Creating the look of Copper Patina

Patina (pəˈtiːnə):  a weathering formed on the surface of copper, bronze and similar metals.

I love the look of copper- especially when it has a beautiful green patina. We recently installed these pieces at The 128 Cafe - I love how the colors change depending on the time of day and the amount of light coming in the restaurant!
After the holidays, I'm going to paint the duct in the front room with a metallic paint that has another layer that goes on top and supposedly will patina it when applied. That is a project for January - I will let you know how it works out!
Raw copper will naturally patina over time, but here's an easy formula to speed up the process. You'll need:
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups non-detergent ammonia
  • 1/2 cup non-iodized salt
  • Mix solution in a plastic spray bottle until salt dissolves 

  • Spread newspaper in your work area
  • Clean your piece with a Windex-type cleaner.
  • Premix patina solution in Windex-type spray bottle

(Please use CAUTION when handing and applying patina solution. Wear gloves and safety glasses, and follow safety instructions on the containers.)

  • Spray Windex cleaner on piece to break surface tension, leaving it on when you apply patina solution.
  • Spray patina solution onto piece

  • Allow to set for 1 hour. 
  • Reapply solution where needed after seeing results of first application. 
  • If there seems to be areas repelling the patina solution, clean it off with the Windex cleaner.

More waiting....
Allow to sit overnight.

The result will be a bright green powdery patina! Do not rub off. In time (and re-applications) this finish will become permanent and the brightness will fade with time.

To reduce green, cut back on the salt content. Color and effect is greatly affected by application ambient temperature and humidity. Enjoy!


128 Cafe - Our New Adventure!

We are excited that our son Max is the new Chef Owner of 128 Cafe in St. Paul. 

It will be a bit of a family affair---John, who is retiring from his 35 year career, will be the financial person and I will be the facility person. 

It will take us some months to make changes to both the restaurant itself and the menu, but I'll keep you posted. 

Recently Max served from the 128 food truck at the Julkowski, Inc. open house in Roseville - it was a fun night!


3D Printing... A new way to 'Cook'?

I've been intrigued lately by 3-D printing - have you heard about it? It's pretty incredible and opens up a whole new range of options for us as designers. Very simply, these printers build a three-dimensional object by adding successive layers of material millions of times over according to a digital blueprint, creating all sorts of objects for use in design, construction, decor...the list keeps growing as fast as its popularity. But this option is perfect for me, because it combines two of my favorites: design and food!
Shoeburger: As part of a contest, the bun for this burger was baked in a shoe-shaped pan that the entrant created on his 3D printer. (via Shapeways)
Gummy People: Move over bears, worms, and fruit shapes, the new way to get your gummy-candy fix is by printing a 3D version of your own body. We’re thinking these would make great birthday party or wedding favors in the shapes of the guests of honor. (via dvice)
Pasta: This is still a prototype, but imagine all the pasta shapes you could be enjoying once this printer becomes a reality!  What shape would you make first? (via Inhabitat)
Chocolate Printer: This chocolate printer, the Choc Creator V1, is available for just over $4,400.  You can create chocolate treats in any shape imaginable - consider the possibilities! (via Choc Edge)

Nasa is getting into the mix too... it has funded research for a 3D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button. (This reminds me of a Star Trek episode...!) Texas-based Systems and Materials Research has been selected for a $125,000 grant from Nasa to develop a 3D printer that will create "nutritious and flavorful" food suitable for astronauts, according to the company's proposal. Using a "digital recipe", the printers will combine powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of, well, actual food.
Sources: The Guardian & Brit+Co


One-sort recycling: going in the right direction

This month recycling is top of mind because we were notified that we will switch to no-sort recycling. I'm excited about that because I think it will bring a lot more people into the recycling process who may not have done it before.  

This one-sort recycling means a change for kitchen design as well  - no need for separate containers for paper, glass, plastic etc.  Remember when we had to separate aluminum cans from tin/metal cans? We are moving in the right direction…

Buying products that are wrapped in PVC --you know, the ones you need a scissors to open and even then you can cut yourself on it--always irritates me because I have to throw the blister packs away.  I like to recycle whenever possible, but according to this article recycling this type of plastic if one quarter of one percent - that's hard to fathom. Here's more information I found on a website called www.earth911.com

Photo credit - Flickr - Incurable hippie
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is considered a difficult and expensive material to recycle. For this reason, much of it ends up in landfills.  

Where You’ll Find It:
  • Blister packs
  • Clamshell containers
  • Bags for bedding, medical shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap
  • Pipes, siding, window frames, fencing, decking and railing
Why They Use It: PVC is very strong and high-impact. Along with its brilliant clarity, plastic #3 is also resistant to grease, oil and chemicals.

The Lowdown on Recycling: PVC is not commonly recycled or recyclable, nor is it biodegradable. More than 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away in the U.S. annually, and only 18 million pounds – barely one-quarter of 1 percent – is recycled. The relatively new mechanical recycling process known as Vinyloop® technology, developed by Solvay Research & Technology, allows the complete separation of PVC material from the non-PVC materials that are often combined with it.

