Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Playing with fire.

How did that house get so dark?

What's he burning in there?


Last weekend, I convinced the NDC to create some charred cedar after being inspired by an article in Dwell on architect Terunobu Fujimori (May '09). Apparently, charring the cedar makes it resistant to insects, rot and rain for 80 years, although we were more attracted to the amazing color and texture that is the result of charring.

Following a set of thumbnail pictures and a brief description of the process, we headed to the lumberyard and picked up three six-foot cedar fence boards. The boards were bound together in a triangle to form a chimney.

The first thing our parents would have told us was to not light a fire at the bottom, but luckily they weren't around. The bottom of the chimney was stuffed with crumpled newspaper, but too much was put in, making the fire take a long time to light. There was, however, lots of smoke.

To get the fire to light, we blew into the top of the chimney. This made fire shoot out the bottom.

The fire did eventually catch, and the charring was underway. The whole process is supposed to take about 7 minutes, but because of the relative inactivity at the start, it was going to take us about 9 or 10.

That cedar is asking for it.

Once the cedar caught on fire the chimney created a wind tunnel which began shooting flames out the top. At this point the garage was starting to look awfully close, so the decision was made to shut our test down a couple of minutes early.

Water was sprayed into the top of the chimney, then the boards were opened up and completely doused to put them out. After they cooled off, this is what we were left with:

The boards were well burned in the middle giving around 4 feet of the Fujimori texture that we were looking for. As the fire was put out before the 7 minutes of burn time, the tops of the boards weren't charred to the same level as the middle. The bottom of the boards actually had some unburned sections where the excess of paper had stopped the wood from catching entirely.

Although the cedar is now sealed from the elements, it is the color and texture that we were really after, with the intention of incorporating it into a piece of furniture. The next step is to figure out how to work with these pieces of wood, which are now fragile and makes everything that touches them dirty.

Lessons learned while charring cedar:

1: Use just a few sheets of crumpled up newspaper. Less is more.

2: Make sure you are on stable ground or leaning up against a stone wall. You don't want to second guess the stability because of a gust of wind.

3: Make sure the hose is turned on. Not just the last bit of pressure after turning it off.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

M3/M4 Packaging

We've been getting some inquiries about the M3 & M4 ring packages lately, so here are some fresh photos for the curious!

The wood is currently oak from our shop (which can vary from month to month as we go through our bin of misc. wood). For the outer sleeve, we've selected a stock that is FSC certified, 100% post-consumer material, and processed chlorine-free .

- Heather

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


On the weekend we found the bestest toolbox ever on the side of the road! The sides are a little rusted, but the inside metal and hardware are in tip top condition. The box is deceitfully heavy, constructed of about 30lbs of sheet metal.

We are digging the complimentary colour scheme, but are also debating if/how we should re-finish the outside. I'm enjoying the cobalt blue and rust combination, and am cheering for either a light sand job to get the rust off, or a light clear coat to preserve it. Scott is rooting for a new paint job entirely.

What do you think?

- Heather

Monday, June 14, 2010

Filter 5

we were recently hired by Jesse Morgan, an award-winning videographer, photographer and producer to create a new logo for their production company Filter Five Productions.

We were inspired by the origin of the name 'filter 5'. Jesse said it started as a joke, when his boss would tell the new guy to change the filter to the 5th filter (there are only 4 filters). The final logo a retro-circular color filter logo.

Directions + Concepts

Final logo

seeing the colors everywhere.

- Jess

special thanks to Riwa.
Without you we would not have the chance to work with Jesse.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ring Ring!

We finally finished our first production run of the M3 & M4 rings last week, and they are now ready for purchase on our newly launched website. Due to the nature of our own day jobs, and knack for the occasional beer break, these rings will only be produced in small runs at a time.

In pure NDC-fashion, here's a peek under the Wizard of Oz's curtain, of the start-to finish process of making these shiny babies:

Four rubber moulds, sitting pretty in a row.

There is one mould for each size of ring. Melted casting wax is poured into the moulds to make positives of the rings which are then used to cast the silver.

Casting gate.

This freshly cast ring has been tumbled clean, and the sprue has been cut off.

Filing off the gates, one ring at a time.

The gates are removed first and then all of the outer surfaces of the rings are filed to get rid of any imperfections on the surface.

Tap tap tapping the threads.

The thread for the screws are not cast into the rings, but are tapped by hand. M3 for the small size, and M4 for the larger sizes.

Sand from 220-1200 grit,and polish thrice -
then you'll end up with something shiny and nice!

Progressive sanding with five different grits of sandpaper and then two grades of polishing compound gives the rings their final mirrored finish.

We were able to source everything within the city, most things being within biking range - one of the best things about the city of Toronto!

- Heather & Scott

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Not Your Father's Art in a Bag

the NDC attended the grand opening fundraiser for Not Your Father's contemporary. The idea was to have artists donate their art, which were randomly placed into unmarked craft paper bags (think blind date though art). Guests who donated can pick their own art filled mystery bag. Our very own talented friend, Ricky Thomas (@CtlAltRicky), was among the talented local artists, and we were really hoping to get one of his pieces.


we channeled raiders of the lost arc. picked the most wrinkled bag

You can stop holding your breath now. the artist in our bag was Rajni Perera in our bag!

birdgirl sketch (left), Men in suits vs the lamb-moutain-viking (right)

Scoooba Steve

The girl who ate so much ice cream, her arm fell off.

- Jess

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Website and Product Launch!

the National Design Collective would like to officially announce that our new website is live at thenationaldesigncollective.ca! The best news of all however is that we are officially launching our first product, titled the M3/M4 rings which can be found here.

In the next week we will be trying to merge the blog with the website. Because of our technological illiteracy, there may be some down time on the blog. Sorry.
-team NDC