Another pattern formed by shifting two of the top sliders. A minimal amount of shift changes the pattern dramatically. This is a step along the way to opening the box.



The Cafe Wall Box

While working on this final Cafe Wall Box production in the Fall of 2023, a film crew for WIRED Magazine showed up and filmed my work for a short documentary. It shows a good amount of my process behind making this box.

This final production version of the Cafe Wall box opens differently than the proof I made in 2018. You will need to slide a few panels to first open a small compartment. A tricky secret lies here and must be uncovered to proceed further to gain access to transforming the mosaic on top of the box. If you make it that far, you may work through a series of patterns in order to open the final main compartment. A final test of your knowledge about the patterns must be worked out at the very end to unlock it.

I chose the wood Afzelia Xylay to feature as the final exterior wood for the final 20 production boxes. This wood was passed along to me through a guitar maker. It is rarely seen with this level of figure in pieces this large and has been air drying for multiple decades. It’s a very stable wood and incredibly beautiful.

I first made the Cafe Wall Box proofs in 2018 as part of my presentation on stage at the EG Conference in Carmel, CA. There was an audience of roughly 500 people along with some very well known artists, thinkers, and tech entrepreneurs. I was both honored and terrified to be presenting on stage. I am an introvert and accustomed to working alone, so it was a huge push for me to prepare and stretch myself to do something new and different.

In 2017 I was first able to successfully pull veneers using a Japanese hand plane called a kanna for this project. See video here. The dark wood may look like ink but it is actually walnut soaked in a solution of vinegar and iron making it turn jet black like ebony. The light wood is holly. The veneers are ironed flat and overlaid on five solid cherry dovetailed slats. Two of these slide back and forth to make a few very surprising mosaics that one would normally think have no relation to each other. The woodworking technique required incredible precision! Even putting slight pressure on one side of the plane while pulling a shaving could render it slightly curved after ironing and unusable for the purpose of having it perform as a shifting pattern.

Watch the WIRED documentary about me here.

Watch my EG talk here.

Some other videos of me making Yosegi Zaiku.

Planing an image of my daughter.

Planing my braid pattern.

Planing a word made of wood.

Making extra wide Yosegi Zaiku like the masters.


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