Archive for August, 2009
I’m really stoked to be restoring our 1908 Craftsman bungalow (note: picture above is a completed example, not mine,) and really look forward to moving in towards the end of the year if everything goes to plan.
Being that i work in next generation technology, people often wonder why I’m so interested in living a traditional lifestyle– one surrounded by old stuff. I’ll explain a bit why, and how it fits into the Arts & Crafts movement…
The Arts and Crafts movement started in the late 1800′s as a direct backlash against the Industrial Revolution. Artists and Craftsman felt that mechanization, expanded supply chain & logistics, mass manufacturing and division of labor removed the uniqueness and soul from products, communities and people. It was believed that the machine and mindless labor was root cause of all the “repetitive and mundane evils” the world was evolving towards.
The world we live in today is a direct result of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent globalization. I say the result of this mix isn’t so fucking great…
- Mass production, mass consumerism, globalization and division of labor (this is where people do the same low skill task over and over again– like bolting a door on a car) via assembly line manufacturing sucks. Mindless. Boring. Blah.
- End-products are cookie cutter copies of each other, with little to no uniqueness. This lack of uniqueness in manufacturing and product is subsequently killing the uniqueness of people– thus turning the world into a society of corporate programmed, obese robots. The human robots of today have uncontrollable hunger to consume empty, unfulfilling items– over and over again with little satisfaction. Just an increased craving for more (reminds me of how another corporate trick named “corn syrup” works on people.) Welcome to the cookie cutter lifestyle of Costco and Walmart. The same little boxes, for everyone.
The Arts and Crafts movement saw this growing problem early and recognized & respected the following:
- The Artist and the Craftsman are important and are a key to stimulating beauty and uniqueness– as is handcraft production. High skill and master craftsmanship is valuable.
- Simplicity is key. Quality beats quanity.
- Use of local materials integrated into construction…. making the home part of the landscape, both inside and exterior.
In 1897 the Society of Arts and Crafts was created, with 21 founders who were interested in more than just sales. They focused on the relationship of designers within the commercial world, encouraging artists to produce work with the highest quality of workmanship and design. Here was their credo:
” This Society was incorporated for the purpose of promoting artistic work in all branches of handicraft. It hopes to bring Designers and Workmen into mutually helpful relations, and to encourage workmen to execute designs of their own. It endeavors to stimulate in workmen an appreciation of the dignity and value of good design; to counteract the popular impatience of Law and Form, and the desire for over-ornamentation and specious originality. It will insist upon the necessity of sobriety and restraint, or ordered arrangement, of due regard for the relation between the form of an object and its use, and of harmony and fitness in the decoration put upon it. “
To me, the Arts and Crafts movement was very punk rock like– a focused, brave rebellion against the grain. Guys like Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, Greene and Greene Elbert Hubbard started it, and I’m one of many who are here to carry on this traditional lifestyle that celebrates the artist and the craftsman.
August 23rd, 2009
Over this past weekend, i had the pleasure to spend time with an older couple. I love nothing more than just sitting back and listening to what they have to say….
So, the ol’ gal was the daughter of Ancil Hoffman– the trainer of former heavyweight champion of the early 1930s, Max Baer. I’ve always been a big fan of Baer, as he lived in the Bay Area (Oakland) and was a tall power puncher with a good chin (as I took pride in being when i fought.)
I got to hear stories about how she hated being around the gym, knew how to wrap hands, stories about Max, his bout with German Max Schmeling and how he wore a jewish star of David on his fight shorts just to piss the Germans off– as as a salute to her Jewish father. I also got to see some old pictures and memorabilia– which i was happy to hear she wanted to keep in her family for future generations.
Most people only know of Max Baer as the nasty opponent of Jim Braddock in Ron Howards movie, Cindarella Man– where he was unfairly portrayed. From all I hear, Max was a great guy.
Learn more about Max Baer here.
And, while you’re at it, make an effort to talk to more old timers and focus on listening rather than telling– they’ve usually got a lot of interesting stuff to say.
August 17th, 2009
In 1900, the Catholic Diocese of San Francisco opened a mission in San Jose– on the corner of Palm St and Willow St– to serve the growing downtown Italian neighborhood. By the 1920′s, the mission was replaced by the Sacred Heart of Jesus church and parish house. Aside from repairs post the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake– it largely remains the same.
Here’s how it looks today:
Today at an estate sale i bought a cool old candle holder that they church used to celebrate it’s opening in 1926:
The family lived around the corner from the church since the 1920′s and the old timer who’s estate i bought this from passed away recently. $5 bucks for a little piece of San Jose history!
