Friday, April 6, 2012

Just a reminder...I've moved (my blog, that is)

My new address is Besides the fact that it's such a pain to try to write and edit a blog posting in the tiny little window Blogger gives you, there was some other reason that Jen suggested I do it.

Here's what it looks like now....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tree hugger

It's been a fairly uneventful week, so I thought I'd just post a couple of designs from the past year. Here's another version of my "Garden Bench", the combination bench and planter.

The previous version has a CMU base, while this base is a custom cast concrete. More original, but of course more work, and therefore more time consuming and more expensive. I suppose the key word is "more". I should've put plants in this rendering.

Inspired by the freestanding classroom chalkboard. This one has various shelving, cubbys, and storage on the sides for plans or other long things. One side is chalk, the other side (not pictured) is dry erase with a foot of cork on each side to pin inspirational photos or other sketches. Despite my frequent laptop use, I'm still a big proponent of analog design. I have yet to build one of these things, but I look forward to having a couple of these for my co-workers and I to roll around our workshop.

Although I do very little metal work, and no upholstery, it often appears in my designs. Not much to say about this one. I would point out the inspiration, because I think it's fun to know how a persons ideas tie into things historically. Unfortunately, as a struggling and unknown designer my insecurities keep me from revealing things that I feel might give a more well funded designer a (table) leg up.

ASDF Shelves
A mix of wood and modular shelving brackets. My typical combination of organic shapes and materials (the wood part) with uniform industrial parts (the metal brackets).

This is a good representation of one of my personal design goals: To create a cohesive blend of nature and industrialized elements. I think it's important to recognize the natural beauty and balance of organic materials, and at the same time, starting with The Wheel, Man has created some pretty bad-ass stuff. Good job, Man!

In unrelated news, I saved a tree this week. I dropped by my condo on Thursday to find that a pretty decent sized palm near my door had been removed by the gardeners. Although I was sad to see it gone, it did seem like it had overgrown it's space. Then I saw the whole thing, roots intact, in a pile of branches in the parking lot. I immediately called my sister-in-law, Suzy, who loves tropical plants. I ended up putting the roots in a garbage bag with palm fertilizer, and taking it to her house and replanting it. As I loaded it into the back of the station wagon (I was worried the wind would beat it up in the back of my pickup), I thot of the fantastic scene in Harold and Maude when Maude saves the tree.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Treehouse or Deck?

I guess this is technically a deck, because A), it is not an enclosed structure, and B) it is not supported by the tree in any way. In fact, there is no attachment by way of any screw or nail penetrating the tree. The spool table for instance, is attached to the trunk via a large adjustable clamp made from 2x4's and all-thread bolts. But back to my original point...We're still calling this The Tree House.

This thing's crazy strong. About 10 feet up at the lowest corner, but no wiggle when you're up there. I painted the posts and the bracing underneath a darker color so that they blend in with the surrounding foliage. From down the street it looks like the Mothership hovering in the trees.
Did I mention we built this from 99% re-used lumber? Even a lot of the paint and hardware is leftover from other projects. The final colors, the white and light gray of the deck match the house below.

We terraced the slope with old railroad ties. It also helps create paths and adds dimension to the play area underneath.

For what it's worth, here's the original, unfinished design...

And in my real life...
Here's a novel way to make the most of bathroom storage. This client wanted a place to put their scale when not in use.
I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this, but I haven't seen it done before.
The drawer is discretely hidden in the toe-kick, and uses a special drawer slide that opens when you push it, so that you don't need to reach under the toe kick, or attach a visible pull.

This seems like as good a time as any to mention the fact that for several months I've been secretly inserting links to songs via Youtube in my text. Sometimes the links are more obvious than others. Just scroll over the text and you're bound to find something (like right here).
I try to find songs that have some connection to my blog, and usually it's just some kind of bad pun. As many of you know, I have thousands of records, which I actually listen to, and have done a pretty good job of subconsciously cataloging. One of the side effects of this is that at any given moment, whatever kind of input the world is giving me, my brain is pulling up a lyric or song title. I have to resist turning every word into a different link.

