After only 10 short years, Lightnin' Salvage had become the ultimate juke joint:
A junk museum, toy store, Florida souvenir shop.
A bar, lounge, and live music venue.
A playground for the kids, people spontaneously dancing, a Lionel train rattling overhead.
Kids running wild without a parent in sight.
Birthday parties and a local hangout.
Bocce ball, an airplane, a treehouse and greenhouse.
Even the first ever NACHO NIGHT, the last day of Alachua County School, and a big party to celebrate Nacho Libre.
There was a night for storytelling and a night for bellydancing. Folk, bluegrass, blues, rock n roll and klezmer music sharing the same stage. Open Mic night. A pinecone contest. The night of a thousand ukeleles. A place that many artists had a part in creating. A 10 1/2 year art project.
I discovered the picture above on Twitter and I don't even know who took it but I bet it was a patron of the Ole' Barn, a bar across the street. It was a Monday evening, December 5th, 2016. We were closed all day but I had been in installing a new upgraded wifi. Home and on the couch I got a call from a food truck owner who had just finished his Monday night bowling game. He said the place was sky high in flames.... "through the roof!"
By the time I arrived at the scene the next picture is the one I took, and this was as close as I was allowed to get.... I wonder if you can imagine my state of mind. This had been my art studio for 10 years, an art installation studio, and more than half of my business...
August 13th, 2017.
The rebuild has slowed to a crawl but I have some exclusive pictures here. The first is my practice wall for mosaic. I have been making tiles for 6 months and need to get some practice so I can see what sort of tiles I need to make and what works and what doesn't. It's been fun. I am using a lot of the first tiles I made and some of them are pretty bad, but the goal of my mosaic is to be bright and colorful and I'm on the right track for that at least. I am also practicing nipping the tiles into shapes, something I haven't done much of before. In this photo there is no grout yet and they grey grout will really help bring it all together. I plan to tile for a few more days before grouting. The reason I am doing this particular spot is eventually it will be under some stairs and have a couple air conditioner outdoor units there so tiling now will be much easier than waiting and working under stairs and behind A/C units.
Next are the columns that are framing the front doors. These were my wife's idea. I really like them. They are very hard to see in this picture and there are bolts sticking out of them that get cut off, but it's a sneak peek:
Finally tonight I will share an interior shot of the new brewery Cypress and Grove where I recently hung 8 of my paintings. I usually only show my work at Satchel's in December but I have too much art in my closet and they needed some color so...
July 23rd, 2017.
My wife had the idea early on that we could have some flags hanging in the new LSE. When she and I first met I made these small "prayer flags" after making a series of linoleum block prints and looking for ways to display them. The fabric seemed like a good way and so those flags have been hanging in our living room ever since. We asked our friend Judy to make a set of flags for the new LSE and she is making these cool scrap sewed flags with all sorts of hand stitching on them....
Then I found the old linoleum blocks and printed some new flags on bright fabric that my mom sewed into squares for me:
But boy did my wife blow me away when she decided to make a set of flags herself. She's still making them and they aren't on a string yet but they are reflections of the beach where she spends a lot of time in the summer.
We already also have a set of interesting flags our good friend John Orth made and we may find a couple other folks to make us a set of flags. This is such a cool idea and I'm so lucky to have a wife who is creative and smart. I love her flags SO MUCH!
I am making tiles like crazy too but it is a slow process. I make tiles so much but still feel like I hardly have any.
Thanks for checking in. I will try and get back here often.
July 11, 2017. I am making tiles and making other things too. I am finally coming out of my funk and starting to feel excited and hopeful again. The walls are going up at the new building and my buckets of tiles are filling up. After this post I am planning to start a podcast for the staff at Satchel's. Optional listening but a way for me to connect with them about what I want out of the place. How I want to present to the world, and what I am doing at home in my studio.
I am sharing 2 pictures tonight. The first is a small sample of the buckets of tiles filling up, and the second is some tester "cove base" tiles I am working on for the bathrooms. These cove base tiles go around the bottom of the walls to help keep the corners and edges clean. They are rough and simple but somehow they seem to be so bad they are good. Does that make sense? Don't answer. They seem to have a childlike charm in that they look like a kid made them. That is practically so.
July the first, 2017. I am legit about to make this into my main blog. I have had a journal since in my 20's which turned into "menu backs" in 2003 (writing on the back of menus...) which turned into a "blog" on Wordpress in 2007, which turned into writing on Medium in 2015, and now just gravitating towards this LSE "blog." My life revolves around LSE these days so might as well put my writing here.
One of the issues we're facing with the remodel is the city now requires two bathroom walls get tile or some slick surface like FRP board. FRP board is some orange peel like surface white plastic panel that is easy to clean. It's great stuff just not something for your restaurant bathroom. The problem is I am making homemade tiles (to mosaic the outside of the new building) so I can't imagine buying boring tiles for the bathrooms. While I don't think I can make enough tiles to do the 3 bathrooms by the time we open, I am now putting a lot of effort into making tiles "for the bathrooms." This brought me to thinking about the baseboards in the bathrooms. So I started making "cove base" for the baseboards tonight and soon I'll check the linear feet I need and do some math to figure out how many of these I need to make. I could be making these for a month or more is my suspicion.
