Photo essay from our Spring 2019 Season of Welding Camps! This was a special season because we switched the Welding Camp location over to our KKDW Store—a light-filled 85-year-old former blacksmithing shop about 45 minutes northwest of Austin in the tiny railroad town of Bertram, TX.Read More
Step inside a Mahogany Dreamland…Read More
What started as a chilly morning quickly transitioned to a beautifully sunny day as everyone arrived at noon to make wreaths at the showroom. We started by learning how to roll steel—and how to make steel frames for just about any form you want to create. Then we moved into the floral world and selected foliage to style our steel rings with a bounty of everything from eucalyptus to rosemary and juniper. While we worked, we sipped warm apple cider and whiskey, which undoubtedly helped the creativity flow. We had a spread of cheeses, fruit, and smoked sausage and chicken straight off the smoker. Spiced cider, smoked meats, aromatic foliage: It smelled really good in there. Such a perfect day surrounded by a group of talented and funny women.Read More
Apart from welding, design, build-outs, or furniture--a note on something that I've been talking about lately: the art of beginning. As anyone with even a mild case of ambition knows, many of our dreams often end before they begin because the mountain seems far too substantial to start the climb. A lack of capital, skills, space, time, support, tools, whatever. But today I encourage you to think of the idea of proto-perfection as a way to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Proto-perfection is a magical workaround, a way to absolve yourself of any misguided expectations of perfection--whether those are outward or inward--because what you're doing now comes before any of that. Now is not imperfect; it's not final; it's not perfect; it's just a precursor of what's to come. It's proto-perfect. It's beginning. And it may never be what you want it to be, but we can never know how all the things we do in our lives feed the other, current or subsequent, things in our lives. So this season, I wish you as gentle or as sturdy a push to start the thing you've felt unready to start, and join me in the Pursuit of Proto-Perfect.
And, one more thing: you do not have to be the best at something to enjoy doing it. Go easy, and find the joy!
The air was chilly and barely damp—my favorite weather for welding. We had a bonfire going, buckets of steaming hot coffee, and an amazing crew of 10 new welders. What a perfect day. Holding beers around the fire at the end of a long day on our feet making stuff will never get old. Bellies full of BBQ and a sense of accomplishment.Read More
I spent a few days driving around to some of the storefronts we’ve completed over the Austin, Texas area. I often get the question, “Is it cool to see your work over town?” The answer is I don’t ever think about it… we install it, then I’m on to the next thing, and even when I see the stuff, it doesn’t even register that it’s my work, because it’s not mine anymore. But zipping around the big city with the specific task to photograph some previous work—some installed a week ago, some a couple months ago, and some years ago—was pretty cool. Take a look at some selected door and window projects here.
Every morning presents its own ever-evolving laundry list to us here at the ranch. And every day, that list reserves the right to change at any time, shift its priorities or throw itself into the fire completely, only to float away as ash on the wind, leaving us grasping at answers that whirl through the air in the wake of our clutch.
To counteract the lack of control that inevitably comes once the “work day” starts, I try to wake up as early as possible, usually around 5, to drink in what I have come to know as my most coveted time. Quiet, dark, where I can feel my thoughts more completely. There is a freedom at this early hour. This morning something occurred to me—perhaps you and I have enough access to kicks in the pants, an excess of insidious comparisons parading as self-help. I’d like to present an alternative here, but first, a little background:
I believe that if you’re doing your job—evolving, constantly learning and growing stronger and creating new work—there’s no fear in sharing process and ideas. That’s why I believe so strongly in classes and workshops. If there’s an apprehension that by teaching someone how to weld then I would be out of a job, then I’m not doing my job. If I am doing my job, sharing process enhances my work by encouraging me to try new things and innovate. We all benefit. So why not take the same approach to thoughts on keeping your head on straight and tapping into your prowess—something I think we all think about.
So my alternative—for the next few weeks, I’ll be writing posts on various ideas revolving around the spirit of work, since, running KKDW for the past 7 years has brought a lot of experimentation with “wellness.” And I don’t mean collagen shakes and meditation (though I don’t specifically not mean those things, I guess…). I’m going to be sharing thoughts on more personal evolutions that I think we, especially those with even the most mild case of ambition, can relate to.
Up first: How do we separate ourselves from our work? I don’t know this answer, and even more, I’m not certain that the answer is a path I should go down. But I do think that the start of a new day is made immeasurably better with a high spirit. I try to end days concretely with a look at my to-do list and a few sentences to sum up the day and look ahead; I start every morning by writing down my list for the day and, if time allows, a more intensive exploration into my goals, thoughts, weird ideas, and if I’ve got them (I often do), bad jokes.
