RIISKA DESIGN BLOG   |Woodworking Poetics

mega films

hugs and kisses belly table

XOXO-Table

The Hugs and Kisses Belly Table is made of recycled White Oak.  The bottom has carved bumps that tapper in size biggest in the middle to thin towards the edges.  There are 29 hand chiseled wood X shaped stitches that I snuck between the mounds on the bottom.  I was ten stitches in before I realized I was graffiting ”xoxo” all over the bottom.  Hence the name.

finished-table-on-sike

The top has 23 stitches and lots of patches too.

photoshoot-xox

Photographer Matt Lee taking photos.

Andy-Flying-Table

Matt set up this shot.  He plans to comp it so I look like I am floating over LA.

triple-belly-table-nyc

This is a similar photo my friend Julia Wollenhaupt took when I lived in NYC circa 2004.  It is the third belly table I made.  Called the Triple Belly Table.  After I saw Matt’s photo I found this in a scrapbook.  Funny right?  The tables are getting better and I am getting worse. (Read more…)

Sessilanoid: A Sum of all Parts – Interactive Sculpture by James Peterson


James-Peterson-barnacle

I was lucky enough to experience Sessilanoid  in person and it was amazing!  Although you can’t interact with this film by James Mills it does a great job of capturing what fun it was being in the room with this sculpture by Los Angeles Artist James Peterson.

james-peterson-day-light-barnacle

When viewing this sculpture during the day you are greeted with subtle cascades of white flowery ocean barnacles that seem to flow out of gallery walls like casted plaster cornices.

James-peterson-purple-flower

Come back at night and the Sessilanoid comes to life with soothing lights that beckon you to interact with buttons that change slowly blending the colors from soft reds to dark purples and back to bright greens.
james-peterson-red-barnacle

 

Here James Peterson’s interacts with another sculptured entitle “Hypoxia“.

James-Peterson-and-Orbs

James’s Sessilanoid has been accepted to Art Basel!  If you like his work and want to make sure it makes it to Switzerland click here!

Grasshopper Lounge Chair for the LA Arboretum’s “Forces of Nature” Exhibition

Poof! The Persimmon tree downed in a catastrophic windstorm last December magically turned into this Grass Hopper Lounge Chair.

I am kidding.  The creation of this chair has been an epic journey from fallen tree to milled wood to a place to rest on.

It is up for Auction this Friday at “Forces of Nature” Artist Exhibition at the Los Angles Arboretum.  Luckily if you can’t make the auction you swing by Saturday and Sunday to see all of the amazing work that was created by artists from wood salvaged from the Arboretum’s 235 lost trees during a catastrophic windstorm last December.  The art will be sold throughout the three-day exhibit with a special reception on the one-year anniversary of the windstorm.  Proceeds will benefit the Arboretum tree fund.

The art exhibition is free November 30, December 1 & 2 from 9:00am-4:30 pm and is free with general admission to the Arboretum which is $15.00 for members and $20.00 for non members.  The Special Evening and Art Auction is Friday, 30 from 6:00 to 9:00.  The Live Auction begins at 8:00pm and is $15.00 for members and $20.00 for non members.  You can register for the reception by contacting Brittany Fabeck  at 626 821 3237 or email her at Brittany.Fabeck@arboretum.org

I know this is just the final product and I still have to show you how this piece came to life with the help of my friend Zachary Hoevet of the Forge Design Studio.  Stay tuned and we will show you how it was all done:)  In the mean time come on down! You are the next contestant at the LA Arboretum!

 

Slicing Up Bread

The last we spoke I had a bunch of wet Persimmon logs in the back of my truck from the Los Angeles Arboretum that we are going to transform into furniture for “Forces of Nature.”  Finally, I promised to show you pictures of milling the wood with Doctor Stranger and Rich, who is a woodworker and a Deep Space Communications Scientist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  As I promised, here we are with Brent Cashion from Urban Logs to Lumber, milling the fallen Persimmon tree from the Los Angeles Arboretum on Rich’s property in Altadena.

