Saturday, May 14, 2016

Candid Cam-era

There are probably a finite number of possible ways to open a wooden box, but designers delight in exploring the options to see what’s possible.  Part of the challenge in creating a new design is also in making the novelty invisible, so the box doesn’t necessarily look any different.  Another is to create a mechanism which defies expectation, so it remains undiscovered if you are mentally limited by your prior experiences.  Eric Fuller is good at designing puzzles with both of these features.  It also helps that he is a master at precision woodworking so he can turn these devious designs into solid reality.

The Cam Box by Eric Fuller

His “Cam Box” was a follow up to his original set of “Splined Boxes” and as such retains the general appearance of a 2.75 inch square cube, but without any splines this time.  The Cam Box has mahogany tongue in groove joinery around the sides and lovely recessed quilted maple burl panels on the top and bottom.  It would “seem” to have certain limitations and expected movements. The box requires about 6 “moves” to open, but like all of Fuller’s boxes, there is something unusual which needs to be discovered along the way in order to proceed.  It’s a beautiful box and great puzzle which will have even seasoned puzzlers stumped for at least a little while. 

Beautiful quilted maple and mahogany

The Cam Box recently joined me “on location” to one of the best bars in America.  Set in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego and styled like a 1920’s apothecary emporium, “Polite Provisions” feels like a thoroughly modern bar but with all the comfort, beauty and ease of a past era.  It has an open air design with lots of light, white tiles, shiny brass, art nouveau accents and incredible details to discover all around.   The staff are welcoming and evoke a hospitality which makes you feel like they already know you.  The co-owner and celebrity mixologist Erick Castro is known for his “vintage minimalist” cocktail creations which have become modern classics.  It’s no wonder the bar has been named Cocktail Bar of the Year along with many other similar accolades, including a recent James Beard nomination.  

The Ken Burn's Effect by Erick Castro

For the “Cam Box”, I selected Castro’s “Ken Burns Effect”, an elegantly balanced whiskey cocktail featuring rye, oloroso sherry, maraschino liqueur and angostura bitters.  He describes it as “full-bodied on the palate with flavors of walnut and dark cherry”.  Sounds pretty good, and it is.  The “Ken Burns effect” is a reference to a technique used often and well in many of the famous filmmaker’s documentaries, whereby he will slowly pan across a still photograph, often zooming in selectively on a face or detail, and thus bringing the photo to life.  In the cocktail, Castro pans across the selected ingredients as well, slowly bringing them forward as the drink comes to life.  Pairing the Ken Burns Effect with the Cam Box is a bit of a photographic trick as well on my part, but I’ll leave that mystery for those who know and not spoil the film.  Here’s to hand crafted hospitality, beautiful bars, and clever creations.  Cheers!

Smile for the Cam-eras

For more about Eric Fuller:

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For prior boxes and booze featuring the incredible work of Eric Fuller please see:

For more whiskey cocktails please see:

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