Monday, May 29, 2017

Reclaimed Cypress Tables #2

I just looked at my first blog on creating stump tables from river reclaimed cypress. It was 4 YEARS ago. No, must be a typo. Have I been at this thing that long? Guess so!! I have survived with no crushed toes, cut off fingers, my hand arthritis is still there but a martini at night helps, made a few bucks, and believe I have made people happy by incorporating my creations into their homes.

The evolution of my work has been interesting and fun. Every piece of cypress turns out differently in color and grain. Here is a stump that has over 800 life rings. When recovered it was covered with 150 years of silt and scum. But, when cleaned and sanded it turned into a great reddish brown, showing all its rings. It seems like the older a log, the more color it has. I have proven my son Eric wrong when, upon asking him for ideas on the piece, said I need to cut it up for firewood. No imagination my little 45 year old son.

Sections from a 800 year old river reclaimed cypress. Before the fun started.

First cypress table from the rough sections

Second cypress table from the rough sections.



Here are four side tables from the same log with over 300 life rings. They do not have the color the 800 year old ones have, but they are still cool. The colors really come out with more coats of clear finish. I usually do 4 coats, with sanding in between.




I had a couple of logs that fell apart and I cut them into smaller pieces. Check the various colors from 2 separate logs. OK, but what should I do with them? Tried getting my interior designer daughter to incorporate them into some of her beach decors. There was a polite, no thank you. What do I know? Met a glass blower artist at an art fair recently. She might try and incorporate glass elements into the voids. Guess this applies to the saying - take the blinders off. You never know when something cool might evolve.

These are cut from the above rough sections.



Recently I had a log that was totally hollow, but solid on the outside. It was filled with silt and had interesting voids. Amazing what a power washer and a Dremel tool can do to open up the beauty of a log that had been submerged since the 1800s. I was very happy to place it with friends for their new house.



I am going to vary my log comments for a minute to talk about other uses for logs. My friend Cara recently had to cut down a lovely, old white pine. She has an old farm house and thought she could salvage boards from the pine for her floor. Here is the result before and after finishing. What a great use of old, beautiful trees, rather then shoving them into a landfill. GREAT job Cara.




One last tidbit on trees. Our community recently removed some magnolias that had become overgrown and a nuisance. Here is an end cut of the base of one of the trees. It shows the growth life rings and how fast a tree grows in this Florida climate. There are 2-3 rings per inch. My reclaimed, original growth cypress logs have 25-30 rings per inch. Each ring is a year of the tree's growth. This slow growth of original timber produces beautifully grained and tight wood.




Well, I have finished my Starbucks coffee and am off to find some new stumps/logs. Or to finish sanding some of my current stock. Often the "search" turns out to be more fun than standing over a table with my orbital sander. Remember, never pass up the opportunity to put that strange looking log into your truck. It might be a treasure, or just a bunch of bug infested fire wood.

Take Care
Spring is here. Watch out for critters in the woods.
Margaritas are wonderful this time of year.
Protest the WH and Trump against destroying our national wildernesses and parks.
Never trust a Swede with a chain saw.

John "Gabby" Gabrielson
www.naturalcreations.me
johngabrielson5@gmail.com






Monday, January 9, 2017

The Decrease of Women Power thru the Ages

Now I am really straying form my blogs on reclaimed wood. This is about what I believe is the decline in women's rights thru the ages. I became interested in this subject as I witnessed the inequality that exists today between women and men. This has been brought to my attention especially as my two super granddadaughters are soon to enter the real world. I want them to have an equal fighting chance with their male counterparts, and be tough enough to challenge them.

Let's look at the importance of women in society thru the ages. Then compare this with today's environment.

American Indians.
Prior to the tribes being destroyed, women were the important element in the tribal structure. There was a clear division of responsibilities. The men were the hunters and the warriors. The women bore the children, raised them, did the cooking, made the clothing, tended the gardens. It is interesting that the women were the force behind all tribal actions. The men were the only ones allowed in the governing pow wows, but they were controlled by the desires of the women being the scenes. Not so today in urbanized Indian communities.

Scandinavian Vikings.
Women were revered. The men were the warriors, but the women ran everything else. Some would even fight beside the men in raids around Europe. If a woman was abused, the abuser would be banished from the settlement. If a man raped a woman, his "manly parts" would be cut off and could be hung at the house of the woman. Then banished. This certainly is a lot different than today when the rapists can get off scot free and the accuser woman is criticized and emotionally hurt for years.