Here is a picture of sliced bread with Rich’s log roller leaning up against it.

The machine ran so smooth the styrofoam cup didn’t spill.

This is the wood that we chose.  It is Persimmon wood.  Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus DiospyrosDiospyros is in the family Ebenaceae, and certain species of Diospyros are the sources of most kinds of ebony wood, and not all species bear edible fruit.  In North America, the lightly colored, fine-grained wood of D. virginiana is used to manufacture billiard cues and textile shuttles. It is also used in the percussion field as the shaft of the Tim Genis Signature Timpani Mallet Collection, as well as several Vic Firth and Cooperman drumsticks. Persimmon wood was also heavily used in making the highest-quality heads of the golf clubs known as“woods” until the golf industry moved primarily to metal woods in the last years of the 20th century. Over the last few decades persimmon wood has become popular among bow craftsmen, especially in the making of traditional longbows.

The other wood I chose was ash wood.  Ash wood.  I am not sure if it is Oregon Ash or White Ash but both woods have similar qualities and are use for the same things.  Ash is strong and stiff and has good resistance.  It is used almost exclusively for all types of sports and athletic equipment, such as baseball bats and long oars.  Almost universally it is also used for the long handles of forks hoes and rakes.  It is also noted for its excellent bending qualities and is therefore highly valued for bent parts of chairs.  Because it is better to bend green wood than dry wood, I thought it might be a good idea to get if the Persimmon was too wet to use.

Doctor William Stranger shuffels the deck of Lebonese Cedar with Brent’s assistant.

Persimmon wood in the back, ash in the front.  The spoils of our labor resting in the shade.

My friend Walker gave me this mulberry burl root to cut up.  It was too small for Brent’s band saw mill so Richard sliced it up for us with his Chain Saw Mill.

Loaded in the van the heavy logs seemed a little more managable but they were still heavy and wet.  Next we stickered and stacked them so they could dry.  They stayed in my shop until a week ago when we pulled them out and started milling them to make a lounge chair to be auctioned off at the Los Angeles Arboretum “Forces of Nature,” show coming up at the end of the month.

From Left to right we have “Space Talker” Rich, Brent “Logs to Lumber” Cashion and Doctor Stranger from Stranger Furniture.  Thanks again to William Stranger for inviting us along on this crazy voyage.  Who would have thought it would be such a fun and great learning experience.   I took for granted Brent’s expertise for running his mill.  It is not as easy as it looks.  After purchasing some recycled oak barn beams for a table I am building with my friend Jared, I watched as the mis-tuned blade climbed an inch off of center of the board.  It was a tragety for my book match.  Luckily Jared caught it and also had quite a bit of experience on one of these mills.  Changing the pressure of the cutting fluid, adjusting the tension and tighting up the guides, he was able to get the saw to cut straight and saved the wood I purchased.  I was spoiled by Brent from Urban Logs to Lumber because he had everything dialed in so well that cutting straight seemed effortless.  Thanks Brent!  I also want to thank Richard and his wife Priscilla for allowing us to join in on the milling operations on their property.  Oh and we can’t forget Roscoe, the happiest dog in the world.  These photos were brought to you by Joyce Kim, who not only hefted logs onto the mill for slicing but documented the whole process.  Thanks Joyce Kim!

Environmental Directions Radio with Nancy Pearlman

I had the honor of doing a radio interview with environmental guru Nancy Pearlman of Environmental Directions Radio Series.  I am surprised if you don’t know Ms. Pearlman becasue she is the most dedicated and prolific environmentalists I have met.  Ms. Pearlman is an award-winning broadcaster, environmentalist, college instructor, anthropologist, editor, producer, on-air personality, and outdoorswoman who has made safeguarding the earth’s ecosystems both a vocation and an avocation. For thirty-five years, she has given her time and energy to the environmental cause. She was selected by the United Nations Environment Programme as a Global 500 Laureate a title she shares with such prominant figures as Jimmy Carter and Jane Goodall.  This is just one recognition of Ms. Pearlman’s vast achievments.  If you don’t believe me just type in this evironmental wonderwoman’s name into google and you can see that the hits just don’t stop.

