Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why I'm Not Blogging Right Now

Some of you may know that I'm a drummer. I've been playing drums for over 39 years. I was first chair in the high school band in Grapeland, Texas, for four years straight, got a music scholarship to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and then played drums, wrote music and sang in a progressive metal band called Loremaster.

And now I make sawdust for a living. I love my job, but that's not what this is about.

I volunteer to help with the drums & percussion at the local high school here in Alvarado, Texas. I'm a substitute teacher at the junior high, so I already know most of the kids I'm working with. That makes it easy to get them to do what I need them to do in order to get them ready for competition.

This year I worked most with the bass drums. The last few years I have been shocked by their performance so I decided I should stop being critical and actually do something about it. I took them under my wing from the first day of band three weeks before school started and, by the time they were preparing for their third or fourth football game, they were well on their way to greatness.

The bass drums played exceptionally well this year, but that's not what this is about either.

Since I was working at the high school so much this year I was around the rest of the drummers, and I helped with anything they needed. Most of them didn't need that much help, but I was there if they did. The tenor drummers were headed by a kid I've known since he was in 7th grade. He's the same age as my son. They played football together in junior high and have been in the band together for five years. This year, as juniors in high school, they were both working hard to get the band ready to compete and maybe go to the Area or even the State marching contest.

My son is first chair alto saxophone so he didn't interact with the other kid, Danny Lee, on any sort of regular basis. The band is large, with over 100 kids taking the field during half-time performances, and it's understandable when two particular kids attend this same class ever day but go weeks without the opportunity to even speak with one another. My son and Danny didn't really have the same friends, either, so their interaction was extremely limited.

Danny was very smart, probably on the upper end of the top ten percent of his class. His grades were good and his performances on the field at half-time were damn near flawless. He had some great friends, many of whom I still have contact with from when they were in junior high school. He also had a few enemies, not the least of which was the other tenor drummer, a freshman whose time in band had become a living Hell due to the ceaseless verbal abuse Danny inflicted upon him. And there were others who didn't like him for similar reasons. He bullied some of them, but he made everyone pay when he just didn't feel like showing up for rehearsals or performances.

None of this stuff -- good or bad -- was enough to convince Danny Lee not to hang himself last Friday morning. The band found out about it an hour before the football game that night. Area marching contest was the next day. The band marched surprisingly well during half-time, after an announcement over the P.A. about Danny and a moment of silence. Danny was supposed to play a solo at the beginning of the show so they left it out. They marched very well at the contest the next day, but not well enough to advance to State.

Many of the kids are pissed off at Danny Lee for once again inflicting his pain on them, making them suffer for his mistakes. Many of the kids never saw that side of him and they're pissed at the other kids who did. And all of the kids are saddened by this senseless, selfish act. He brought their momentum to a screeching halt, got all the attention. He also used a permanent solution to fix a temporary situation. Whatever he was depressed about was never this bad.

Danny had the face of an angel, and sometimes he had the personality to match. This was not his first attempt at suicide, though, and he chose to project his feelings of sadness and anger onto people with less power and those he saw as rivals, like the other tenor drummer who was catching up to Danny's skill level rapidly.

And now I'm sitting here in my office with the same mixed emotions felt by the kids at school. He was an ass and an angel, a bully and a friend, an idiot and a genius. And I'll always regret not seeing him smile one last time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Arline Ostolaza: Featured Artist from Design Style Guide

Arline Ostolaza is a member of Design Style Guide. She is one of the more gifted artists I have come across in a number of years. She is a woman of few words, at least in my experience, but her art speaks volumes.

Arline Ostolaza is my Featured Artist.

1. Hello, Arline. What is your shop name?


2. What is your shop URL?

(I'm working on a website (www.arlinearts.com), which will link to imagekind.

3. When did you start selling online?

Can't say exactly when.  However, it hasn't been much more than a month.

4. What is your favorite thing about selling online?

I don't have to concern myself with shipping problems.

5. What is your favorite thing about what you sell?

I've always enjoyed all aspects of art-making, and I particularly enjoy drawing.

6. What is your favorite item in your own shop and why?

My computer.  It allows me to explore the work of other artists here and abroad, and supplies invaluable information in this regard.

7. What is the most fun thing you do to promote your shop?

Visiting museums and galleries via the computer.

8. What are some of your favorite things about other sellers online?

Unusual points of view in the works of other artists.

9. What do you do in your spare time?

I read a great deal, visit museums/galleries, botanical gardens, zoos, I exercise, and I cook for family and friends.

10. Do you have anything else you would like to share?

I'm having my art work redone in order to offer larger prints of my work to the public.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"There's a lectern up in the sky."

The first time I built a lectern I thought it would take longer than it did. This time it's going even faster. I started yesterday by laminating two sheets of 3/4" birch plywood. Today I got my wood, ripped it into eight 1 1/2" strips and two 2" strips, cut the strips to length and got three-quarters through the glue-up process. Tomorrow I'll have the base finished and I can start working on the top.

I'm substitute teaching this Friday, October 17, 2008. I plan to have the lectern finished and delivered by then.

In the meantime I'll be starting the cabinets for my artist friend, Clay, who sincerely wishes to remain totally anonymous. He'll be quite happy to hear this.

The cool part about this is I get to perfect my building process and get paid at the same time. So when someone buys a lectern at my Etsy site I'll have the whole thing down to a fairly speedy procedure. That will help make it more profitable without charging anything extra. And I'll be able to work on a lectern whilst building other projects for other clients, which means I can accept more jobs at the same time. Everybody wins!

Update, October 13, 2008:

The entire column is glued up and clamped up. When the glue finishes cooking I can start sanding it.