Venezuala.
Prior to the recent downfall of this country, there was a reform movement to reduce poverty. The government actually paid qualified families in cash rather than food stamps and other welfare. In return, the families had to insure their children went to school and a number of other things. This worked. AND the government only paid the cash to the woman of the family. They assumed, rightly so, that the woman would spend the money on needed items of food and clothing. Rather than drinking it up. Now, is this further evidence of the importance of woman? This worked until corruption and the oil crisis blew the country apart.

Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
I recently read: "in Italy when Mama is mad, better watch out, but if Nona is mad, better run." I found this true when we visited Italy a lot a few years ago. There is a constant respect for women, especially as they age. Elderly grandmothers live with their children and are not pushed into nursing homes. They are respected for their wisdom and lifelong family contributions. And they continue to contribute to the family life.

OK, then when did all this change? Maybe the respect for women's rights never did occur in America as in older countries. Maybe we are too new to have established this tradition. Except, look at the pioneer women. They were tough and considered equals. They ran the house and often fought alongside their men. Maybe the urbanization of America was the cause. Who knows.

Maybe it started with religion. the Catholics only had men in their hierarchy until recently. Birth control was an issue - often against women's rights. In certain areas, like Salem, unusual women were sometimes branded as a witch and burned. Maybe it was that few women worked outside the house, vs today when it is 50%. "Women's work" was not as respected as "what the male breadwinner"did. This possibly created a sense of who is more important.

Today we have abuse in the workplace. Unequal pay for equal work. Rapes that were not dealt with like those by Bill Cosby. Rapes on college campuses that were pushed under the rug for years. Gang rapes on the Panama City Beach last year while people stood around and watched. Trump and his response to Megan Kelly and his "fondle" comments on the bus. And on and on. This is a total lack of respect for women.

Finally today, we have an environment where women are not scorned for speaking up, whether it is on campus or in the workplace. Courts are awarding massive settlements as in the FOX News abuse cases. College administrators are finally taking the side of the abused woman and punishing perpetrators. Equal pay for equal work is becoming more common.

This is all great. But we have a lot farther to go for equality for women of all races and backgrounds.
We all need to be aware of this abuse today and let our voices be heard to fight it. Maybe cutting off a rapist's penis and testicles isn't such a bad idea.

Well, I have once again vented on one of the issues very important to me. I apologize for offending anyone. If you disagree, that is your privilege and I respect this. However, those who believe in this issue, must let their voices be heard. That is the only way changes can be made.

LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD, LOUD AND CLEAR.


Thanks for listening to me.
Have a happy and healthy 2017

John "Gabby" Gabrielson
(they do not call me Gabby for nothing)

johngabrielson5@gmail.com



Sunday, January 1, 2017

What is this Aging All About?

OK, as long as this is my blog, I am taking the opportunity to post a totally different thing than my usual wood and creative stuff.

I just turned 75 and am semi retired, or just messing around depending on who you ask. Am I old, over the hill, should be taken care of, or what? As I say "bull shit." That 75 is just a number on my driver's license. Probably look 75 or 80, but feel like I am 55.

If you are bald, grey hair and with a few (of more) wrinkles, often we are put into an
"oh oh, better take care of them" category. When I go grocery shopping at Publix, the bagger always grabs my cart to take to the car,  I suppose assuming I will croak if I do it myself. I "nicely' tell the person that I can handle it and it is good exercise. I know they are just being kind and probably do it to younger people also. Then people will say "pardon me SIR", or "you first SIR." I am not a SIR, I am a happy, healthy 75 year old that could whip many of these kids, well maybe in my dreams. Then when you are trying to help move something heavy, which I could do, people run to take over. I don't need help. Shove off. Boy, do I sound like a grumpy old man.

My name is Gabby. Not good for a 75 year old I guess. People, other then friends, are reluctant to call me by this name. Maybe it should be something more respectable of my age, or not something a kid would be called. Big rip. I am Gabby.

I find "aging" a very interesting and challenging time in our lives. We ache more, fall down more, have memory losses, and look forward to that afternoon nap. I have found a little Aleve helps a lot, and maybe a glass of wine or two. It is interesting because of the perception that we are in the twilight of our years. Sure our time is limited, but this is where the challenge is. What do we want to do for the rest of our lives, whether it is 2 or 20 years. We can either knuckle under and feel sorry for ourselves or "go for the gusto." I go with the Gusto option.