Environmental Directions is an international award-winning interview radio series airing on commercial, listen sponsored, and collage-sponsered stations as well as the internet.  The series has continued weekly since 1977 as the longest-running environmental program in the country.

You can listen to Ms. Pearlman’s on Itunes, Vimeo, www.radiofreeworld.com, 95.5 FM out of Fullerton College in Southern California on Friday at 6:00 PM, Saturday at 5:30AM, &Sunday at 9PM  Live simulcast and archival shows are on the internet at ww.kbpk-fm.com

 

Los Angeles Arboretum “Forces of Nature” You Must Choose Your Wood



The world famous designer, craftsmen, Doctor Stranger from Stranger Furniture invited me to partisipate in an event at “The Arboretum ,” Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, called “Forces of Nature” November 30 to December 2, 2012.   I sent images of my work to the show’s curator Leigh Adams and crossed my fingers.

On the one-year anniversary of the great windstorm that swept across Southern California toppling  thousands of trees, the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the Arboretum, will host Forces of Nature, a curated exhibit featuring art inspired by the singular beauty and character of wood.

The show will commemorate the 235 trees lost from the Arboretum’s living botanical collection of over 15,000 plants.  From this legacy of magnificent wood that ranged from native oaks to exotic species from around the world, invited artists and artisans will create work that will include expressive sculpture, furniture, implements and other functional art. The exhibit will be curated by Leigh Adams, a San Gabriel Valley artist well known for her work with glass and other natural materials, as well as landscape installations at the Arboretum.

Forces of Nature will open to the general public for the weekend and feature a reception and auction the evening of Saturday, December 1st.  Event proceeds support ongoing restoration efforts that will ensure the Arboretum remains one of Southern California’s great places to discover and appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

 Artists and artisans will display sculptures, furniture, bowls, jewelry and other artwork specially created from salvaged wood from the hundreds of trees downed by last December’s windstorm. The art pieces will be shown at the Forces of Nature exhibit at the Arboretum from November 30 to December 2.

On April 9th I got the green thumbs up from Leigh with an email that said, “Your in!”  The best part was that we had the privilege of talking with not one but two botinist Jim Henrich and Timothy Phillips who would be present on the days we were invited to pick up our material.  We could come Friday or Saturday to pick out our wood and because I was busy Saturday I chose Friday by default.  Of course it poured.  Do you no how rare that is in LA?  Leigh said it seemed fitting because the wood fell in a storm and left in a storm.

Photographer,Joyce Kim, who you might know as the producer of the independent film “Puddy Hill” and whose photographs were turned into Posters and plastered all over New York City to promote the 2012 Whitney Biennial agreed to acompany me and document accuiring the wood.  I know Joyce because she is also a very good craftswoman who accosinally helps me and other members of the LA Box Collective in our shops. We are friends but with high force winds and rain coming down in sheets I wasn’t sure if she was up for the adventure.  Lucky for me she was still in and somehow managed to capture the calming beauty of the storm as it raged through The Arboretum with these photographs.

