Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Goodbye Sushi Moto, my beloved tabby cat.

This is the best picture of Sushi Moto I have, taken at 1-2 years on a phone camera by SweetieBuilt
Mr. Moto, the dbBrad mascot of our Bellingham years, was one of the most interesting, independent and entertaining cats I've ever met. He is why I love cats so much, despite what Tater Tot, my raggedy old female cat older than dirt, might like to believe.

Beautiful sleek Mr. Moto in his prime
Moto died last Friday so I'm still very sad. He had FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus which meant his body was unable to fight off infection. Over 5 times during his 8 lives (he must have lost one before I found him) a simple scratch turned into a huge cyst. It was never apparent he was hurt until a few days after an incident when his behavior would go through a radical change and we'd put on the welding gloves and check him out. (He didn't like to be touched, at all!)

Mr. Moto guarding his fleece blanket, and the whole couch for that matter!

But he was a very sweet cat. In Bellingham he used to follow me down the street three blocks to Haggens. My old roommate Shelden Sabbatini, now a successful photographer in Portland, (and I'm lucky enough to own a piece of his work), claims Mr. Moto followed him all the way into the store one day!

Mr. Moto on one of his last days. See his tongue and his swollen left jaw.
FIV didn't kill him though. It was cancer in his mouth which was effectively starving him to death that forced his weakness to become so great, he had to be put down.

Mr. Moto hunting in the grasses which he loved to do.

We tried everything, doubling up on penicillin, multiple trips to the vet and multiple exams, syringe feeding, pain killers, and lots of love, but ultimately he couldn't muster the strength to go on. But Mr. Moto lived a happy life, one he wasn't promised from the get go when I found him wondering around outside in the middle of the night in the middle of the road, but had nevertheless.

Mr. Moto had very hansom whiskers.
Mr. Moto had no children, had all his shots, was fixed, and then at age 3-4, tangled with a raccoon and lost. This is where he probably contracted FIV. He wasnt' the biggest cat on the block, but he was 2nd and he had style, and charisma. More than one time I saw Sushi walk straight between two cats in a standoff and sit down, saying, "Hey you guys, knock it off and look at what a nice day it is."

Mr. Moto sprawled out on his FOC (fleece of choice)
His favorite thing to do was to eat and his favorite place to be was on fleece, but particularly a piece of red fleece folded several times, but not too small as he liked to stretch out. His favorite thing to do outside was to hunt when he was younger and to walk the creek and ponds of FrEdLey in his later year.

I love you Mr. Moto, I'm sorry about Tater Tot, who was always a bit mean to you. Rest in Peace!

dbBrad Web page, trumped by dbBrad blog

My blog which discusses issues of sustainability, design, and water management as well as showing methods of construction and the "how to's" on all my built projects is interesting, dynamic and fun to look at. In fact, so much so that it's upstaging my web page.


If you Google Brad Hankins, dbBrad, Design build Brad, or dbBrad Hankins, you will see lots of references to my work, but almost none to my web page.

Division of Earth and Water, specializing in water management and natural ponds, wetlands and streams, as well as site management and restoration.

Given that Google has some strange and mysterious ranking system for finding and displaying relevant web pages, I'm hoping this will send some new traffic to my web page, or at least get it to show up on Google searches involving my name or company! Hopefully it will even boost traffic to Dear Mr. GreenGuy.

Mister Green Guy, answering your questions on sustainable design build issues
Interesting that if you Google dbBrad image search, you will get many images of women named DebraD, but if you insist that Google search 'instead for dbBrad', you will get a very high percentage of images from my blog.

Debra D, though I'm not sure if 'D' is her last name or not! SweetieBuilt!
Even more interesting is that if you do the same image search for dbBrad in conjunction with another word, the results are fascinating. Below are some random images from dbBrad google image search.