Sometimes I am amazed with my "wisdom." Not that I am smart, but I guess living for 75 years gives me a lot more insight into things. I find it fun to use this wisdom in new ways and with new ideas. I have learned to temper my comments to my children. It is so easy to "tell them the way." I have found that my way often is not the best, especially in the new tech world we live in. So, I now keep my big mouth shut until I am asked for advise.

So, now that I am 75, what do I do now, especially if I feel like I am 55. Well, that is a good question. I hate to speak out much due to it seeming like I am preaching on how to lead a better life to my peers.. This is not my intention at all. Each to their own desires. I find it a very introspective time. With the free time we have as retirees, the "world can be our oyster," OR the world can be a depressive prison. I read a lot on what us "Boomers" or older, "should" do in in our later years. Words are fine, but I have found it takes internal motivation to lead a better, more fulfilling life. This can be hard, unless one really wants to change, and often change a lot.

I have found old ways and beliefs often have to be thrown into the dumpster. I have been burdened with "if only I had done this", or "doing this is below my status," or "what will people think of me." I have broken through this barrier by myself and with help. It was not easy for awhile. Fortunately, I am "thru the dark tunnel" and looking at a beautiful sunlit life ahead of me. Sure there are and will be many bumps along the way, but I yell at myself that I will be able to handle them.

I keep telling myself: laugh a lot, DO NOT take life and it's events seriously - things will pass, take the blinders off, eat that extra bagel, take a nap, sleep until 9, love - love- love, bring joy to someone everyday - especially strangers. As a good friend has said: "we are only here for a visit and each passing day makes our time shorter."

OK, that is off my mind. Now back to wood and creating blogs.

Happy New Year everyone. LIFE CAN BE  AND IS GOOD. GRAB THE GUSTO.

JOHN "GABBY" GABRIELSON

www.johngabrielson5@gmail.com
NATURAL CREATIONS.ME












Thursday, December 1, 2016

How About Shell Art Therapy

I recently blogged about wood art therapy. How about shell art therapy, especially for those living along coastal areas that have shelling? Blogging about "therapy" makes it sound like I really need help. Well, maybe some people think I do, but I find these things add to my quality of life.

I live in NW Florida where the beaches are wonderful, but typically have no shells. However, several years ago we had beach nourishment due to erosion. The contractor brought in sand to pump onto the shore that contained shells. Well, I and my grandkids had a ball for two years collecting surface shells and digging for others. We came up with hundreds of neat ones. Now what to do with them? We made stuff.

When I talk about shelling for therapy, I mean finding them and creating objects. I love the "finding" phase. I can roam for hours with my head bent over looking for shells. When I go to an area known for shelling, I am up early after a storm checking to see what has washed up. When I am vacationing along a shell shore like SW Florida, I love taking a leisurely walk for exercise AND to look for shells. It is therapeutic for me. I come back to the beach chairs loaded with shells - mostly junk ones. But it is the "hunt" that is fun. After leaving, the junk shells normally go into the trash. The grandkids and I also try to find "shell holes" where shells had been buried under the sand. We found numerous pure treasures holes. Like finding pirate treasure.

We accumulated a lot of shells. Now what to do with them. We bought cheap frames from Michaels , pained them, and glued shells to the edges. Make super beachy frames.




Then we made some shell balls. Taking styrofoam balls and pressing in and gluing the shells. When I saw similar ones for sale at Pier 1 for $8, it did not bother me that we had spent hours working on them. It is the therapy and creating that counted for us. Normally we used small white shells. Sometimes we dyed them pastel, beach colors - fun look.






Then we took shells and filled glass vases, sometimes adding white beach sand on the bottom. Fun beach setting and free if you have the vase.

Then we took some medium shells and drilled a hole to make a necklace pendant. It was not a "Tiffany," but we made it and it had memories. I am sure it made it to the trash early on. We will just make more.


The result of all our efforts were and are numerous. I and my family had loads of fun finding and creating. This time is invaluable for memories. My granddaughter is 19 and we still talk about our shelling adventures. The shell process was and is a great therapeutic experience for me. I can lose myself for hours hunting for shells on the beach or creating. Who cares what the results look like, it is great for me. Sometimes, the result is good or better. We still have shell frames, shell balls, and shell filled vases displayed around the house. Each one has memories.

