Entries Tagged as 'The Craft'

The Craft: A Conversation with Przemek Pyszczek

Aug 25, 2014

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View of Pyszczek’s studio in Berlin, 2014

View of Pyszczek’s studio in Berlin, 2014

 

Winnipeg is a creative hub and many of our aesthetically-driven residents have attended the University of Manitoba’s Environmental Design program focusing on Interior Environments, Architecture, or Landscapes. In fact, many of our Winnipeg-based employees have graduated from the program. This month, we reached out to fellow Environmental Design graduate, visual artist, and Berlin resident Przemek Pyszczek. Pyszczek went to school with EQ3’s Creative Director, Thom Fougere, and is good friends with EQ3’s Visual Coordinator, Clifford Goodwill.

 

This is our conversation:

 

Where did you grow up and where do you consider home?

I was born in Poland and moved to Winnipeg as a child. Presently I live in Berlin. In response to where I consider home, that’s complicated. My parents live in Winnipeg, however, they moved out of my childhood home during my time in Berlin, so coming back doesn’t have the same nostalgic feeling anymore. As such, I would consider Berlin home because even though I don’t have a nostalgic connection to the city at this point, it is the city that is most in tune with my personality and way of life.

 

How has your education background influenced your work?

The Environmental Design program reinforced my interest in architecture and urbanism, causing me to always observe my surroundings. As my work deals with the physical and social landscape of pre/post-communist era Poland, this has directly influenced my work.

 

When and why did you move to Berlin?

I moved to Berlin in the summer of 2010. I had visited a few times before and really liked the city as it is a large capital and there is always something going on, yet remains very relaxed with no sense of urban chaos. Additionally, I felt an urgency to engage as an artist on a broader international scale, and I knew Berlin was an important art capital that still felt accessible.

 

How has Berlin influenced your art practice?

Berlin is a very international city, with a number of galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions. It is important as an artist to not be stuck within your own head and your own practice, but to be cognizant of what has happened artistically in the past and what is currently happening. Berlin facilitates a constant education for both local and visiting artists.

 

The work I have been making over the last few years has directly resulted from my regular travels to Poland. As Berlin is only an hour from the Polish border, I have been going to Poland very regularly over the last four years. These visits have really made me notice all of the elements I have become obsessed with in my research. While my subject matter is based in Poland, I also appreciate the distance I have living in Berlin as each time I come back, it is like looking with new eyes. Living elsewhere would not allow me to be this engaged.

 

Façade, 2014

Façade, 2014

 

What is the conceptual basis for your current work?

My work is an analysis and deconstruction of memory and physical space. More specifically, I am looking at the contemporary Polish urban landscape, and my relation to it. After World War II, due to the resulting devastation, a rapid program of reconstruction was enacted. A large proportion of construction was realized using a number of prefabricated modular building systems. Concrete panels would be made in a factory, and then brought on site to be quickly assembled into a building. These buildings could be anywhere from three stories, to 20 stories tall, using the same panels.

 

Every sort of life function – housing, schools, offices, hospitals – could be built this way. My father worked as a construction worker on these types of buildings. A very small crew of people (4-6) could build an entire floor of a building in one day. This type of residential construction often resulted in large housing estates with a great number of identical buildings. The resulting landscape and my connection to it is what I am ultimately exploring in my work.

 

Façade, 2014

Façade, 2014

 

What inspires your approach?

The paintings are essentially deconstructed building facades. After communism, the buildings had to be dealt with as they were drab, grey concrete, and had issues relating to insulation. So what happens is that the buildings are covered in styrofoam to add insulation, and then stuccoed. The stucco is then painted, but often the buildings are painted on all sides with a wrap-around graphic mural.

 

On the ground and first floor, residents in these buildings often install security bars, which they have made by a local metal worker. As you travel throughout Poland, you can see that people really go to town on customizing their small section of a very repetitive building. Some of the bars are very simple, but others are very expressive.  So the paintings take a section of the graphic facade, and combine them with a section of the security bars to convey this fascinating aesthetic that permeates the contemporary Polish landscape.