Best looking custom floating wood metal stairs ever, at 702 MLK remodel for Richards.
Cutest Australian Shepherd puppy ever behind large boat anchor chain.
My motorcycle trailer, one of the many interesting images from a Google image search for dbBrad
We miss Joe Candelario, Travis and I do.  Here he models 'stern face' with native accessory grasses, from the 'Different Faces of Botany' posting, one of my favorites!

Try dbBrad frog, dbBrad airplane, dbBrad pond, dbBrad Fredley, or best yet, for a totally random display of my work from the last several years, search dbBrad BAPOW!! As of April 26th (only two weeks left until Hearts and Hammers!) there are 166 results and all of them mine, some of which I haven't seen for years. Weird, Google, but it works for me!!

FrEdLey carport under construction.  Salvaged spruce, paired rafters, and steel posts normal to the roof set this building apart from others of similar size/scale/function/cost.  Good design is always a great value.  dbBrad BAPOW image

One day later, dbbrad BAPOW search generated 313 images and today, April 26th, just 48 hours after, a google image search is generating 163 matches with 3 non related images, or 98.16% dbBrad Hankins related.
Cheryl's gate, another steel wood hybrid structure found when google image searching dbbrad BAPOW

Now, several weeks later (May 9th) I'm getting 297 results in the evening where I got 303 this morning.  Yesterday afternoon it was up to its all time recent high of 329.  I attribute this spike to all the recent postings for Hearts and Hammers.  I know from previous search studies that three words, intern, volunteer and mascot, are well received by Goggles search engine algorithms.

Solar Pavilion, one of the most frequently displayed images in a dbBrad Google Image search.

Now if only Google would recognize dbBrad as a correctly spelled entity and stop sending people to DebraD, sweet as she may be!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Squalicum Beach Table, SOLD!

This is one of my favorite BAPOWS ever. In fact I may have dreamed up my acronym for 'Bad Ass Piece of Wood' as I trudged this 200 pound, round edged and awkward chunk of wood down the beach to my little truck. With all the odd and heavy objects I've salvaged from so many places, I don't remember which of my friends was there to help me with this particular challenge, but I'm sure they remember.

Squalicum Beach Table at the Fire House in Langley with 2 Callapaters (Callahan Platter) and a Bowlahan (Bowl Callahan)
It came off a beach in Bellingham, undoubtedly a scrap from the decommissioned Georgia Pacific mill down at the wharf. It's a toxic site that the City of Bellingham was given, but they've also inherited the mess.

From a nice Seattle Times article about the history, function and closing of the GP Mill.

I fear the burden of cost will go to the taxpayers while the benefits of development rights will go to private developers who already have enough money and the potentially wonderful site will become private residences with little value to the public. I hope I'm proven wrong!

The simple, crisp and timeless design of the Squalicum Beach Table by dbBrad.
But back to the BAPOW, which once dropped from the little wonder truck I used to own, sat in my yard for over 5 years. It was a bench for a while, then a step, then a post, and now a table. Each time I moved it I contemplated the table I knew it was to be, but it took me a long time to resolve the design.

Detail showing the Pipe connection to the PAPOW on the Squalicum Beach Table
I knew from the get go that the half holes in the ends should be used as part of the connection, but never really knew how to make the connection. Where to screw, where to bolt, how to minimize welding and fabrication and above all how to create a connection that was true to the found object as well as the table's legs-to-be.

Close up of the corner of the Squalicum Beach Table elegantly displaying it simplicity
I didn't even know for years what the legs were to me made of, but because I always had a chunk of pipe around, I would perpetually fit one in the ends of the wood and wonder about how to hold the two pipes tight enough to support the weight of the table.

The base of thje Squalicum table, Beautiful even by itself, has no fasteners. The top gets set in on one end, then I jumped on the other, distorting the shape of the bottom tube enough to allow the two piece of channel to move about 1" apart so the other end could index into the half hole which came as part of the BAPOW top.