The in depth conversation I Imagined with Jim and Tim about the wood I would choose turned into yelling as we tried to make our voices heard over the pouring rain and strong winds.  The rain brought an imediecy to every word and action.  My boots slipped in the mud as I clameered over the shifting slippery logs with the botonists.  There was so much wood from small stumps to giant logs with burls on them.   I was a pig in the mud eating the left over food on the fair grounds.  In the end I chose Persimmon for a few reasons.  It actually has fallen a year earlier than most of the wood so it already had some time to cure.  The logs were straight and they looked like I could fit them in the truck too.  I really couldn’t hear what Jim and Tim said about the character and quality of the wood.  The storm breathed a pleasant chaos into the event that turned it into an adventure.  It was under these conditions that I met Leigh Adams who seemed excited and happy to be working in the pouring rain.  Under her rain coat I notice a purple flower tucked behind her ear and I thought I notice wisps of hair died violet sneaking out from under her hood.  She told me about how excited her water collecting resevors were getting so much water at her house.  With the cities permission she had the curb cut by her yard so the water from the street would run down and collect into her gray water resevor.  She used it to water her flowers and trees but not her vegatable garden.  It was great talking to her in the pouring rain.

 

Peace!  Tim piloted the John Deer tractor we used to pick up the wood.

 

Jim helps me skid the extremely heavy logs off the tractor forks and into my van putting my vans heavy duty suspension to the test.  Lets just say we drove back to the shop real slow.

Jim holds up a tree cookie with yours truly on the right.

Leigh captured this picture of Joyce and I in front of the spoils!

Driving in the truck back to the shop soaking wet with the heat blasting felt like we were returning from a week long adventure.  My hands were cut up, my favorite jeans ripped  beyond repair and I couldn’t stop smiling because I had a truck full of beautiful wood to transform into furniture.  Thanks Doctor Stranger!  Stay tuned for part deuce of this blog where we leave LA for the remote reaches of a ranch in Alta Dena to mill wood with a Nasa Deep Space Communications Scientist.

Jai&Jai Opening

 

In the early evening Spring street in Los Angeles’s Chinatown is filled with the tempting scents of delicious food.  The Mayflower Seafood Restaurant lures you in with the scent of rich Chinese dishes. Having been in business for over 26 years, this restaurant knows how to make great food.  Down the block Authentic Thai draws you towards them with the promise of spicy Thai peppers and aromatic fresh basil. However, you might notice something else.  Could that be BBQ in Chinatown? Sure is. Hickory smoked glory fills the air with tang and bang. It is The Spring Street Smoke House that might just win the tug a war for your scent and appetite. Especially when you consider their selection of fine beer.  Anyway you choose you are going to win.

Jai&Jai Studios is the bright red door next to the Spring Street BBQ.  If you peek through the window this is what you will see.  Actually, not anymore.  We took the show down three days ago.  Oh. . .don’t be sad.  It was a great show and there is better still to come from Jai&Jai! We even had a few nice articles written about the show including one from the Huffington Post with the title “Everything Solid Melts into Air,” and this one from the Blog Downtown ”Artist displays furniture upside down in Chinatown.”  Thank you Harris Silver and Sonali Kohli for gifting us your pen craft!

Hanging from the ceiling my Dragon Table glides through the gallery.  When I first saw the space I imagined the tables like this and I made the mistake of telling the Jai&Jai owners.  Sure enough they held me to it.  They insisted on curating the show so that the details I have been hiding underneath my tables were exposed.


We made nine feet of grain matched marshmallow boxes for the opening.  Each box held one fresh little marshmallow sugar puff.  A wooden box frames the marshmallow so you see it in a different light.  It looks like a little button so you won’t recognize it at first.  When you finally do recognize it you experience a little joy.  You remember a time when you roasted marshmallows on a campfire and made Smores with chocolate and graham crackers or made Rice Krispies Treats and inevitably you smile.  Really the marshmallow box is the theme for the whole show.  By showing my work upside down, hanging it from the ceiling and the wall we are attempting to present my work in a different light or frame.  So perhaps you won’t recognize it as a table, chair, or coat rack, or coaster at first.  Instead you notice the design, details and craft.  Then you imagine it sitting properly on the floor and you smile.

