Happy New Year to you all!
We used the festive holiday to rest (eat and drink too much), reflect and ponder on what might be next to our Studio Mali adventure. We’ve set ourselves a few targets for the start of the year. Although selling at markets over Christmas was an amazing experience, oh my it was tiring! We didn't have a second to think about what 2019 might hold. So we made some decisions, firstly taking a few months off the markets to develop some new products, spend some time sprucing up the market stall aesthetics and a sneaky little winter get-away to Hungary. We also wanted to start sharing how we make our products to help our readers understand what goes into each product. So here we are…
Let us introduce an in-the-making video of our most recent product the Luders Placemats, inspired by architecture of the Marie-Elisabeth Luders Haus on the bank of the river Spree, Berlin. We were a bit camera shy to do a full voiceover but we’ve recorded all the processes that are needed to get it ready for the kitchen table! Of course, for the sake of story telling and repetition we have skipped some of the repeated sanding stages, we didn’t want to bore you!
The making starts by sending the CAD design to our CAM machine, in this case a laser cutter. We place in a piece of sustainably sourced birch-faced aeroply that has been cut down from a larger sheet. We are careful to pick pieces with the most interesting grain and with the fewest blemishes. We also check that the grain is vertical.
After laser cutting, we number and masking tape the individual pieces so we can fit them back together later, systems are quite important when you make 20 of the same thing that are essentially large puzzles!
We finish the wood with three different grades of sandpaper. First a rough p120, a finer p400 and very fine p600 which leaves the plywood really smooth to touch.
We use an airgun to apply the different colours, making 2/3 passes per colour, cleaning out the gun with water between passes and colour changes. This part is quite time consuming as we always run into problems getting the acrylic paint to the correct consistency.
Then, we apply a strong resin-based adhesive to the 0.8mm aeroply layer which are then fixed to a 4mm plywood base that we prepared earlier, preparation is everything they say!
We are careful to clamp everything in the right place (that’s a Radiohead song right?) whilst the adhesive sets. Note: if we get this bit wrong the whole piece is ruined and we will have to start again.
Then the fun part, sanding the burnt edges on the electric sander and cleaning up the rounded corners. After the rough finish on the sand belt, we follow the same process as before hand sanding the backs and edges with a rough grit p60 on the logo and then p120, p400 and finally p600 which leaves the ply incredibly smooth.
We hoover or brush off the extra dust particles and prepare the wood for varnishing.
To get the best finish we use a spray polyurethane varnish that is applied in even layers. The finish is key, as it offers a long-lasting protection to just about everything the kitchen can throw at it. It’s not as environmentally friendly as other finishes but it should last a lifetime if looked after, which counter balances its damaging polymer credentials.
We finish with a last light sand with the p600 sand paper and then its finished, voila!
Here’s the video:
We hope you enjoyed our making video! If there’s anything else you’d like to know about the product or processes involved we would love to hear from you. Just pop your comment in the box below and we will get back to you.
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