At some point moving from Bellingham, the BAPOW crossed paths with a large chunk of metal I had salvaged from Skagit River Steel and Recycling for the FrEdLey Project but didn't get used. It happened to be just long enough for two legs. In fact the table is the height that it is because I only wanted to cut the channel once, respecting the materials while creating no waste and honoring simplicity.
dbBrad furniture on display during the Whidbey Island Artist Tour.
Then the Artist tour came along. I was Still working on the Lois Remodel and Lois, an amazing photographer, was gracious enough to let me show some furniture in her driveway. This was one of the 5 pieces I managed to finish up for the tour.

Moch up of a 4'x8' table with glass over the woven wire mesh. The legs, still being itterated in my head, but probably something along the lines of an elegant pillar of concrete post war, with nothing but steel rising from a beautiful base.

And then Callahan and I decided to mix our wares, and they moved into Callahan's Fire House in Langley. And now, the Squalicum Beach Table has sold for $2300 and was shipped last Friday to Chicago, where it will reside in an entry of a house I hope to one day see. I sure no matter where it is, the table will be happy with a life much more promising than that of a beach or a scrap yard. I know the new owners will enjoy this piece for decades to come.

My favorite view of the Squalicum Beach Table, showing the simple design with no connections of any type. It could be called a cantilevered trestle table perhaps or a half round friction based cantilever supported Bapow, but never in my life have a seen a table that had no screws, bolts or any type of connection between the legs and the Top. A dbBrad original.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cutest Aussie Puppy Ever, Still!

Benton enjoys his own Easter egg hunt on Sunday as he hides his own ball in the grasses, wonders off distractedly, then remembers about the ball and goes looking for it again!

At 6 months, this Aussie puppy is as endearing as he is difficult.

Sir Benton Cowboy is an Australian Sheperd, actually a mini if the genetic cards play out well.

I love the macro lens on my Panasonic Lumix

At 5 months, the curly fluffy little toy that was a puppy so cute it didn't look real, Benton is maturing into a hansom young mid sized dog.

Australian Sheppard Puppy at 8 weeks with fluff turning to fur !

Benton is going through his teenage years so he is in full rebellion mode, ignoring commands he knew so well at 2 months. This is the point at which many Australian Shepard's end up at the pound because their owners probably were not as smart as their dogs!

Australian Sheppard at 6 weeks. Cutest puppy ever!
Even at 6 weeks, this little Aussie could come, sit, lie down, sit again, watch me, and was beginning his agility training with figure 8's between my legs. But now it seems the world is more interesting.

Aussie puppy at 8 weeks. A little clumsy still but wiling to keep trying.
At 6 months, it is almost impossible to do any training work outside. We just can't keep his attention--so much going on in the world, so many smells more interesting than us.

Benton with the new toy I made him from rope I found at the Ocean recently
But when he's not off trying to get you to chase him and focused, he still has that puppy cuteness. Really, all he wants to do is play

Aussie with best rope toy ever, so he thinks!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Callahans Glass and dbBrads Furniture...

...like peanut butter and chocolate in a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup: two great things that go great together!

dbBrad's furniture in Callahans FireHouse with the doors open, as seen from second street, Langley WA.

The following dbBrad pieces are available for sale at Callahan's Firehouse in Langley, WA.

Callahan can't keep his art on this table, The Captains Table, because it sells so fast.

The Two Legged Table by dbBrad shown with accessory Callaplater (Callahan's Platter)

SOLD Squalicum Beach Table SOLD

College Book Shelves
I'm thrilled to be working with Callahan and have the opportunity to display some of my unique, handmade, one of a kind furniture designs in what I think is one of the most vibrant, economically sustainable, community/experience based retail shop in Langley.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


CONTAINERATIONS: Modifying a container to create a mobile, self contained, secure work shop.

another dbBrad original design.

My container, a Genstar, on the bottom of a pile.  It took ConGlobal about 10 minutles to get it free and place it on my trailer!
After an exhausting search of overpriced metal boxes on Craigslist, I finally decided a steel shipping container, not a truck box, tent, trailer or shack, was the right structure for what I needed.

