Friday, December 24, 2010

Moss Terrarium

Being the worst at keeping plants alive, we decided to make some easy to maintain moss terrarium for Christmas presents this year.

To build a terrarium the first thing you'll need is a container, we picked some nice glass container up from Toronto's famous Honest Ed's. Within the container you will need to layer these things so the soil and plant will not rot, smell, or die.

White Rhino climbing the hill

White Elephant in a jar

Going in the order of bottom up you'll need...

Layer.1 - Medium size rocks
"solid like a rock!"

Layer.2 - Activated charcoal
The purpose of the activated charcoal is to stop the soil from molding.

Layer.3 - Coconut moss liner
This is to stop the soil from sifting down to the charcoal and rocks. It also absorbs access water.

Layer.4 - Soil
Plants need soil... enough said.

Layer.5 - Moss
We used 3 types of moss. Cushion, Rock Cap and Hypnum moss. Hypnum moss were used as a general blanketing, where as the Cushion and Rock Cap moss were used as 'feature' plants.

Layer.6 - Animals!
Bought little animal figurines from the dollar store, hand painted it white so it stands out.

Animal Factory

White Elephant sighting

Three Horn

These Terrarium are very easy to maintain. Water the terrarium when it looks dry, open the lid when there is some condensation.

Happy holidays from the NDC!

- Jess

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Kinda Like It Here on BlogTO!

The coasters were just featured on one of our favourite websites, blogTO. I am really enjoying all the comments.

By the way, they are really cool!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NDC in Antipasto, Hong Kong!

Is that not the most the amazing cover?

M3 + M4 rings in Antipasto, an Italian Design magazine based in Hong Kong.

Read Issue 02 - Mask On here!

- Heather.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Kinda Like It Here has a home.

The I Kinda Like It Here coasters now have a retail home with Micah at Russet and Empire, in the Junction.

Also, the online store is up on our fine website for out-of-town sales, and we will have stock of the Toronto-only coaster set later this week.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Kinda Like It Here

After an arduous wait, we can finally write an update to the "Urban Sprawls Under a Cup" post from waaaay back in September. Since then we have gone through many rounds of prototypes to test wood types, line weights and rastering profiles, and have just received the first production pieces for our newest project, "I Kinda Like It Here". Coasters inspired by, and made in, Canada.


Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa

Since the last post we added a coaster for downtown Vancouver to make it a set of four. The coasters are cut out of 3mm birch plywood, maintaining two small connections to the background. When pushed out, these tabs are easily broken in order to free the coasters for use.

Craig, the Quality Control Cat

We are currently lining up retail outlets, and setting up our online store, so check back for more information in the upcoming week!


p.s. Also keep your eyes peeled for the January edition of Design Lines!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Congratulationss to everyone who took part in Movember, I hope that you can now stop constantly touching your upper lip. Good job Devin!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fairwell, Chicken Wing.

Goodbye, chicken wing mold #01. After multiple tries of casting, experimenting with different time of leaving the slip in the mold... it still would not easily come out as one piece.

Time to admit defeat.

After some not so serious CSI of the mold and the ripped pieces of clay chicken wing. We labeled the fragile points and where slight undercut exists. see image below.

undercuts + fragile points = fail.

This will not be our last attempt. We learned a lot and will definitely try different things soon... perhaps a drumstick?

- Jess

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NDC featured in ARCH Magazine.

We were featured in the November issue of ARCH magazine - a Taiwanese luxury and style magazine. They wrote an article featuring the hottest new design from ten different countries around the world. Our M3/M4 rings were proud to represent Canada!

The entire magazine includes English and Chinese, however, upon reading the Chinese text, it slightly differs from the English text. Apart from both giving an overview of the rings, the Chinese focuses a little more on love.

"This design expresses the designer’s value and thoughts, perhaps this will not change the prestige stature of the diamond, but it gives people a new perspective on what a ring represents. Perhaps the carat of a diamond can buy a girls heart, but, when your lover really wants to keep you close and 'screwed tight', who then would really care about a mere diamond when you are already deeply in love?" - Arch Nov. issue. (Our bad translation... sorry.)

Netherlands is our neighbour !

London, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Canada (that's us!) and Netherlands spread

City x New Design spread

Visit our website!

Also, a quick congrats to the members of NDC, this is our official 100th post.
100 bottles of champagne?

- Jess
Follow us @theNDC

Banksia Pods

On our last trip to Exotic Woods in Burlington, we saw some Banksia Pods. Apparently they are a seed, or nut, kind of like the inverse of a pine cone. They are very hard on the inside, but actually kind of furry and brittle on the outside.

This is Natural?

The coolest thing about them is that they have ovoid holes running through the nut that go almost all the way into the center. So, we decided to pick one up and try turning it on the lathe.

After persuading a large family of spiders to vacate, the pod was trimmed on the band saw and then turned and sanded on the lathe into a cylinder.

The Finished Product

The wood inside is very hard and can be sanded to almost a gloss finish. The pod was then cut in half and drilled out to make two small tea light holders.

With Tea Lights

We really like how the light escapes from the holes in the pod. If we ever pick up more, I think that they will be made deeper so that this lighting affect is amplified. Either way, it was a half-hour well spent! I do hope they're fire-proof...


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beau's Beau Packaging

Good beer and awesome packaging work by Ontario's Beau's.

We're loving the nifty handle, two-colour wooden plank print, durable cardboard construction....oh and the bubbly inside the 4 x 600ml bottles too!

- Heather

Sunday, November 14, 2010

charred cedar & cactus

Like some sort of DIY phoenix rising from the ashes, here's a closer look at our latest charred cedar planter with its newest tenant.

