Friday, January 2, 2009

on the importance of a good workbench....etc.

The following are a couple of shots taken while I was building frames for a show I put up this past fall. I am currently giving them some final touch up and coatings of oil, so they will be ready for delivery to the gallery this next week. I have recently been included in a group show at Katie Gingrass Gallery here in the Third Ward of Milwaukee. And naturally, I want the work to be tip top in terms of presentation. I have been making these frames in this way for many years now. The construction is an overlapping finger joint similar to joints used for drawer and furniture construction. Not a complicated joint, but one that is very effective and for me, aesthetically pleasing. I chose to cut them by hand because it just seems like a natural extension of my processes concerning the making of the work, be they drawings or prints. In the same way that the imperfect and irregular quality of the deckle egde is an extension of the grammar of the drawing, so is the evidence of hand in the stroke of the blade as the joint's parameters are being defined. I am sure there are more efficient and flawless ways of making a frame, but efficiency is a small part of the puzzle. 
It is worth noting that a dear old friend of mine by the name of Richard Beda, showed me the way towards a kind of Japanese work ethic in the studio. We both had space in a building above Joe's East Coast Car Shop on Center Street in the Riverwest.  This was in the early 1990's, shortly before the Fuel Cafe helped populate the neighborhood. Acting as an instructor, Richard showed me how to make joints using spare tools with precise marking. My first project was to make the very bench seen here in these pictures. This bench has served me through many projects and has traveled to Ohio and back. There it was certainly a centerpiece in my graduate school studio space. Today, it resides in my basement workshop and serves equal time as woodworking bench and bicycle mechanic's station.
.....a side benefit to this methodology is that there are no potentially "dangerous" power tools, so a nice IPA on the bench seems just fine...

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