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Some of you have been reading this
site for a number of years now. I appreciate that very much. I
realize that you don't have to do so.
I've spoken to many of you now at shows,
at our Standing Stone Festival, by phone, letter, e-mail, etc.
Many of you have expressed thoughts that indicate you have enjoyed
far more than just the odd picture and price tag from this site.
During many conversations, your comments have cited an appreciation
of the: humor, logic, truthfulness, art, dedication, realism,
and various related topics. Thank you.
So many of these comments cite the
same topics, that I felt I'd add this section to expand upon them
a bit. Evidently, a goodly number of you come to this site for
more than simply airguns. I've made alot of friends here, for
which I'm grateful.
This is your final warning. Beyond
this point; we'll discuss more than POA, POI, MOA, PSI, and FPE.
If you don't care for alittle philosophy and/or opinion, this
is the time to hit the BACK button ... ha ha ;?)
Topic One: "Who
are you training to take over your work when you retire (or worse)?" Follow-up comment is usually ... "I mean ...
I get nuts thinking that all of this (Barnes development and artistic
work) is going to be lost to the world when you are gone".
Let's all try to enjoy it while it's here. Yes - when they drag
me out, boots first, that chapter will be over. But; for now,
there's alot to do and to enjoy together. The reality is this:
I can either work ... or I can teach. That's NOT a teacher joke.
It's a fact. You don't learn these skills in a few months or years.
I cannot devote decades of training to a staff of skilled workers.
I can't afford it, and the days are past when I could have a compound
of young eager apprentice just working for their keep and for
their education. I also cannot reduce my work to an assembly of
push button operations in order that I might employ a dozen unskilled
laborers. I'll make what I can make, as I make it. I continually
work smarter - I won't get much faster.
It's a cultural thing
to spend more time and effort trying to make temporary things
permanent, than to simply enjoy those things for their current
addition, it's the trend to spend more time rewriting the past
than to live out the present. Look at the
cost of celebrating the past: Is it really worth five million
dollars apiece to prop up every rotten 200 year old building in
the country? I was in a small historic building once. The tour
guide discussed how the reconstruction team had sunk deep "I-Beams"
into the bedrock (behind the facade). Was it real? Are today's
popular beliefs about the day to day life of the cave men, actually
any more accurate than the texts written 20 years ago? Have you
noticed the 21st century popular cultural traits that have been
recently unearthed as we "learn" more "breaking
news" about their 200,000 year old lifestyle? Interesting
to consider the value and accuracy of what we celebrate.
What's the practical correlation of
the above as it relates to Barnes and airguns? There's a concern over loosing a grip on the availability
of my product. "What will happen if?"
The alternative response may be something like this: "Buy
what's available, when it's available, and enjoy it now."
It is a fact that I frequently hear
someone express sincere concern over some future unavailability
of my work, yet the same person will not exhibit an equal desire
to acquire currently available work. It's as though they mostly
wish to preserve the "opportunity" of acquiring my work
without actually committing to doing so. That shifts the stress
off of them and onto me. It's implied, between the lines, that
I should devise a method of making available such an open-ended
buying opportunity. That's the way industrial product is ware-housed.
That's just not the way art is made available - art being the
production of one pr. of hands controlled by one mind's direction.
When you consider the "What if"
question, then you begin to explore the relationship between contemporary
work and the products of previous artists working in the same
field. Are they still competitive today? Yes. Most certainly.
I've been fascinated, for years, at
the number of collectors who beat the bushes for antique airguns.
Not the fact that they do so - that is their hobby area of interest.
My fascination comes from the fact that they will spend decades
trying to piece together the story of someone who kept inadequate
records. Face it - if proper records are kept - there's no mystery
to unravel. Or they may work for years to identify artifacts for
someone who didn't document or mark their work. They'll strain
to attribute a mystery airgun to a popular deceased builder. They'll
pay ten grand for a dilapidated airgun and consider it value.
They'll project stories of the prowess of such an artifact "if
only" it were in shooting condition ... which, of course,
it's not. Yet; many of these same folk won't walk across the isle
of a trade show to look at the work of a contemporary maker. It's
fascinating that the missing details of the past can consume them,
yet the clear details of a living artist, in front of their face,
is of no interest at all to them.
I have a theory: It
involves the concepts of "control and discipline". It
goes something like this ...
I've known folks who seek out the company
of strangers - prefer it to those whom they know and those who
know them. Why? Because they can make up whatever fantasy characteristics
they wish to about the strangers. That's their "control" aspect.
