My thesis broke! And another dinner, in Queens.


Tonight I had dinner with fellow thesis-er Paweena and her family, son Ping and boyfriend Eric. I went to Sunnyside, Queens which seemed to be too much for my thesis to handle because for the first times, after all these miles it’s traveled, it broke! One wheel came off as I was bringing it down the stairs at Grand Central Station. No problem, because I just had to balance it on three. The next one came off going to the subway after dinner was over. Luckily Paweena was walking with me and I was able to get a cab once we got to Queen’s Boulevard. I don’t think I would have been able to get it home without two wheels. Now I have a lopsided thesis that I need to fix. Luckily, it’s not the boxes that are the problem, just the bag I have been using to transport. More information how the dinner went later. I’m tired tonight, it was quite the challenge.


Special delivery!

This is a late post about the happenings from Friday! I started the morning bright at early arriving at school for a 9AM delivery from Prince Lumber. Originally they have us a window between 9-12PM but to our surprise the guy came early! I missed his call at 8:58am because I was riding the subway to school but after a few minutes of phone tag, we reconnected and he came back. So lucky we didn’t have to wait all day! After the wood arrived I probably looked ridiculous hauling it in and out of the elevators so Willy and Timmy from school facilities helped me get everything to the elevator and up to the 6th floor.


I laid out the frame and the went to class at 12PM, returning right after at 3:30 to start securing everything in place. With a drill in hand, I started powering through making that study base. It was actually harder than I thought because of how thick the 2x4s are and also because I think my drill not was slightly too small for the screws we bought



Two hours later, I built myself a stage, a bed, a platform, or a horizontal wall. Now all that’s left is to secure the top and treat the wood. Not sure how I will so that yet but, I have maybe a day to make my final decision. After I finished my work for the day I spent a little bit of time bugging other people in their space.


Field trip to Prince Lumber!

After a discussion yesterday with the Parsons woodshop guy, Vinny, I decided on how I was going to build my little platform for the show. Unfortunately it seemed to be a bigger, and more costly endeavor than I expected. Vinny suggested getting the lumber ordered and delivered to school. The place that would do that for me in the city is Prince Lumber located on 15th and 9th.

After talking with my thesis show neighbors and classmates, Youmna and Daniela they also decided they needed a platform for their project. Today we went together on a field trip to spend more money on thesis.

Prince Lumber has really great customer service. I talked with Phil, and he helped us figure out what we needed. After showing him my drawing and diagram, explaining what it was for, going back and forth through some confusing conversations about structure, and taking many trips in and out to see different types of plywood we finally came to a conclusion. Phil was very patient with us and I thank him for that! He showed me options I had but also kept in mind that we were on a budget and spending money on something we didn’t plan on having and something we will not be keeping after the show. They will be cutting our pieces down to size and then delivering to us tomorrow morning sometime between 9am and 12pm. This means having an unusually early start to my day!
On my way home I stopped at my other professor, Claudia’s apartment because I mentioned I needed to locate a drill to build this contraption and she had one! Amazing. I’m not sure if I will be building anything tomorrow, but I will definitely go looking for the right screws and supplies I need. I also think going to have to get some sanding supplies and something to finish the surface.

Just a pic of my essentials: Wallet, check. Computer, check. Notebook, check. Drill? Check.

Hello world, meet my thesis.


Meet my big red box! Well, actually it’s a little more than that but to the average person, it’s santa’s bag of toys he forgot to take back with him to the North Pole. Today was the first day that I took my thesis out into the city. Until now it’s been on Maui, on a plane, in some bags, but never rolling the streets. Today I had my individual meeting with Katherine, my thesis professor so I had to bring it out! I also wanted to test to see how well my deign would be. Turned out, not so good for some things.


I took it up and down the subway and rolled it from my apartment but it slowed me down. Being on all fours was difficult because I had to push it. After my meeting I went to Home Depot and got myself a collapsible cart. Just one of two left! It worked well until the roommate and I knocked each other and it collapsed over near our street. Might have to work on a better balancing act. I also tripped over my thesis and almost fell with it this afternoon on my way to school. I think a bruise is forming but, just shows the things I have to be aware of! The handle that I sewed ripped a little due to my lack is preparation in double sticking but…that can be fixed too! Other than that the size is good. It’s not easy, but a welcomed challenge.

Katherine suggested for me to use cutting board oil to finish my table. This was the best idea! I was struggling looking for the right finish that also didn’t leave a smell. I bought this stuff at the HD(Home Depot) today and its perfect. This way the surface is treated but also food safe. I had to warm it up a little, as the directions indicates before wiping it on. Good thing I have lots of extra muslin lying around. I love how the mineral oil darkened the wood and overall, gave it a richer tone. At one point I was contemplating putting some pattern and designs on the box but I am over that. I really like the wood as-is and with so much other stuff going on with the patterning in the fabrics that it would just be too much.

I also had a meeting with Louisa, writing teacher today. We talked about my outline and format for my final paper. I think we settled on a really good plan of attack and now that my box is near complete and dinners will be starting, I can focus on sifting through the 30 thesis pages I currently have and also write new segments to bring it all together. Louisa also mentioned she wanted an online presence, so I’m going to have to think about how this project will live on the web (because I shouldn’t have been doing that already). So hello world, welcome to Matsumoto Thesis.




Mom would never approve of this: sanding and finishing the box in no whee else, but my own bedroom. It left a little mess, but nothing a clean up party wouldn’t fix. So now my boxes are semi-finished. They are puttied, sanded, and moveable. Next thing to think about and tackle are those designs…will they make it on there or not?

Not thesis

There was little time for thesis today because of a few other projects that needed attention. This is just one of them, a mini-lesson for children to cut, fold, and build their own paper house to light up. Just a small lesson in basic circuitry.

A heavy load.



Yesterday we had desk crits in class meaning I had to bring my boxes (still in pieces) to class. It was fine except rather heavy considering its wood. I has two big bags that I lugged onto the subway but I made it to and from school with no casualties to the things I carried.



I set up my “table” For the first time outside of my home. I thought it looked bad since I just taped it together but I think once I spend the time to Flickr together this weekend I can spend more time on sanding and finishing the edges. I was very pleased with the way the size of the table worked out. The proportions are right and it feels right.

As for the critiques, there are always things to think about and aspects that can be done better. One critic lamented that the box may have been better with dovetail joints. What he doesn’t know is the trouble and research I went through finding someone to do that and failing. What it comes down to was time. Also looking for someone here in the city was not easy. What is important to me is that this is something I built myself, with the help of others. I had the first hand experience throughout every step of this process. What I need to do a better job of is explaining that struggle and how all these layers if information come together. In the end it becomes quite the heavy load.

Spring Break?

After a busy and productive spring “break” at home on Maui, I got back to New York, thesis in a box and ready to be made. Since then, I’ve been battling jet lag, some other thesis projects, and putting off writing.

I am feeling pressured since its now April 2, and there are only a few more weeks before we start installing the show. Today I did more research at the NYU Bobst library but I still feel there is more to do.

I’m going to make a big effort to post everyday to my thesis blog, along with my personal blog for the next two months until it is over. I’ve been very off-and-on this past semester, but it’s almost over so I’m gonna make it count! Ready or not, here we go.

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.