 

Another aspect of these housing estates that really fascinated me was the playgrounds in amongst the buildings. I was drawn to them because they looked like abstract sculpture and not playground structures. I then noticed that similar forms would appear throughout Poland, but they were not made by one factory as they were all a bit different. I had these reconstructed by metal workers in Poland who had also had a connection and memory to these forms. I then deconstructed them by bending and cutting – a way of reconfiguring and addressing my memory and relation to these objects.

 

Façade, 2014

Façade, 2014

 

An Example of a graphic façade referenced by Pyszczek's work

An Example of a graphic façade referenced by Pyszczek’s work

 

View of Playground Structure (Steps) and Playground Structure (worm), 2014

View of Playground Structure (Steps) and Playground Structure (worm), 2014

 

How and where are the metal components of your recent work created?

My uncle and cousin are building contractors in Poland and work with a variety of craftspeople – metalworkers, painters, etc. I worked with them to realize the sort of metal work they create within the building projects that they regularly work on in Poland. My hand as well as the hand of the craftsperson is equally important in this work.

 

We Thank Przemek Pyszczek for this interview and images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Craft: Salvaging Reclaimed Teak Wood in Indonesia

Jul 2, 2014

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EQ3′s Reclaimed Teak collection has been a customer, and an in-house favourite, since it was first introduced to the EQ3 product line in the Fall of 2012. The collection began with a few pieces for the living room, and has since expanded to include casegoods for the bedroom and dining room, as well. Natural variations in the wood’s pattern and colour ensure that no two designs are alike.

 

Recently, a customer reached out to us about the collection. He had just purchased the Reclaimed Teak Bed and Low Dresser and wanted to know more about the salvaged wood materials that went into making his new furniture. Where does the wood originate from? What age is the wood? What is the salvaging process like, from start to finish?

 

Curiosity piqued, we sat down with EQ3′s Casegoods Product Developer Madi Cash to learn how old wood is given new life as modern furniture.

 

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Where does the wood used to construct EQ3′s Reclaimed Teak furniture originate from?

 

EQ3′s Reclaimed Teak collection is constructed with wood salvaged from the central Java region of Indonesia. The country’s hot and humid climate is perfect for growing teak and other unique wood species.

 

 

What was the wood used for in its previous life?

 

Teak is a beautiful hardwood traditionally used in Indonesia as a structural component in civic buildings and houses. As time progresses and cities evolve, many of these grand buildings and houses that were built many years ago are now being torn down. Before reclaimed woods evolved into a desirable consumer good, the original teak structure was often discarded. This is completely insane considering the inherent beauty of this material. About ten years ago, a group of individuals began re-purposing the material for smaller projects. While researching our teak stumps, we met this group and began our partnership. Since then, reclaimed woods have become more popular than fresh wood!

 

 

How old is the salvaged wood?

 

The age of the material varies and depends on the age of the building the wood was salvaged from.

 

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You experienced the salvaging process, first hand, during one of your frequent visits to Indonesia. What was this experience like?

 

Watching their process is a unique experience. Layer by layer the structure is carefully skinned, revealing massive teak beams and delicate teak door and window frames. After the material is salvaged it is then sorted into piles and subsequently laminated into useful material, each plank becoming entirely unique. The resulting planks of reclaimed teak showcase intricate and varied patterns inherent in the material. The new planks are an homage to the life the teak has led and reflect the new life it is beginning.

 

 

How does the making process behind EQ3’s Teak Wood Stools differ from the rest of the Reclaimed Teak collection?

 

The Teak Wood Stools are salvaged from the same region as our Reclaimed Teak collection. However, they are literally stumps of trees that have been cut down. Some of these trees will have been cut many years ago, and some as few as five years ago. Each stump will vary wildly from the next.

