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Goings on at the Because We Cannery

The Long Now Salon - Under Construction!

We are just beginning to break ground on the Long Now Salon project. The office and museum space is vacated, and the demolition has begun! 005_Final copy

If you are not familiar with The Long Now Foundation, they are an amazing non profit like no other; dedicated to the fostering of long term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years. Their lecture and event series is not one to be missed.

Because, like any non-profit, they are relying on donations, they have created a "Brick-Starter" of their own to help fund this Salon project with a several different pledging opportunities.

As this will be a Salon to commune with your peers over cerebral topics while enjoying a contemplative drink, the pledging tiers are complete with a complexly flavored Tea, Whiskey and Gin, among other things. The consumables all have wonderful stories of their production (as well as their taste). They are each an experience of long contemplation, either solo or with a group. This will truly be an interesting place to spend an evening.


But the Salon space is not just for the evenings. Our designs for the space use the wonderful natural light that comes in through the historic windows of this Fort Mason building. The light illuminates their extensive library of civilization, the documentation of their ongoing projects, and the impressive clock prototypes on display. The Salon will have it's daytime hours, just as it did before, but now with the space to host small events and talks.

E017_Final copy

In the evening the Long Now Salon will extend its hours. For those of you who could not get there during its daytime schedule, you will have the opportunity to spend some quality time within this Museum of The Long Now, as an evening Salon.

And The Salon will be complete that much sooner if you are able to help build it. Thank you!


Jillian Northrup
A few things from Maker Faire

Maker Faire was another grand success last weekend. We had a blast of course! We were able to snap a few photos while we were there of the projects we helped design and create. Like these two Skee Ball machines! IMG_2915

They were a great hit with the kids and took quite a beating....


We also made a new accessory for the serpent twins project... These tablet stands that let you control the internal lights from outside the serpent. They were specifically made for all the shows the Serpents have been going to lately.



When not in the bright sun, they are also good for showing promotional movies on the project.


See you next year Maker Faire!

Jillian Northrup
Maker Faire 2013

Maker Faire is this weekend! We will be there to show off the Serpent Twins project, as well as a few other surprises.

So in celebration of Maker Faire we thought we would do a retrospective of photos featuring the MAKE chairs we made for the Faire back in 2007. They are still in use, usually on one of the stages.... see if you can spot them this year!

Maker Faire, Austin - 2007 IMG_1986.JPG

Maker Faire, SF Bay Area- 2008 IMG_3399

Maker Faire, SF Bay Area- 2007 IMG_6371.JPG

Maker Faire, SF Bay Area 2009 IMG_7102

See you there!

Jillian Northrup
Internal Marketing Wall for ClifBar

We have been lucky enough to work with ClifBar again on another internal marketing wall for their Emeryville office location. This one focused on the Womens' Mountain Biking Team they sponsor, and integrated an aesthetic of reclaimed barn wood juxtaposed with clean lines.IMG_2406

This wall was coincidentally right next to another office wall we did. That one was a promotional wall for their internal philanthropy work, done with a 1950's diner theme and reclaimed bike parts. IMG_2410

The LunaChix wall (named after their LunaBar line) incorporates overlapping frames, a movable time line, Bike Jersey holders, a map of where the teams are located and a giant overhead sign. IMG_2404

This row of frames will act as a timeline for showing which bike team is in the lead. IMG_2425

Working with the client, we designed the aesthetic and functionality of these items. The timeline frames can slide easily along their rail with these small clips we've added to the back. IMG_2441

For the Map, we chose to use an oiled Walnut face, and then carve the state lines into it. IMG_2417

We did this so the soft material behind the veneer can accept the pins to showcase the team locations. IMG_2439

We used the same material to make these striking jersey holders IMG_2440

By creating a system to hang and overlap the barnwood frames, photos in the frames can be easily switched out when needed. IMG_2426

For the larger wood frames, we added a laser-cut wood name attached to the side: IMG_2422

And finally, the large barnwood sign. We made this custom barnwood sign by dying the wood after fabricating its shape, so the variation in the wood slats can shine through. IMG_2418

Jillian Northrup
Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate Ship for Me!

