Wood Bow Ties Are Not For Everyone - 2007
Forward to – Wood Bow Ties Are Not For Everyone
By Peter Burch, SAP
International Wooden Bow Tie Club
Preface to “Wood Bow Ties Are Not For Everyone!”
Written by Marvin Beloff 6/18/01
As a first statement, allow me to say that I am hardly an objective observer, having known bow tie sculptor Marvin Beloff as one of my very best friends for many years. That having been noted, I now feel free to discuss wooden bow ties and what they have meant to me.
The International Wooden Bow Tie Club, a tongue-in-cheek organization formed by a cadre of individuals who have had the fortune to purchase one of these items, was created several years ago. Club membership has provided an added dividend of enjoyment to those of us who sport this sartorial article.
While not required, new members are encouraged to submit an original limerick related to the organization. This author’s humble contribution was as follows:
Marv Beloff makes ties in a bow
And with wood there is no need to sew.
Done with chisel and mallet
So no woe bestows to this pro.
After the purchase of my first (of five) wooden bow ties, I experienced two additional benefits of ownership: "At a dinner party recently, I was sitting down for the soup course and automatically pulled my hand to my chest to keep my tie from once again falling into the soup. Fortunately, I then realized that I was wearing my wooden bow tie and didn't need to worry about this ever happening again. Now I realize the true value of my wooden bow tie. Furthermore, even if I should accidentally fall into the soup, it would keep me afloat until help arrived."
I’ve also noted yet another benefit: At cocktail parties, the ladies in attendance frequently note the wooden bow tie and make a request to fondle it, a request cheerfully granted by the wearer.
Seizing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this author appointed himself President of the organization, and was promptly dubbed the Self-Appointed President (or, appropriately, the SAP) by the membership. Despite one ill-fated coup attempt by an overly-ambitious club member, I have continued to serve in this role.
Club members are issued laminated photo identification cards, although attempts to use them as a photo ID at airport check-ins have been strangely rebuffed. Club activities have included a delightful weeklong trip to New Orleans, marred only by the malfeasance of one club member, necessitating a public pummeling by the President on the deck of the Mississippi Queen.
I would highly recommend the purchase of a wooden bowtie, either standard or custom-made, to individuals who are sufficiently quirky to enjoy the satisfaction of wearing a fashionable item and who enjoy the approbation of those who observe it. You will not be disappointed.
Peter G. Burch
Wood Bow Ties Are Not For Everyone!
By Marv Beloff
"Mike" he hollered, "Where are my bow ties?" That was when it all began. No bow ties were in his closet. There were lots of long ties. Many in shades of grey, some navy and a few red. Stodgy and old man ties prevailed and a few others were used for way out extravagant wear. Some were emblazoned with non-representational art stripes and swirls ala Picasso.
Suddenly they were menacing and depressing. “Where is a bow tie when you need one?” He was desperate for a bow tie! It was hard to explain! Maybe like looking at your last hamburger and all at once all you can see in your mind’s eye is a cute little calf in a box. You’re not eating a hamburger – your biting into a sweet, sad faced little baby calf. You knew it - you didn’t want to think about it!
Looking at that line up tedious old man long ties projected an image of the very elderly! I decided, “Never going to wear one of those losers again!”
"Mike" he shouted - an octave higher, "what did you do with my favorite bow ties." "Faav-vorr-itte" he said slowly, with emphasis as the memory of his wife "Mike" of 37 years – who was crazy clean and an over organized control freak, had insisted he give away ties he had not worn for the last 10 or more years.
He reached into his soul for words illuminating the importance to his psyche just to have them hanging there on his tie rack next to the old man long ties. There was silence!
There was a camel colored bow tie that had a black paisley pattern scrolled over it. It reminded him of a dress his mother wore. He loved it! He hadn’t worn it of course! But, disposing of that tie was like tossing out his mother. No way to translate that emotion in living color!
He did go along with the order to reduce the number of bow ties to about eight. So-where were they? "Mike, I can’t find my bow ties." he said this time agitated like a grinding gear improperly shifted. "I threw them out." She said in the most matter of fact tone of voice.
"You threw my faav-vor-itte bow ties out?" he replied, incredulous.