 

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You’ve worked closely with our team based in Indonesia on the development of our Reclaimed Teak collection. What are you currently working on? What’s next for the collection?

 

We have recently rounded out our collection with the introduction of the Reclaimed Teak Shelving Unit and Reclaimed Teak End Table. The collection was an evolution. It started with the Coffee Table and Plasma unit, which EQ3′s Creative Director Thom Fougere designed, and gave way to the bedroom, dining and storage pieces that I designed. It was fun to work on the collection in this way and allowed us both to put a lot of thought into each piece.

 

Right now we’re working on updates to some of the existing pieces but are just hoping that people continue to admire (and purchase!) the existing collection.

 

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Image Source: All photographs credited to Madi Cash

The Craft: Making Cakes with Cake-ology

Jun 6, 2014

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Earlier this spring we reached out to Cake-ology, a local bakery in Winnipeg’s Historic Exchange District that specializes in custom cakes, cakettes and cupcakes. We were looking for a 3-tiered chocolate cake (with soft butter cream icing, no less!) to celebrate EQ3 Inhabit’s 1st Blog Birthday, and we had heard that Cake-ology was the place to go!

 

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Pam Kirkpatrick, Founder and Owner of Cake-ology

 

Cake-ology’s founder and owner, Pam Kirkpatrick, is a self-taught / YouTube taught baker and cake decorator. Pam got her start by baking cakes for family and friends, and in April of 2010 she decided to open the small studio bakery where she now operates out of with a handful of staff.

 

The studio is used primarily as a work space, except for the long counter at the front of the bakery, which serves as a store front for walk-in customers to purchase smaller desserts as the craving strikes. Everything at Cake-ology is made in-house from scratch, and with local ingredients. Plus, their product packaging is compostable, so you can (almost) indulge guilt-free!

 

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The staff at Cake-ology bake and decorate an average of 20 – 30 cakes a week. Most of their custom orders are for weekend occasions, such as weddings, showers, graduations and other parties. With so many cakes going out to customers each weekend, Cake-ology runs on a pretty streamlined schedule. The staff bake cakes all day on Mondays and Tuesdays. They torte and base ice the cakes on Wednesdays. Torting a cake means to level off the cake (remove the rounded top) and cut it in half horizontally to add extra height. Base icing the cakes keeps the cake moist. Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for decorating the cakes. Then on Saturdays the bakers finish off last minute tasks, package up orders, help customers and do rotational work, such as setting up cookies or rolling out cakettes. Pam reserves Saturdays for consultations and deliveries, and for receiving walk-in orders.

 

The following photographs document the cake making process – start to finish!

 

 

BAKING

 

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Cake-ology uses this professional grade mixer to combine all ingredients.

 

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Cake pans are greased.

 

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Then flour is used to line the greased pans.

 

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Batter fills the pans part way up, leaving room for the cakes to rise.

 

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And, into the oven they go…

 

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Baked cakes come out with rounded tops. In a day or two, cakes will be leveled and cut in half horizontally. This process is called ‘torting’.

 

 

DECORATING

 

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For our blog birthday cake, we chose a classic chocolate cake with 3-tiered design.

 

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Vanilla flavoured soft butter cream icing covers the top of the first layer.

 

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Additional cake layers are stacked one on top of the other to add height to the cake. Vanilla icing  is sandwiched between each layer.

 

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Base icing the entire cake keeps it moist.

 

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To achieve this ridged design, the decorator turns the cake stand with one hand, while lightly scraping off some of the icing with their knife in the other hand.

 

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Sprinkles in red – a must for EQ3.

 

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The finished cake was styled on EQ3′s Coast Marble Cake Stand, and shot in our photography cove. EQ3′s in-house graphic designers created this fun cake gif for the blog’s birthday celebration!