The facts get in the way of the romance, when you know a person
or they know you. That's the "discipline" aspect. It requires discipline to integrate the known
facts when they don't suit your fancy. This is all part of the
allure of... say ... Williamsburg .. or the Amish Country. We
attribute fantasy characteristics to these people. Either those
portraying a role, or those witnessed at a distance while working
with a horse drawn implement in a field. We don't have to risk
the distaste of any personal details related to real people, when
we admire our favorite figures from the past. For example, we
can make them as tall/short as we want in our mind. Ever wonder
how tall Girandoni was? Answer: "He was just right".
Ever wonder if Bate stuttered? Certainly not. Or if Cook had that
annoying habit some possess of not looking you in the eye when
they speak to you? Never. And, without exception, we simply assume
that those 18th century makers bathed every day and presented
themselves daisy fresh. Would those things matter if you were
to meet them at a show today? No matter ... you won't have to.
We take exceptionally fine care of
our dead airgun makers. We re-write history for them, where needed.
We clean up fuzzy details, where omitted. We make up the records
they never bothered to keep for themselves. We argue over just
how amazing were their airguns ..... which, sadly, are now broken
... and cannot speak for themselves. In fact, that whole collection
of dead guys are some stiff competition (pun noted). And, they
get better every year while I get older and slower. ha ha. ;?)
In a related matter, it's those who
are familiar to us, with whom we are most easily offended. The guy who comes to the shows, goes
to the tournaments, and makes himself available on a website and/or
web forum has max. exposure. Hide from
the public and you'll better achieve attributed mystery qualities.
I've always felt it was noteworthy
just what a craftsman endured in order to work. Everybody's story
is different. Where did they work? When did they work? What was
the culture? How much help did they have? It all adds to the mix.
There's a considerable risk to maintaining
such a wide exposure as in a website of this nature. A reader
will get to know me. And, I'll have the occasion to please or
to offend them ... over time. However; that very factor gives
many a comfortable feeling of being at home here. If you've read
for a few years now, and I haven't made you spittin' mad yet ...
;?) ... then you may enjoy one of my rifles. I appear in public.
I shoot my work in public. I offer the public opportunity to shoot
my work ... before others in public. It's all a serious personality
risk. If you've seen me four or five times in public ... then
you know how I behave. That will either satisfy you or not. Those
whom you've never seen, you can make up (and hope) as to how they
Now - regarding that blanket price
for some special projects. I simply can't catalog everything I
can do. It would destroy the creative process, and take forever
to explain. Rather, I do what those certain special projects "require"
in my mind. When I complete them; I try, very hard, to put a fair
price on them. They are one of a kind experiences. If you are
waiting for one just like it ... but with a "flip-flop"
where this one has a "do-dad" ... then it may be a very
long wait until you are offered one. You may care to think of
my work, less like a catalog item, and more like an estate pc.
at auction. You don't go to the auction house and ask for the
same antique painting ... but ... with a more dominate "blue-green"
background rather than this current offering of the "green-blue".
Certainly, that gives me more freedom
to make what I'd enjoy making. But, that's sort of the game here.
Girandoni didn't offer a laminated stock. Didn't catalog weaver
scope rails, or have an optional trigger shoe kit. Today, we admire
what the mind of Girandoni envisioned and what his hands built.
It's the guy that learns his skills, accumulates the tools, runs
the business, and develops his market, that gets to puts his name
on his work. Anybody with what it takes, can try the same.
Here's a wrap-up:
There's a creative fellow here now.
He's making unique pcs. He's making himself available to the public
and making his work available for public inspection. You have
ample opportunity to "get a read" on how he conducts
himself and his business. He's developed a program which makes
true artwork available for dollars a day.
Occasionally, examples of my work become
available on the secondary market. Buy them. They are unique.
Don't wait for me to make one with some minor difference. Don't
wait for me to hire on a dozen artists (just like me) to create
ten times the work ... they don't exist.
You may not have even realized it,
however; many folks would like me to guarantee that they'll have
a never ending - open ended - opportunity to buy my work. That
just puts another layer of stress on me. It's the mind's effort
to get out of actually making a decision and having the discipline
to follow thru on it.
Some of you may wish to consider the
fact that dead craftsmen don't really appreciate your support
nearly as much as do the contemporary alternative. ha ha ;?) Celebrating
the past often involves rewriting the past. Some find this vastly
more interesting than celebrating the work of living artists.
It could be that they are actually Historians who have used airguns
as their window to the past. I'm one who appreciates your support
and wishes for you to enjoy the work I enjoy making ... right
now. In this way, I'm in the entertainment business. In this way,
hopefully, I provide a break from your daily routine.