"You haven’t worn a bow tie in years." She exclaimed.
"Well I need a bow tie. Now! Are you sure you got rid of them all. I can’t believe it." Actually he didn’t want to believe it, but knew it was positively so, like the thread follows a needle.
He spent the following week shopping in malls where the same lousy stuff is sold in every men’s shop and department store. He climbed from one end to the other. They offer a place to walk/exercise - so that they can draw you in and sell you junk you don’t need. There were lookers and walkers but few seemed to carry shopping bags. Each enterprise competed with glitzy electric come hither signs with graphics of a femme fatale, blond - and built. Come hither!
Not one carried a bow tie. Not one! Next he checked out the few remaining, family operated, men’s stores in the surrounding three towns. Bow ties were out! Gone with the hula-hoop! Totally frustrated, he started plowing through the dust and debris laden antique clothing stores and consignment shops. They had a few used bow ties. They did not fit his bill. He wanted something in a solid or simple stripe to wear with plaid or printed shirts. Nothing! Totally disillusioned.
What to do? Rarely before had he had such a passionate desire to acquire a wearable fashion item. He refused to give up the ghost on bow ties. It happened that this was a time shortly after he and “Mike” had returned from a sensational trip to Norway. Gustave Vigland’s art in Frogner Park just outside of Oslo was overwhelming. Heroic sized naked family figures carved out of stone and in bronze were everywhere. They depicted family life, simple scenes familiar to everyone.
They inspired his wood sculptures for the next three years. Lost in a piece of North Carolina Yellow Pine where the grain of the wood talked to him and fit the kind of family stories he was attempting to tell in wood.
Suddenly he saw it! The grain fanned out like a bow tie! In moments he roughed the long sought bow tie. It was going to be solid, in wood tones and carved in wood!
It was ready to be carved and he was immediately at work shaping the folds and dividing the top piece from the bottom. Using the Danish oil called WATCO natural he finished the tie with a warm yellow wood glow. He was ecstatic. Years earlier, when only a child, he recalled a wooden hand bag that his Mom had. It was the same natural color.
It took just two tiny screws to fasten a ribbon which wrapped around his neck at the ends of which he sewed pieces of Velcro. Thoughtfully, he searched his wardrobe for an appropriate shirt.
He had preferred print shirts to solid white or light blue and had worn unadorned ties that worked with the designs rather than go to war with them. The one chosen had a denim blue background with varied small beige fishes printed on it. Raising the collar and attaching the ends of the ribbon – not too tight mind you – he was pleased to discover that the North Carolina yellow pine tie worked. It was comfortable, light weight and although a concerted effort was made to create a fabric look-alike, one knew that there was something pleasantly and curiously different about this tie.
"Mike" was in the kitchen focused on preparing lunch. Not too nonchalantly he got into her face like a magician waving his crystal on a chain. As a no nonsense gal it required some additional effort to get her to look. Finally he caught her attention and she examined it. Her response was predictable, "Oh that’s nice," she said. Always expecting the impossible he attempted to enthuse her with his first wooden bow tie. Certainly she had never seen one before. It really pleased him and he believed it finally got to her.
That weekend at a fund-raiser auction for the local Symphony orchestra he was one of two auctioneers. Quickly he made second wooden bow tie and prepared to auction it off at the up-coming event.
When he arrived at the church hall some 30 people were milling around reviewing the treasures that they might bid on. No one noticed the bow tie he was wearing. Than a good friend suddenly moved in for a closer look commenting, "What, a bow tie? First time I’ve ever seen you in a bow tie." He did a double take "what is this a dog bone?" He reached up felt the tie and exclaimed, "Or is it a piece of wood?" And, "I’ve got to have one!" Peter invited everyone he could corral over to view this new fashion creation.
I had a figure of $30.00 on it in my mind. The auction began. Bidding got hot and heavy on a few of the items and then the other auctioneer placed the wood bow tie on the block. There was an opening $25.00 bid! Peter said $30.00. Someone called out $35.00. The auctioneer started his count down, "going, going" when Peter said $50.00. It got shoved up in $5.00 increments until Peter said, "$100.00" and it was his. Never would I have believed that from that humble beginning The International Wooden Bow Tie Club (IWBTC) would be born.