However, sometimes I found myself not appreciated. I found so many shells that I loved giving them to kids that were looking for them, but had found few. I would "seed" the area around where they were looking so they could find more. Then I started giving them to kids. Once, the mother gave me a very dirty look. I guess part of the "don't talk to strangers issue." From that point on, I always asked the parent before if I could give their kids some shells. Much better.

Mother Nature's products offer many ways to introduce free therapy into your life. I find that the first thing needed is to open my mind and ask myself "now, what can I make out of this." Often it is goofy, but who cares. I want to please myself and do not need approvals. It does help that I am semi retired and my efforts would equate to $.05 per hour or less. The process simply gives me internal pleasure.
Try it you might like it.

Thanks for listening to me. I might bore you, but I am having fun.
Life is great. Let's have fun while we are still able to.

John "Gabby" Gabrielson
Natural Creations
NW Florida, Land of Excitement and Beauty
612-816-5378

Have a great holiday season.







Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wood Art Therapy to Calm the Soul

An artist friend recently introduced me to wood art therapy. She was distraught by the election results and other things. She needed something creative to help calm the soul. She chose wood therapy as a form of meditation.

Wood therapy can be a form of mental therapy by losing oneself in the creation of something with wood. In the past, I have seen the benefits of working with wood. I lose myself in trying to create something unique. It does not have to be a masterpiece. It is the mental process of creating something with wood. Wood art is also fun to create with kids.

The easiest way to start is with simple things - random pieces of wood like driftwood or forest scraps, some twine, some glue, some wire, maybe some nails, a saw, maybe some rocks or shells, and paint. You don't need woodworking equipment or expertise for this. Simply an open mind to make something, regardless of how it looks. Take the blinders off.

Here are some examples of wood creativity using driftwood:







A great resource for ideas is Pinterest. Just search for driftwood, wood art, etc.

Ok, now that you might want to try, where do you start. First off, you need the wood pieces. Walk the beach to find driftwood, especially if you live in the NW. Walk thru a forest, picking up different types of scrap pieces. After a storm on large lakes like Superior or Michigan, check out the beaches. Look in your garage for old wood. Visit a saw mill to buy some unique wood scraps.

Then look around your house for odd "things": corks, wire, fabric, utensils. These can be incorporated into sculptures. Again, who cares what it looks like. The funkier the better.







Enjoy this simple form of therapy. It costs nothing, just time. Who knows what will evolve from it.

Have a great time. Mother Nature is awaiting your visit.

John Gabrielson
Natural Creations.

AMERICA THE GREAT.








Sunday, November 13, 2016

Old Mystical Beliefs on Warding off Bad Spirits

"Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
If you believe that haints, or spirits or other ghostly apparitions come out at night then you may need to build a bottle tree or dream catcher for protection. 
The first belief is the Bottle Tree. The belief in the bottle tree was believed to have been brought to America by the African slaves many years ago. 
Bottle tree colors can range from blue, to clear, to brown, but cobalt blue are always preferred: in the Hoodoo folk-magic tradition, the elemental blues of water and sky place the bottle tree at a crossroads between heaven and earth, and therefore between the living and the dead. The bottle tree interacts with the unknown powers of both creative and destructive spirits.
The bottles are placed upside down with the neck facing the trunk. Trees need not be thickly populated with bottles. Malevolent spirits, on the prowl during the night, enter the bottles where they become trapped by an “encircling charm”. It is said that when the wind blows past the tree, you can hear the moans of the ensnared spirits whistling on the breeze. Come morning they are burnt up by the rising sun.
Today, the bottle tree has entered the realm of folk art. Companies now market bottle tree armatures meant to serve, once clothed with milk, wine, or milk of magnesia bottles, as colorful garden ornaments. The poor man’s stained glass window, you might say.




The second mystical tool to ward off bad spirits is the Dream Catcher.

Dream catchers are one of the most fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.

The dream catcher originated as an American Indian belief to help ward off ward off bad dreams.
The Ojibwe people have an ancient legend about the origin of the dreamcatcher. Storytellers speak of the Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; she took care of the children and the people on the land. Eventually, the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America and it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter our mind. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams just disappear.

