Monday, March 30, 2009

My first show in a year and half!!

I had my first show last weekend in Madison at the Lake Home and Cabin show.  A 3 day affair of mingling with the Cheeseheads.  One definitely can tell you are in WI vs MN at these shows....the beer and brats come out at around 10:45 am vs in Mpls the Norwegians wait til closer to happy hour...say 3:30pm or so for the beer.

Anyway, it was a good show.  At least in terms of making some new contacts, providing some quotes and meeting new people that some day will become customers.  I sold a very, very cool framed art print that I did just last week, and that along with 4-5 of my little art boxes paid for the show, expenses and travel.  So it was a good weekend!
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This coming weekend is the Mpls Lake Home and Cabin at the Convention Ctr.  I am looking forward to that too!  I have a a large 20 foot booth, and lots of cool stuff to show off!  The best contact I made last weekend was the Director/Owner of The Longbranch Gallery in Mineral Point, WI.  

A very very cool Elegant Rustic gallery in a very cool town.  If you have never been to Mineral Point, WI...take a weekend and stay in a B&B down the
re and see the town and the galleries and cool shops. Its worth the trip!

Sandy wants a whole collection of my stuff for the gallery, and is even talking about one of their Summer Soiree's being a feature and introduction of me and my work!!  That would be fun!

Other than a couple of nights in the Concrete Bunker...also known as the local Motel 6, it was a nice and successful trip.  I look forward to seeing some of you in Mpls this weekend!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Barn hunting

One of the better results from my moments of fame from the  WCCO TV segment was a handful of calls I got from people offering me barns and salvaged wood.  It is a great thing that people go out of their way to recognize my efforts to try and save what I can from these old buildings and give them new life.

Yesterday, my co-partner in crime when it comes to barn dis-mantling, Mike Cournoyer and I took a road trip up to Holdingforg, MN (near St Cloud) to  look at what we thought was going to be a very unique barn filled with 100 year old White Oak infrastructure and cedar barn siding.  I am usually reluctant to venture too far afield for barns as they are a lot of work, a lot of hauling, and they usually take a few days.  But in this instance "Randy" was so generous with his offer of the barn AND he offered to haul all the wood from his place to mine on a flatbed truck!

Well, to keep this story short and readable...basically after a 4 hour drive from the farm to pickup Mike and drive up to look at the barn...we drove in the driveway and were immediately disappointed.   It has been interesting over the years for me to realize what is useful, what is interesting, what is historic, and what I will actually use.  As opposed to just an old barn.

In fact, this year marked a transition of sorts.  Some of the first oak beams I hauled to the farm 8 years ago in a new-life bundle of excitement, I am now cutting up for firewood because I stored them under a tarp and they are now rotten.  So what started out as a pile of historic salvaged oak timbers from my first barn...has digressed to a semi-soft pile of firewood for my woodshop. Even in its last gasp, the barn is providing value to me, although not how I had envisioned it!

Well this barn we basically decided to walk away from.  Although free for the taking, this was just a recon-trip and I would have to plan on at least a 3 day weekend to come do demolition.  Why would I pass this up, you ask?  Well based on experience, the answer is:
1)  the visable side wall boards are less than 4' and not usable for tables, my biggest item
2) all of the supposed "enormous" white oak barn beams turned out to be pine, most of
     which were filled with powder post beetle holes and many beginning to soften due to rot
3) the floor boards were mostly bent and swaying from weight and water rot

So all in all, it was a generous offer; and there is a lot of "craft" wood there for someone, and I hope someone can find a use for it...but it does not quite pass muster for another trip and borrowed and cajoled labor to help me try to salvage a marginal pile of lumber.

The second stop we made, near Kimball, MN was from another call I got from a retired guy that used to salvage commercial and residential buildings for a career, and now was working at taking down a small farmstead on the edge of town in Kimball.  

This turned out to be a much more  worthwhile stop.  Stopping and seeing a yard filled with piles of wood scattered randomly around, I began to pick through the work he was doing, and a few jewels began to emerge.   A small pile of perhaps 12 boards he had covered from the rain and snow turned out to be White Oak planks from 12" to 15" wide and nealy 14 feet long.  These boards were used as flooring in the second story of the farm house he said was built in the 1890's.  Very hard to find old wood, and will make a few absolutely stunning tables!
In addition, there is a few piles of roofing and exterior sheeting boards that are White Pine, but some are as wide as 16" - 20"!!  Very hard to find, and very useful as single planked coffee table tops, or other wide plank table tops.  These boards will plane and sand beautifully, and provide a very unique look because one can simply not find lumber this wide anywhere anymore!  I look forward to making a return trip and loading up on lumber that meets my needs perfectly!  I'll try to get making a piece from one of these wide planks and tie it back to this story so you can see the trip was worthwhile afterall!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another moment of front page fame

I thought I would get back in to the swing of sharing life on the farm, and little about life day to day at The Granary WoodShops.   I of course don't expect to become the next blogosphere sensation.  In fact don't even expect anyone to read or reply to this nonsense...but nonetheless, there is a lot of life worth sharing, and so I hope to be able to do at least that!  Share a glimpse into my alleged "good life".

How appropo that my first blog entry debuts the same day that my handsome face appears on the front page of the newspaper!!!  Again.  The Spring Grove Herald that is. :)   Yes, today the news hit the street in our small hamlet that "a local boy featured on Big City TV News Program"!!!   So the Spring Grove paper sent out a reporter to report on the news that I was in the news.  Read all about it right here: Spring Grove Herald.

Its Friday, and Lisa spent the first four days of the week in Mpls earning us another few dollars to make it through another week or two!!  Hurray.  I have been very busy in the shop cranking out goods for the upcoming shows and galleries that are waiting for my work.  If you get a chance, I will be in Madison WI next weekend 3/27-29 and Mpls 4/3-5 for the Lake Home and Cabin Show.  Its a fun show for stirring the need in us all to "get to the cabin", or at least get excited about the lazy days of summer ahead.

The other piece of noteworthy news found in the paper today?  BOTH, Spring Grove and neighboring Blackhammer Townships votes unanimously, if you can believe that,  this past week to keep the pocket gopher bounty at $2.00.  So we have that going for us!  In case you want to know how you get must present both the left and right front feet of the gopher at the townhall monthly meeting.  Payments made in cash on the spot.  Two bucks a gopher...hmmmm.  My good friend Larry Wiste is a professional gopher trapper, and I look forward to learning yet another useful skill from this amazing man!

So that's it.  I'll try to start posting a pic or two each time I post, and keep you aprised of interesting times here on the farm and in the Woodshop.  If there is something you want to know more about, see pics of, or hear more from me on...please send me an email!  Thanks, and thanks for reading.