Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Beginning of the End

I remember walking with my stepfather through his amazingly wonderful apple orchard. And we came to one tree that was so laden with fruit that it's branches were bent all the way to the ground. "It's probably dying," was his observation. He went on to tell me that sometimes a fruit tree hit with blight or disease will make a desperate dying effort to perpetuate itself by producing as much fruit and seed as possible.

In some ways, the show we did in a big barn in the dead of winter reminded me of that. Despite the five year run of increasing productivity, popularity, and success, there were signs that the Linton Casket Company may soon be facing some darker, sadder days. I will write more about that in my next, and last, post about this project.

(What follows are lots of photos, so enjoy the scroll down memory lane, and click to enlarge, if you like...or even double click for closer viewing)

We found a vacant barn about half-way between Linton and the hollow. We leased it as a place to pull off a winter show. And, despite the bitter weather it was, perhaps one of our best shows.

Tony Gerber graciously put together a flyer advertising our show, which we handed out and mailed out.

Flip Side

Bud, Tony, and I each put together some large suspended pieces. It was a two-story barn, so we had the room to hang a few things overhead. Bud's 'Bye Plane' was perhaps the most iconic and foretelling of some sad times that lay ahead.

Tony's Spirit Flyer also seems, in retrospect, premonitory. I suppose it could be called a Bye Cycle.

My own mobile was literally thrown together. A three-wheeled Pegasus, of sorts. After the show, I dismantled it, and used the wood to make other things.

A view looking down from the second floor balcony at a portion of our work. That's me in the middle of some of the work I had done.

From left to right, Bud, Robert Seigenthaler, Frankie G, and yours truly.

Some of my stuff

Monroe's carving of 'The Gambler', and the large fruit I carved and called 'Plum Loco, Fruit of my Labor'.

Bud's 'Scale of Injustice'.

Robert Seigenthaler's exquisitely worked limestone 'Gargoyle'.

Close up of 'The Gambler'.

A hickory kitchen table by Monroe.

I think these two were by JQ, but can't recall.

Another figurative piece by Monroe.

The next few pieces were made by Bud, I think.

Monroe's 'Shooter'

Whidler aka Brother Al, aka Mask Man, AKA Puppet Man ( He hand carved wonderful small heads for puppets I do not have photos of, unfortunately.) showed some hand-made leather bags any Linton cowgirl would love. They are displayed on a massive bench, also of his making.

Some boxes ( Pet Caskets)

I think Bud made this table.

Two of my pieces.

This cabinet was, for me, one of my best pieces. It reflects so much of what I had learned from the others about rustic woodworking. It is primarily walnut with hickory inset panels on the doors framed in poplar. It is put together with close to fifty hand-whittled white oak pegs. No nails or screws involved. Hinges are hand carved, and the door handles are white oak 'coyote heads. The piece sold in the first hour of the show, and was whisked away to Alabama. I sorta wish I'd kept it, but we needed money badly.

A small kitchen work station.

A coyote pup.

A coyote bench.

A cartoon chair of mine.

A bench, with one of my paintings hanging behind it.

'Electric Chair'

A cherry vanity. One of the few things I managed to hold onto over the years.

For this show, 'Coyote On The Road' wore leather clothes.

My 'throne'. This is currently in my backyard, but I think it will soon be inherited by chickens as a roost in their coop.

A wall collage of wood.

My next post will be my last one. 'The Fall of Linton'. After that, I will reverse the order of all these posts so that the story unfolds chronologically. It will then just simply stand as a bit of on-line evidence of a group of people, some other time ago, 'doing their thing'.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Linton Goes to Town

I hope you will enjoy this scroll through a number of things produced by the Linton Casket Company for a couple of outdoor shows in the city. (Nashville) I have said it before, but it bears repeating: During the five year run of this wood-working coop, no commercial lumber was used, neither were any live trees ever cut down. It was in a way, a scavenging operation. We were quick to gather up trees brought down in storms, trees pushed or cut down by land/real estate developers, or trees taken out by utility companies because they threatened power/communication lines. We also developed alliances with a few tree surgeon/landscaping companies who would inform us if they had been contracted to remove a notable tree. We even floated the rivers after storms and re-claimed trees that had been washed away by flood waters. I emphasize these things because they reflect a principle of respect for the environment that was central to our work.

Note: For the first time, we actually exhibited a full-size (i.e. intended for a human) casket. It was made by Bud, and never was sold, or even offered for sale. It served only as an icon of sorts. We did, however, sell numerous small boxes intended as pet caskets. Some were actually used for that purpose, others were purchased simply as decorative and functional pieces for the house.

Typical 'found' wood represented in the pieces shown below are: poplar, cherry, walnut, hickory, ash, pine, red oak, white oak, and paulownia, apple, and pear. All pieces, in a way, represent a fallen tree. They are a product of obtaining such a tree, milling it ourselves, and curing by air and sun.