TÄLJA by john cheng

Pause now.
Step aside from modern life.
Relax your mind with Tälja.

Are you stressed and looking for a creative outlet of sorts? Or maybe you just want a simple craft project. Tälja is a simple kit that provides all the materials you need to carve some wood all while relaxing your mind.

Creative meditation for human beings. Tälja – the swedish word for woodcarving and also the name of a special little woodcarving kit Buy Tälja at:

Tatsuru Rai: Soba Master by john cheng

Soba master Tatsuru Rai demonstrates the soba making process for this years Mad Symposium. Whose hungry for some soba now?

Tatsuru Rai is the owner and chef of Sobatei Rakuichi in Niseko, Hokkaido. He operates the 12-seat restaurant, considered one of the world’s great soba houses, with his wife Midori. He mixes, kneads, and cuts all of the buckwheat to order. He was the first person to appear on stage at the fourth annual MAD Symposium, in Copenhagen. Instead of giving a speech, Tatsuru demonstrated his craft in complete silence. Read more on the MADFeed:

Upholstered Furniture And A Desire To Learn by john cheng

I'm a strong believer in understanding how things work. How are things made, where are they made, what tools are needed, what craft is involved and etc. I used to believe that this type of thinking was the result of my years of education in an arts environment, but as of late, I've realized that this attitude and curiosity of mine was instilled by my father. My father used to take me to factories in Taiwan and show me where automotive parts were made. He taught me the process of production by showing me the machines that pressed sheets of steel in to shaped components that would fit into a car.

As a clear result of how my father has influenced me, I love watching process videos and seeing how things are made. Watch and see how upholstered furniture comes together piece by piece.

Thanks dad for instilling the desire to learn in me!

Aikuchi by john cheng

Australian designer Mark Newson teamed up with craftsmen from Japan's Tohoku area. Their goal with Aikuchi was to combine the minimal aesthetics of contemporary design and traditional skills of Japanese craftsmen. I think they succeeded.

The challenge in this project wasn't making something look good, but rather creating a true collaboration which meant a deeper understanding of each craft was necessary.

Inside the Shop: Alex Chavez by john cheng

Pictures from Bevel Code, Inside the Shop.

My fiancee for the longest time was trying to get me to style my hair. She tells me that she never really noticed me until I got a clean looking haircut, but laziness got the better of me and my hair got all crazy again. It wasn't until about a year ago, and much of her nagging, when I decided that I had enough of my crazy unkempt hair.

As a designer, I've always tried to keep up current with design trends by perusing through various lifestyle and design blogs. This is how I stumbled across Blind Barber. After looking through their site and finding out that I get a free cocktail with my haircut, I was sold. I dropped by and was hooked ever since. The vibe there is awesome and the barbers are all really laid back and chill.

Pictures from Bevel Code, Inside the Shop.

Pictures from Bevel Code, Inside the Shop.

Sometime people say the experience is everything, but Blind Barber isn't just an experience, they've got quality behind their craft. Alex Chavez, my barber at Blind Barber, is one of these such guys. Super chill and has got quality behind his craft. Bevel Code's Inside the Shop recently did an interview of him about how he got to where he is now and gives you more insight about the man behind the blade.

Pictures from Bevel Code, Inside the Shop.


If you need quality grooming and live in the Los Angeles area, check out Blind Barber in Culver City.

Blind Barber


Blok Knives by john cheng

There is something that is just extremely beautiful and inspiring when I watch knife makers perform their craft. It's such a dangerous thing to create, but at the end of it all the product is just so beautiful.

Ben Edmonds of Blok Knives is based in Derbyshire who produces very simple kitchen knives from carbon steel and wooden handles. Watch as he explains his process and musings.

Hattori Masanaga: Tsuba, Kozuka and Menuki Artisan by john cheng

I normally don't go clicking around randomly in Youtube, but I was happily surprised when I found this documentary about Hattori Masanaga who is a Tsuba, Kozuka and Menuki Artisan. Watch the video as he tells the story of his growing up while he intricately and expertly carves out beautiful patters and imagery.

Something that stuck out to me in this video was his learning process. He says in the video that when he unknowingly began his apprenticeship, he was never really taught how to do things. His mentor just told him to take some material, carve a line through it and once he was done, grind it away and start again. Masanaga only learned his craft by watching. Watching his mentor as well as the other apprentice work on their craft. This struck me as interesting, because looking back to how I learned, this is very much how I picked up some of the skill sets that I carry today. This is the reason why I watch so many process videos, to learn more and more in order to satiate my appetite for learning. Who knows, maybe I'll try carving a tsuba now.

This is truly craftsman ship at its finest. Taking pride in your work no matter what, is something that you don't see much anymore. I will be the first to come clean to that. Even though my job allows me to be creative, sometimes complaining gets in the way and my craft suffers. I hope in this new year, I will be better at taking pride in what I do and do it to the best of my ability as I hone my skills day to day just as Hattori Masanaga did in his earlier years.

Need Stocking Stuffers? Etched Wooden Spoons! by john cheng

Buying gifts is one of those stressful things on my to do list every year, but when crafty projects like this can be doubled as gifts, it makes life much easier and fun during the holidays.

Great idea by Amy Christie to take wooden spoons and etching into them. Check out her process!