first of many in 2016 (The Walldogs).

While we were there, we had a chance to Meet Bud of Bud's BBQ.  Bud runs a tight ship, and worked hard, but the payoff was some of the most delicious rib-tips and ribs I've ever had.  They were so good, my friend Mike Meyer sat him down on his lap to ask him what he wanted for Christmas.

 We were visited by several newspapers and a couple television crews to discuss the mural.  One crew climbed up on the lift to interview Scott:

The real fun was painting!  It's simply a joy to put a brush and some paint against a wall...

One fellow suggested that the truck couldn't be a ford. When I asked why, he explained that it appeared to have someone driving it...and everybody should know that's either fantasy or it's a chevy.  In fact, it is supposed to be a 49' chevy. I don't know if Sanford or his son are anywhere nearby.

In the coming days, much will be going on. I have 2 sign projects to complete before I head to B.C. to visit Dan and family at the Imagination Corporation, and some work and prep to do on the new shop before then as well! It's good to be busy, and there's so much to learn!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How about a little blacklight?

I definitely have some work to do experimenting with black light color- but I think the real challenge is working out how to take photos that do the color justice.  The greens/oranges/reds look more bright and vivid in person than in photos...I'm sure I'm the one who needs to work out how to capture it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

211 Williams

For the last couple of years, I've helped a local cabinetmaker from time to time.  He was in the business for decades, making custom cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms.
He trained in Austria in his early years and returned to the United States to begin his career turning wood into something special.  He married an Austrian bride and together they've raised several daughters and built a business out of his craftsmanship, dedication to detail and high standards.  I offered to lend a hand after some health issues began to slow him down and interfere with his work.  It was a great experience.  It got me out of my own shop from time to time (too much alone time can be counter-productive) and I learned a great deal about the importance of details.  There is an old saying that you need to measure twice and cut once.  Mike taught me that calculating is just as important as measuring.  Measurements provide the canvas, calculations help tell the story.  While I try to avoid the use of sandpaper in my own work whenever possible, it's a staple of cabinetry and it requires as much skill as learning to use a router.  The people around here know that a Mike Colgan kitchen is special.  I discovered that part of what's always made them special is Mike himself.

From the first time I entered his shop, I liked the building.  I believe we infuse not only our work with some of who we are, but our surroundings pick it up as well.  I found out that Mike helped design and layout the building himself.  I don't normally think about how I would use a space when I enter, but in this case I did.  I thought, "I can imagine meeting with clients in this room...with a table and some chairs".  As I discovered each space I thought about how my work could fit into it.  It would be so easy to convert this shop into a very special sign shop!  And so, for a couple years, I came by to help move the heavy things and sand cabinets and apply veneer to shelving, and apply stain and finishes and sweep sawdust.   Much time was spent around the center bench turning plywood into beautiful cabinets and telling stories.

Other times, we hauled items in and out of the paint booth...knowing that the final coats of clear finish meant we were nearing the end of production on another set of cabinets.

 I also learned about Mike.  He grew up in our farming community and earned his first paychecks as a kid helping a local farmer.  As an adult he spent many years helping save homes and lives as a volunteer firefighter in our community.  High on a shelf, custom bows tell a story about his interest in archery from earlier years. He's traveled, and enjoyed the scenery and people, but loves home the best.  He is not afraid to take 5 steps backward to ensure that what he's done is right.  He cares about being efficient, but never at the cost of quality and accuracy.  He's built many items for his daughters, and the shop has many signs of the adventures he's participated in with his the form of buildings, castles and inventions made from wooden blocks. Crayon pictures have been taped to shelving from the first day I came in.  Mike enjoys history and a good joke.  He likes polka, but he's never forced me to listen to it.  I've learned a great deal from him, and consider it an honor to call him a friend.

Mike says he is retiring..but I don't believe it.  I think he's accepted a promotion to full time grandparent, traveler, and tinkerer.  In a few short days, I'll be taking over the shop on paper, and in a  couple of weeks Haffner's Fantastic Creations will have a new home beyond the garage where I'm writing this.  I won't be making kitchen or bathroom cabinets, but I'll be continuing a tradition in providing the best custom pieces I can offer.  As you might imagine, the front of the building will soon look different.  I'll be bringing my own brand of creativity, invention and style to the building to help reflect what's going on inside.

Call it coincidence, karma, destiny, divine plan or just plain luck....but I live at 211 W. Williams in Wyoming, Illinois.  The new shop is at 211 E. Williams in Wyoming, Illinois.  So as long as you send anything to 211 Williams, It's a fair bet I'll get it.  Either way, I'll be right at home.