We are working on a very fun office interior renovation for an independent game studio in New York. At the end of last year we were heavy in design phase... doing things like this:


....and now we are heavy in fabricating pirate ships!


Working closely with this small office, we created a new look for their office of many rooms. This big fabrication run is for one of their larger rooms where everyone sits, which we are turning into a nautical paradise. The photo above is a prototype for ships that will straddle cube walls and provide shade against noon day glaring sun.

Here is our original concept drawing...

C:\Users\Jillian Northrup\Documents\Project1.pdf

The larger ships are part of a set of screens for and undefined hallway to give it some privacy and interest.

C:\Users\Jillian Northrup\Documents\DeskScreens.pdf

There are stacks and stacks of ships!


And don't forget... waves for the ships. Or they won't get anywhere!

Jillian Northrup
Obama's shout out

An additional promotional article posted in the SF Chronicle over the weekend mentions us in the same sentence as President Obama. We'll take that. "When President Obama gave a shout out to 3-D technology and its potential to revolutionize U.S. manufacturing in his State of the Union speech last month, he might as well have been talking about Jillian Northrup and Jeffrey McGrew of Oakland, (California). The principals of the architectural design-build studio Because We Can are harnessing the increasingly affordable power of robotics to create whimsical custom furniture and fixtures for Bay Area clients, including gaming company Three Rings, producers of the popular computer game Puzzle Pirates. They also created a buzz with this mad scientist's office, complete with cat transport tube, designed for Eric and Sue Johnston of San Francisco and built using Frank, a Shopbot CNCRouter.

For more on the couple and their quirky studio, click here."


Jillian Northrup
Trees and vines for the kitchen

To match the dining room chairs we made for this client a while back, we recently added some tall pantry doors and screens for the existing cabinets. The dining chairs we made are a set of all different patterns incorporating a tree design motif on the back.


Because the chairs are a focus point of the room, the client wanted a few custom elements for the adjoining kitchen to it all together.


We made a couple of these screens to cover plain areas of the cabinets. IMG_1786

And then created a design that matched the chairs for their larger pantry doors.


Once the framing surround for the cabinets goes in this will all be complete!


Jillian Northrup
Friday, March 1st, BWC 2013 Winter Open House

Winter is almost over (yay!) and it's not freezing in the shop anymore. So stop by and help us join in the fun!

We are opening our doors for Because We Can's Winter 2013 open house.

We'll be starting early at 5PM and going until 8PM-ish.

All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

We'll be celebrating and showing off recent projects completed and those underway. It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us.

We'll have some snacks, some drinks, many new projects to show, and more.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, March 1st

5PM - 8PM

2500 Kirkham St Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 922-8846

Click here for the Google Map.

Jeffrey McGrew
Bike Rack Design

Here is a quick and fun design idea for a bike rack. MindSnac

Slowly raising the bikes in a continuous wave pattern so they fit and pleasantly fill the space under existing stairs.


Jillian Northrup
Bloom inspired Light Shades

For a loft renovation project in downtown San Francisco, we designed light shades inspired by blooming flowers. IMG_0618

Lots of other things are happening in this project, but for now I am just showing off the light shades. They came out really nicely and make a big difference already to the space!


Large frosted bulbs allow us to have the bottom of the shade exposed, and show off the details inside. When you look up at the shade you can see the aluminum plates that suspend above. The patterns cut into the plates throw fun shadows onto the ceiling.


Of course, the different patterns throw different shadows above.


We had a fun time designing these. Not one shade is alike, as the overlapping frosted panels fall in a different orientation on each. The patterned aluminum is unique on each as well. More to come on this project as it progresses!


Jillian Northrup
The LongNow Gin Tasting

As we've mentioned before, we are helping The Long Now renovate their space at Fort Mason by adding a Bar and Event Space into the existing museum. The Long Now is a non-profit who's mission is to creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

This new space is part of that mission. To help raise funds for this project, they have collaborated with non other than St George Spirits to produce a Gin from the Juniper Bushes at their clock site.

There are so many cool links in the above sentences I cannot even believe it.

Anyway, January 23rd, you can taste this amazing Gin and help support the project by coming to the Gin Tasting event at Fort Mason!


We will be there talking about the new designs, and generally mingling. Hope to see you there!