Need-to-Know Info:
1. PVC requires 20 percent less energy to produce than other plastics. It is also thought to save on fossil fuel use, as its principal raw material (nearly 60 percent) is chlorine-derived from common salt.
2. To make vinyl products flexible, controversial plasticizers known as phthalates are used, accounting for nearly 90 percent of total phthalate consumption. This translates into more than 5 million tons used for vinyl every year.
3. Energy-intensive chlorine production for PVC consumes an estimated 47 billion kilowatt hours per year – almost equal to the annual total output of eight medium-sized nuclear power plants.


Outdoor Inspirations for the start of SUMMER

This month, in celebration of sunshine finally appearing in Minnesota (!) and the unofficial start of summer, I'm sharing a few nature-inspired ideas for you - enjoy!

Bamboo garden design inspiration 

Wouldn't it be great fun to create a smaller version of this for your garden?

This impressive arched bamboo pavilion was created by a Brooklyn studio to raise awareness about a Taiwanese forest under siege. The Forest Pavilion has 11 vaults--each more than twice as tall as a basketball hoop--that soar wildly over a central meeting space in Hualien province, Taiwan. 

The pavillion is made out of bamboo, which, unlike trees, grows fast and can be harvested without harming the plant. The architect used freshly cut green bamboo, flexible enough to bend, and tied together with stainless steel wire. The bamboo was then inserted into steel pipes & welded.

The Forest Pavilion was conceived for an arts festival organized to promote preserving the landscape as a forest. “In recognition of the cultural diversity of the region, the pavilion’s vaults, each one presenting a unique ‘gateway’ into the meeting space, sought to formalize this diversity and suggest an opportunity for unity in support of a greater environmental benefit,” the architects said.

Can you believe these beautiful pieces are ceramic? 
Photo by Sylvain Deleu Copyright: Nuala O'Donovan

This Irish ceramic artist, Nuola O'Donovan, combines regular pattern with the characteristics of irregular patterns and forms found in nature. Each element of the pattern is individually made, the form is constructed slowly over a period of weeks or months. 
Photo by Sylvain Deleu Copyright: Nuala O'Donovan

According to her Artist Statement, the finished forms are 'a result of an intuitive response to the direction that the pattern takes as well as the irregularity in the handmade elements of the pattern.'

Photo by Sylvain Deleu Copyright: Nuala O'Donovan

"My decision to research patterns and forms from nature stemmed from my interest in the narrative quality of irregularities in patterns. The history behind a scarred or broken surface is what fascinates me," says the artist.


A Few of my Favorite Things

I haven't blogged in awhile, so I thought I'd touch a bit on a few different topics this month... here we go!

Plywood - a New Idea in Flooring

I love the recent trend toward plywood flooring. They are an inexpensive option and yet can have a beautiful grain to them. I was recently in Anna Maria Island and there were plywood floors in the coffee shop that I frequented. Theirs were stained dark green, but I really liked them. I love the natural plywood ones with coats of polyurethane  - it makes the grain really pop. There are all different types of plywood and different hardwoods used to make the plywood.  Cost, of course, varies a great deal depending on the type of floor you choose. 

Here are a few options I've seen online - I found other ideas for plywood flooring on Houzz too - check it out here.

I really like the plywood that has been cut in 12" strips.  Photo: hindsvik.com

Love this high gloss shine!  Photo: livemodern.com

These wood grain patterns add interest & detail. Photo: curbly.com

CFLs, Dangers of Mercury - and Switching to LEDs

I like to do the right thing environmentally, but  I absolutely hate the light given off by CFLs. Not to mention, I'm sure people throw them in the garbage - which is a no-no because it adds mercury to the environment. I can only imagine how many CFLs are sold by IKEA every year that are later thrown in the garbage.

Why all the fuss? Well, I did some research and this is what if found: CFLs contain about 5 milligrams of a neurotoxin called mercury. An EPA-funded study found that one gram of mercury deposited in a 20 acre lake is enough to contaminate the fish and make them unfit to eat. The reason mercury is so dangerous to humans, wildlife and the environment is that mercury is toxic in many forms and can easily transfer from air to soil and to water. The recycling industry estimates that in 2007 about 400 million CFLs were purchased in the USA but only 2% were recycled. That's 320 million CFLs in the trash.

So recently, I ordered the new Switch LED 100 watt bulb to try. It is a first that it comes in a 100 watt.  It is very pricey now and I will definitely only be buying one for now, but like all new technology, the price will eventually go down. At the current price it will take me at least 6 months for payback but hey, it's for science and the environment!

The 75-watt Switch bulb is dimmable, can be used in a recessed fixture or in an enclosed fixture, in damp locations and lasts 25,000 hours. It looks most like an Edison bulb and could even be used without a shade.

Which do you prefer?

Designing a Dream Closet - Storage Solutions for You, too!

I recently helped a client repurpose a spare bedroom into her dream closet - what a fun project! The nearly 100-year-old home still boasted the original 10-inch baseboards, which we freshened with creamy white paint and used new molding to match pieces damaged over the years. 

The walls are painted sunny yellow and a large window brings in plenty of natural light. We installed shelving to house stacks of sweaters, plenty of hanger rods for shirts, blouses and jackets, and shoe rack to keep her favorite kicks within reach.