Even infants were provided with protective charms. Examples of these are the "spiderwebs" hung on the hoop of a cradle board. These articles consisted of wooden hoops about 3½ inches in diameter filled with an imitation of a spider's web made of fine yarn, usually dyed red. In old times this netting was made of nettle fiber. Two spider webs were usually hung on the hoop, and it was said that they "caught any harm that might be in the air as a spider's web catches and holds whatever comes in contact with it.

Traditionally, the Ojibwe construct dreamcatchers by tying sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow (in a way roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing). The resulting "dream-catcher", hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping people, usually children, from nightmares.

The Ojibwe believe that a dreamcatcher changes a person's dreams. According to Konrad J. Kaweczynski, "Only good dreams would be allowed to filter through... Bad dreams would stay in the net, disappearing with the light of day." Good dreams would pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper.




Pleasant dreams everyone. Don't let the boogey men get you.

John Gabrielson
Natural Creations.

Happy Thanksgiving to All.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Finish Your Log - Part 3

OK, now you have an interesting log staring at you. What to do next?

You have a couple of options: 1) leave it as is in a rough state and put it in your house. The problem is, someone might think it is fire wood or your dog will use it is a depository for its urine. Not good, unless you live in the wilds of Alaska. Or option 2), finish it as a great piece of furniture which your dog will not dare touch.

So, how do you finish the log? What is its rough condition? Here are some of the rough logs I picked up from the saw mill. Remember, they might look like junk, but these are the mill's assets which you need to pay for. One needs a certain amount of imagination looking at one of these and thinking of the potential. I will be showing my work with river reclaimed old sinker cypress. This is my main wood these days. They have a lot of character and are often more then 400 years old. However, my process will work with any suitable wood.

The saw mill yard with river reclaimed old sinker cypress logs. I try and find a discarded piece of one of these large logs.

Rough logs fresh from the mill.

More logs fresh from the mill.
My best ever log when finished.


Now you have your log/logs safe at your workshop. Next step is to clean the exterior of the remnants of "stuff" from the river or woods - bugs, weeds, silt, mud, poison ivy, animal droppings. Newer, none reclaimed logs can be a lot easier to clean. Best way is with a power washer. If you do not have this, then a hose and a brush with soap. 

Power washing can be a blast, but better wear old clothes.


Now your "future treasure" is nice and clean. What about any rot? What looks like rot in my cypress is actually fungus that ate away the tree while it was alive. Once harvested, the fungus died. Cypress is impervious to rot, so while they were under water, no rot has occurred. Other wood like pine, birch and maple will rot naturally. This rot needs to be removed prior to finishing or it will continue to damage the log. Here I am removing the fungus infected rot from sinker cypress logs. 

Chiseling away the bad wood. Sometimes there is nothing left. After a few bruised knuckles, I learned to wear a glove.

At this point, the log needs to be shaped and sanded to its final shape before finishing. One can feel like a Michalangelo creating a "David", well not quite. But the artist feeling can be there, or not. I have found angle grinders, belt sanders and orbital sanders work the best with various grit papers. Of course, there is the old elbow grease with hand sanding. The log needs to be smooth prior to applying the liquid finishes.


Sinker cypress stumps ready for finishes.

Heavily fungus infested stumps can create great configurations.

Now comes the fun stage - applying the final liquid finishes. A decision needs to be made on the tone and sheen you want. Will it be a dark tone, natural finish, or paint washed? Will it have a flat finish or have a gloss? And will it be a water based or oil based finish. I am assuming the stump will be indoors, due to the amount of work involved. If it will be located outside, then a number of the above steps can be shortened or eliminated. In order to preserve the color, I normally use 3-5 coats of sealer. If the stump will be oil stained, it will need to be sealed after this application. If it will remain natural, then no second sealer is needed. Here are examples of the various finishes:

Natural finish side table.

Dark stained finish coffee tables.

Natural finish side tables.

Stained finish cypress table.


Grey washed finish.

The tone of the table blends nicely with the interior decor.


Well friends, that is my process for converting a mud covered log into a great side or coffee table. All the above steps are important when you have that right piece of "Nature's Wonders." I have found this process to be very fun and satisfying in my "Life's Journey." AND the best of all, I can share my work with friends. 

LIFE IS GOOD. ENJOY EVERY MOMENT.

John "Gabby" Gabrielson
Natural Creations
www.naturalcreations.me