Anyhow, good look on your search...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I did on my Winter Vacation

My sister moved to Saint Helena last year. We managed to get up there for a couple of weekends in December. The first weekend I was up there my niece, Lilli, started telling me about a project she had to do. She was studying the Egyptians, and had to do some kind of presentation about something she had learned.

I could tell she was hoping I'd give her a hand, so I took her to the art store, got some supplies and we went to work on a models of two different types of Egyptian dwellings. The one we're working on in these pictures is for the upper class. We built another, smaller one that represented the regular folk.

We went on a walk, and gathered moss and small twigs to make trees and bushes for the diorama.

...Then back to the shop to wrap up some "Four Aces Record Frames" before the holiday.

We had a couple more free days so we built a ladder and staircase for the tree house at my father-in-law's. A couple more details and a fresh coat of paint and we'll be ready for final photos.

Last week my Sister came down to Ventura for a visit. Here's a picture of my lovely wife and niece.

New years day, California style. It was in the mid-70's.

Then a long fun day at Disneyland. The usual crew plus my Sister on the left.

Happy New Year. It's half time. Steelers are down.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Brentwood Bath Makeover

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Here's one of our most recent projects: A complete top-to-bottom bathroom remodel that we designed and built.
We re-did everything you see, including windows, electrical, plumbing, custom cabinets and vanity. All of the plumbing fixtures were provided by our neighbors at Vic's Plumbing.

Most of it is pretty straight-forward stuff, but like most of our work, there are a couple of unique features. As you can see in the above photo, we put a small fan near the ceiling for a little extra ventilation, with the switch conveniently located above the counter.

The client was trying to reduce clutter on the floor, which led to another cool feature (which can't be seen in the photos unfortunately). We put their bath scale in a discreet drawer concealed in the cabinet toe-kick. It has a unique drawer glide that opens when you push it, eliminating the need for a traditional drawer pull.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ventura Ventana

Check this out -
Our local design rag, Ventana, featured us in the September issue. Kudos to us. I know September was awhile back, but I been busy, yo.

In a seemingly unrelated post, I had the strangest dream the other night.

I was at my friend Tristen's old house in the country. They always had a bunch of animals out there, like dogs, horses and peacocks. So it wasn't strange when, in my dream, I looked out the window and saw a dozen or so really furry black cats. What was strange however, was that about half of them were wearing prescription glasses. The same kind Julie Kotter wore on Welcome Back Kotter.
I woke up from the dream laughing. Then I got to thinking, "You know, you never see animals with prescription glasses." Then it occurred to me that there probably aren't even optometrist vets. Well, one thing led to another, and I created the Eye Chart For Cats.

So for all you cat lovers out there, here is the first step towards better feline vision care.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Able And Baker at the Emmys

We recently had the opportunity to contribute some things to the Emmys this year. Among our contributions was one of Jen Zahigian's photos in our exclusive ABLE & BAKER 13 Ply Maple Frame. Each celebrity, or whoever handles their stuff, received one in their gift bag. Hopefully they appreciate it, or at least give it to someone who does.

Each frame is

+ Made with FSC (Forestry Stewardship) certified ply
+ Hand Finished with an Organic Beeswax blend, revealing a naturally rich wood grain
+ Includes Framer's Grade Acrylic and felt bumpers
+ Handcrafted in our woodshop

We make the frame stock in our Ventura, California woodshop, but the actual frames are assembled by Jesus and Manor at Worldview Pictures, also in Ventura.

Our Wood-Ply frames are now available in our online shop
(This week enter Autumn30 at checkout to get 30% Off!)

Want to order a large quantity, or Need a Custom Size? Let us know.

(Thanks to Janeen at for inviting us to participate)