And it was all possible because of these two sisters.  Jomjai and Jaitip Srisomburananont are two young women with a mission to explore and promote Los Angeles artists through original creations and exhibitions.  With Jai & Jai they aim to create a vibrant discourse surrounding emergent and traditional design and I am honored that they started the conversation by curating their first show with my work.  They have the talent to do it too.  Jomjai leads up the business side with a degree in economics and her experience working in international business, and Jaitip has a graduate and undergraduate graduate degree in architecture and is an artist and designer whose most recent work includes a soon to be released line of collectible vinyl toys called “Stubbs and Lulu.”

Heart Coasters:)

This is my 69 Leg Table display upside down.  It is made from recycled Douglas Fir 2″ x 3″s and recycled maple legs from an old work bench top that de-laminated from too much use.  Each leg has a little rubber tip that allows it to adjust to uneven surfaces.  Upside down it looks like a comb.

 

Its nice how kids tend to let you know how the feel about things. Sander Erickson, son of Thor, really likes the upside down Cloud Pony Bench!

 

Here another little visitor discovers the puffy white button in the middle of this recycled oak box is a marshmallow.  The box is finished with a food safe flaxseed oil normally used for cutting boards and salad bowls.

Jaitip and Jomjai greats their guest.


 

The dragon flies above guests heads.

The Cloud Pony posing like a turtle on its back.

Bunk Bed Side Table in the back ground.

Refreshments on the patio.

Looking through the back door.


Stone on the phone.

On the street.

I can’t express how thankful I am for all the friends, and new friends I made at the show, who found time to join us in Chinatown. I know some of you even came on your dinner break from work.  That’s real nice.  Thank you for coming! You made the day.  Thank you Jai&Jai for all of your time, hard work.  Thank you for giving me my first solo show!  I am grateful to you and to everyone who helped make this happen especially Cheeyoon ChunJoyce Kim, Matt Lee, Walker and Will Rollins, Zachariah Hoevet, Chris Day, Andrea Lee MitchellJames Peterson and Brian Rytel for all of the super photographs of power.  Thank you for the powergraphs!

 

Jai & Jai Studios Presents “Wrong Side Up”

 

You are invited to the premiere of Jai & Jai Gallery in Chinatown, Los Angeles where I am displaying my wares upside down to celebrate dyslexia, reverse psychiatry, and the long lost rewind button.  The gallery owners Jaitip and Jomjai  are both Srisomburananonts.  No that doesn’t mean Astronaut in Thai.  It is their last name.  Nor are they life partners.  They are sisters with their fingers on the pulse of the new design wave that is about to engulf your house like a tsunami!  But with positive affects that enhance your life like fun, functional design and none of the negative conotations assosiate with… well. . . never mind.

The point is you are invited to come see all of the carvings and details I have been hiding under my furniture without having to bend down and crawl on the floor.  I know that is really going to pull people in.  Come to my show you get to stand!  You also get to drink vodka with Izzy Soda’s plus wine, beer  and eat some snicky snacks.  Most importantly you get to see my furniture Wrong Side Up!

My elite team of Marshmallow Box Master Craftsman Cheeyoon Chun and Master Craftswoman Joyce Kim and are working very hard to bring you a whole batch of new and improved Recycled Oak Marshmallow boxes.  Joyce and I worked out a new walnut clasp that mimicks the splines I like to use in my furnature.  It is a little more work but isn’t it nice to know your marshmallow is well protected.

Ahww. . . These are heart play coasters being hugged by my Pollywog Table.  I designed them especially for the Jai & Jai Gallery because Jai means heart in Thai.  Not only will they protect your table from stains but they link together with simple half lap joints that you can create a plethora of different sculptures with. (Read more…)

Construction Coasters

Check out this fun sculpture my friend Corbin made with my new Construction Coasters.  They are simple square coasters with half lap notches cut out of the sides so you can link them together in many different creative formations.   Think of them like Legos with a purpose. 

I chose to show you this form out of the many sculptures you can create becasue it also has a function.  It is perfect for displaying your favorate spirits such as vodka, scotch or even wine like this bottle of Sofia Riesling by Francis Coppola.

