Learned Excellence

I haven't posted since before Christmas.  Christmas vacation ended up good but the airport was a bit of a nightmare.  We had a flight booked and had to wake up ridiculously early for the 23rd.. so early in fact that even our alarm clock said "fuck you, I'm not waking up that early".  So, we hauled ass and got to the airport what we thought was in time but since we weren't 45 minutes early(we were 25 minutes early) they wouldn't let us board.  They decided to send our luggage down to NC without us regardless. Go figure. We hung out 14 hours until we caught literally a couple of the last seats on the last standby for the night. (Being so close to the holiday of course all the rental cars and trains were completely booked). The obvious point to all this being that I wanted to share with you my decided outfit for the rest of the night walking around JFK...

Also spent some time sitting around the airport online searching through some old/rare Swedish punk; one of the links for those of you who care.. and another great song by one of my many old favorite bands from England.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejd9ITQgZcQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3Mud4gYGzw

Bret bought me a beautiful ring set I've wanted for a long time for Christmas. Couldn't help but take a photo of it on the original Hendrix Electric Church tour book that his father got at the show and gave him. Real neat book; what an awesome present! I'm sure a lot of you reading this can appreciate that at least if not my weirdo jewelry. (: Also got some amazing leather tools, a proper shop mask, Death/Traitors gloves, and some other really great things. Kell bought me a great bench brush. Here's a photo of that and also Rick and Lindy Fralin when he stopped by around the holidays!

Airport back wasn't as bad, took some neat photos from the plane.  Also did some quick sketching on the way home while listening to a pretty good playlist on the plane's radio hosted by Mike Wolfe from American Pickers.

 

This blog post is going to be a bit random (as usual?) but I am trying to catch up with all that's gone on(..as usual) I have no excuses except that I always have a million things going on and work a lot.

For those of you who remember Giampaolo's custom and that I started reading The Great Bridge because I was burning the Brooklyn Bridge on the back of his guitar.. well, I am still reading it.  Really is a book just chock full of information and really gives great insight into what life was like back then.. this folklore bit stood out to me most out of what I've read recently.. "There were farms not very distant where the old Indian trail to Venango could be plainly seen. Delaware, Shawnees, Senecas, and Muncies had used it for nobody knew how long.  George Washington himself has traveled it by foot.  An old blacksmith named Glover, the first known settler in Butler County, was still alive then and a subject of immense respect.  He had been at Valley Forge. And probably the most famous person in the whole county was an old woman over in Buffalo township whose story was part of the pioneer folklore Washington Roebling had grown up with.  Her name was Massy Harrison.  In 1792 she had been captured by Senecas and Muncies, who murdered two of her children before her eyes, then set off on a terrifying forced march through the forest, driving her and her one remaining child, an infant, before them.  But she had managed to escape and made an unbelievable run for her life, traveling four days through the wilderness, still carrying her baby.  When she reached Pittsburgh, scarcely half alive, it was recorded on good authority that more than 150 thorns were extracted from her feet." Freakin ouch...

Speaking of New York history.. I found these neat photos I had never seen before I thought you guys may enjoy of the Grand Central Terminal clock's glass restoration and of the old Penn Stations' demolition, although the second one may just piss you off as much as it did me which I apologize for in advance.. I just couldn't believe they didn't bother to save those beautiful sculptures.. And of course, I got very excited when I accidentally came across the photo of my neighborhood, the Flatbush/Church Avenue signs. "Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore removing the street sign at Flatbush and Church avenues to send to homesick soldier, 1946" So cool.

Here's some shots of the things I've been working on at the leather shop lately.. I am slowly building up to making the harnesses I've wanted to for years and so I've been making bracelets and bootstraps and all kinds of things here and there before ordering the hardware and all that I want to.  I'm sure I will be experimenting with guitar straps very soon, as well. And definitely more leather guitars coming up. You guessed it, all done by hand..