A web site www.woodbowties.com would with the help of Tom Barton of Web Solutions and peripheral help from Peter Burch - be placed on the Internet. It has as its goal creating and selling basic and custom made wood ties for people all around the world. It was the only wood bow tie site on the web.
Peter, who goaded him into much of it, became the SAP or Self Appointed President for Life, of the IWBTC. During the following few years he and Peter were on the Board of Directors of the Meriden Symphony Orchestra and repeated the fund-raiser. One year the bidding reached $320.00 for a wood bow tie. Competitors fought down to the wire. Finally he took off the tie he was wearing and sold both raising $640.00 for the organization that evening for two wood bow ties.
The organization began to grow. Others became enthusiastic about wearing wooden bow ties. Bruce Burchsted, quickly became the poet laureate of the IWBTC with his clever limericks. His first:
There once was a curious guy
Adorned with a wooden bow tie
And wherever he went
They said "there’s a gent..
Who pines to be knotty, oh my!" B.B.
This limerick resides on the reverse side of the plastic coated membership card created by Bruce at his printing company Prentis. Limericks, consequently, became a part of the whole and is a page in itself on the web site. There have been many other additions, and an on-going contest to find the best limerick still exists.
Here's to a good friend of mine...
To Marvin, that carver divine!
The one in the know
Of tying a bow
From the fibers of maple or pine. B.B.
And two others – just for example:
On Beseck Lake Marvin went boating.
Attired in best shirt and coating.
When his trusty boat sank,
Marv’s mind became blank,
But his wooden bow tie kept him floating. M.H.
There once was a Y’s man named Marvin
Whose hobby was sculptin’ and carvin’
He sold wooden bow ties.
Which was really quite wise.
It kept carvin’ Marvin from starvin’! Anonymous
There were many more. The entire experience has been creative fun for all. A festive air seemed to exist whenever members got together – wearing wood bow ties of course. The unique ties each had in common enlarged the bond of friendship. All the right people seemed to have at least one. Peter made the most of his position as SAP of the IWBTC. Only once was there mounted an effort to depose him and vote in another president. It was a dicey moment, filled with anxiety. A nomination from the floor placed Bruce on the docket. The expression on Peter’s face scotched the action. The challenge was short lived – indeed!
Through the years many challenges were hurled at the sculptor. There was the Psychiatrist who loved snakes. He wanted one on a wood bow tie. He got a dark brown striped rattler set on a white maple tie. A competitive sailor sent a picture of his ship and it was reproduced in ivory on a multi dark striped tie. A wine merchant had need of a tie with bottle pouring wine into a glass. It was accomplished on a checkerboard tie with ebony bottle and glass and plastic strings for the flow.
All were accepted as challenges! There have been so many: The scales of Justice – lacrosse rackets – various initials – skis – shamrocks – book shelves full of books – ukulele- club names such as Rotary and Kiwanis – banjo – horses –a hand sewing – comedy & tragedy masks – and many more.
The sculptor had a special interest in the ukulele. His children were in the business with books and catalogs of a variety of ukulele paraphernalia. He played with Peter and Bruce and Steve and Barry in a group know as the Humble Bees. They entertained primarily at nursing homes. All gratuities went to charity.
As a part of the aura colorful Hawaiian shirts sprinkled with ukuleles were worn and augmented with wood bow ties all featuring that very instrument.
The original ties had Flukes (a new ukulele created and manufactured in New Hartford CT by Dale Webb, Marvin’s son-in-law). The flukes sat up about 1/8 inch from the surface of the tie and were strung with actual ukulele strings. They had a triangular shape, were unique with a beautiful full voice. A huge business was built around their development. Each Humble Bee had one that was colored like the Fluke they played and worn with the same Hawaiian shirts which looked like the were purchased at a fire sale.
The web site took off like gang busters. It was the only site on the Internet that featured wooden bow ties! Now find a Photo Gallery of Ties, Marv's sculptures and the the life's work of Bill Kent who Marv believes is the greatest living wood sculptor.
International Wooden Bow Tie Club