Monday, August 31, 2009

Small Woodworking Project: Candle Holder After A Chinese Pictogram

The librarian thumb-flipped the book like a magician convincing you the deck was complete. She stopped, riveted by the one-page piece titled "Candelabra from Chinese Ideograms." The sparse, high contrast black and whites of the artist's work are juxtaposed with their inspiration: Chinese characters for umbrella and home. Home was it. "Someday I'd like one of these," she said, holding the Fine Woodworking book a little sideways so he could see it.

So he tackled it, unbeknownst to her. Yes, it is a small project, per the book's subsection, but that might just be referring to real estate on the workbench, or cubic feet of shop space, or board feet of material. It's about 16 inches wide and 7 inches tall.

She was presented it yesterday, in its own storage box. He explained that the lower part, the walnut, was from some lumber given them by friends, an elderly couple, who died this year. The other was material he had been saving, though it seemed too small to be of use.

He blathered, she stared. "Beautiful, just beautiful," she would say, between his stumbling sentences.

Happy birthday, Linda, the love of my life. The words my heart speaks sometime get to my hands first, and that's often how they're best said.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Strange Coincidence

We were on our way to the coast for a weekend away, my wife and I. It was the late seventies. Both avid readers, we agreed we'd stop at the used book store in Grand Ronde, west of Salem (Oregon). 20 minutes was our contract, limit 6 books. So we stopped, shopped and grabbed.

A few hours later, comfortably established in our motel room, I pulled a chair to the window on the Pacific and opened the topmost book from my stack: The Swiss Account by Leslie Waller.

It was published in 1976, ISBN 0-385-09661-5.

By now you've peeked at the pictures. Imagine my disbelief as I read that dedication.

I wrote Mr. Wallace, care of his publisher, and received a response--from Italy. Now, as I read about his life, I know he was there on his honeymoon. The Lee Barker whom he knew was an editor, LeBaron Barker, who had been a great help to Mr. Waller and who recently had died.

And the postscript: Years later we got a thing called the World Wide Web, and it made it easy to find other Lee Barkers. And other copies of the book. When I found one of the formers, I'd send a copy of the latter. Why not?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

After you've created something a bit new and realized that folks more than a mile away are wanting it, the image of putting your product in a box becomes something more than a passing thought. If your creation is not an easy three dimensional shape, and if it is fragile in the slightest, the ante is upped.

Enter Rick Wilcox and Columbia Corrugated Box of Portland. Once again it's Prototype Time: Try, fail, learn. The CCB pros created the bespoke box you see here. The stand, boxed, fits in it too. The key part is the die cut foam insert into which the bass snuggles like a puppy into the new afghan folded at the end of the sofa. Everything is padded on the top by the eggcrate foam and the gig bag. Barker Basses have arrived safely in places as far flung (from Oregon, USA) as Germany, Mexico, England and Venezuela.

Enter Mark DeHart of Rock Hard Road Cases which is conveniently located in Albany, Oregon. Mark designed the blue beauty you see in the images, using the tried and true foam insert. If you're touring, by surface or by air, it's the one for hard duty.

In between these two lands the case shown in tandem with the shipping box: A lightweight but still protective version that's easier to handle than the CCB box. It's shopmade here, and is usable without wheels and an end handle, and actually smaller in dimension than the box.

It's people like Rick and Mark that enable a small company like this one to be on the map.

And that's coming from the Barker Musical Instruments Shipping Department Manager. Who also is the CEO. And the Janitor. Photographer. And, periodically, the Blogger.