Category: things we make

À Montréal…

Thursday 12.19.13

Better than any museum or guided tour of Montreal was our visit to a really big industrial glass factory. We’re talking production of 500,000 beer bottles in any 24 hour period. This doesn’t include the liquor bottles, mayonnaise jars or other glass vessels that get produced at the same time. I’ve been to a number of factories (glass in particular), but this place was outright SCARY and DANGEROUS and LOUD and GREASY and BEYOND FASCINATING!! I think the word I am looking for here is gobsmacked!

Friends of friends of ours live in Montreal, and the husband works on the line in the factory. He very generously showed us around to every station of the plant. Truly, this was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I do wish the videos were longer and that I could have taken more footage, but I think that would have broken the rules. What really stuck with me was the level of extreme hazard. I’m talking weaponized molten glass! We have come to think of factories as largely automated or adhering to strict safety measures, but this was anything but. One false move and WHAMMO…there goes your finger or your hand or, for that matter, your whole freakin’ arm. And this doesn’t even begin to address the slippery floor. All those machines need lubrication, and it’s inevitable that in the process of doing so, all the other surfaces get covered in many layers of black oil. It immediately brought to mind the book Fast Food Nation, in which the writer Eric Schlosser describes conditions in our nation’s meat packing industry. I have an entirely new level of respect, and concern, for anyone who manufactures the things we use. Especially at an industrial scale. As a contrast to my experience, look at this sanitized, but highly educational video of the glass making process.

Did I mention how hot it was?

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Exploded View

Wednesday 12.18.13

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Sometimes the smallest things grab your attention. When going through the mountain of paper at my mother’s house I came across this tiny folded piece of paper. It was an orphaned set of instructions to a long-ago lost Architector Set #12. The copyright says 1944. I searched online for any reference I could find but came up empty-handed.

Update: I did discover, thanks to Paul (see link in comments), who found a set on ebay, that the Architector Sets were designed by professional architects to encourage young people to pursue that field of study.

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Swatches

Monday 02.04.13

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My friend Nancy is an accomplished surface designer who, over the years, has created a range of hand-painted dinnerware for various clients here and far. I asked her if she would send me the rough swatches of stripes and marks that are a product of her pattern development . She happily complied. This is only the smallest selection from her archive. Again, it’s the process that catches my eye. Sometimes I feel as though we are losing out to technology when it comes to the incremental stages of creativity. Maybe. Maybe not.

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Rhino in Reverse

Monday 05.14.12

The other day The Improvised Life posted this video created by artist Sipho Mabona. There must be an innate fascination with seeing something realtively complex “literally” unfold in reverse.

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The Modern Skateboard

Tuesday 03.27.12

I read the obituaries in the NYT every day. And I know I’m not alone. I take heart when those, to whom tribute is paid, were at least over 90 when they died. And I find even deeper inspiration from those who were still working away at something they loved. One of the best obituaries I ever read was for a blacksmith by the name of Francis Whitaker. He worked almost right up to the end and, miraculously, grasped a hammer on his deathbed. Today’s obits required two full pages. Never good. Some names held meaning for me in a distant way. Others I had never heard of. Larry Stevenson is one of the latter. I learned that in the Southern California of the early 1960s, he went from lifeguard to successful and innovative skateboard designer in the most linear of careers. He began building surfboard-like skateboards, but by 1969 he introduced a new design that incorporated a “kicktail”: that singular modification to the standard surfboard shape that allowed skateboarders to embark on those crazy airborne tricks that demarcate the skateboarding style that we see today. To his credit, he patented both the single and double kicktail. RIP Mr. Stevenson. Photos courtesy of Lion City Skaters.

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A Little More Lego

Monday 03.12.12

Wow, there really is a cult of Lego. It’s fascinating to see what images and ideas tap into our collective memory. Lego is definitely one of them. Image via brickfetish.com.

I just noticed a fabulous comment, on Swissmiss‘ posting of this image, which is worth repeating. Joanne K. says: “I did some work with Lego some time ago at HQ in Billund Denmark. Did you know that the bounce properties and sound the bricks make when dropped are also copy right protected?”

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Cut, Fold, Assemble.

Tuesday 01.17.12

As an industrial designer, one of those skills in which one should have achieved a certain amount of fluency is the ability to create a three-dimensional object out of a series of two-dimensional shapes…and vice versa. This is something I have yet to master. So, is it any wonder that my attention is fixed on these drawings of disassembled objects? Just from looking at them, I can guess at what their final shapes are. But in order to be sure, I’d have to cut and fold. Of course, from Agence Eureka.

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