Urban Lumber Jacked will join Mod Shop for the first time this November. Clifford Bailey values the delicate natural imperfections found in wood. The imperfections add to the story of how his high quality handcrafted pieces come to life.
Tell us about your business name.
I have always lived in the city but was drawn to the woods and work associated with the outdoors. ULJ is a step away from fast mass produced items and towards building high quality simple items that last. In a throw away culture, I want my work to inspire my customers to slow down and let them appreciate the tiniest details and unique properties of hand crafted objects. Each item is specifically crafted to foster a relationship between the character of the wood, imperfections and all, and the customer that cannot be found in mass production.
"I want to go where the wood allows me to go."
What is your creative or educational background and history behind how you created your business?
As a boy scout, I was able to learn basic construction skills. A lot of those skills I am able to pull into my Urban Lumber Jacked projects. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from CSU Stanislaus in 2010 where I focused on: printmaking, metal casting, and sculpture. I would present all my prints on wood canvases which I would make myself. I really enjoyed the process of making art. I didn't start wood working until after I received my degree.
The business started because my friend Glenn Cramer and I wanted to start making wood tables and we dicussed it over some late night brainstorming sessions. From there Glenn moved to Colorado, but Urban Lumber Jacked still had orders coming in. I started to work on smaller pieces like the pens. I had never used a lathe before and a buddy of mine showed me how to make a basic pen and then I was able to pull from my art background some basic shapes and incorporate different materials. I started to experiment, which made each pen unique because they are all done freehand. You may see a theme, but each one is unique in their own sense. I like to bring out the natural imperfections in the raw materials.
"In a throw away culture, I want my work to inspire my customers to slow down and let them appreciate the tiniest details and unique properties of hand crafted objects."
How does your city/state influence your craft or how you do your work?
A lot of my materials are harvested locally. The cedar wood for the coasters came from the Avery area and are from a family friend's cabin were pine beetles have been a disastrous problem. There ended up being about 100 trees that needed to be cleared. In the process of cutting down all these trees, we chose some trees that had some gray streaks in the wood from the pine beetles-these are seen clearly in the cake stand centerpieces. The incense cedar is a neat wood that has really cool rings on it and a lot of these trees had already been through a fire about 15 years ago. Some of these pieces you can actually see the fire damage and how the tree grew around it. You see a time map in this tree from sapling to when it was harvested.
Can you take us through your process from inspiration to final product?
I like to work in repetition. So what I will do is have an end product in mind, but always embracing my freehand style. To look at each cut as a characteristic to build upon and change for the next time I create this same item. I look for what some might call imperfections or flaws and try to highlight those intricacies. I hold my tools differently with each piece and celebrate the mistakes as what makes that piece interesting.
I like to make changes every time I repeat an item to see what happens. I like to experiment with the wood. It is similar to cooking where you have a basic recipe. You are never going to be able to create a dish exactly how you did before. It's about improvising with my tools and allowing the material to guide the work. I get enjoyment from the process. I can usually see alternate ideas once I start to cut and grind.
What is a standout or special moment in your creative work so far?
A standout moment for ULJ was finally getting welds nice and smooth. It has been a long process of learning how to run a welder. That was a big win!
A special moment for ULJ was when Glenn and I were working on a set of sliding barn doors at 10pm and installed them next day. These moments when you get to deliver these pieces those are moments when you see all this work and give it to the person and know they are going to enjoy it for a very long time.
What dreams are on the horizon for the future of your brand?
A table saw. More of the same. I feel that I am making good products. Moving into a shop that is outside of my backyard and home garage would be great space. I would like to move into more metal work for more complexity in ULJ work. Green wood takes about a year for it to cure. I get to turn some bowls out of sycamore that I pulled out of someone's front yard in 4 months. I want to go were the wood allows me to go.
Are you bringing anything new or special to Mod Shop this year that you are particularly excited about?
The coaster and the center pieces. They both have an interesting story behind them. They have had a journey that you can see in them. I'm excited to see how people react to my pens. Considering how they are all unique and have a story of their own.
-Cliff and Stephanie
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