Witness the utilitarian function of a single coaster as it protects the table from rings created by sweating glasses.  If you have grown up in the era of use and discard furniture you might not understand the purpose of a coaster.  In our modern times you can buy a cheap table abuse it, toss it in a land fill and purchase another table of the same descent cheap.  But virtually all finishes that you might find on a table are susceptible to rings from sweating glasses.  Therefore, if you have a nice table that you want to last for years or you want to take a green stance and stop filling up landfills with ruined furniture my Construction Coasters are perfect for you!  Plus playing with coasters is a great way to get your guest to use coasters with out nagging them.  So have fun, create, and protect the things you love!

LA Box Collective’s THE DUNNAGE SHOW at Inheritance

 

The LA Box Collective’s (BoxCo) will present their first collaborative body of work, on November 3, 2011, at Inheritance in Los Angeles, CA.

Using their partnered acquisition of 12 tons of “dunnage” and decades of combined experience as artisan woodworkers, BoxCo will take a creative look at lumber headed for the landfill and give it new life, purpose and function.

What is “dunnage”? Before 80% of the earth’s old growth forest had been cleared, entire barns were constructed in, now coveted, walnut. Dunnage, the square pieces of wood used as support and padding in building, shipping and trucking, were made of high quality wood species, like old growth oaks and elm. These days, dunnage is made from plastic, and most of  the prior iterations were discarded or used for firewood. Discovered in July 2009, via a Craig’s List posting from another dedicated re claimer, the mixed hardwood dunnage, stored for years in neat, orderly stacks of 4 inch by 5 inch by 4 foot pieces of wood will be used primarily, if not exclusively, to craft all original and unique pieces.

Work in progress to be shown includes the “Cloud Pony” bench by Andrew Riiska (www.riiskadesign.com), stools by Casey Dzierlenga a Shinto bench by Samuel Moyer, (www.samuelmoyerfurniture.com), a children’s eating table and chairs by Cliff Spencer, a woven screen by David Johnson (www.sidecarfurniture.com) as well as new work by William Stranger (www.strangerfurniture.com) and Robert Apodaca (www.fifthfloor.com

 

About LA Box Collective

LA Box Collective is a group of Los Angeles-based, professional furniture designer-makers, committed to environmentally-conscious design and production. While working in various modern styles, the individual furniture makers that make up BoxCo are devoted to fine craftsmanship, sound design, and the use of long-lasting, reclaimed, and other sustainable materials. The group has come together to showcase what Los Angeles has to offer in the way of beautiful design, local craftsmanship and sustainability. Sustainability is not a new idea, but the imperative to live a sustainable life is. “We are radically rewinding our approach to a time when value was placed on fine craftsmanship, long-lasting materials and sound design. Looking forward, we value the precious materials that our society wastes.” – from L.A. Box Collective mission statement

Why the “box” collective? Every piece of furniture, from a cabinet to a chair, is essentially a box. It has a bottom, sides and a top. Though a box appears to be a simple woodworking endeavour, it embodies all the skills a woodworker must master to make it right.

The makers of LA Box Collective can be viewed as a group at laboxcollective.com

About Inheritance

Dan Zelen opened the store Zelen in 2004. He transformed a crumbling former loft and storeroom into a unique gift and design shop. Zelen carried a mixture of modern and vintage furniture, accessories, artifacts, and curiosities. Michael William Andrews took over the store in 2008 and has continued Dans’ eclectic design asthetic and detailed curation. Recently Michael changed the name to Inheritance.

Inheritance 8055 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048, P.323.658.6756, F.888.660.3750, www.inheritanceshop.com

Photos will be available after the event upon request.

Contact: Leigh Spencer 310.823.0112 office@cliffspencer.net

 


 

 

 

 

God Save the Queen Bee Hive

A collaboration with Walker and Will Rollins of 100xbtr.

Sorry, either Adobe flash is not installed or you do not have it enabled

 

This is a quick animation of how this bee hive stacks and unstacks.

