These are some recent adventures in making.
Some of these are old projects that I've resurrected and some are new projects that will continue to evolve. And some of them are just documentaries on other people making or interesting processes.


NEWS - The opening was a blast! Thanks to everyone who made the trip even though it was 6 degrees out. I had a wonderful evening catching up with and meeting all the folks who crammed into 55. I'll be posting more pictures of the night as I receive them from those who took pics (you know who you are!). There are closeups of the work here.


The Theory of Everything

Seany boy took a page out of my book and ditched July to sit around all day and draw...or, whatever. So we joined forces one day at 55 for some pro level slacking except all he wanted to do was fold paper. Ugh.

He's got the opening coming up and I hope people go, for his sake, because it was a LOT of folding. Saturday, August 9, 8:00 PM at 55 Norfolk


Craft textiles

Katherine and I have been tracking down various artisanal textile designers from around the world. Many of these textiles, which are traditionally made by craft based cooperatives in very poor parts of the world, are disappearing. We'd like to figure out a way to help preserve these textiles and their hand made production techniques by getting involved in developing new products with the artisans.


Methods & Materials

Intersect two volumes in space and sculpt the shape that results from the collision. Each volume is made of a different material of your choice and the speed, angle and moment of collision are also determined by you. 

This is the assignment that I give all my second year students in our Form class. It's an introduction to thinking about 3-D form in a dynamic and tactile way. We use blue foam as the medium to sculpt the collision because it's inexpensive and easy to work with. Once they've done 5-10 sketch models, they begin to see form as an exercise in defining relationships between things, not just designing a single thing.

The crucial part of the lesson revolves around the dimensions of the two volumes. They have to start with one being 4" X 4" X 2" and the other being 2.5" X 3.5" X .125". Some of the students realize that the second one is approximately the dimension of a credit card yet even fewer make the connection that this assignment ultimately leads to a discussion about designing an interaction between a credit card and a machine (ATM, Gas Pump, Kiosk) where one would dip, swipe or insert their card.


Japanese baskets via nantucket

I started making baskets with Etsko and Akemi. They taught me the intricacies of the Nantucket style which uses reed and rattan over a wooden form. The Baskets take an incredibly long time to make but are really beautiful and amazingly durable. The Japanese used to use these tight weave baskets for scooping up and transferring whale oil. 


Turning Stools with Billy

Billy asked me for some help the other day making more furniture for a restaurant in Cambridge. So we set about turning 30 mahogany stool tops and cutting 40 square table tops. He and Steve did most of the work but still, it was fun getting covered in saw dust again. And Billy pays me in IPA.


Bamboo + plywood = lacrosse

Making a lacrosse stick out of bamboo is a good idea because of the material's unique dynamic characteristics. Bamboo is naturally flexible AND torsionally stiff. I've been working on this design for about 10 years and it's taking so long because it requires some invention in terms of processing and forming.

There are two paths I've been pursuing. One is a strip and bundle construction and the other is a crushed fiber and epoxy deal. Ultimately, though, I think the construction might be a bent laminate using whole stalks of a species which I won't reveal. This third option is what's shown above and the photos depict one of many wooden prototypes.


Will model for food

Japanese food replicas are made by craftsmen in the mountains outside Kyoto. Yoshi and his friends picked me up at Kyoto station and we drove 3 hours to get to the workshop/museum of food replicas.

Packy and I fell in love with these replicas when we visited Japan for the first time. It's like a delicious dream to see the attention and care that goes into molding, sculpting and finishing everything from nigiri to kare udon. 

The workshop consisted mostly of plastic and rubber modling machines - large stoves for liquifying the plastic and large ovens for curing the molded parts. There were also a number of exhaust hoods for all the airbrush painting. I was surprised to find out that half the coloring is in-mold and half is done by hand afterward. The artisans mix up their own secret lacquers and paint colors to achieve the shimmery silver on a mackeral skin or a rich, oily broth for shio ramen.

After Yoshi and his friends indulged me while I pestered them to translate my questions for the artist we entered his workshop and actually got to make shrimp tempura the old fashioned way. Using liquid wax, drizzled very carefully into lukewarm water, I gently formed the batter as it congealed on contact with the surface making what looked like amazingly perfect tempura flakes. Someday soon I'll find the video we took of each other doing this. It's amazing.


Love smells like petrol


I was visiting Dina in Burundi -  her town is called Kirundo - and she is a hero there. On one of my last days she asked if I could paint something for the orphanage of the Sisters Of Charity. We had visited the kids earlier in the week and it was funny and agonizing beyond belief to see so many orphaned children and so much love from the sisters.

So we went out and bought some oil based paint from a guy on the side of the road in Kigali, Rwanda. I wasn't sure how much paint to buy but since he didn't really have any colors, we just bought everything he had.

I prepared a sketch (above) at breakfast one morning and presented it to the sisters. They seemed to really like it, or so Dina said in her translated french, but the sisters insisted that Christ be central to the image. Hmmmm. I've never painted Christ before and wasn't sure I'd be able to. And also, I felt as though what the kids needed most was color and shape over symbolic representation. Later I was told that if I painted the children playing soccer then that was almost as good as having Christ.

Ultimately we agreed that Christ lived in the heart and the sun and that maybe later on, Christ could be added. It was already mid-day and I wasn't even sure I'd be able to cover the whole wall since I'd never painted a mural before. 

I had helpers for the whole day who would critique each new element. I'd paint the sun, stand back and we'd all debate how to make it rounder, or lighter. It was really a magical experience since we couldn't use words - it was a lot of hand gestures and smiling. It took me 6 hours and it was hot as hell. I had to wash my hands in petrol because there was no turpentine to be found. In the end, we all stood there and smiled and embraced and it felt like love. And I cried.