Ok. That's discussion number one. I'll
add another occasionally.
Discussion 2: If
you pay attention, you can't live to middle age without learning
a few things about life.
It may sound strange, but I didn't
have anyone willing or able to share these things before I had
to learn them myself. Since quite a bit of the world is younger
than I am ... maybe some of you haven't gotten to these things
yet. Once again, if you are purely wishing to read about airguns
... this section won't do it. There will be related material -
but only so far as it applies to life lessons. I'm told in quite
regular e-mails, that folks enjoy the conversation part of this
web site as much as the airguns. For these folks, I sat here on
a day I wasn't feeling up to snuff and wrote down some thoughts.
Not preaching ... just sharing.
Lesson 1. Many people
can look danger square in the face and not (want to) see it.
Now, there are those who will just
miss it - yes. But; of the rest, many will not WANT to see it.
And, there's something in their mind which allows them to feel
that; if they don't let on that they recognize reality ... it
won't apply to them.
Lesson 2. Awareness
can be a heavy burden, with costs attached.
Once somebody "knows" that
"you know" ... it changes everything. Sure - it depends
upon what it is that you know. However; many people are afraid
that, with your awareness, will come your judgment. And, most
people are deadly afraid of having any kind of judgment applied
Lesson 3. Popular culture
has attempted to do away with any form of judgment. Yet, our minds are set up to judge everything on a
relentless basis. We judge the small stuff ... will that chair
will hold us? We judge the medium stuff .. are those tires safe?
We judge the big stuff ... can I trust this person? Those who
try the hardest to eradicate judgment from our culture, most fear
judgment themselves. You must wonder why.
Lesson 4. We live in
our heads. Our attitude controls who and
what we are. Generally the only way to correct a poor situation
is to correct the poor attitude that caused or allowed the situation
to develop in the first place.
Lesson 5. Accountability.
The one thing many fear above all else.
Oddly enough; accountability is what makes us trustworthy. It's
what keeps us honest. It's at the heart of our sense of duty.
It's the test of maturity. It's the strings that tie us to the
experiences of our lives. If we adhere to the concept of accountability,
we're alot more selective about what we do.
Lesson 6. Learning
lessons yourself can put you seriously behind the curve. The young person which starts very early with a wife
.. or today ... with a baby first, has tremendously complicated
their every waking moment. It's only the energy of youth that
allows so many to survive their early complex situations. Such
situations often require a burn out schedule to overcome. It's
a fact that youth is wasted on the young. They use their youth
mostly to overcome simple situations which they've made complex
thru errors of timing and/or judgment. Boy - could I use some
of the energy of my own youth to apply to the shop today.
Lesson 7: One of the
biggest keys to happiness is: "Spend less than you make."
It's probably the easiest
concept which causes the most people endless grief.
Lesson 8: On the worst
day of your life, the ocean will still be washing onto a beach
somewhere. My wife introduced
me to an area we enjoy. I drove around a corner and saw palms.
I drove along the white sand beach. I got out and walked to the
water's edge ... and just looked far, far out into the water.
I breathed deeply and could hardly believe that this was there
... every day.
Lesson 9: Discipline. The act of balancing what you want
to do with what you need to do and what you should be doing. Precedes
the need for accountability.
Lesson 10: Often those
who shout freedom and tolerance the loudest, are the first to
curtail your freedom and are the least tolerant of your opinions.
It's mainly their freedom
and their opinions that they value and seek expression for.
Lesson 11: Half of
the people will equate confidence with arrogance. The same people will most likely equate
indecision with tolerance. I'm in the other 50%. I equate confidence
with experience. I equate decision with maturity.
Lesson 12: Hiding who
you are is not an act of kindness. We've been brainwashed into believing that we must
be "tolerant" of everyone and everything. To do so,
we're taught (indoctrinated) to mask who we are and why we hold
our dearest beliefs. Foolishness. I don't hide myself in order
to celebrate something else I don't feel is worth celebrating.
I'm a Christian man.
By that, I don't mean that I'm not a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or
a Muslim ... so I "must be" a Christian. What I mean
is that ... beyond this life, I believe my soul will be redeemed
by the grace of God alone. It will be an undeserved gift - purchased
by the blood of Christ Jesus. Only my faith in the gift is required.
I live my life by Christian
principles. Do the best I can. Treat people fairly. Treat people
truthfully. Give full measure and good value. I don't feel any
need to be a patsy .. but conduct business in a logical manner.
I tell folks what I'm working on ... my goals ... and I sincerely
hope that they find some relief from the world's pressures in
following along as they wish.
Thanks for reading,