Building a special place for people to gather and celebrate and talk and cry and laugh, is about so much more than the napkins. I like nice napkins and recently we downgraded a bit to a little bit smaller napkin that might save us $40 a week. It's a bit painful but it was also painful to throw away the piles of practically unused napkins folks would leave stacked around the tables. But I'm saving on napkins so I can buy more clay and glaze and make my own cove base for the bathrooms. Honestly I want to make everything. I dream about a day when I make all the plates even.
I'll include some (boring) pictures of my studio. You'll see my first try at the cove base tile where I used wooden rulers to make a jig, and then the actual jig I glued and nailed that I'll use going forward making these special baseboard tiles. Also, I'll include a shot of the crates I have stacking up with square and rectangular tiles, and buckets where I am filling bigger and bright colored tiles which I will break up for mosaic work. Maybe I'll even put in a picture of some ugly tiles just to prove that I am really not that good at this yet but I am learning and I know they will get better so I am okay with showing you the ugly ones here on the blog......
I really should start adding a date to these entries for the record. so today is June 22, 2017.
Getting a building permit took a long time and a lot of work by several parties. My contractor and architect were a HUGE help. They drop everything and run to the building department with updated plans as soon as any snag comes up that needs to be addressed. I have made a lot of tweets and sent emails, talked on the phone and visited the building department several times myself. It took almost 10 weeks but we are stamped and ready to go now.
I am making tiles and having a lot of fun with that but I am also slowly working on these tables for the new place. There are 11 tables. I have 2 new pictures to share tonight and both of these were finished today! I hesitate to show them because I know how cool it could be to walk in for the first time and see them in real life, but I'm too excited about them to keep them under wraps. Judy, who worked days at LSE and was the buyer of all the gift shop goodies, has been working on a table top of matchbooks for over a month. Today I did one of the easier tables which is a collection of floppy discs:
I am going to do something weird now. Since I don't know how to swap the Blog posts from first to last to last to first, I am going to just now start to write new posts at the top instead of the bottom. What this means is that AFTER THIS POST, you will see things from the beginning when I started this section. Unconventional I know but who cares? If you are checking back often it will be easier for you to start with the first post you see, and I am writing this section for the regular lookers anyway. Thanks regular lookers. I love that you care what I am up to. Here's my picture for today: An iPhone 4 and 5 table that I made to remember the iPhone wall we had back in the day.... The backs were more colorful but the fronts are are also interesting. I like to think about how these phones will "age" as new products come out....
In this section I will reveal little details of the new LSE that I won't show anywhere else. In other words, you won't find these pics on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, but only here on the website. In an age where we are overwhelmed with media, I find something romantic about this little corner booth where I can experience something new and secret. There was my favorite booth in the old LSE, if you were walking into the lounge from the gift shop, it was in the very back left corner. I could prop my legs up on the bench and see EVERYTHING in the whole place and still almost be invisible. Well, new LSE will have it's own secrets. I'll store them here. I'll try and update even mundane details every couple weeks at least.
I started to make a couple table tops for LSE. The tables might remind folks of some of the collections from the original LSE.
I really want it all to be a surprise. I want to keep anything and everything about the new LSE a secret, because it's more exciting to watch it and let the expectations build up..... But I also want to share what I am working on. I want the serious fans to be able to sneak peek some stuff. That's why we are both here. You have found the inside track, the secret phone number, the hideaway booth.
The picture above is a table I made. The next pic is the table my wife made. These tables are the obvious reminders of the juke joint I lost in the fire. I am still sad about what I lost. Making these tables is helping me reinvent and reimagine Lightnin Salvage Enterprises.
Realizing I don't want the mosaic to be just rows of cute squares, and that I cannot make one small mosaic tile at a time, I am experimenting with making slabs that I score into smaller shapes. If they break on the lines like I hope, I should be able to make endless patterns and designs using various shapes, sizes, and colors.
This is my home studio. In early June 2017 I moved my kiln from my garage to my studio. I revamped my studio and added the janky roof extension you see in the picture, to make things efficient for the years of tile making I am embarking on. I am now in the "tile factory" (as I like to call it), daily. My goal is to make mosaic tiles for the new LSE. I am going at that goal with a vengeance. It might take me the rest of my life to mosaic the new LSE, but I am ok with that. I like the idea even. I love making tiles like I love making pizzas. It's all art. Here's another "sneaky peek" at the inside of my studio. It is the quiet side of the studio, where I'll be storing tiles in buckets, and my collage collecting cabinet.... The chair is for my wife who comes to counsel me:)
I've changed the name of this section to BLOG because essentially that's what it is. It's the beginning of June and the footers were dug days ago and I spend most of my time in the studio making tile and getting my space efficient for the tile factory. Each kiln load I learn new things about tiles and I am getting more and more decent tiles from each batch. I am learning. I'll throw in pictures of some tiles, my shop, where I make the table tops, and the kiln when I opened it this morning to look at my newly glazed and ready to use tiles. I am having fun. I have no idea how I will arrange the tiles I am just photographing some laying out on the table for fun. I will put more thought into it when I am setting them and many of these early tiles will end up on the back of the building because they are "ugly." I sorta like the sound of that word ugly. Seems like a good band name.