Archive for October, 2013

This summer past… wait, is Summer over yet? Let me rephrase. This past August, I stopped working in yellow pine. Just plain yellow pine and plywood and all construction-grade wood that really is in abundance, I stopped salvaging it and stopped using it in my work. This is the stuff you get at Home Depot or any manufactured lumber store. It’s young wood, very easy to use, versatile. The plywood in particular was very useful because large shapes like these angels could all be cut out of one piece. Yellow pine can be used used for lucrative pieces of art that really stand out on a wall.

Yellow pine is a great return on investment also. A single 5′ 2×4 could yield a dozen or so pinehead sculptures and they sold on Jackson Square for $30. And these 2x4s are laying around everywhere. They stick out of dumpsters, sit on the side of the road, take up space in people’s sheds. Make a conscious effort to note every time you see a useless 2×4 and you’ll know what I mean. Yellow pine is great stuff for a salvaged wood artist. It’s the same stuff people build houses with except at some point its status has been transformed from “construction materials” to “salvaged wood” simply by it being left, abandoned or tossed out. So one can easily see how useful and abundant it is.

So, I’m not going to use it anymore.

There are a few reasons for this.

One is that I am trying to stand out a little further from the growing number of slavaged wood artists around New Orleans and the rest of the country. Let’s be honest, salvage works two ways. It saves the artists money on materials and gives the buyer a reason to buy since they become less of a mindless consumer and more of contributor to recycling. Win /win for both. So many artists are now doing it and that is a good thing for the world.

For particular artists however, it just washes out their particular appeal a little bit more. Comes with the territory. The Universe giveth and taketh away. Artists needs to do something to make themselves stand out other than the salvage, generally related to the content of the pieces. I certainly try to do that as much as possible and my being a bit of a twisted fuck has certainly helped. But I wanted to do something more.

So this is where the switch comes in. In less abundance around New Orleans is the very beautiful swamp wood cypress and its antique counterpart heart pine. These woods are special in a few ways.

Firstly because of their age. Growth rings within them almost always reveal a few centuries of growth. Customers who buy them often don’t realize they just bought the oldest thing they may ever own. Also, they are beautiful. Both cypress and heart pine have amazing textures and colors that transcend yellow pine. Third, they used to be houses. It’s not like these pieces of wood were just leftover from some job site. These were actually in New Orleans housing stock and usually functioned in a home for 100 years in addition to the two or three centuries they grew as a tree. The genesis of the piece really began before the Untied States was even a country. I love that and it’s easier to sell to people also.

Cypress and heart pine is indeed more difficult to find though. But I don’t mind that so much. It gives me a reason to hunt for it. I live in Algiers Point, one of New Orleans oldest ‘hoods. Renovations happen. A lot of the cypress I am using right now cam from my own renovation. But still, there is a certain thrill to the hunt. And clients like to think of me bumping around New Orleans in a truck collecting the stuff.

But, my oh my, is it fun to work with. Cypress cuts easy, smells great and leaves a fine, fine sawdust. Heartpine fights you the whole way, dulls your blades, has knots that seems impossible to saw through. It’s ornery but it is strong. I love it for that.

Clients like it also. I have displayed it on the Square for a few weeks now and they are responding to it. Paying full price and recognizing its beauty. Which is nice.

So from now on. Only antique woods, rarer woods and found objects. No more plywood or yellow pine. If you have a piece that contains this stuff, congratulations. You have a bit of a collectors item.

Some pieces using all cypress are below..

2013-10-12 13.12.21

2013-10-12 13.12.06

2013-10-12 11.19.48

2013-10-12 13.13.21

2013-10-04 10.23.23

Many times I have heard Saints season ticket holder Pants tell of the goings on in Section 617 in the Superdome. And he has written about it well enough over the years. But I just wanted to add a few observations about it from an outsider’s perspective. I mean, I felt like a freshman up there. It felt exotic. It was a micro environment. I loved it.

A few observations…null

I just call it Section 6000, Seat 6000 because that really drives home just how far up and back this place is. It’s like an outpost. The beer vendors are Himalayan sherpas in the off season. But I will add that it is not so far back that you couldn’t see Rob Ryan on the sideline. Pants did mention that Rob Ryan and the Great Wall of China are the only two human-made objects that can bee seen from space. And you can see Rob from space even when he is inside. Just think about that. That’s how much he sticks out. I have heard of, and even experienced one for myself, many Rob Ryan sightings all over New Orleans since his arrival. People think he’s a man about town but really, Sean Payton or Drew Brees or Pierre Thomas could scoot on past unnoticed but there is no mistaking Rob Ryan when you see him. No one says, “You know, I think I saw Rob Ryan today…” Never happens.

But I digress. Back to Section 6000, Seat 6000.

First, because it is so high up in the Dome, with your back literally against the wall, there is no fuller a view of the field. I know this sounds like poor folks making tricandilles out of pig parts but there is something truly unique about having a full scope of the field. Everyone always wants to be up close and there is certainly an enjoyment to be had by being by the action. Sounds are clearer for example. But, with an expansive view of the field one can not help but analyze the science of the game. You see who was open on what play. You see how offenses and defenses line up. You see plays unfold before they happen because you know where all 22 guys are at all times. On television, a player with the ball is running downfield and tacklers just sort of fly into the shot. But at the game, especially from Section 6000, Seat 6000 you can see whether a guy is going to break the play or not almost from the moment they get the ball. You can see the line move when a rusher takes the ball and you know if it is going to be a big gain or not.

Then there is the wall. The wall of the Dome is at your back. And nobody cares if you bang the shit out of it. Or at least no one cares if someone cares. This is really something special to a guy like me who loves the spirit of things, who gets caught up in the atoms all around us. I mean the Superdome itself is your noisemaker. This hallowed ground. This scene of so much history. This chamber of a million magic moments…and Katrina. There was a certain strange intimacy to it and I banged the fuck out of that wall before every defensive play and after every score just because I could. I bruised both thumbs (incidentally, the thumbs are the second celebration related injury I have sustained. I sprained or strained or did something to my rotator cuff high-fiving after the 2009 NFC Championship).

Nobody sits down. The people in Section 6000, Seat 6000 stand up the whole game. Because they can. No one can complain because they aren’t obstructing anyone. So why sit when you can stand right? It ups the intensity.

And there is a sense of certain lawlessness up there. Nobody got rowdy or anything but I had the feeling you could get away with a little bit more because any law would have to make a trip just to get up there to sort the thing out. If it wasn’t already sorted out by the time they arrived. I mean, I felt bad making the beer man climb up there. You could probably smoke cigarettes up there if you wanted.

Due to the architecture of the Dome, there are all sorts of little nooks where you can put your beer or cocktail or whatever. It’s very loungy.

And within the micro-environment there is this sub-culture. I know season-ticket holders develop relationships with other ticket-holder in the same section. But this being the Machu-Picchu of the Superdome, it felt a little more special. The group in front of us (who looked to be fellow card carrying members of the National Liquor Lobby) had special songs they sung after a particular player scored or had a big play. And they were singing the Sproles one quite a lot this night. I gathered that you could maybe substitute any song that had the word “roll” or “rolls” in it and substitute “Sproles.” For instance “Sprole With It,” “Sprollin On The River” or “Like a Sprolling Stone.” Though, I never actually confirmed this and was quite spirited. And the fella in this group who seemed to be the leader had one of the most fashionable DIY Saints outfits I have ever seen. He was also quite spirited in all usages of the word.

Many thanks to my host, the “Crunk Crown” sporting Ros for allowing me into this realm.