The legs have to be drilled for the brass threaded inserts so I can attach the levelers at the very end of the process, after the lectern has been finished. But I need rubber feet for this one instead of sliders because this classroom has tile instead of carpet, and I want to make sure the rubber levelers have the same size bolt screws first because, if the bolt is smaller, I'll need smaller threaded inserts. And there's just no practical way to make a hole smaller after it's been drilled.

So, I'm going to Rockler Woodworking this evening to see what sorts of levelers they have in stock. I love going there! I'm like a kid in a candy store!

Update, October 15, 2008:

I finished the assembly of the lectern today and began the finishing process by applying one coat of clear satin polyurethane.  One more coat on the column and two more on the top and it'll be ready for delivery, probably tomorrow evening or Friday, depending upon the humidity, which can affect the drying time.

Update, October 18, 2008:

The lectern has been delivered, the client is happy. There was even talk from another teacher about commissioning another one!  This is greatness!  I want to get a photo of the lectern in her room with kids there, but I don't know when that will happen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Drawers of the World... or at least the garage... Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats...

A good friend of mine named Clay, who wishes to remain anonymous, brought me over to his house recently and showed me a collection of eight drawers and an old door. He asked if I could build two cabinets to house the drawers and use those same cabinets to support the door, on it's side, so he would have a sort of work bench in his garage.

Now, Clay is an artist. In the classic sense. He paints pictures. He doesn't need the sort of work bench I have in my wood shop. So this idea of his was certainly sound.

And I can, indeed, build just what he's asking for. Thursday afternoon I'll be purchasing a ton of 3/4" birch plywood with which to begin the previously mentioned cabinets. Along with the sheet goods I'll get eight casters, four of which will have brakes on them. I'll worry about the drawer slides after I pick up the drawers from Clay this Saturday.

This will be fun. Once again I'll be building something I've never built before. I know I can build it, but it's still something new for me. That's exciting! When I was a graphic designer I took on jobs all the time without knowing exactly how I would complete them. I never missed a deadline in 13 years and my clients were happy folks and loved the results. When I see some possible obstacle in my path a solution always presents itself. And I like working on the fly.

I'll document this adventure here, with photos, just as I did with the lectern. Speaking of which, I'll be building another lectern at the same time as I start the cabinets. A teacher from the intermediate school has already paid for it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Lectern Reality

Well, it has happened. Debra sent photos of her new lectern and
 the two in-boxes I made for her to several other teachers in the district, and some of them want lecterns and/or in-boxes of their very own. Now the fun begins as I get to build these items and collect the money. This is why I do this job. It's fun, people like what I do and they're willing to pay me money to do it!

Right now I have orders for two lecterns and one in-box, but there are some others who have yet to get back to me with their decisions. This is a good week!

All this activity has prompted me to go ahead and post photos of my lectern and inboxes at my Etsy shop and list them for sale, with the stipulation that there will be a lag between ordering the item and receiving it because I'll have to build it.

If you happen to be one of the people interested in obtaining one of my lecterns or in-boxes, please go to my Etsy site starting Monday, October 6, 2008 (for the lectern), and Wednesday, October 8, 2008 (for the in-boxes) and check out what I have to offer. You'll like it, and I'm sure you can find uses for at least one of these items. And if you don't there's a ton of candle holders and wine rest for sale there, so look around for a while. And go to my "Favorites" pages to see some great stuff from other Etsy artists.

And you can read LOTS more about all of this stuff right here in my blog. Just check out the archives for September, 2008. It's all there and I think it's a lot of fun to read... you can tell me what YOU think of it if you like.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Barbara Haviland: Etsy Artist from Texas

Barbara Haviland is an artist I have become ever so slightly acquainted with over the last several weeks. Her work is luscious and inspiring, and you can own some of it! Her shop at Etsy is filled with beautiful originals just waiting for you to buy them.

On the personal side, Barbara has been very interesting to "converse" with, even if that conversation has only been by e-mail. I'd love to meet her some day and, since she lives right here in the great state of Texas, that might actually be possible.

Anyway, I asked a few questions, she gave me a few answers, and here's the resulting interview, all typed up just for you.  Enjoy!

1. What is your shop name and what do you sell?

My shop is Barbsgarden and I sell fine art.

2. What is your shop URL?


3. When did you start selling on Etsy?

About 2 years ago.

4. What is your favorite thing about Etsy?

I like the low fees and all the people I have met.

5. What is your favorite thing about what you sell?

I am afraid that I love all my items, because they are painted with love.

6. What is your favorite item in your own shop and why?

Each piece that I create was done from some experience I have had. I mainly paint from photos I shoot. I love it when the piece I am doing comes together. I guess my bayou paintings are my favorites. I have always loved the mysterious bayous.

7. What teams do you belong to and what do you like most about them?

Design Style GuideEtsy Texas CraftersDAWG (Designing Artists Women's Group)WWAO and EBSQ. I have met so many wonderful caring people online in the groups. They are artists of some kind and we can relate.

8. What is the most fun thing you do to promote your shop?

That is one of my major problems. I am not good with promoting myself. I am trying to do that more as I started a blog and am posting every day.

She also has a web site.

9. What are some of your favorite finds by other sellers on Etsy?

Oh, I have found soaps, earrings and bunches of items I would like to trade with. RoseofSharonAcres.etsy.com for soaps. Monica is a gem. Leisab.etsy.com for jewelry. I like to trade and we traded their items for my art. Everyone won.

10. What do you do in your spare time?

I like to spend time with my husband, family and friends. I also like to read. We travel and play board games and have cook outs and watch baseball. My grandsons play baseball and that means lots of tournaments.

11. Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Life is short so make each day count. Do something for someone.