We All Have Our Triggers

C.F.A. Voysey, Birds of Many Climes.

Periodically, I take a news break and I’m long overdue for another one. At least for a month I need to heed the wisdom of that other periodic newspaper faster Henry David Thoreau and get my head out of the New York Times in order “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”

Thoreau came to mind after spending way too much time this weekend reading the complete list of all the folks in Jeffrey Epstein’s leaked black book. One positive aspect of that list is that it’s a convenient roster of all the folks that, unlike Epstein, I’d least like to be stranded on an island with. It turns out that Epstein’s buddies include the new atheist gang and their promoter along with pseudo-intellectual publishing phenomenons such as Steven Pinker and Jared Diamond and, as a topping to the crap sundae, a rogues gallery of war criminals and serial rapists.

While I was getting triggered reading Epstein’s list Kelly called from another room with her own triggering incident. She read a paragraph from the introduction of a book she highly recommends, Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks. Macfarlane notes,

The same year I first saw the Peat Glossary [a list of the hundreds of Gaelic terms for the moorland], a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voicemail.

Add to this outrage the news, in today’s New York Times, that executives at Amazon are unaware that vegetables and fruits have seasons,

The former head of a major produce company said Amazon told him it wanted to sell marquee fresh items at low prices every day. The executive said he had to explain that certain products, like berries or lettuce, may be available all year thanks to global supply chains, but that they cost more in the off-season. Forcing flat, low prices would put too much risk on growers.

Amazon executives, the person said, were caught off guard by the response. It didn’t seem as if they had fully appreciated how seasonality made predictable pricing far harder than selling cereal or paper towels.

This doesn’t end well.

Saturday Tweets: Return of the Oakland Monster

Seat Weaving for Fun and Profit

I finished the last step of that quirky C.F.A. Voysey chair this week: fiber rush weaving. Even if you never build a chair from scratch, mastering seat weaving opens up a whole world of thrift store furniture rescue. I remember seeing a nice ladderback chair in a San Diego thrift store last year in great shape but in need of a new seat. Learn to weave your own seat and you could easily encircle your dining room table with a nice set of inexpensive, second-hand chairs. Seat weaving ain’t rocket science and it’s a whole lot more useful than sending idiots to mars.

Traditionally, this type of woven seat was made with cordage harvested from water plants. Beginning in the early 20th century, in the U.S., most rush seats were made from a rush substitute called fiber rush which is made out of spun paper, the same paper used for grocery bags. This is what I used since it’s cheaper, lasts longer and is easier to work with. Fiber rush comes in a light and dark color. I used the light color. It also comes in thicknesses between 1/8″ and 3/8″. I used the 3/16″ thickness to match the type on the original chair. I ordered it from Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply for $9.75 for a two pound coil, which is just about enough for one chair. I ordered two, 2-pound rolls since I correctly anticipated making some mistakes the first time and I’m planning on making more of these chairs.

I found a helpful seat weaving tutorial on YouTube by Ed Hammond a.k.a. Peerless Rattan. Hammond has sixteen videos on how to weave and cane a variety of chairs. Please note that in addition to ladderback chairs there’s a lot of mid-century Scandinavian chairs that have a slightly different kind of woven seat. Learning to weave Scando chairs will lead you to the “profit” promise in this blog headline as you help supply all the Silver Lake Shamans with refurbished mid-century thrones from which to enjoy a $15 juice while Instagraming their house plants.

Most chairs narrow at the back and you have to account for that when weaving the seat. Hammond shows this first step at the beginning of the video. My chair is square which allowed me to skip this first step. It’s also woven on a frame that fits into the seat. This is convenient in that I was able to weave the seat from the comfort of the vise of my work bench. But I don’t think a ladderback chair would be much more difficult–you just have to straddle it as you weave and remember to peek at the back periodically to make sure you’re not making any mistakes.

Sloppy first attempt on left and improved second try on right.

I’ll send you to Hammond’s oddly soothing video for the details of how to weave the chair. It’s easier to show than to describe in words but I’ll add a few lessons learned. Most importantly, take your time and make sure that each strand is tight and straight as you weave the chair. It’s not a race. Stop frequently to tap the cords straight with a hammer and wooden wedge. If you make a mistake, go back and fix it before proceeding. You can clamp off the cord with a spring clamp in order to take a break or straighten out the lines.

There’s apparently some disagreement over the need to pre-moisten the fiber rush in the chair weaving community but I found wetting the cord with a spray bottle made it easier to bend over the frame. Towards the end of the weaving process you fill the voids under the fiber rush with pieces of corrugated cardboard, being careful to put the writing side down.

When complete, I gave the fiber two coats of shellac in case someone spills a beverage. I’m also hoping that I didn’t spend many hours making an elaborate cat scratcher but so far there’s been no feline interest.

Let me also note that this skill is basketry adjacent. Learn seat weaving or basketry and you’ve got a witty, skill boasting riposte to those who suggest you “learn to code.”

Relax and Enjoy the Soft Caress of the Fun Fur

I realized that I never got around to posting photos of our completed living room so step on in!

Alas, the shag lined Root Simple headquarters exists only conceptually. While I’m just old enough to remember the era from whence these photos from the book Creating modern furniture : trends, techniques, appreciation (1975) originate, they seem like artifacts from some alien planet, perhaps the one depicted in Barbarella. Water damage from the Los Angeles Central Library fires of the 1980s only adds to the otherness of these images.

At the risk of sparking inter-generational snark warfare, let’s take a look at some more:

This blog post would have been so much better had it been written whist enthroned on this bucket seat/bookshelf combo.

After writing said blog post I could rest my laurels on this foam lounging thing. But how to exit the foam loungy thingy in a dignified manor?

Maybe I’d be better off pondering my poor dental hygiene.

This looks like a bar stool from one of those lesser, final season, 1960s Star Trek episodes.

For the young folks, driftwood furniture was the 1970s equivalent of today’s ubiquitous live edge river table. Driftwood was mandatory prior to 1980. At the very least you had a driftwood coffee table. Only the upper crust had a driftwood throne like this one.

Who knew you could make a kid burrito with 70s fiber art? I do like the idea of sleepable art.

This kid, however, looks terrified and/or trapped in her 70s sculptural play environment.

Someone please suggest the right prog rock concept album to listen to in this chair.

You’ll need to relax after the terrifying dinner party.

Lastly, yes this is Frank Gehry.

Saturday Tweets: Happy Feet and Sad Feet