On the quest for the perfect way to add some details to the outside of the final boxes. Now that I’m back at home in Maui for spring break, I found myself at my high school art room getting advice from my former art teacher. Paper stencils? Silk screen? Not sure yet.

What I am sure of is that I am united with my paulownia (kiri) wood planks that I ordered from Jeremy at Papa Kai Hawaii. I have been in contact with him for the last week and got planks ordered and shipped to Hawaii with excellent customer service. I plan to get everything prepped at home so I can bring it back to New York with me. This project is truly becoming something that mixes my new surroundings with my old.

Take a picture, it will last longer.

Before I cut my dad’s shirts into many pieces to cover some floor cushions, I needed to take picture of them. Pictures of me, wearing them, of course.

Buying Birch

This is a late post from this weekend. After feeling the need to just get some material to work with rather than keep looking at it online I decided to go to Home Depot. Living in Manhattan also means the need to leave the city to get some real lumber. I ventured to QUEENS on to buy some wood. Not just any wood but 1/4″ thick, 4′ x 8′ plywood. With an XL Ikea bag in my bag I was prepared to get my wood, get them to cut it and carry it back home with me on the subway. It took me about 30 minutes on the R train to get there then walked about a quarter of a mile to the store on Northern Boulevard. Once I got there I asked for help and the guy “didn’t see” the 1/4″ birch, but I did. I showed him my drawing and he enlisted the help of a fellow worker to make my cuts.


It was quite a scene as they looked at me like “You’re gonna carry this yourself back to the city?” Indeed I did. It was a little heavy but as I rejected the Taxi offers at the door, wrapped my pieces in string to keep them together and carried it out the door, I felt good to just have some material to look at and work with.

Now of seems I may not be able to use the birch ply but, it will be great for prototyping some things out. I also made the journey to Queens and back to manhattan with wood on my shoulders and in my hands. Whether I use it or not, I proved to myself I am fully capable of getting things done on my own. All I have to do is try.

“Step away from the thesis…”

There has been a lot going on in the last couple weeks regarding thesis. I think I have been avoiding posting about it, talking about it, and reflecting about it because it has been a troubling and head-aching process. However, I think it’s now time to talk a little bit about it. Let’s start with today:

    • Today, March 11, 2012, we had Desk crits with Melanie Crean. I have talked to Melanie about my project before so she has seen in through the many stages it has gone through. Her main critique was to think about how my guests and participants will participate in this experience. Right now it is about me. (really, my thesis is about me), but how will these participants add value? She also asked why I wouldn’t do this with my siblings or family. The reason for that being that part of this carrying on of the ritual of family dinner needs to be made with friends, my new family, as I physically move away from my actual family back home. I do get her point about finding a way to have others participate though. The people I invite to these meals are not just my “puppets” allowing me to take part in the act of “family dinner” but are also important and should also be able to take away something or contribute to the experience. Already, I plan to curate the dinners around their own foods and traditions they remember from the past, but is that enough? Probably not. There could be other ways for them to add their own self into this experience. More thinking, clearly.
    • Construction: I have been making a few different prototypes of my new table design—inspired by a japanese bento box for the versatility as an object to carry foods, but also be easily transported. I have come up with a few designs, and redesigns over the last week and a half, and finally settled on having some notches in the sides to have a stable structure. However, I recently found out that the lazer cutter at school I planned to make this with is not working, and may not be up and running for another week. I took a trip to the woodshop at school, by suggestion from the laser cutter technicians, to talk about possibly just using hand tools to make my box. The guy there told me that it is totally possible to just make a box, but then the cons would be that I would lose the possibility of etching designs into the sides of the box. Is that what I want? No probably not. I could definietly just create a box, but if I’m going to do that, I’d rather use better materials. Leading to the next dilemma.Thesis_BoxDesign


      New Design of the boxes. Puzzle pieces, notched for stability.






Two complete foam-core prototypes. Actual size. When having dinners they will sit side by side and the tops will become the tabletop surface.

  • Wood you know?: So my original plan was to use birch plywood. Found out in the last few days that the laser cutter doesn’t cut 1/4″ birch plywood, but can still definitely etch. I can cut pieces in the woodshop, etch later, but that’s just more steps. My dream wood is something called Paulownia. This wood, known as Kiri, in Japan is lightweight, but strong and often used to make cabinets or boxes. My search for this wood ended a few weeks ago when I couldn’t find any suppliers in the US and online. Everything just looked a little sketchy. Today, I went back to looking for this wood and actually found that it is also commonly used for surfboards. I found a guy in Hawaii, on O’ahu, that claims to sell the blanks. The only problem with this would be that, a) I am in NY, b) his site hasn’t been updated since late 2011, so maybe he doesn’t sell this anymore, and c) it’s on O’ahu. Even though I plan to go back to Maui in a couple weeks for spring break, it would take some thinking to figure out how I could get the wood to Maui. Probably asking a friend to carry it back in baggage for me. I also blind e-mailed some surfboard shapers on Maui to see if they had any idea who makes/sells wood surfboards on Maui. That way, I could possibly get it there.
  • Building: I am also just wondering, since I will be at home, and maybe this wood is also at home, if I could just do it there over my break. That way I will have the tools I need at home, rather than at school. I would have to carry the pieces back with me, but hey, that’s kinda what this thesis is about. It’s about how I am able to adapt and change and work through these challenges.
  • Etching/Designs: I would be open to giving up the etching using the laser cutter, if it meant I would be able to wood cut the pieces myself. If that sounds crazy, I could also just screen print some designs? That’s a possible too.
    Possible design for the outside of the "bento" boxes

    Possible design for the outside of the “bento” boxes


Through all of these problems, I will take the advice from fellow thesis-er Paweena to “step away from the thesis.” Let it sit and remove myself for a day or so and see what comes from it. I know this will work out, one way or another. What will be will be, we’ll just have to wait and see.

In the making…


I have not been updating as frequently as I should, but I promise, there are things in the making. New prototypes, writing and problem solving going on into the wee hours of the morning. Thanks for the process picture from this weekend fellow thesis-er, Paweena!