Today I finished working on a collaboration with a friend of mine, Caleb. Actually we finished working together about two days ago with construction and I continued with the finish application.
We are both very enthusiastic about coffee. There are several ways to make coffee, each with its pros and cons. The pour-over method lets hot water run over grounds in a filter and out the bottom of some container, such as the one to the left, then into a cup/thermos. This brewing method is preferred to electric/automatic makers because the coffee, once brewed, doesn't sit on the heat (this affects the flavor adversely).
The coffee maker usually sits on top of the receiving vessel, but this can prove precarious especially with tall thin containers like a thermos (which I use every day). Stability can be added to the process using some kind of stand, anything like the one above, which gives the user a larger area on which to set the maker. The cups are set below on the flat continuous surfaces. The box allows for short and tall coffee cups. Now the coffee drinker can enjoy the un-burnt flavor of coffee made this way and a higher degree of safety when using boiling water.
This box is constructed using finger or box joints, which are similar to dovetails in that they interlock and provide a lot of glue surface. Whereas dovetails are uniquely suited to drawers in furniture, a box joint helps the wood worker during glue application and clamp up, by forcing the box sides into 90 degree corners, yielding a nice rectangle with a solid connection between the boards.
The joints are cut in a way similar to dovetail joints, using a hand held router with a bearing guided straight bit. I devised and made the jig myself 7 years ago and this project with Caleb was the second time I'd used it. The results are very nice and tight. The box is finished in satin polyurethane and polished with wax.
This was a fun project and great opportunity to share learning with a friend. I value these opportunities for their tendency to deepen friendships. When we work together and generally share life with others we are blessed and built up. We aren't just putting in hours of work, we are pouring out our lives into others. Like coffee, life is better with friends.
I recently finished a table for my back porch. I had an old table base that had been used to house a radial arm saw. I no longer use the saw so I removed it and was left with a base without a top. Rather than let the base continue to mildew on the deck I thought I'd up-cycle it and make some nicer outdoor furniture with a refined rustic feel.
I wanted something low maintenance and visually appealing. I used a bunch of maple full of knots and coloration from spalting for the top and finished everything with spar urethane, which holds up well to weather. I milled up some fir for the benches as well (which measure about three feet long and 17 inches high) and chamfered the legs' edges. The process of upgrading the table and making benches took about two days. I only had to buy screws and finish.
As long as I've been conversant in 19th cent. painting, I've gravitated toward the paintings of Paul Cezanne. I think it's his ability to get at and distill the underlying visual structure of a view that draws me in. His paintings set up geometric rhythms that seem to vibrate into coherence and an overall thrust. The mountain he paints competes with the sky for its position in space, resulting in an ambiguity about which is closer. The forms of rock and sky compete and trade position. Our minds tell us that the sky is behind but Cezanne gives the atmosphere permission to come in-between us and the peak. His paintings give us a glimpse of the unsoiled world, one with views of perfection.
My own attempt at Mount Sainte-Victoire falls short of the genius of Cezanne. But I am indebted to this man who could fix light in oil, and show my appreciation by emulating his approach as best I understand it. Any painter would profit from a study of a Cezanne work. My own version is from a photograph of the mountain itself, which overlooks Aix-en-Provence, France. My pastel tries like Cezanne to obscure many details, while maintaining the overall force of the scene. I used a combination of Sennelier Pastels and Pan-Pastels in conjunction with some marks made with Sofft Tools. Cezanne's original oil probably measured around 60x80 cm.
A few weeks ago I went up to the Jackson County airport to hunt rainbows. I found the one you see to the left (click to enlarge), which left me very satisfied after waiting around for about an hour post rain storm. I figured the angle of the sun in conjunction with the moisture/droplets in the air would be conducive for bow formation. And I was right!
The bonus for me came later, when the sun was setting. The thick moisture and clouds also made for a great sunset, with vibrant pinks and oranges, which I also photographed (see below) then painted (below original). Quite the eventful evening for the meteorologist in me, and it's always interesting to see my original juxtaposed with the painting.
It's interesting how light and gases conspire to produce their effects. Photons permeating not aether, but atmosphere. Light bouncing and bent, the atmosphere can reflect and rend to stunning effect. I propose a fifth dimension to standard space/time, the affective. Despite what some might say, as my understanding of physical phenomena increases, my wonder at them and their natural beauty is no-wise diminished. My knowledge lends a depth to my appreciation, helps me know where to situate it. My understanding/experiences are like voices singing at/in me. Knowing why the sun's light appears a certain way in relation to the horizon and that its beautiful is like two voices singing in harmony, producing chords of construal. As I understand from different "directions" I find choirs of sorts develop. Sometimes the notes conflict, sometimes they resolve later, only to become discordant again. There emerges perhaps an epistemological symphony.
Changing Gears then...
I've been thinking on and off lately about what "now" means. It seems at first a fairly common sense idea, a useful temporal term. This stems from considering the speed of light and how it mediates vision (supposedly, at least that's the best way I have to understand, not withstanding some sort of "simple seeing" or vision). Side note: I feel like I should be reading Hume right now.
Anyway, what does it mean to see now? Cosmologists would agree that when we look to the stars and nebulae, we are not seeing the "now" or present state of those celestial bodies. We are rather being impinged upon by the light of millions and billions of years past. It seems then the difference between viewing extra-galactic objects and our sun near the horizon is only one of degree, not kind. Seeing happens in time, minute as it may be, an interval is present. Is there then any instantaneous awareness of the world around us? I imagine lots of questions that are given birth by this one, and have no intention of chasing the answers.
When I say I see it "now", I seem to point to something past, not really at a given instant "now." I feel like I have to suspend this thinking anytime I talk about tensed facts (it is now 10:42 for example). Does this make me and everyone else anti-realists with respect to the present? Is "now" one of those "useful fictions" like perhaps numbers? "Now" in an objective sense seems like it must refer to the smallest possible time interval, one that is instantaneous (whether such exists), and not divisible, but all instants seem potentially infinitely divisible (whether actually infinitely divisible I doubt, but never-mind).
So, when I see, how do I describe accurately that state of affairs? "I am seeing the sun lit valley" seems appropriate to the scene above, as it acknowledges at least the ongoing nature of the act, the constant unfolding, as opposed to "the valley is now sun-lit." Now I can't help but notice that one description reflects my internal state of affairs vs. that of the valley.
I suppose that's enough confusion until next time. I am at least sure about my love of art.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.