 

 

Visit Cake-ology.ca and the Cake-ology Facebook Page to learn more. You can also follow Cake-ology on Twitter @cakeologycakes.

The Craft: Blacksmithing with Cloverdale Forge

May 7, 2014

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We recently met up with award-winning blacksmith Matt Jenkins at his small workshop on Cloverdale Farm, a plot of land northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba that has been in his family for 5 generations. Matt grew up on Cloverdale Farm in a beautiful two-storey log cabin that his parents, Tom and Pat Jenkins, built for their family. His father was a self-taught blacksmith that created historic reproductions of hardware and other metal products at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, and he introduced Matt to the craft early on in life.

 

Matt moved to Montréal to study Mechanical Engineering in university, but spent his summers close to home, working as a blacksmith for the same fort that his father had. After completing his degree, Matt spent a year and half at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina participating in a work study and student host program, while taking classes in blacksmithing, woodworking and other crafts. He has since returned to Manitoba, but continues to visit the Folk School regularly to teach.

 

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Matt Jenkins in his blacksmith workshop at Cloverdale Farm.

 

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When he’s not busy with his day job, engineering and drafting architectural metals for a company in Winnipeg, much of Matt’s time is spent at Cloverdale Farm creating custom metal art for clients under the name Cloverdale Forge. He also teaches blacksmithing courses on the farm as part of the Craft School he started with his mother, who currently runs a bed and breakfast out of the family’s log home. Cloverdale Forge continues to grow, and Matt hopes to run his business full-time and develop a product line. A bigger shop is already on the horizon.

 

Matt describes the process of blacksmithing like this: Get it hot. Hit it hard. Quit when you’re done. These words are quoted from Francis Whittaker, a well-known blacksmith whose work spanned the gap between the death of blacksmithing in 1910 and its revival in the 1970s. There is, of course, much more to the craft. Matt talked about the art and science behind it, and we were surprised to learn how much crossover there is between his engineering education, and his artistic work as a blacksmith.

 

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Get it hot. Hit it Hard. Quit when you’re done.  - Matt Jenkins quoting Francis Whittaker (American blacksmith)

 

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A blacksmith uses 3 main tools: a forge, an anvil, and a hammer.

 

The forge is the place where the fire is kept. Metal is weakest at its hottest and thinnest points. To make it pliable, the blacksmith heats up the metal in the forge, until it has turned almost the same colour as the fire (leaving the metal in the forge any longer will burn it up). The blacksmith removes the metal from the forge and brings it to the anvil. The anvil is the blacksmith’s work bench, but it is as much a tool as the hammer. Matt recited Newton’s Third Law of Motion¹ several times during our visit. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Applying force to the metal with a hammer against the surface of the work bench means the anvil will exert the same force back.

 

There are many other tools and equipment that a blacksmith can use, and Matt has amassed an impressive collection. Many of the tools were passed down from his father, and decorate the walls and floor of his workshop.

 

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The main anvil in Matt’s shop is a 294 lb Peter Wright.

 

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Matt cools a thin piece of metal in an old water crock to strengthen it.

 

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Matt’s favourite projects to work on are always the ones he’s working on right now, but he typically enjoys working on pieces that allow him to show more artistry. He’s worked on custom gate designs (see here and here), and would love to work on more projects like this. He’s also currently designing and making a set of garden tools, featuring continuous pieces of metal, for strength, and carved wood handles. The project combines Matt’s skills in blacksmithing and woodworking.

 

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Garden tools in progress. The wood handles are also Matt’s work.

 

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Interior of log cabin built by Matt’s parents. They also made the staircase and shelf unit pictured above.

 

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Matt made the shaker boxes pictured above at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

 

Check out Matt Jenkin’s Tumblr blog at cloverdaleforge.com to learn more about his work, and visit cloverdalefarm.ca for details on upcoming classes. You can also follow @cloverdaleforge on Instagram and Twitter.