Jillian Northrup
Newly installed Cat Transit System (CTS)

Our latest improvement to the Mad Scientist Home Workshop project just got its first cat friendly transportation.Just look at this happy customer:


The tube system travels over the desks,


around three of the four walls, allowing cats to access the top of the Maker armoire.


There are viewing ports for engaging with humans though,


and hidden access points.


As well as lots of details to make it aesthetically pleasing. Including this operable wheel!


The first step to greater cat mobility throughout the room is here!


Jillian Northrup
Autodesk University chess tables

Autodesk University was last week, where we had a great time taking cool classes, meeting new people and giving a presentation on Digital Fabrication. We also helped out this year by making a few tables for the Digital Fabrication Lounge area. IMG_0327

There were Checkers tables: IMG_0331

Chess tables: IMG_0417

And a Go table: IMG_0349

We carved different designs and text over each table... IMG_0358

And made matching stools: IMG_0293

Did you notice that the stool and table bases spell out "AU"? IMG_0272

See Jeffrey talk a bit more about the tables on the Core 77 blog here

Jillian Northrup
Serpent Twins visit Peralta Junction

The Serpent Twins took a visit to Peralta Junction a week ago, and you should too before they close! IMG_2177

Peralta Junction is a great pop-up outside venue filled with live music, vendors and games. We look a night time trip there, but they are open during the day too on the weekends.

The Serpents were looking mighty fine that night in their glowing glory.



Who know what you will see there!

Jillian Northrup
The LongNow's new salon space

We have been involved with The Long Now for years. They are just too cool for us to stay away. But recently they asked us to help them design their new salon space. Of course we accepted! Their current space has an open office over a museum and book store that shows off all their various projects. They also try to use the space for receptions after their very successful lecture series they hold in a nearby theater within Fort Mason. They noticed that there are more people having more interesting conversations in these receptions, so they want to turn the space into one that could accommodate this use all the time.

We have been working closely with them to make the new layout a modular design that will fit their unique needs.


By day, the space will serve as museum, library, event space, and coffee bar. It will allow for The Long Now to expand upon their very successful lecture series into smaller, more intimate events.

By night a cerebral salon space that serves inspired cocktails and promotes conversations through the exhibits on display.


To help fund the project, artisanal bottles of Gin and Whiskey are being made by St. George Spirits, using the Juniper berries and botanicals from the clock site.


If you purchase one of these bottles, it will be kept at the salon, in traditional Japanees Bottle Keep style, for you to enjoy there. The bottle will be lowered down to you from the ceiling, where all the bottles are kept, like a full ceiling chandelier.



We are looking forward to seeing this project go into construction. And it will happen sooner if you all purchase a bottle!


It will not only serve as a fund raising vehicle for the non-profit, but act within the community and larger society to help further the primary goal of the Long Now: to foster and encourage long term thinking.

You can see our full project page for more images here. And find out more about how to support The Long Now salon here!

Jillian Northrup
Welcome to the new site!

We've just migrated our site from Drupal 6 to the new Drupal 7. Huzzah! We took the opportunity to fix some outstanding issues & revise our theme. It's a snazzy new one that auto-adjusts for device and looks awesome on tablets (and soon smartphones). We'd love to know what you think of it! A few minor tweaks to go, so things will be a little fluid for a bit.

What better time to take your site down and redo it when everyone isn't looking due to the election?

Jeffrey McGrew
We had some Halloween fun....

Jeffrey and I had some Halloween fun last week, designing and making our outfits with lots of flair additions made on Frank. The costumes were very esoteric: "Miskatonic University Archaeologists".


We made a box for each of us. An apparatus used to scan the local vegetation and inhabitants. They glowed an unnatural color from within and allowed for lots of 'fine tuning' with their dials and buttons (and they doubled as as a small bag).


We carved aluminum plates to add authenticity to the boxes.


And a large plate to adorn the leather strap.



Finally, a final touch of matching emblems for our hats. IMG_2054

Hope you had a great Halloween too!

Jillian Northrup
Interviews in the Shop!

Last week a small film crew took over our shop for a while, taking lots of video for one of our projects.During which, Jeffrey got interviewed..... IMG_1725

And so did Frank! IMG_1684

Jeffrey McGrew