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Friday
May062011

material world: eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a diverse type of flowering tree within the myrtle family. There are over 700 species, most of which are native to Australia, and only about 9 can’t be found there.

Eucalyptus are favored as a fast-growing sustainable resource, similar to bamboo, and all of the tree—it’s wood, leaves, flowers—are broadly used.photo by: Umesh Behari Mathur

First, the flower blossoms provide nectar for insects, birds, bats, etc. and essential oils from its leaves contain natural disinfectants so it’s used in cleaning products, deodorants, toothpaste, decongestants and cough/cold medicines.

Its also a key food source for some koala and possum who are tolerant of those chemicals which can be toxic in large doses.photo by: puuikibeach

On both a positive and negative note, eucalyptus trees require lots of water.

In swamp-like areas, planting them can reduce soil erosion and malaria bearing mosquitoes—ironic considering its inherent insect repellent properties—but in normal to dry or non-indigenous areas, they can prohibit other plants and native plants from thriving.

Such is the case in California where eucalyptus trees were introduced in the mid 1800s with the hopes that their fast growth would offer a vast supply of railroad ties as miles of new tracks were laid during the Gold Rush.

Unfortunately, wood from younger trees warped dramatically and wood from older trees was so dense that nails couldn’t easily secure them in place—both characteristics sealed its fate.

Although its favored as a windbreak and for curbing erosion, it’s disliked for its role in feeding forest fires (read on) and regenerating from mere trunks, so currently measures are being taken to reduce its population there.

Types of eucalyptus plants and trees have been carbon dated to tens of millions of years ago—around the time charcoal deposits have been dated as well—which is interesting since they share a common trait.

As a living plant, and at high temperatures, eucalyptus oil can be emitted as a vapor—which creates the characteristic blue haze of Australia’s landscape, shown above—but it can also be highly flammable, like charcoal.

But the wood becomes more dense—and therefore stronger, much like teak—so it’s also prized for its durability outdoors while those same natural oils help protect it from the elements.

Like most woods, eucalyptus weathers to a soft silvery grey but tung oil can be applied periodically to help preserve its original patina.

Tuesday
Sep142010

the making of: shag rugs

‘Shag’ rugs refers to how they’re made but not what they’re made of. So like other carpets or rugs, basically any material that can be woven can be used—synthetic fibers like nylon or rayon, or natural fibers like cotton or wool.

from this, undyed woolen yarnsto this, a finished lounge shag rug

For centuries, the ‘original’ shag rug—the flokati—has been made of tangled goat’s wool in Greece. Traditionally made without dyes they’re notoriously known to be the natural, virgin hue of the wool. More recently however wool shags can be found in any color or mix of colors.

To make a shag rug, strands or yarns of material are loosely woven—horizontal weft through vertical warp yarns. In contrast, standard pile rugs are more tightly tufted, ie. yarns are ‘passed through’ a woven cloth backing, usually with more and thinner yarns per square inch making them more dense and crew-cut like.

Typically manufactured by making loops in the weaving process, shags yarns are then trimmed at a longish length, ie. creating a deep-pile, that gives the rug a lush and shaggy look. And when the weaving is completed, the warp yarns are cut from the loom and those vertical edges are finished.

Tuesday
Sep072010

the making of: darjeeling

Since a picture speaks a thousand words in any language, and a “handmade” description doesn’t tell the whole story, the following detail the making of a darjeeling dining table—completely by hand.

The Indian Railways, or IR, is one of the largest networks in the world. Its nearly 1.6 million employees transport 20 million passengers over almost 40,000 miles of tracks through nearly 7,000 stations—everyday.

Railroad ties, or “sleepers”, are approximately 40-50 years old and are being replaced with newer concrete versions.

To make a tabletop, reclaimed ties are planed down to the inner core and joined together in a puzzle fashion. Exposed damage and loose wood is marked, chiseled out, and replaced with smaller pieces.

Tabletops are then re-sanded and the process repeated where gaps appear. Fine gaps are filled with a mixture of blackened glue and sawdust.

Steel T-bar and square tubes are welded together to create the leg assembly and tabletop support. The final finishing stages include grinding the welding for a smoother finish.

Wednesday
Aug262009

under construction: miami

cb2 miami under construction

It may not look like much more than rebar, hardhats and trucks but at least it’s no longer a swimming pool and soon it’ll be a new CB2! To our future neighbors, we hope you’ll pardon our dust as the construction of our first ground up location is underway. We’re thrilled to enter the South Beach scene and we’re counting the days until we open the orange doors in January at Lincoln Road Mall,1661 Jefferson Avenue.

rendering of future CB2 miami store - looking southeast

We’d love to share more photos of the progress so if you happen to pass by, upload them to Flickr, tag them as “CB2” and drop us a note!

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