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2009 February | Tomita Designs

Ryan Thomson Chaboo

February 26th, 2009 by admin

Chaboo artist Ryan Thomson works at giant architecture firm ZGF and also rides for high end cycling gear maker RAPHA. There is an interesting article in the Oregonian about their unusual marketing strategy.

A band of cyclists — fast but not pro, thoughtful but not geeky, a touch wacky — embarked on America’s most epic rides. They pushed hard, but not so hard they missed wildflowers and cafes. They fixed their own flats. And their journeys were documented online, creating a real-life sports drama.

From the look of Ryan’s beard (in back), I don’t think they are allowed to rest even to shave…   A bird might mistakenly nest in that thing.  So anyways, his chaboo idea was to do a double tiered construction.  He brought over some drawings and I built him the parts.  He then took those parts and went to work.

He cut the chaboo parts at an angle with a taper jig on the tablesaw.  His original plan was to pepper it with fasteners but he decided to go with a more simple look on the fly.

I leave you with the bio he submitted for the ProjectChaboo website.

“well, shucks, i like to make things, fix things, modify things. i start projects, sometimes i finish them…”

Nell Warren Chaboo

February 24th, 2009 by admin

My ol friend Nell Warren is an accomplished artist who has figured out a way to create a chaboo and also use one for her work.  Her idea is for a chaboo in constant process!  She brought in some old letterpress drawers and I modified them to fit into the chaboo.  She collects little shavings from her paint pallet and organizes them in obsessive fashion into these tiny little compartments.  Yes, she is a nerd…

The surface of the chaboo is used as a pallete as she works.  She carves into the top to create her little collectible shavings resulting in this beautiful, every changing composition.  She loves her chaboo so much she has decided to not put it up for sale.

Ok, no one actually READS any of what I write.  Just looking at pictures, watching videos…  So here ya go- video~

Nell Warren Interview from Ken Tomita on Vimeo.

Amy Ruppel’s Deer Chaboo part1

February 18th, 2009 by admin

Designer/artists extroardinare Amy Ruppel is doing a deer chaboo in a collaboration between myself, her, and Joe Mansfield.  She approached me with some drawings of using a cutout deer silhouette as the center spline of the chaboo and some hand cut felt placed on the chaboo.

Joe had told me about an idea last year of  inlaying lasercut felt perfectly into a laser cut recess so that the felt lays flush with the surface but we had never actually done it.  Realizing this technique would be perfect for Amy we headed to Joes laser shop to discuss.  Hes the best at doing weird and fun things with the laser!  Here are Amys drawings for her chaboo.

Project Chaboo is such a great excuse to do cool experimental things that we never get around too cause we’re too busy trying to make money.
radiusing the deer from Ken Tomita on Vimeo.

I had Amy make a template for me out of 1/4″ MDF.  I then used a straight bit with a bearing to copy that form onto 3/4″ baltic birch plywood.  Here I am radiusing Amy Ruppel’s deer with a 1/16″ roundover bit on the router table.

Amy taking off with her deer.  Bring it back please!


Amy steals the deer from Ken Tomita on Vimeo.

Deer adventure to be continued…

process, by corbin keech.

February 17th, 2009 by admin

the design for my chaboo was conceived in a matter of minutes. this is somewhat atypical for someone like myself, whose instincts are to think, experiment, and think some more. instead, my process started quickly and without much deliberation. assuming my chaboo stands and isn’t a terrific failure, i may have turned over a new leaf.

several weeks ago Juno Lackman had mentioned ken’s project to me. it seemed like an interesting idea, but i wasn’t sure if i had the time or the energy to participate. a few weeks and a lost job later, an email from juno arrives, alerting me that ken had one chaboo left and i had better call him immediately or my tiny window would close. within an hour i was in ken’s shop, sharing with him my ideas conceived on the bus ride over. perhaps the stars would align.

despite my complete lack of preparation and thought, this process has been, oddly enough, comfortable. design is occasionally exhausting, but almost always a thrill. the most satisfying work i’ve contributed to thus far has involved a similar ethic - work quickly. collaborate heavily. be physically, mentally and emotionally engaged. presumably good things will result.

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initially, i wanted to make simple adjustments to the original chaboo. i wanted to play with it, manipulate its simple form, and slightly change its elegant proportion. in other words, i simply wanted to compose something.

through this process, i eventually broke the chaboo into three parts.



moving between sketches and 3d study, the ‘playfulness’ started to get a little out of hand, and the whimsy was overwhelming any effort on my part to be clever.

three elements would require a ’spine’ to join them again - too complicated?
perhaps if i reduce the chaboo to two elements instead of three?
how do you reconfigure the chaboo once you split it in half?
do you split it in half?
once the chaboo is split/broken, how much of the original is retained?
does one replicate the original with a similar form/material? different? is it disrespectful to completely change the original piece?
can something this ‘fragmented’ even stand on its own weight?


one sketch provided a sensible resolution >

a simple idea emerges > the chaboo is reconfigured, but includes two ‘foreign’ elements - one that echoes the original form, and another that is completely divorced from the original.

no matter what, the additions to the chaboo cannot dominate the original. such a gesture would be inappropriate, disrespectful, and unnecessary. as a diagram, boldness in reconfiuration must be balanced by a concerted effort to restrain the expressiveness.


Chaboos and Mushrooms

February 14th, 2009 by admin

The things I do for my chaboo artists…..  In this case, Meg Scheminske is doing a chaboo with plant life all over it and I reached for the good ol power tools to make these mushrooms fit better against the chaboo.

beltsanding a mushroom from Ken Tomita on Vimeo.
Has anyone beltsanded a mushroom before?  It works quite well actually.  Just make sure the mushroom is thoroughly dried out and get a death grip on it.  Kinda dangerous cause its totally freehand…

This particular chaboo collaboration has been fun because we have worked together on it conceptually and in a practical sense by visiting the nursery.  I took over on the woodworking, routing out holes for the terrariums where I pleased.  They are spherical actually so 1/3 of it hangs underneath- pretty cool.  I then attached the mushrooms as I felt right.  Next, Meg took over and she reacted to what I had done through painting.

Pretty killer if you ask me….  but now, im nervous about keeping the plants alive.  I have the magic touch with dogs and building stuff but not with plants.  They always die on me.  Someone help~