Artist Statement

Artist Statement (as of May 23, 2013)

Chapter one: “The Cruel Tutelage of Sensei Doall ”

I used a Gillette Sensor and Sensor Excel from the time I could shave, since 1988 or so. At that time, I shaved with one pass with some touch up if needed. In 2001 I grew a goatee and so the shaves went faster ( I barely remember those shaves). Since 2006 I used twin-blade disposable razors because of high costs.

I shaved my goatee off in 2011. I noticed a 5 O’Clock shadow early in the day, every day. This was something I wasn’t concerned about before, but I didn’t like it. My OCD button was pushed and I suddenly desired a closer shave. I stopped using disposables and bought a Schick Quattro, and then tried a Gillette Fusion. Still, that close shave eluded me.

I started wet shaving at the beginning of February 2013. My Gillette Fusion just couldn’t give me the close shave I sought, especially on my neck. I researched online and read I should try bar soap and a brush. I didn’t have a brush but tried shaving with bar soap and my Fusion and suddenly my shave was much closer. I was on to something and wanted to try a brush next. After researching online I discovered the double edge razor.

I went to a Barber shop and bought a $10.95 Korean brand double edge razor, the “Doall” razor, a Gillette Superspeed look-a-like. Experience now shows me it is an aggressive razor, but I didn’t know that then. I cut myself pretty bad on that first shave. I was terribly let down and done with wet-shaving and stopped using that razor. It took awhile for my face to heal, faint scars still exist! I returned to my trusty Sensor Excel and bought a 20 blade pack of cartridges on Amazon. I then discovered the Shaving Den forum community, joined, and studied various posts and was inspired not to give up on wet shaving.

On February 26 I picked up my Doall razor and tried a second time. I was extra careful. I had my fist non-blood shave, and suddenly the clouds opened! I was excited about wet shaving again. Each day, the shaves on this little aggressive razor got better. I found the sweet spot more often than not. It still drew blood but not as bad as the first time. This Korean razor improved my technique because I had to be extra careful. This Korean sensei didn’t forgive the slightest wrong angle!

Then one morning I noticed my razor was faulty. The hinge to the blade doors was slightly bent and not connected to the razor head. I had been shaving with a broken razor! I put in an order for an Edwin Jagger DE89L razor on Amazon. I also bought a blade sampler.

Chapter two: “Never let perfect become the enemy of good enough”

Meanwhile, I found a gold Gillette Ball-End Tech razor (c. 1940s-1950s) at an Antique store for six dollars. The next day I had a revelatory shaving experience. The razor was SO mild and easy to use in comparison to my Korean razor. No blood was drawn. I had the closest shave I ever had. I then started my blog to document the process.

The “Wet Shaving Conceptual Artist” is a study of:

Portraiture (in the style of Harry Callahan’s portraits of Eleanor Callahan)
iPhone photography using cheap apps
Repetition (See my essay “Repeatition” on this blog)
Quotidian life documentation
Still life photography
Schick Injector performance
Schick Injector Blade longevity
Shaving Cream performance
The two-pass “DFS”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

My Edwin Jagger razor double edge razor arrived, and my shaves were better than ever. The Edwin Jagger is not an antique, it is a modern razor made in England. Every morning was an interesting experience with a new blade from a sampler pack, until one morning the Astra Superior Platinum blade gave me the second best shave off my life. Again, the clouds opened! I was on the right path. I was a wet shaver for life now.

But on April 5, 2013 I wrote: “I’ve tried to keep it cool (to prevent irritation and burn) but every morning I find myself chasing the baby-butt-smooth shave (BBS), and of course, it doesn’t happen every day. This I understand, but I can’t help feeling a little down when it doesn’t happen. As a newbie with OCD tendencies, I have a tendency to overdo things when I’m new at it.”

In 2010 I was diagnosed with depression and OCD and currently in treatment. The depression treatment has gone well but OCD is difficult to control. My doc says it always takes longer to control the OCD. But it’s been better compared to what I was five years ago. Oh my!

I’m OCD about getting a BBS shave. I’m doing all I can to reassure myself to “not make perfect the enemy of good enough” and purposely hold back on some days just to gain my own control back. That’s my challenge as I learn technique. On my best days I’m happy with not trying for BBS, relaxed and enjoying my Shaving Zen. BUT on other days I’m intense and have to get a BBS. It’s like holding the reins of a team of running horses.

Thanks be to God for my loving wife, who handles my ailments with such compassion, love and care.

Chapter three: “The Schick Creed”

Inspired by Nick (wknicholas) at the Shaving Den and Shaving Nook, I decided to buy a Schick Injector E2 razor (made during 1935-45). I found his unswerving use of one razor, one brush, bowl, and soap to be appealing in its monastic minimalism. Nick told me, “I’m not big on changing what works.” This is my mantra these days. Nick’s minimalism strongly appeals to my aesthetic and applies to my vision of wet shaving. This simplicity keeps my OCD in check too. Thanks Nick!

I stopped going against the grain everyday and generally use two passes. North to South. South to North. Touch up on jaw line, chin and neck. This also helps keep my OCD in check. I still get darn fine shaves thanks to the Schick and Barbasol.

I bought a Schick Hydro-Magic Injector, manufactured in the years 1955-58. The Hydro-magic is similar but different from my E2 type Schick. The E2 is a cutting machine, more aggressive! But it’s easier to shave my upper lip with the Hydro (North to South), meaning the blade doesn’t feel threatening there. With the Schick Hydro-magic, I experienced a different kind of shave, what I can only describe as smoother across the grain, i.e. easier to cut across the grain with no irritation on my neck area, not even a burn. I also like it’s lightness compared to my double edge razors.

The E2 shaves more aggressive, but I’m getting to know this razor and it shaves closer with fewer strokes, resulting is less passes on the face. The only drawback is that it’s hard to shave close on my chin without a weeper or nick. I just bought a beautiful E2 at an antique store here in Tucson. My second E2 looks brand new, and shaves smoother than my first E2, which is a later model (it has the plastic handle).

I bought a Schick J1 Type Injector, manufactured in the years 1958-64. After my second shave I find it’s very similar to the Hydro in aggressiveness. It cuts with precision and directness but feels non-threatening to the face. I can even go South to North on my chin and upper lip with no problems. I love the design of the J1. The longer handle brings a whole different experience to the table. The longer handle reminds me of the Gillette Sensor, except the J1 has a fixed head, single blade and cuts profoundly closer than the Sensor. It is my paintbrush!

A friend graciously sent me a free Schick G5 Injector, manufactured in the years 1946-55. My first shave with was interesting. In general, the later the year the milder a Schick razor is, but I found the G5 as aggressive as my E2 Schicks. Further shaves will tell me more. I could’ve been done with one pass if I wanted a presentable shave. This may be something to look into in the future.

It’s great to have a choice between different Schicks in the morning.

“This is my Schick Injector. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My Schick Injector is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My Schick Injector, without me, is useless. Without my Schick Injector, I am useless. I must angle my Schick Injector true. I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its blade. I will keep my Schick Injector clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other.”

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