A carving of a bee on honey comb is milled into one panel of each four sided cube that make this Japanese style bee hive called a “Multi Tiered Box”

Five of these cubes stack up to make the body of the hive.

There is also a lid and on top of the lid is the roof.

The lid is tied on with a hemp rope that goes through a heavy cement base. The lid and the cement base sandwich the five tiers of the hive, the grand entrance way and the slanted landing pad together anchoring the whole hive solidly to the earth. The roof fits on top like a cap shielding the hive from sun and rain.

How did I get “roped” into making this Bee Hive?  Its a long story. (Read more…)

Cloud Pony Bench

This bench is inspired by puffy down coats, rubber rafts, a bugs view of corduroy and the Michelin Man’s belly.


Finished the bottom looks cloud like and compared to the 14′ Dragon Table, of which this shares similar traits, this modest 30″L x 19″W x 19″H bench looks like a pony.

Naturally, I designed it to appear puffy and light because its future home is the entrance way of a high rise apartment in New York City.  Since it will live so far off the ground I thought having a cloud belly would help it make other cloud friends.

 

It is made from reclaimed spalted oak dunnage.

Dunnage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dunnage is a term with a variety or related meanings. Typically dunnage is inexpensive or waste material used to protect and load securing cargo during transportation. Dunnage also refers to material used to support loads and prop tools and materials up off the ground such as jacks, pipes, and supports for air conditioning and other equipment above the roof of a building.

 

Spalting

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spalting is any form of wood coloration caused by fungi. Although primarily found in dead trees, spalting can also occur under stressed tree conditions or even in living trees. Although spalting can cause weight loss and strength loss in the wood, the unique coloration and patterns of spalted wood are sought after bywoodworkers.[1]


Although dunnage is milled straight it bends warps and cracks as it dries because it is cut from the parts of the tree like the crotch that have swirly knotted unstable grain.  It is not very good to make furniture with, at first, because the stress with in the drying wood just tears the finished piece apart. However, if you are lucky enough to procure dunnage that has dried for fifty or so years as it was being used in the aid of transportating goods across America’s western states then you have a stable wood with unusually beautiful grain.  

That’s what I got thanks to my friend Sam Moyer who dragged me from Los Angeles into Valley last year to look at a giant 8′ Oliver Joiner he ended up purchasing from a man named Bud.  Sam only communicated with Bud on the internet and had never met him in person.  After driving an hour into the Valley we met Bud who turned out to be a giant, just like Sam, so it only seemed naturally that all of his wood working equiptment was industrial and huge as well.  He was selling everything so he could move to Florida for retirement.  While looking through his stockpile of cool old machines we notice a wall that was tiled with 4″ x 6″ oak end grain blocks from floor to ceiling. When Sam asked Bud about the wall he explained that it wasn’t end grain tile. It was 5′ long stacked oak dunnage he salvaged over ten years ago.  All we were seeing was the ends of the boards.

Bud originally salvaged the wood to make Kinaras, 7 branched candelabra used in the celebration of Kwanzaa. He showed us a finely crafted example he made of the dunnage oak that had the same tiered design as the one in this picture except bigger.

Kinara

 

Not only had the wood thoroughly dried while being used as dunnage but it was also stacked in Bud’s dry garage in California’s San Fernando Valley which can reaches three digit temperatures in the summer.  Essentially it was cured in a Solar Kiln for the last ten years so it is perfectly dry and stable.  Sam and Bud negotiated a very reasonable price and we split the batch of dunnage up with other members of the LA Box Collective.  In September the LA Box Collective is planning a “Dunnage Show,” at the Hi Lite gallery in Downtown LA where members will draw out the beauty in this unique batch of material by creating original furniture from it.

To further stabilize the gnarly old cracks in the wood I hand chiseled a total of 11 of my wood stitches into the bench.  On the bottom of the table I left this wood stitch proud so it can be detected by touch.