 

I made Bret a guitar for Christmas/his birthday. Really cool old '52 style T -  he's a lefty so it's a lefty guitar; lefty body but with a reversed righty neck just like the only lefty in the Blackguard Book. Neat idea!  100 year old flamey rock maple and 200 year old Bowery Pine from Chumley's Speakeasy. Also went to the transit museum and Black/Gold recently. Some process and finished shots, transit museum shots(such awesome shots of the old motor truck and engine room), plus my buys from Black/Gold.. I collect badges/pins for those of you who don't know. I also collect ormolus, which I put a photo of the one Carol gave me which is at the shop on my bench now.  Might as well add a process video and the final shots of the Dia de los Muertos guitar I made for Daniel.

https://youtu.be/sXByz-7Ku3E Here are some of the things that have been going on in the shop.. a couple jobs I worked on.. before and after cleaning the fingerboard on an SG and some frets I was working on before and after buffing. Also, some bodies that Rick has been working on, the guitar he built for himself for his birthday(the Moth!- so freakin gorgeous!!!) and the new ridiculously huge vise that he bought. Haha! Super beautiful vise nonetheless, we love it!

During Blizzard Jonas I got stuck home a few days and worked on a Bowery/NYC themed pick guard for our friend Nate over at Wholetone Guitars the whole time but we did go out in the snow a bit.  I LOVE the snow and love my neighborhood when it snows so I took some great shots of that too. The amazing odd spiderwebbed lights photos was not edited, I think my camera was just ridiculously cold..   I will post the finished pick guard very soon. I have already started shellacking it (watch the video) and so I figure I'll just wait until it's on the guitar and ready to ship!

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Last couple things I'd like to share.. one is an article I read in the Sunday times last week called "In Praise of Blue Notes: What Makes Music Sad? http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/arts/music/in-praise-of-blue-notes-what-makes-music-sad.html?_r=0

"What is sadness in sound per se? Nothing. It doesn’t exist. There is no note or kind of note that in and of itself is sad and only sad. "

Thought it was very interesting and liked that Ben put Albert Murray's take on the blues in there.. "The writer Albert Murray often expressed the idea that the blues wasn’t an act of sadness, but an act of defiance and survival; that a great skill in black American culture was the ability to improvise a way out of the void. It seemed counterintuitive: Weren’t there plenty of examples in black American music of voices or instruments that were actually mimicking the sound of crying or disappointment? (Billie Holiday’s “I’m a Fool to Want You,” Etta Jones’s “I’m Through With Love,” Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning.”) But Murray was probably right. Bent notes and in-between notes, the key ingredients of that music, can’t be notated, because they’re not clinical examples of music; they’re clinical examples of living and minute-to-minute choice. They cut unusual paths. They are not singing from the page; they’re full of individual will. Listen to that music thinking not about sadness but about achievement and ambition and invention and care, all the things that tend to run counter to sadness, and it makes much more sense. It’s not instinctive moaning, the sound of someone running out of options, ready to curl up and die. It is learned excellence." The whole article I just thought was pretty thought provoking.

Also, for those of you who don't know about www.bedfordandbowery.com .. just do it. (: So many great posts and updates on there. Some sad of course.. the Sock Man on St. Mark's sign is down.. although he lasted much longer than I would have thought.. And for those of you who may not know about the Punk Magazine 40th Anniversary Exhibition that's over on 6 East 1st.. Saturday is the last day to catch it I believe. http://bedfordandbowery.com/2016/01/remember-when-punk-magazine-made-the-east-village-the-center-of-the-universe/

I think that's a pretty good update of what's gone on in my life recently.. I am working hard on the Hendrix themed S so I will definitely be posting photos of that soon as well! Talk to you all soon! Xx

 

"If one plan won't do, then another must." - J.A.R.

I've been working hard on GiamPaolo's custom job, which is all NYC themed taking up the whole back of his T. He's asked for CBGB//OMFUG, the Dakota//Strawberry Fields, the Knitting Factory, Electric Lady Studios, Bowery Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, 96-98 St. Mark's//Physical Graffiti album cover, and the Brooklyn Bridge.Anyway, the Brooklyn Bridge is on the top part of the back which reminded Kell of a book he had read once called The Great Bridge by David McCullough. I came in one morning and there it was sitting on my bench. I've started reading it and I'm not too far in but there are already some really great quotes I wanted to post on here.

The Great Bridge tells the story of how the Brooklyn Bridge came to be and what makes it so special; it seems to include any and all details you'd want to know(and much more) and Kell thought it would be important for me to understand the structure more since it is a big part of this job, being such a realistic and detailed perspective.

I'll include some photos on here of what's going on so far but here is another quote I found interesting first..(this is a quote about the mastermind who designed and went forth to start building the bridge; his name was John Augustus Roebling).

