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!


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


Art as Visual Music

Being an artist and musician I thought this text from Juliette Aristides' "Classical Drawing Atelier" was just so neat and inspiring, worthy to post for anybody who's been following me.I've not posted much on my paintings or illustration/life drawings yet but I will be so this is a neat introduction for those of you following me for my love of music and the guitar..

"Before we look at a painting based on nature's geometry of beauty in design, it would be useful to understand what makes a painting beautiful. A beautiful painting is like a beautiful song. A song contains rhythm, melody, and harmony- all of which perform unique and critical roles in the piece. The rhythm provides repetition and gives the ear a steady, if sometimes subtle, beat to follow. The melody provides the ear with a lyrical narrative and the harmony provides a counterpoint to the melody. Together melody and harmony create a sense of theme and variation. All three of these elements are used in music to create moments of tension and resolution, giving the whole piece a sense of following a full circle, or going from beginning to end. Drawings and paintings utilize the visual equivalents of rhythm, melody, and harmony, and the deliberate and successful creation of tension and resolution is precisely what makes great art great. It is interesting to note that a beautiful painting and a beautiful song contain similar qualities of mathematical composition. Yet they differ in terms of presentation. A song presents a linear progression of aural vibrations through time, discerned by the ear, whereas a painting presents the visual vibrations all at one time, discerned by the eye. In other words, a painting is like a song frozen in time."

I'm ending my posting with a process shot of a life drawing I did a few years back at Art Students League.


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



Cathedral neck glued and coming along!



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


A new design/project

No updates on the moto yet- I now have to find the best leather for it; but here's a new one I am working on.This one is going to have a bunch of wood burning done- and will be in our Halloween window display this year at the shop. It won't exactly be "Halloween themed" but it will be up for sale a I am saving details for later on, it's not close enough yet. First one we've made, though, so keep an eye out for more updates especially if you want the first of something super unique. Rick is also working on something very special here and there (and by that I mean working even harder than normal 'cos he's of course still got constant crazy orders) to finish for the window. Very exciting!!

So, it's based of a design just like the LesG we've made except it's "the other way".

Some photos of the process so far, from the template make to gluing the binding, which we just did today.