To prevent sooty fingers and smudged window sills, the outside of the planter was finished with a light water-based coat. Plants don't seem to last that long in the NDC home as Craig is a bit of an omnivore, but we think this spiky Cactaceae will remain happy and uneaten (for a while at least) in his brand new home.

- Heather.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning to turn....with fire!

Ugh, we can't believe that is already November! The leaves have mostly fallen, Daylight Savings just rolled back our clocks this weekend, and Loblaws already has their winter decorations out. It's only been two months since the end of the summer and we're already missing the green! As we welcome back seasonal affective disorder :(SAD), we've decided to bring some flora indoors by lathing a wooden planter.

Research first! [Hand and Machine Woodwork, H.G. Miller, 1972]


Hollowing out room for one lucky plant.

As first time bowl turners, the nice semi-retired man at the wood shop recommended turning cedar for practice. Not only was this great advice, since cedar is soft and easy to work with, but it also smells so good too!

Beginning with a rough piece of cedar, the planter organically took on its own form as we got more comfortable lathing. It was actually kind of therapeutic and a good exercise in form-giving to not start out with a specific design in mind. In the end, after undergoing a few transformations, the planter ended up comme ca:

Since cedar is naturally insect and rot resistant, it seemed like an appropriate material for the planter. The planter is purposely shallow to act as a comfy home to either a succulent or cactus or two.

But since it was cedar and being the pyros that we are, we decided to set the freshly turned planter on fire:

Let there be liiight!

Now...plant shopping!

- Heather

Friday, November 5, 2010

[Eames] Parts Unknown

Excited! We acquired a broken Eames Lounge Chair wood. (replica? not sure, will need to do more research). To restore the chair, we want to find the parts unknown, repair and fill in the cracks, sand, and repaint.

The ingredients to an iconic chair

- Jess

Thanks Idris

Friday, October 29, 2010

Your Powers of Ten

To follow up with an older blog post of ours showing some inspiring info-graphics, I just wanted to share that Core77 is holding a design competition to create a video response to the Powers of Ten video by the Eames'.

Details can be found on their site, here.

Maybe we will see you there?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Slip Casting - You Always Burn the First Pancake!

After enjoying the last few days of summer, we finally had time to take a stab at the much anticipated chicken wing slip casting. The first thing i learned was that slip casting is just like making pancakes, the first one never turns out.

There's a few things we need to do before slip casing. First off, clean your mold - scrape all the corners down to a 45 degree angle. The reason behind this is because we don't want pieces of plaster to chip off into the clay, the plaster will ruin your piece when fired in the kiln. We then drilled a hole through the base of the chicken wing to make a 'gate', where you pour the slip in and out of the mould. You want the gate to be located somewhere where it won't be seen or used. Next step, making the slip. It is basically it's diluted clay (with other additives), we pour all of the 'ingredient' in the bag and massage it until it's mixed evenly.

Pour the slip into your mold, slowly move it around and tap it to get all the air bubbles out. secure the two molds with rubber bands, or in our case, we used an old bike inner tube. Then you wait...

Giving the slip a nice rub and tug

Pouring slip into the mold

We waited 15 minutes and tried to drain the slip through the gate. However because the hole we drilled was too small, it solidified and basically clogged up the gate! when pulling the molds apart, the clay was not dry enough and came apart! (you always burn the first pancake, right?). This is definitely a trial and error process, we need to work on perfecting the timing, removing, and solve the problem with the gate.

Chicken wing... with club sauce

The Shine is gone. The clay is dry!

Cracked while pulling the clay off the mold

Test piece completed! Fail?

Craving chicken now. Double Down anyone?

- Jess

Sunday, October 10, 2010


So deep!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Map Obsession - INSANE!

Check out architectural designer/artist Karen M. O'Leary's intricate map work. Based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, Karen reproduces classic maps using via hand-cutting or repetitive line work in pen.

Hand cut-Vancouver

Ink - Manhattan

Hand cut - Mexico City

Definitely inspiring for our current maps project, but I think we may stick to good ol' lasers - zap zap!

- Heather.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canadian Urban Sprawls Under a Cup

Inspired by one of our past project - lost waxing: 'Map of Winnipeg' - made by Heather. We decided to take it one step further and design some laser cut coasters of Canadian city urban sprawl. The 3 cities (for now) we picked to prototype were the three Canadian cities that meant the most to us; Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Toronto (where all 3 NDC members currently live). The highways were represented in the thicker lines, major roads are the thin lines, and the rivers and lakes are etched out in Grey.

For our prototype, we used the fast and easy Ponoko as our manufacturer. The material we choose was a 5.0mm double core Maple veneer (Maple eh?). You can see from the pictures below how precise laser cutting can be, there are sections where it is as thin as a hairline. We learned that when the lines were too close together, it actually burns the back side of the wood, and makes the wood 'smells like burning'.

freshly laser cut pieces before taking it apart

Back side of the coasters, burnt.

The devil is in the detail (not literally...)

Urban Sprawl of Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg

Ah! It's too pretty to be a coaster

For the next batch, we'll definitely play with the line weight. We really enjoy the look of close hairline neighborhoods, so we might put more details in neighborhoods we like, and less on others. We had the idea of playing with the elevation as well! This is definitely the beginning of a series of other cities, any suggestions?

- Jess

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Speghelling it out

While shooting some images for another project, had some spare time to find all 27 letters of our name. I got to say, it doesn't taste half as bad as i thought.

Uh Oh Alpha-Spaghetti-O

- Jess