His place was like a museum– with stuff ranging from WWI era to the 60′s. Here’s a list of things we picked up, in addition to the candle holder:
- clawfoot bathtub for our house project
- a early 1900′s clock (cool as it comes with 1908 repair documentation from a clock repair place in san jose.) This clock will go above our mantle in the house project. Also a 1950′s Lux starburst clock– likely for the kitchen.
- a bitchen late 1940′s / early 1950′s kitchen table / leaf / chairs for house (we’re doing kitchen circa that era, as earlier is just not practical enough for daily use today.)
- the guy served in WWII. I picked up his combat knife and a Nazi belt that he took off one of his kills.
- A cool Russel Wright bowl and complete set of eight bar glasses
- 1920′s belt buckle for the leather belt i had made in mexico; old gas can; a cool fondue set; other misc stuff too….
I dig estate sales, old stuff and history.
August 16th, 2009
I finally got a new digital camera, so i’ll finally give my first update on my house project (a huge project that we will live in when done.) It’s a 1908 Craftsman style bungalow in downtown San Jose. We picked this one because nobody updated it, so it’s great to keep old style (although they abused it badly.)
So, we bought this house in June. The first step was removing over 80 dumpster yards of junk that was left at the house (probate sale buy.) There was shit all over the place– inside, outside, underneath in the basement and overhead in the attic…
As you can see, there were broken windows throughout the house. Here’s windows going into the enclosed patio when i started. Also notice the fine graffiti spray painting in the interior:
The plaster walls inside were thrashed. Many holes, many failed patches. Much writing on the walls. The carpet was nasty. Here’s the carpet coming out:
Here I am taking out all the broken windows in the enclosed front porch, so that they can be restored:
Here’s update pics as of today:
#1) Im restoring the windows in batches. The first batch done were all the broken windows and doors– mostly in the enclosed porch. I got them back in (except for trim work, etc) and also did some test painting to get a feel on colors. Here’s some pics of the porch so far:
For a color scheme, im thinking lighter green, with white trim and dark green windows. Here’s a pic of the rebuilt enclosed patio door. I found the mortise lockset w/ working skeleton key at the Moss Landing antique fair a couple weeks ago :
My new roof is on. I hired Will Piazza, a great guy who was a roofer for years to do it– and he did a fine job. I helped out a bit, but i gotta admit that i wasn’t too cat agile up on that roof– which is steeper than it looks:
You can see that i’ve got my second batch of windows out for restoration (thus why they are boarded up.) The horrible, long “honeymoon” staircase is coming out next– being replaced with simpler, craftsman era looking stairs. The attic vent louvers are being replaced by a window in the upper dormer. The new front door is being ordered this week. The redwood gutters are currently being built, the old ones were rotted and are off the house.
Also complete is the repair work on the interior plaster walls. Notice that i also pulled all the carpet out, revealing the original hardwood floors underneath. All the trim work in the house is also removed and Anissa is beginning to strip / restore. They were painted and we’re using our cool, new infrared stripper to remove. They (and all the great built-ins throughout the house) will be wood finished in a darker tone. The hardwood floors are going to be refinished with a lighter tone than the trim work and built ins. Here’s the front parlor room:
Several steps forward, and one step back….. I accidentally stepped through my recently restored plaster ceiling, proving that i’m still an idiot:
Lastly, im posting this picture of the side gates so that i can show my woodworker how things look now (he’ll be building me new gates and fencing– which will be wood finished to match the new front door.)
Next steps over next month:
- finish install of new 200A panel and get new feeder in from PG&E (right now i only have construction power)
- primer all interior walls, get the ceiling i fell through fixed and paint base white (we’ll decide interior colors later.)
- install new interior doors (5 panel, craftsman style.) Measured them up today, and ordering this week
- refinish hardwood floors (in all rooms except kitchen and bathrooms.)
- begin installing baseboards throughout, along with new electrical receptacles that will be installed in them (along with old style push button light switches.)
- then rest of interior trim can begin to go on.
- stare at current exterior test colors for another week or so. Exterior paint throughout begins August 27th
- Demo old front stairs / rear porch and construction of new begins within next 2 weeks as well.
- Next batch of windows come back shortly. They will go in. 3rd batch comes out.
- Begin install of PEX plumbing system and tankless water heater (modern conveniences that are hidden.) Begin tilework of rear bathroom.
Oh yeah….. today we found a *great* old clawfoot tub for the main bathroom, an an estate sale. It was sitting behind the garage of the house. $60 bucks— great deal. It was damn heavy…
Progress is on schedule and it’s fun.
August 16th, 2009