Saturday, March 14, 2020

Wooden Midcentury Modern Mobile | Mark Leary Designs

Mobile: Rootsanwings

 On trust
“It’s an opportunity,” whispered sun, “to believe in miracles.”
Blue wasn’t convinced, but she zipped up her cocoon nonetheless.

Thoughts while making
When I was in the 2nd grade, I got hit in the eye with an olive. Yes, an olive. What had started out as an innocent water gun fight quickly turned all stone fruit.

Without mentioning any names (Robbie Kraft you know who you are), the older kids in our neighborhood climbed up on a roof and started pelting us pipsqueaks with hard, unripe olives they’d picked from a front yard.

A week later, I was released from the hospital. In an effort to keep the internal bleeding to a minimum and avoid surgery, I’d been forced to lay prone, both eyes bandaged with gauze. This bought me a front-row ticket to such fun events for a 7-year-old boy as sponge baths from strangers and bedpans. I make fun of it now, but it was scary and confusing. I was just a kid.

Obvi, I didn’t want to skip a week of school, or soccer practice, or edible food. I definitely didn’t plan on missing Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving special (got totally busted for peeking). And I certainly didn’t deliberately choose to put myself at risk of losing my sight.

But on the day I left, woozy from sitting up for the first time in 7 days, being rolled out in a wheelchair, my eyes unbandaged, I clearly remember seeing a line of unfamiliar faces with very familiar voices. People who had cared for me, cleaned me, fed me. Each smiling, none looking like I’d imagined, all filling me to overflowing with their love and kindness.

Life is going to throw olives. And they’ll likely be unexpected. Something we didn’t plan for. Sometimes they are going to hurt, maybe even leave you in the dark, scared, or confused. Right now could be one of those times. 

And that’s okay. Because we’re here for each other, like the olive tree that can thrive in the harshest environments, with deep roots, in unexpected ways, our hearts open, offering branches to support, rather than stones to wound. It’s a good time to trust, to believe, and to care.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

8: Midecentury Modern Mobile Heads to Merchant Modern | Mark Leary Designs

Mobile: 8 (Available soon exclusively at Merchant Modern)

On magic
“But how do you ‘prepare’?” asked bear, raising his hand.
“Okay,” replied fox, “forget preparing, just be amazed!”

Thoughts while making
As kids, we were told not to do it. That it was dangerous. But we did it anyway. And I bet you did, too.

Fact is, I still do it. I can’t help myself. Why? Because, even though the mystery is gone, the magic remains.

As a child, I was barely eye level with it. Yet I can hear my mother’s voice clearly: “Get away from there. Don’t stare at it!”

But there was that light glowing from the inside. And that hum vibrating the countertop. And, wait for it, wait for it … that metallic DING!

Most every morning, I reheat my day-old coffee (no judgments, please). I stick the mug in the microwave, and depending on my whim ++ the temperature of the mug, I may press 1 minute or 42 seconds or 1.5 minutes or sometimes 1-1-1. It varies.

What doesn’t seem to vary is the location of that mug when the microwave hits zero and beeps its electronic beep. Always front and center.

How does it do that?! How is it always exactly where I want it to be? Yes, I know it’s designed this way. And, no, I don’t really want to know “how” it works. I just want to continue to be amazed.

Amazed like I am by water coming out of a faucet. Or my car starting. Or the cursor on this screen. Sharpie markers. Vinyl records. Bar codes. A cat purring. Mouths that can speak thousands of different languages and smile smiles that melt hearts. And hearts that beat. And eyes that see. And bodies that are.

So, the larger metal disc of this mobile reminded me of the turntable inside our childhood microwave, and all the magic *it* saw over the years … even with a little toe-headed kid standing in the way watching it spin.

What’s one thing that you find magical and/or fills you with awe?