"One if his strongest moral traits was his power of will, not a will that was stubborn, but a certain spirit, tenacity of purpose, and confident reliance upon self... An instinctive faith in the resources of his art that no force of circumstance could divert him from carrying into effect a project once matured in his mind..." - Charles B. Stuart, an engineer and author who knew Roebling.

Times have certainly changed since all those years ago but I think it's no less important to carry those characteristics in whatever you do in life and I think most of you reading this can probably relate in some way. It goes all the same with another quote out of an English essay Roebling and his brother had brought over when coming to the United States(Roebling had brought quite a few books with him) "No man was ever great by imitation." Push your limits and learn all you can, the difference between reference or inspiration and copying can change everything.

Process shots.. This thing may just be done tomorrow(at least the artwork may be).

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Updates in NYC and the Shop

              Another one gone, Pearl Paint is closed for good. One of the windows behind it's gate now reads "Hussy". And so many other places.. Including really awesome buildings in Harlem that have always been some of my favorites.. The fence across the street which had a matte black building next to it with a painted window on it. I'll have to find an early photo of that on my computer someday soon. The fence is bare now.   Milady's..

I went to Texas for the first time for a wedding.  Went into some antique/oddities places of course. Saw the Beer Can House, a whole lot of sky and a whole lot of rain. Photos..

Two of my favorite things I saw in the antique shop.

      

The Beer Can House cat loved me.

       

A guy named Mark makes cars for the annual Houston Art Car Show and lived around the corner from where I was staying in Houston. Neat stuff. 

I've finished another pickguard and am starting on my first full T order, burned and stained which I am aiming to have completed by August. I'm also working on two body pyrography orders and a couple pickguards. More photos soon for sure.    

 

Also, the Moto Guitar is Koji's now, wasnt expecting it gone so soon or at all really! Keep an eye out for more leather work now. Koji and Masa come by every year and pick up a guitar and so this year it was mine they left with.  

Drilling out the Cathedral

I still have to stain the pickup covers and neck/sides, finish drilling, and a little bit more sanding/shaping but it's coming along quicker than we thought. Last photo is what itll look like when finished although I may use a different switch ring. Keep checking for updates. 

        

Talent Is Just Another Name for the Love of a Thing

      

The cathedral is really moving along for the time that I've got at the shop right now. It truly will be done soon. I've started working at the Tattoo Theatre and Art Gallery again that I used to work at- Paul Booth's Last Rites(for those of you who like tattoos and dark surrealism). So, again forgive me for not posting very steadily, things are just non stop for me at the moment. 

Anyway, Rick and I are still fixing the shop up little by little, I redrilled all the hooks this morning in our new AllParts cabinet out front and did some more shaping on my neck which is what those photos are of.

I'm working on two pickguards, finishing up our friend Rod's Bowery/NYC pickguard. Really excited about this one 'cos it's got the Chumley's door and Hotel Chelsea sign on it. 

I've also started a pin-up girl pickguard which will be on the next shop guitar so look out for that one!


I am constantly reading and picking quotes up here and there, even out of books I've had for a long time, and I thought this one was neat, out of a book I believe I've quoted on here before. Classical Drawing Atelier.

Many factors contributed to the excellence of the art created during the Italian Renaissance. One of these was that artists were venerated by society in a way that had never previously occured. To fully appreciate the shift, it is helpful to review the role of artists in society prior to the Renaissance. The creation of artwork had been seen as a craft and painters and sculptors were categorized among stonemasons, glaziers, and weavers as manual laborers. Artistic creativity per se was not valued, nor were artists encouraged to produce unique or original work. Paintings and sculptures were most often created for political or religious reasons rather than intellectual or asthetic purposes. Moreover, art was often considered the creation of the person who commissioned it rather than of the artist.

Cathedral and Shop Updates

I appologize again for slacking on updating everything. Lots of new things going on and my schedule is very hectic. The showcases look great; we added all the bodies to the tops and the cathedral is coming along. I started staining the front but the back, sides and neck as I said before will be stained black very soon.  Finished the logo, as well. 

Jim Jarmusch stopped by and took a photo for me when I wasn't there with the cathedral- he will be on tour with Sqürl soon, very exciting stuff and I couldn't help but post that awesome photo!  Xx














Carmine Street Guitars Renovation

We've been working SO HARD in the shop moving the showcases out front as well as fixing up just about everyhing else (for those of you who have been following me I'm sorry I haven't been posting). But there's a reason behind all the madness and extra hours which is more room for another bench in the back and so we can utilize our space to the fullest and get more done faster! So hang in there 'cos we have gotten so much done already and will be completely done pretty soon! Some photos...

