Jay White: Open Source Creations

“Inspiration is when you see that something is possible.” Jay White says this with a smile as we chat casually on his couch about his passions. “It comes and goes in these huge waves. Let it go when it goes. You go through dry spells. Go with inspiration. Don’t worry about money. Buy the tools!”
Jay’s inspiration has led him down a path that involves a lot of research and learning. Which is why he loves the whole “open-source” idea. It’s how he says he’s learned so much. People are out there looking to help each other by sharing what they’ve learned and discovered. “There’s so much information out there,” he said. “We’re all in this together and we’re all gonna benefit if we help each other out.” He loves sharing his talents. He thinks spreading inspiration is one of the most important things. He actually lets people he knows use his workshop to bring their ideas to fruition, and even teaches them how to use the necessary tools.
Within his workshop and home there were several majestic handbuilt tools and projects to see. When I entered, the sculptures instantly drew my eyes to them. Carved from stone, these statues are stunning. Every piece of stone, chosen as a starting canvas, was handpicked for its unique qualities. The images carved vary, but there are many of women in different poses. The stone makes them appear eternally innocent, with gentle curves-stiff and cold like ice, yet eminating soft warmth. Magical! His day job is in stone as well. He is a stone mason by trade-same materials, different art form.

As Jay’s interests and talents are widespread, I also had the chance to see his work with metal. To do such work, he built his own forge out of firebricks and barbeque chips, (hey that rhymed. Am I good or what?….I cheated, those are the actual materials).
He uses another tool for cutting the metal, called a plasma cutter, or, as Jay described it, “a tiny light saber.” May the force be with you. And the force is strong with this one.

Metal rose

He seems to use a lot of recycled and non-traditional materials in his tools and art. Ingenuity! One of the first I got to see, that birthed from his metal work and innate abilities in engineering, was a Sterling Engine, or a heat engine. It is run off of alcohol burning flames, which heat the pistons. (There was a lot more to it, but the circus music in my brain blocked a lot of it out as science leaves my head swimming and my ego diminishing.) This machine was made with recycled materials, and he forged the gears himself. Jay told me amusedly that the first time he made one of these engines, he built it out of tuna cans (I hope he scrubbed them out well, I don’t think rotten tuna roasting over and open flame would add to the effect at all…).

Youtube video of Jay’s precision top in action

Let’s just keep mentioning more talents like it ‘ain’t no thang’-Jay also does woodworking. His pieces are beautiful and rich in appearance. He especially enjoys working in the unique and seemingly difficult craft of joinery. This is when notches are cut at the end of two boards that fit them perfectly together at the corner of a box or such that holds without use of nails, screws, or the like.

Toy chest with dovetail style joinery, built by commission

Because of his obvious talents, Jay gets commissioned to do work. He presents designs of the item being requested. The thing that worries him here is trying to have his imagination line up with the customer’s. He, of course, wants to please the customer, but he also wants to be happy with the work himself. Though, from what I can tell, everyone who has commissioned him was, indeed, also happy with the results.
Despite his abilities, Jay says he would not always classify that end result of his work as ‘fine art.’ “With music and handmade work, people don’t want the best musician or craftsman, they want to see something you poured yourself into.”
As you may have caught drift of in the last paragraph, this towering pile of talents is going have to sustain one more-Music. Jay is a musician as well, and was actually known for this art form first. His main instrument is the Chapman Stick, a variety of tap guitar (did you almost think I knew what I was talking about for a second? I Googled it). I looked and listened to this instrument online, including some Youtube videos of Mr. White himself tearing up the stick at a couple of live shows. Wicked instrument! Great musician!
“If you ain’t working on accomplishing your own dreams, you are working on accomplishing someone else’s,” Jay states. He definitely goes after his own. And following your passion really always brings you success. As Jay said, “just trying is success in itself.”
Check out Jay’s work on facebook: Jay White Creations. Neat stuff!

Jay White Creations Facebook page

Jay White Creations Website

Thanks to Jay White for meeting with me.
And thanks to Nicholas Lafferty for filling in the blanks when I felt awkward, which is my superpower-able to make everyone in the room feel uncomfortable in a single bound! I demand tights….and a cape.