NOTE: This is a one of one mobile. It's headed to the fabulous Merchant Modern in Santa Monica, CA, today (3/4/20). If you are interested in it, please contact Merchant Modern directly ASAP as it will sell quickly). Merchant Modern will also have five additional mobiles, including special variations of Arrow, The Classic, Ironwood Road, One Orange One, and Jumble customized exclusively for Merchant Modern.

Modern Metal Stabiles from Mark Leary Designs

Stabile: The Unnamed

 On flexibility
“Don’t give up on where you want to go,” bear explained.
“Just be open to taking different roads to get there.”

Thoughts while making
“Be careful,” she said. “It’s tender.” And I could see it was. Time bruised in reds and blues. “Please be gentle.”

What do you think of when you hear the word “steel”? Perhaps strength or hardness? Or maybe a steely gaze, bracing yourself against the unpleasant or difficult?

“Where you press,” she said, “will leave a mark.” And it was true. A thousand stories etched there. “Please be kind.”

As an alloy, steel is made from carbon and iron. Iron which makes up more than 5% of earth’s crust. Iron which changed history. Iron which is essential for life.
“The harder you push,” she said, “the more it will resist.” And she spoke the truth. Distant memories bending shadows. “Please be soft.”

I use large sheets of galvanized steel for my mobiles, cut with tempered steel shearers that are heavy to the hand—nearly two pounds. Force is required.
Yet steel is a funny thing, both strong *and* malleable—its atoms able to shapeshift without breaking their metallic bonds. There’s a balance, then, as I work the metal in my hands, asking it for permission, inviting it to become.
At its best, it’s a symbiotic relationship, man and metal, idea and execution, the making infused with flow.
Some days, however, we do not see eye to eye, that metal and me. And today was such a day. I was not gentle with it. I was not soft in my approach. And I was not kind in the words I spoke to myself.
Eventually, I took a page out of metal’s malleability book. I put aside the mobile I was working on, and let the metal show me what it wanted to be. And these are what came to be. I can’t tell you how happy I am.

Where’s a place you can stop pushing so hard on how you think life is supposed to be and just appreciate what it is?

Pivot II | How Steve Martin Made Me Cry by Mark Leary Designs

Mobile: Pivot II

On the reframe
“There’s another way to see it?” asked bear.
“Always,” replied fox, “and usually a more positive one.”

Thoughts while making
It was a Saturday. But I’ll always remember it as the day that Steve Martin made me cry. Yep, *that* Steve Martin. Comedian. Writer. Even a banjo player. And apparently a guy who knows how to make young men cry. A lot.

It was Long Beach, CA. I was in the front rows of a packed theater, watching his movie Parenthood. There’s this scene where Steve’s 7-year-old son, Kevin, is playing Little League. He’s in the outfield when a game-winning ball is struck high in the air. The kid has a look of sheer terror on his face as he wobbles back and forth anticipating the slow-motion ball that is rocketing directly at him.

At this exact moment in the movie, I started crying. More correctly, I started trying not to start crying, which as we all know is not a good idea because you’re sucking in and blowing out at the same time; making what could’ve been a discrete little cry a thousand times worse.

After a few minutes of this, I snuck out the side door, got in my car, and drove 2 hours to my childhood home in San Diego. Somewhere along the drive, I stopped crying. But the second I got home, I began sobbing again.

So what was going on? It’s a complicated movie about family dynamics, for sure. I related to this little kid trying to balance it all, cracking under the pressure.

Fast forward: I just watched that baseball scene again. Kevin still has that look of terror. Everybody – from his dad to the fans to his teammates – still expect him to drop it. But, guess what: he doesn’t. He catches it. He’s the hero. And that’s absolutely NOT how I’ve remembered it all these years.

In life, when that “ball” is rocketing toward you, how many times do you expect to drop it rather than catch it? Why is there an expectation that we are not going to be successful—even when we have so much proof to the contrary?

Are there places in your life where you can identify this kind of behavior? Can you picture pivoting or reframing the way you think by swapping out the expectation of failure for one where you are the hero of your own story?