I was lucky enough to catch Andrea Lee Mitchell, the photographer ex pat who now lives in Spain, while she was on a recent jaunt to Los Angeles. Congratulations to Andrea on her “non married” domestic partnership to a Spaniard of the opposite sex.  They now live together on an island off the coast of spain where Andrea is brushing up on her spanish and of corse documenting her new life with photographs.  She named this shot “Turtle_0n_back.” Thanks for the beautiful photographs Andrea!

This is corduroy seen through a bugs eye.

I want to thank  ”Math Man” Matheos Asfaw who was kind enough to render the bottom of this table in 3d for me.  I also want to thank Kristy Velasco and her sweet old man pit bull named Sage who are responsible for the beautiful hand/paw rubbed 100% pure Tung oil finish that gives this piece a beautiful shine and a soft touch.  Please don’t call the Humane Society on me.  Sage didn’t really work on the table but he did help by holding down some blankets right out side the shop as Kristy sanded and finished the bench.  I also want to thank Zack Main who also logged some hard earned hours sanding mill marks out of the bottom of the bench.  Thank You Matheos, Kristy and Zack!  Plus, I have to thank Ford&Ching for choosing the Cloud Pony to be displayed at their Dwell on Design 2011 after party.  Finally, I have to thank Will Rollins of of 100xbetter who expertly milled the bottom of Cloud Pony with his CNC mill in trade for me helping his wife, Walker, make a Japanese style bee hive.  More on that later:)

 

 

 

You got good taste

This is the February 2011 cover of Details Magazine.  Although the resemblance is uncanny its not me on the cover it is Andrew Garfield from the movie “The Social Network”.


Inside you can find my Inky and Pac Man tables which are on display in LA’s China Town.  These little guys just keep hopping around town.  First they were in Ford&Ching then they chased each other down the street to the Fifth Floor Gallery and now they snuck through the side screen into Details Magazine all the while gobbling up little power dots.   Also appearing is Tanya Aguiniga’s Birch bark bench.  I like this piece.  Tanya went North and learned the art of harvesting Birch bark, without killing the tree, from indigenous Alaskans who traditionaly used the material to make Birch bark canoes.   Fifth Floor Gallery founder, architect and fellow LA Box Collective member Robert Apodaca also shows Tanya’s work.  Not only is Robert a great designer, craftsman and organ doner but his keen eye for details makes him a natural for finding new design and curating fun shows.  Thanks Robert this Cramps song is for you!

“You Got Good Taste!”

World’s Tallest Table

This is the “Giant Squid” Bunk Bed Side Table.  It is 75 inches tall so it is nice to put a book, glass of water or your glasses on when you are sleeping on your top bunk.

Shhh the giant squid is sleeping.  Luckily you won’t have to because the Bunk Bed Side Table is the perfect height for a reading lamp and a plant with one pillow leaf, hanging down the side,  created by Artist and Master Seamstress Gillian Haratani.

This is a top view of the worlds tallest table.  Notice the spring loaded walnut fun button that you can push in and out.  It doesn’t really have any function.

The Giant Squid is made of 53 recycled Douglas Fir legs that are weighted on the bottom with hidden steel rods and features adjustable rubber feet so you can level it to any floor.  The legs plunge through the top of the table bisecting hidden splines with half lap joints so although it is wiggly it is strong.  The Douglas Fir top and legs are made from wood I recycled from a house in Hollywood with fellow LA Box Collective member Samuel Moyer.  His friend Noah Walker is the Architect renovating the house who graciously donated the wood to Sam and I.  Thank you Sam and Noah!  While I am thanking people I have to thank Magenta Pinuethai for donating her time and hard work to help me sand and finish this piece.  With 53 75″ tall legs you can just imagine how difficult this was and understand why I am not sure if I should thank or apologize to Magenta:) Thanks Magenta!

 
© RIISKA DESIGN BLOG