I write in a notebook that I think is pretty to look at, with no lines, and I keep everything, from measurements on a job site and furniture sketches to personal thoughts on… everything… all bound within one book. This way, I don’t have the panic about not having a certain workbook or that special to-do list notebook to add chaos to an already buzzing day. Just don’t leave it at your favorite beer joint. Just kidding, I’ve totally done that at least twice. It’s okay, most people are decent enough to not read your angsty inner thoughts. You be you with wild abandon. And don’t feel bad if, when reading over a page from months ago, you feel embarrassed because you sound like a middle schooler who just learned the word “abject.” This is about feeling good.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.
This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson in a letter to his daughter
Metal Shop Class & Pizza Party with our friends Fort Lonesome
At the showroom we’ve been on our own clock, floating through a mist of summertime. The end of summer had us hosting two of my favorite people: Travis teaching a Metal Shop class and Kathie chain-stitching on-site.
This past Saturday we hosted Miranda Bennett Studio, an amazing women-run company specializing in plant-dyed apparel and textiles, in the KKDW Showroom. As part of KKDW's Summer Workshop Series, the MBS Natural Dye Team lead a workshop on the natural dye practice of Eco Printing, a beautiful, spontaneous technique that can be adapted to a multitude of elements sourced in the home, or as was the case this day, from the KKDW shop floor.Read More
I heard a woodpecker pecking
I heard a chorus of birds singing for each other
They didn’t know I was there, but
I heard every songRead More
KKDW Interiors has been busy this year. Over the spring, one of my favorite projects we worked on was transforming an old firehouse in Pennsylvania into a bright, Central Texas-style breakfast taco spot. You can see the lead-up in PT. 1.
Inspired by historic interiors in towns like San Antonio and New Orleans, vibes like Ernest Hemmingway’s “To Have and Have Not,” a walk into a crisp, part-tropical, part-familiar, comfortable space that you want to spend hours in.Read More
On the one hand, share only your polished, complete work; on the other, share only your polished, styled process. Where is the rambling, uninhibited road that leads to the finished line? A job’s exposition, the set up to the final reveal, is just as compelling to me as pulling the sheet off and staring at the fully executed vision we’ve been working towards all along.Read More
Is it still the same sun I’m used to? Its glow is so much softer, somehow warmer, yet miraculously iridescent, illuminating the bright pops of yellow flowering over the hills, rolling up the green fields, spilling onto the white-tan limestone, then kissing the blue-grey water with a shimmer and a wave, at last bounding off into the horizon as if late for a party. Even on the overcast days the Irish Sun flutters down and around in this way from behind dark shadows in the sky. These grey days are the most perfect ones—perfect to traipse around the rocky coasts, perfect to sit back in a corner velvet-upholstered seat at the pub and remark on, yet again, an unparalleled cup of seafood chowder, and perfect to wonder if all this enjoyment is only in my head, magnified by the delicate and enveloping warmth of the peat fire beside me and the half-finished pint of Guinness in hand.Read More
I imagine this space morphing this summer, as I imagine many of us will. But for now, here it is as it was recently.Read More
The signal of the first arrival is the distant bark of white, fluffy Samson, though today his coat is spotted with grass stains. I see a vehicle roll into the field, the green and khaki grass heavy under fog. The vehicle parks as I carry a board of blueberry muffins and a carafe of hot coffee along the gentle uphill path to the shop. The sky looks cold in shades of blue and gray, even though the air is warm and almost steamy.Read More
A couple Saturdays ago we celebrated the Grand Opening of our flagship showroom outside of Austin in the small railroad town of Bertram, Texas. We've been working on the build-out & construction of the building since last May and the design and fabrication of all the furniture since about the summer of last year, all in spare time in between clients and projects. A labor of love, indeed, almost like its own passion project amidst a passion project. Being in the space is one of the most special feelings I've ever had. It feels good.Read More
A fire, a chill in the air. We always forget how magical these Day Camps are, even though February's camp was our 12th. It's nice to keep remembering.Read More
I almost forgot
That to feel happy
You must sometimes do
What makes you happy
Photographs from an afternoon trip we took to a neighboring town about an hour down the road. We pulled over five different times to appreciate what was around us. It made a difference, because I had almost forgotten...Read More
It was still dark outside as I unlatched the sliding windows from the inside and moved them along their track to unveil the muggy morning air that let the early birds' chirps echo through the shop. Travis began to set out the day's materials: steel, welders, welding wire, clippers; the equipment for the first part of our day sat next to the soft and lush components of the second part. The coffee would be ready by now so I walked back down the hill to the house as the sun began to illuminate a gray-blue cloudy sky. The temperature should start dropping soon.Read More