This was our most ambitious project of 2014. I was approached by Kate Bordline and her contractor pal Phil, to build the bartop for the distillery Kate, along with her business partners, was opening, Our Detroit. The original thinking was for the bartop to be concrete, but I'd been itching to do some board formed concrete for a while and I managed to talk them into using concrete for the base as well. When a creative idea gets into my mind often I can not get it out. It's not that I'm always thinking about this idea, or obsessing on this idea, but it is there with me. Most of the time the only way to exercise this idea is to bring it to life. Board forming was one of those ideas.
Board formed concrete. 75 years ago metal and plastic were not used when making the forms for precast concrete or cast in place walls, wood was. Wood was strong enough to withstand the pressure exerted by pouring concrete, and was cheap and readily available. The texture and grain pattern left was an accepted by product of this building method. Detroit has many examples of board formed concrete, on being Ponyride, where our shop is located. Cast concrete buildings, developed and revolutionized by Albert Kahn Associates, replaced wood framed buildings, allowing much more open space in the building, greater fire resistance, and increased strength and durability. Steel reinforced concrete factories built in Detroit in the early 20th century were revolutionary and even though the grain pattern on the walls, ceilings and outside of these building were mostly an afterthought those imprints speak to me.
Above is an example of board formed concrete from Ponyride's co-working space.
Above is the samples for the base of the bar and below is form for the sample.
The release used on the wood was Vaseline cut with equal parts mineral spirits. In coming posts I will cover what lumber was used, how the form for the base was built and cast, and finally casting and finishing the bartop.
A man approached us with an idea. He wanted something unique, personalized and meant for the outside pool/patio area. It was to be his wedding gift for his brother living in South Carolina. We brainstormed fire-features, tables and benches. The wedding theme and budget brought us to decide together on a sleek bench with the bride and groom's initials as a simple design feature (A's & E's). We love to provide meaningful custom work! Enjoy the slide show below that shows the process of creating his custom bench from initial sketch to finished product.
What would make us leave our beautiful home in Asheville, North Carolina for the likes of Detroit, Michigan?
Well, to start, I (Jessica) spent my first 18 years in St. Clair Shores (8 mile & Harper). Then on to Savannah, Georgia for my first two years of college and culture shock before transferring to Asheville, North Carolina. Andrew and I cozied into mountain life for about the next 11 years and loved every minute of it. However, there were a few things missing. I didn't feel needed or very inspired to do big things there. Anyone whose spent much time in Asheville knows about the chill, spiritual vortex that blankets the area. Its a place for healing and comfort. My creativity is often driven by discomfort and chaos. I need to be driven to roll up my sleeves, get dirty and face the wind. I began to think to myself, "we have a lot to offer and I didn't feel very useful in the mecca of Asheville."
I never much cared for Kid Rock until the summer of 2009 when my sister took me to see him live at Comerica Park . During the show I heard and felt that familiar message of pride, resilience, tough love, passion and hope. These are the virtues we Detroiters are born into. This is what keeps us moving forward despite the snow storm. That's when it hit me, I was ready to come home. When I heard, "It's been so long, since I've been home. I've been gone, I've been gone for way to long. Maybe I forgot all the things I miss. Oh, somehow I know there's more to life than this." Cue the tears. The more to life for me is and has always been to make a positive change in the world. Asheville taught me that change begins on the inside and only after gaining wisdom through experience do you have something worth sharing with the world.
When I was 4 I wanted to sing and dance like Madonna. When I was 14 I wanted to model, travel the world and wear thousand dollar dresses. When I was 24 I wanted to sell million dollar sculptures. None of these things came to fruition. Now that I'm a few years shy of 34, a wife and a mother, I am really thinking about what would truly make me happy. I am not completely sure but I think it looks something like helping rebuild Detroit, utilizing my creative talents to beautify our city and my teaching skills to open up hearts so Detroit can hold its proper place in the sun.