The new dbBrad container and trailer, fresh off the boat!
I have lots of large tools which I need on my job sites for the type of work I do, but I've grow tired of moving them.  Not only does it take the crew a whole day to move tools, but additional time to get them powered up, to repair damage and to get them tuned up and working properly.  And hoisting 800lb tools into the back of a truck is dangerous.  This container made into a shop but which is portable is my solution of how to keep big tools dry, safe, near by and ready to use.

The hoist and winch of the trailer for loading and unloading the container, with new heavy duty hold downs and stops.

The container was purchased from ConGlobal in Seattle.  Doug DeVries, the sales manager, was accommodating, helpful and knowledgeable. It's been an interesting learning curve about the different types and lengths of containers and the parts and fittings used to fix and secure them and the different products available to customize them, such as weld on windows, nifty little vents, and locking/attaching devices of which there are several.

My entire metal shop is mounted to the door so I can open it all the way and keep the metal dust away from my wood working tools and supplies.
However, most of the containerations I've seen have lacked in architectural detailing and even function for that matter.  The opportunity to do something wonderful with a container that can be stacked 9 high and hold 24,000lbs is amazing, but so often they are little more than dark small spaces with 2x4 walls framed on the inside.  Why use the container I say if you're not going to utilize its structural properties.

A finished Green Wall System Panel; an experiment in containerations, living walls and futon re-use
I wont be stacking, cantilevering or tricking out the interior, but I'm using the container as a structural shell, and I'm giving it architectural detailing in an attempt to create high function and aesthetic.

My 12" table saw on the fold down door under the awnings in progress.
So for me, if you're going to purchase all the steel and structure that come with a 5,000lb steel box, do something dynamic with it.  I'm using the sturdy frame to bolt my large heavy tools to; using the corrugated panels filled in with wood for structural decking; using the metal channels around the bottom to weld hinges to; using the metal walls to weld shelf supports, brakes, vices and tools too; and using the metal as a backdrop for a green wall.

dbBrad green wall system, another experiment in alternative construction methods.

Recycling the old is part of making way for the new.

Having intent to recycle isn't enough. It has to get done. Sometimes that means sorting and making an extra pile, or going to a recycling center before the dump, or running an ad on craigs list, or calling around to see what thrift stores are accepting. It also means not letting the item sit in the rain until a home is found.

Brad Hankins of dbBrad happily dissassembling this rack of toxic, busy and boring particle-board shelves.

These white, busy, boring and less than healthy particleboard (melamine) shelves were creating a health issue for a chemically sensitive client with a very accute olfactory sense. Joan made a commitment to her new home to remove these shelves and install a heatlhy, cleaner shelves of a more contempporary nature, but not if it meant a trip to the landfill. J. Benedetti, an avid thrifster (dbBrad word meaming to be hip in the art of thrift stores) had already made arrangements for the shelves to be taken at WAIF.

The shelves temporarily stored until WAIF was ready for them.

Like everything, it's always more complicated than it seems. Though the arrangements had been made, it still took two weeks and a barrage of e-mails and phone messages before WAIF and dbBrad would connect and make the exchange. Ultimately I had to store them in a shed until WAIF had room and then load and deliver them. As a result, I got to smell the off gassing for myself. The cedar cabin used for storage had the rich smell of fresh cedar when we moved them in, but as little as two weeks later, the air in the room became stale and smelled of glues, formaldehyde and chemicals.

Brad Hankins gives the Benedetti shelves the usual 'climb it and see how strong it is' test!

It's comforting to know that other people, concerned enough that finding a home for what they don't want, is as important as bringing home what they do want. In this case clean air, timeless design, no toxicity, and a clean contemporary look to display her favorite thrifster finds were motiation for the owner to "exchange" her old shelves for new shelves!

J. Benedetti and Brad next to the steel shelves under construction

The pencil edge detail on both the glass and the steel really make these shelves crisp, and the lack of any visible supports for the adjustable shelves gives it that extra refined look.

Benedetti glass being delivered