 

Source:

1. Wikipedia.com, Newton’s laws of motion.

The Craft: Roasting Coffee with Other Brother Roasters

Apr 22, 2014

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Other Brother Roasters is a specialty coffee roasting company that operates out of Winkler, Manitoba (just a couple hours drive from our head office in Winnipeg). We first got wind of Other Brother through this post on Make Coffee’s Facebook Page. Their product packaging was what initially caught our eye, and after discovering they were local, we knew we had to learn more about them and the art of roasting coffee!

 

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We met with four of the five members that make up Other Brother Roasters: Sam Plett, Erin Plett, Andy Wiebe and Rachel Wiebe. Jon Plett (Sam’s brother) is also a partner in the company, but currently lives out of province. As is turns out, roasting is in their blood. Sam and Jon’s grandfather roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds, and their father is the owner of Sunny Day Products, a Winkler-based company producing quality, freshly roasted almonds, flax seeds, peanut kernels and other confectionery products. Sam had his first taste of quality coffee in 2011, after Jon launched Jonny’s Java, a socially conscious coffee, tea and smoothie shop in Winkler. Sam’s interest in coffee grew naturally from his brother’s new business venture (hence the name Other Brother), and he began roasting his own coffee beans with a popcorn machine in his garage.

 

In 2012, they moved operations into a real manufacturing space, and Other Brother was born out of a desire to bring good tasting, ethically sourced and locally roasted coffee to the community. Other Brother sells their beans through wholesale to coffee shops such as Jonny’s Java in Winkler and Make Coffee in Winnipeg, as well as restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores. Other Brother also offers monthly or bi-monthly subscriptions to individual customers interested in having coffee delivered on a regular basis, right to their door.

 

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The Art of Roasting Coffee

 

Every roast begins with raw (un-roasted) green beans. Other Brother brings a few samples of raw beans in at a time and all five members participate in a coffee tasting, also referred to as a Cupping. Each member brings their own palate and taste preferences to the tasting, particularly Andy Wiebe (partner at Other Brother and co-owner of Jonny’s Java) who is a Canadian Certified Barista Judge. Together, they form a well-rounded panel and decide as a group which coffee beans to bring in. All of the beans Other Brother roasts are purchased in-season, and have been freshly picked from farms where workers are fairly compensated for their labour.

 

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From left to right: Other Brother Roasters members Rachel Wiebe, Andy Wiebe, Erin Plett, Sam Plett (missing from photo Jon Plett)

 

Once Other Brother has finalized their selection, the beans are thrown through the roaster where they will lose 20% of their weight and moisture, and change colour from green, to yellow, to brown. Beans are roasted until they hear the First Cracking, usually after about 10 minutes or so. The first crack sounds very similar to popping popcorn and produces light roast coffee beans. A light roast accentuates what the bean has to offer – it’s elevation, variety and Terroir. The latter term is used to describe products such as wine, chocolate and tea. Wikipedia defines Terroir as “…the special set of characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with plant genetics, express in agricultural products.”

 

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Leaving the coffee beans to roast a few minutes longer will result in a medium roast. And, another few minutes of roasting will result in a dark roast. At either of these stages, Other Brother can develop what they call the Roast Profile. By adjusting how they add the heat and how long they roast the beans for, Other Brother can change the roast and affect the taste of the coffee their beans will produce.

 

Other Brother Roasters believes it is their job to take the green bean and make it taste the best that it can. If you’re using a quality bean, they say the finished taste should be clean, pleasant, and what the coffee offers. There should be no bad or lingering aftertaste!

 

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Other Brother tweaks their roast a little each week, always striving to bring their customers the best cup of coffee they can.

 

Visit otherbrotherroasters.com to learn more about their coffee and to sign up for a coffee subscription! Also, check out the Other Brother Roasters Facebook Page, and follow @obroasters on Twitter and Instagram

 

Source:
1. Wikipedia.com, Definition of Terroir

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