Details on the painting, and that story, here:
“Conflagration” by Giselle Gautreau
Terri and I first met Timm Schleiff back in 2009. He rolled in late one night to the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels, after driving all day from West Virginia. He was starting a new trade as a custom boatbuilder, and was pulling the first boat he set his hand to: a Herreshoff Coquina. Terri pointed him to the campsites – he must have just slept in his van that night – and told me later about the nice young man she had met. The next day we found him on the docks by his boat.
If you don’t know anything about building boats, I am here to tell you that no one I know, save Timm, would attempt a Coquina for a first try. Herreshoff was a lifelong designer of elegant yachts, and this was the daysailer he designed for himself at the height of his career. A graceful boat with fine lines and a fast sailer, but challenging construction for even experienced builders. And Timm’s boat was a real beauty, complete with bronze fittings, hand made cleats and leathered oars.
We took a sail with Timm on the last day, helped him shuttle to the ramp and load up. Exchanged information, and have kept in touch over the years.
Turns out the business of boat building is even more challenging than the building, especially in the mountains of West Virginia. Boats are complicated, take a long time to complete, and boat owners are notoriously persnickety clients. Timm decided to broaden his horizons, and spent two years honing his craft at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, one of the premier craft schools in the country.
A few years later, he bought an old quarry in Lewisburg, WV, built himself a shop and a sawmill, and opened business as Hidden Quarry Artisans, where he has been doing very well. Now he and his wife Maria, also an artist, are building their own house. And raise over 80 hives of bees with a honey business in addition to everything else they do.
Timm’s Instagram has many photos of past work.
When Terri and I began replacing what we lost in the fire, we made a concerted effort to collect things made by friends and family if possible. Even when it means having fewer things. We already have paintings by friends Giselle Gautreau, Curt Bowman, Eleanor Hughes, and Randy Smith. Tools from Dennis Keener, a handmade bookcase and books from all my buddies in the extended TSCA sailing group. This list goes on.
So I contacted Timm about making a piece of furniture for us, and sent a couple of photos of things we like. A few weeks later we got a simple sketch back and a proposal.
Timm sent some progress photos now and then, and a couple of weeks ago the sideboard was ready for finish.
Yesterday, Terri and I drove to Lewisburg to pick it up. I think the photos speak for themselves, but needless to say, we’re delighted. Timm’s craftmanship is amazing. The wood is figured cherry from trees cut in Pennsylvania.
Between the worldwide pandemic and the weather, there’s a lot of time to spend on house projects.
The living room builtin bookcases are essentially done. All the doors came from old schoolhouse windows stored in the basement these past 25 years. The rest was built from scratch.
One major piece left was to tile the alcove behind the gas stove. Technically it didn’t need it – the stove is shielded on three sides and only needs three inches of clearance from combustibles. But it just didn’t look right, especially to those of us who’ve had house fires start in just such a location.
I worked my way through college as a brick mason’s helper, and we did tile work to fill in between jobs. Once I got materials together and figured out a plan, the whole thing was done in a weekend.
I also finished the posts and trim on the columns, which turned out nice.
Uploading this for some friends.
A young scotsman recorded himself singing a New Zealand sea shanty. For a drum, he thumps on a wooden box in his lap with a gloved fist. Posts it on TikTok.
Somebody likes the song and takes that, duplicates parts and remixes it to make the sound richer. Reposts it.
Then some guy takes that and sings a bass harmony, which he adds on top. Reposts that.
Others pick up and add other parts, all recorded just on their iPhone mics, with videos of themselves in front, the previous ones receding further back. It starts to look like a funhouse mirror.
I’ve added a minute of each, end to end, so you can hear the increasing complexity. You’ll want to listen with headphones or good speakers if you can to hear the layers building.
At the end I added Hank or Jonathan Green explaining the history of the song they’re singing.