Thursday, April 29, 2010

Developing a Wide Crack

Finish with crackle and glaze (oil) after rubbing:

In spraying a crackle finish, one of the effects I have achieved is to create a very wide "crack" which is a unique effect, and looks nothing like a faux-antique. But the finish must go on fairly heavily and there is a risk of sagging or dripping on a vertical surface. Here is my solution to that problem, so that all four sides of a cube are sprayed horizontally and each given a few moments to set up before rotating to the next side.

This is a close up of the piece. The height is about 24" and the width is 30" on each side. The item is a cube table that will have a base and a stone top. I will try to publish the final picture when it is installed.

Here is the rig I came up with. The "axle" is a 3/4" pipe ordinarily used for pipe clamps. This is the final crackle before sealing and also a glaze coat.
This is the "box" with the coat that goes under the crackle finish.
I have marked the orientation of each side so I can keep track where I am as it gets "spun" to the next position.
This is what the primer coat looks like. One trick for a medium crackle colored crackle is to tint the white primer with a little black because when the "cracking" occurs, it can pull all the paint aside right down to the primer coat. If you use straight white it shows through and makes the under color of the two step crackle look lighter than it is.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Speaking at the #140 Conference part 2

Maybe a more philosophical blog than the usual, but I welcome your feedback and comments on this very first draft of some thoughts that have been brewing before and after the conference:

Thinking about Twitter and what it has done from news reporting of accidents to live accounting of the Iranian resistance movement’s protests, to the bringing together of many folks whom would otherwise not have met, got me thinking about German Philosophy.

In 1962, a philosopher from the Frankfurt School, Jurgen Habermas, wrote a paper called, “The Transformation of the Public Sphere”. In it, Habermas argues that the pressures of modernity and the encroachment of Capitalism into every day life meant that spaces where the public could meet freely to debate and discuss politics, culture and society were inevitably getting eroded, weakened and disappearing. Perhaps one of the most obvious forms that I witnessed growing up was the displacement of downtown vibrant businesses and meeting places by the Mall. Malls could regulate their space as it was private property in a manner that a town could not. Capitalism, Habermas argued also infiltrated every aspect of our lives with a form of propaganda in the form of advertising that shaped our mental spaces from public to private, from the good of the greater group to the celebration of the individual.

Habermas articulates the notion of the public as something constructed, even though today we take it for granted. Before Capitalism, the King occupied the space of the "Public" and all the rest were spectators. During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, the rest of the population had access to that "public sphere" for the first time since the Greek Democracy.

"Habermas sees the public sphere as developing out of the private institution of the family, and from what he calls the "literary public sphere", where discussion of art and literature became possible for the first time. The public sphere was by definition inclusive, but entry depended on one's education and qualification as a property owner. Habermas emphasizes the role of the public sphere as a way for civil society to articulate its interests." (

So the transition to a more privatized society and the corruption of "truth" or the manipulation of facts by the State is a deadly one-two punch to the older more idealized Public Sphere. However, I have been thinking about the effect of Twitter on this equation. Not only do all of us have the opportunity to post thoughts, observations, promotions and reports into this public medium without the intrusion of the State or propaganda machines, but we have recreated the space of the Public in doing so. From the private spaces of our bedrooms, to restaurants, to the workplace we can connect with others across the invisible lines that architecture and our limited time restraints place before us. Twitter, I am arguing is reconstructing a new notion of the Public Sphere from where we can discuss and critique on an International level any State that is of concern, any cultural phenomenon, and "breaking news" as well.

This is a pretty revolutionary idea if you consider that this kind of Public Sphere space was being eroded so greatly by the economic and political forces of the last fifty years. Twitter is using technology, or we are using that Twitter provided technology to redefine our relationships and spaces.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On speaking at the #140 conference

I recently had the opportunity, at the invitation of Shira Abel (Twitter ID: @shiraabel), a high tech marketing maven with an interior design blog named "tchochkes", to speak on a panel at the #140 Conference on Twitter and Interior Design. [ The archived video is available at:]

During our whirlwind 15 minutes, which the Twitter conference had provided us with, for a moderator and three panelists (myself (@johnstrauss), Grace Bonney (@designsponge) of Design*Sponge, and Angela Gruszka (@ABC_Carpet) - Public Relations Director at ABC Carpet and Home ) we had limited opportunities to articulate our thoughts on the world of Social Media. So I thought I would follow up here with a few additional ideas.

First of all, as I said on the panel: I began as a huge skeptic. But one year later and I have over 1200 "followers" , many of whom are in the design trade as Interior Designers, Architects, affiliated manufacturers, woodworkers, furniture designers, media folk, etc. I generally don't follow back people outside this orbit so it is not the number of followers I am after (as many on Twitter are) but the quality of the ones I relate to. I think I could count on one hand the ones I knew before starting off on Twitter so that means about 1200 people in my field are to a greater or lesser degree aware of what I do that I wouldn't have been in touch with otherwise.

Of these followers, some have contacted me for quotes and one of those requests will no doubt soon become my first "Twitter job". Others may contact me in the near future. Several of the people/companies I follow have already worked with me in one capacity or another to produce work. (Examples are below) And it was a Twitter connection that led to me being invited to be on the #140 conference panel. (and many opportunities may follow from that). Through Twitter I have friends that I talk to about our chickens, a friend whom I exchange Hebrew words with to further my slow learning of the language, and new friends in Israel that I could visit when I go there next. Through Twitter I now have a community of friends who get together for "Tweetups" at the different furniture markets and who are now friends "in real life". The hugs we give each other when we meet are genuine and heartfelt.

So some examples of the networking results: @copperhandman, otherwise known as Rich Hawk and I tweeted first and then spoke by email and phone about a collaboration. I invited Rich to show some work in my High Point showroom last October and to collaborate on a three-panel screen that I designed. The result was shown in Interior Design magazine in their Market review issue that came out about a few months ago. From that picture, I have one custom job that I am currently completing for a pop-up television cabinet, with copper doors. (photo will be coming soon) Through Twitter, I met Alexandra Gibson (@gibsondm) who with Gibson Design Group helped me with a rendering of a project I designed for a new building of a local non-profit. The rendering was displayed at the building dedication so that they could identify a funder for the project. Through Twitter I have met many people involved in marketing furniture companies such as @tkpleslie, @prosperbydesign and @leslienewby who have along with many others been extremely supportive of my ventures and designs. (I have not paid them for their kind words - yet!) Through Twitter I have received coverage of my work from Home Accents Today (@WesAtHome and @tracybulla) and HER Nashville (@designvine). On Twitter I have exchanged communications with Kathy Ireland (@kathyireland) and Mariel Hemingway (@marielhemingway). I could continue in this vein, but the overarching concept is that any of this would have been unlikely without engaging on Twitter.

In the next post, some further musings on the philosophical and social underpinnings of Twitter as it relates to our understanding of the "Public Sphere". Stay tuned.