Sunday, February 28, 2010

What's He Building In There?

We recently spent our Family Day weekend building 20-something storage boxes for local design & strategy firm, Idea Couture. Armed with a a decade-old, analogue, Sony Handycam, we captured some time lapse footage of us working in the workshop to share with you.

A NDC Workshop Montage from Heather Lam on Vimeo.

Each box dimension was designed so they can be easily stacked and arranged in any configuration to create quick and adaptable storage arrangements.

Boxes waiting for a final sand in their newly stained 230-Early American look.

Idea Couture's latest window addition!

- Heather.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lost Wax Casting v2

I decided to put the silver map of Winnipeg on my bag, as I use that year round. The silver is a nice contrast to the dark grey felt.

Sitting Pretty in the Lower Corner.

I made the bag last year out of 1/4 inch industrial felt picked up from Brand Felt in Mississauga. That was a pretty crappy bike ride, especially on the way back with the minimum order of 15 pounds of felt strapped to my back pack. Made me empathize with this guy we saw in China.

Stitched on with Black Thread.

The map shows some major roads and the two main rivers of Winnipeg all framed within the Perimeter Highway.


Now I just hope it doesn't get ripped off on the subway.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lost Wax Casting

Lately, Heather and I have been doing a little bit of lost wax casting. We wanted to learn the process and possibly make some cool stuff.

Heather, carving the wax.

The first step is to carve wax. Blanks come in block, sheet, rod, and ring form which can all be combined to create any form you want. The ring form is a hollow tube that you first cut to length, then carve out to size, and finally shape to your desired form.

Two rings on their sprues.

Next is spruing the artwork so that the metal can flow to it from the top of the mold. This part breaks your heart because you basically ruin the final form, ensuring more finishing of the cast metal.

Fresh cast silver with sprues.

Next we cast the parts ourselves which was quite stressful. It is loud and fast, and if anything goes wrong, the parts will not cast properly. The metal is melted in a crucible, and poured into a plaster mold made from the wax. A vacuum sucks the metal down into all the fine details of the mold. After the metal cools a bit we put the plaster into water where it disintegrates and we were left with warm silver parts.

Cast ring filed and sanded, before polishing.

We then filed and sanded the parts up to 600 grit. Our rings were faceted meaning that we had a lot of surfaces to get right while trying to keep the edges crisp. At this stage the pieces had a nice brushed look.

The two rings, polished.

The final step is to polish the pieces. This is done with a polishing wheel, in this case on an industrial grade Dremel like tool. This is where the silver really starts to shine, and we wondered, should we have left it brushed?

Gem Nuggets!

These are hollowed out silver gems. They were carved by hand and then hollowed out with a Dremel. They will be put on a chain with some wood beads.


Heather made me a sweet silver map of Winnipeg! It will be stitched onto my bag or jacket soon.

All the pieces, bonding.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Concrete Casting v3

Here are some more progress shots of our concrete casting session! If you haven't realized yet, we're slowly stringing you along for just one more post before we show you the final product.

A little irregular but full of character.
[ We later learned that you can use a small paintbrush to fill in detail spots in the mould before pouring in concrete.]

supervising the action.

After a bit of excavating, we were able to free the vacuum tubes from the pink foam mould. It was interesting to find that the concrete was able to pick up such fine texture from the masking tape that was used in the mould.

A few items that we learned and want to share with you from the process:
  1. Concrete in the eye is a bad thing.
    ["..the googles! They do nothing!" - Rainer Wolfcastle]
  2. Make sure your mould will not leak before casting.
    [As concrete sets, water is expelled out and in our case, all over the worktable.]
  3. Don't wash your concrete bucket in the laundry sink afterward.
  4. Know how to use a plumbing snake if you did not follow #3.