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I have quite a few custom orders coming up so keep checkin' back! Xxx

Greg's Eagle Bass

Rick finished this bass a while ago, and I the pickguard but our friend Greg just brought the bass in to finalize it- looks good! He wanted a Kelly/Eagle theme.

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Also, I think I deleted my post from a while back about Death/Traitors and Rowland S. Howard when I bought my new sweater and Rowland record at Generation. My drawing is coming along and for those of you who don't know about Death/Traitors check it out.

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Also, I started a DIY custom project for my friend Pete. He had the body so Rick and I found him a neck, I think the rest is pretty self explanatory.

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Kelly Bikes and Sunflower/Sea Cliff Guitars

For those of you who don't know that Kel is bike maniac.. Well, he is.And he's been riding "Kelly" Bikes for a long time now. After all these years Kelly(bikes) is going to have a Kelly(guitar).. So we decided to make the pickguard for him to go with it. The second one is one I finished today, a custom order.

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My First Two Builds

I completed my first build with Kell- myMini T-Style, in August of 2013. The second is my "Les G" - completed around July I think 2014- a shape Kell dreamt up -- just some process photos and whatnot of them both. I did the drawing on the back of my T off of some "Tarot of the Cat People" cards that I have from years and years ago, got a kick out of em and thought theyd look kinda neat on there(it's not my art, but I did draw it all freehand). It's got a Chelsea Hotel neck, 50% old Swamp Ash and 50% gun stock quilted maple. The Les G neck is made of Jim Jarmusch's loft and the body of Chumley's Speakeasy. (I was still super blonde in most photos and I realize they're a bit out of order but bear with me, I've been posting from my phone lately).

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And the Les G..

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The Moto guitar is done!!!

Finished it up yesterday! I was waiting on these neat german pickup rings which took a while(and I wasn't so sure it was gonna be worth it) but it most definitely was! The rings, pole pieces and metal inlay dots compliment each other so perfectly; I am super in love with it. It's my third complete build and as Rick keeps telling me they really do just get better and better. We used Van Zandt pickups. Vintage Plus in the neck and bridge and then(long story short) True Vintage in the middle position. Sounds great and feels great too, so happy with how the matte black paint and leather turned out. Ill update this with more specs soon but until then..Some photos!

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Xx!

P.S. Christmas in New York City..

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Tele Horn, Cathedral and Pickguard

Our friend John chipped his Tele horn and was so heartbroken he wanted Kel and I to sand it down and burn some paisley on it, make it beautiful again. Some before and after shots. Subtle, but it's perfect.IMG_6521.JPG

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Cathedral neck glued and coming along!

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Another new pickguard to sell. Finishing up the shellac after this post! Xx

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More Moto updates, Gretsch-inspired and Lenny!

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Obviously some updates on the moto. First photo of Lenny Kaye and Kell, he stopped by the other morning to get his guitars set up for some playing with Pussy Riot along with Patti for the Horses 40th anniversary tour. For those of you who haven't been in the shop, you can really feel the super special down to earth atmosphere as soon as you step through the door(if you can get the door open, that is- ha ha) and quickly come to understand why Kell attracts such good hearted people like Lenny that have always come in just to catch up, tell stories, or get their instruments worked on. I wanted to post the photo of them 'cos it's the most recent of so many from the shop that represents a strong standing craft that truly makes a difference in the world; it's such a pleasure working around someone so knowledgable and something so unique on a daily basis. Gretsch-inspired t-style looking beautiful. Many more photos and exciting things to come! x

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Moto Inlays, my Alchemy Hand, and New Pickguard

Some quick update photos of the inlay process, a bit of an experiment dealing with the matte black paint but it's coming along pretty neat. Ive now got the black paint on the neck so I'll add newer photos soon.Got a neat Alchemy hand from the Englishtown Auction this past Sunday. Also a Gremlin pin, which I love so much. Shop visitors are getting a kick out of the hand, a new addition to my collection of crazy things. Also visited my grandfather's grave for the first time since he passed. Thought I'd post some photos of all this. More sneak previews of a new pickguard. Also, I stained the Gretsch-inspired t-style today. Looks great, gonna put the final coat on soon so those photos will be posted along with more of the moto neck as I said.

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