Entries Tagged as 'The Craft'

The Craft: Salvaging Reclaimed Teak Wood in Indonesia

Jul 2, 2014


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.




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.






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.






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.






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!



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!








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!






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











Cake pans are greased.



Then flour is used to line the greased pans.



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



And, into the oven they go…



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’.






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





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



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



Base icing the entire cake keeps it moist.



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.



Sprinkles in red – a must for EQ3.



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.



Matt Jenkins in his blacksmith workshop at Cloverdale Farm.




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.



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






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.



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



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




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.



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



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



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.



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!




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.







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.







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.”












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!








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


1. Wikipedia.com, Definition of Terroir

The Craft: Woodworking with Karen and Jason Hare

Feb 21, 2014

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We had heard a lot about Winnipeg-based designers Karen Hare and Jason Hare. The couple met while studying Environmental Design at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. Karen was majoring in Interior Design, and Jason in Architecture, but they crossed paths when Jason enrolled in an Interior Design Studio course. Since then, they’ve completed their degrees, gotten jobs, and gotten married; and, now they’re busy crafting beautiful wood furniture and other small objects in the downtown studio they share with a couple of friends.


Jason Hare and Karen Hare in their studio (Winnipeg, The Exchange District).




Karen and Jason love the suprises that come from working with a living material. Their designs are typically made out of local species, often using wood labeled as non-select. “You get all of these wonderful quirks and knots, and you can open it up and discover something,” says Karen. Both her and Jason see these imperfections as an opportunity and allow the wood to define their design direction.


Take, for example, the gorgeous bench sitting in one corner of their studio. Karen found the plank that now acts as the bench’s top. “It had this lovely little dip in it,” she recalls. So she brought it home, knowing intuitively that the natural scoop of the board would make a good seat. “Karen has a really great understanding of material language,” says Jason, “like its relationship to other forms within a composition. Even the texture or colour of two different types of wood coming together, and the reasoning between using a leg for one and then the top of a bench for another, and why they come together so well.”





The wood plank’s natural scoop inspired the design of The settler: elm bench.



Jason designed a compression joint that would attach the legs and top without glue or additional hardware.


The couple describes themselves as designers by degree, but makers by heart and this philosophy is very evident in the way they approach each project. For them, making and design cannot be separated. “It might have something to do with the nature of the material we’re working with. If things are…unique, you want to be involved right there with the material because if it presents itself something new and you miss it, then you didn’t take advantage of what it could have possibly been,” says Jason.


In fact, their creative process seems as natural as the material they work with. “I don’t have a method,” says Jason. And, Karen agrees, “He’s just curious. He’s the most curious person I know and I think so many great things come out of his curiosity and just wanting to figure something out or just wanting to play around.” Karen, on the other hand, describes herself as a beauty hoarder. “I’ll just find pieces (of wood) that I just love and keep them. And, finally I’ll have the idea for what they’re going to become and I’ll make it.”





This pair of hook or “crook” knives are Karen’s favourite tool. They were a Christmas gift from Jason. He bought the metal hook from Lee Valley and carved the wood handles himself.




Karen and Jason are currently working on a set of wood pendant lights for a restaurant in New York City. The restaurant commissioned the lights after seeing their original prototypes, which they entered into the Shade International Lighting Competition (which we blogged about here). The lights received an award and were featured on several popular design blogs.


Here’s a quick look at the process:












While they each have their own projects, Karen and Jason are always discussing them and coming up with design solutions together. If one of them sets a project aside, the other will pick it up. Most creatives would be offended by that, but Karen and Jason find that projects turn out better when they each have a hand in the design. “You see the beautiful result of the two things coming together and you’re like, okay, this has to continue,” says Karen.


And, we agree! We look forward to seeing many more beautiful designs from these two in the future. Check out their Tumblr site hareandhare.tumblr.com to see a selection of their recent work.

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