Message From Muse: Two All Beef Patties . . . On A Sesame Seed Bun

For the first time since I got a lathe I couldn't come up with anything I wanted to turn. The Well had run dry - Inspiration Block had set in.

One of my neighborhood kid muses decided "we" should turn a hamburger - an Oak Burger. And not just the burger, but also the bun AND the metling cheese AND the pickles AND the tomato slice AND the onion rings AND a couple of pieces of bacon- oh - AND the lettuce - of course. The sesame seeds for the top we're still negotiating.

As you may know, if you show a kid a bowl or vase or whatever you've turned, they look at it - say something like "cool" and they're done - critique over.

But show a kid the hamburger bun you've just turned as the first part of an idea THEY came up with - and you get a fifteen minute analysis of Top of Bun to Bottom of Bun Proportions, suggestions for texturing the inside face of the two bun parts, ideas for getting the Toasted Bun Look - the list goes on and on.

If you turn them loose with the "cooked hamburger patty" you turned out of oak and that you spent an hour texturing - and some painters oil paint, a tooth brush and give them fifteen minutes - they'll hand you back a piece of wood that looks real enough to kick your salivary glands into high gear.

I've got the tomato slice done, including the curve of the tomato, and I figure if I dampen a piece of ribbon mahogany veneer, it'll warp and hopefullly distort enough to look lettucey.

The metling cheese took some thinking, but I think I've got one that'll pass The Muse's inspection, though turning with square edges to look like the cheese was drooping was "interesting".

It's the onion rings that's are the next "challenge", I've already figured out how I'll do the two bacon strips - using tulip wood - carved not turned

I've probably seen, and if I see one I eat it, hamburgers - without ever really thinking about all that goes into one - until now. Had I thought this one through the project would probably not even have gotten off the ground - a phrase I think NASA came up with cause it doesn't make any sense in any other context. Well maybe it made sense to the Wright Brothers too.

So we've got"

Bun - top
Bun - bottom
hamburger patties
cheese slice
tomato slice
onion slice
pickles - 3
two strips of bacon
toothpick to hold things together?

That's thirteen parts to come up with a way of making - and that's without the paper plate for the Oak Burger to be presented upon.

And I've got to wonder.

Would I have ever come up with this idea?
Maybe, but probably not.

Would I have thought about what would be involved?

Would I have dismissed it as not being worth the effort?

Will I disappoint a muse?
I sure hope not.

The look on a kid collaborator's face when his or her idea becomes a reality, and he or she not only concieved of the idea, but worked on the components - priceless.

So here's what I've got so far sort of clockwise from the "burger"
burger, pickels, top of bun, onion rings, tomato slice, melting cheese - on a walnut plate.
Still have the lettuce to do.

And here's the stacked parts

And if we can find the colors - the look we're shooting for - done with the wizardry of PhotoShop 5.5 (I haven't tried using Adobe Elements 6.0 for this type of thing - yet)

OK - with a trip to a pretty big hobby shop (D&J Hobby in Campbell CA), a half an hour with their models painter - and about $30 worth of small jars and three spray cans of enamel, along with some really thick clear finish I already had - and a half day of painting and texturing and "charring" of the inside faces of the bun - I'm getting closer to something that looks like a double cheeseburger. Surprisingly, when I told the guy at the hobby shop I need "purple onion" purple, he pointed me to the racks of model enamel paints and said "It's called Napoleonic Purple and it's in there somewhere." Damn if he wasn't right.

Still have to make the two bacon strips. Have one started out of tulip wood that has the reddish and whitish streaks like bacon. With a coat of garnet shellac should come out close enough to fool the eye - just long enough.

Guess I should dust off and polish up the claro walnut plate before taking pictures. Maybe I'll turn a maple "paper plate" as that would be more fitting for this Off The Wall Piece.

I know you're probably wonderng about the lettuce. It's actually a dried loquat leaf - but I'm still working on a veneer leaf. For some weird reason, veneer, especially "ribbon figured" veneer will pucker and bend and distort like hell - when you DON'T want it to - and remain perfectly flat and behave like the perfect little angel when you WANT it to deform. In the world of wood, veneer seems to be the beautiful, yet petulant, child, a source of wonder and amazement one moment and the spawn of a devil the next.

I took this piece to my oldest's birthday barbecue. The 2 1/2 year old grand daughter, 4 1/2 year old grandson and a 6 year old cousin played Build Your Own Burger for about a half an hour - before two older cousins bagged it from them. They (16 and 19) played with it - 'til the 79 year old great grandmother said "It's MY turn." She in turn had to let her daughter have it, who then had her husband insist on "MY turn" - 'til his brother-in-law took it from him so he could play with it.

Folks played with this thing for pushing 2 hours. And each person had his / her own unique order of stacking things. I didn't know there were so many combinations. I figured the little ones would have fun playing with it but was surprised that The Adults go just as much of a kick out of Build-A-Burger.

When you were a kid - somebody said "DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD." I think part of the appeal of this piece is that it gives you permission TO PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!

Now I COULD have stopped here. But of course THERE'S MORE ----->

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