John J with Matthew Robert White

Matthew Robert White, Pop-Up Retail for Valentines – Black Roses

I know exactly how Matthew Robert White makes the Black Roses he sells in his Pop Up Retail Outlets on Roncesvalles High Park and in that rinky dink farmer’s market on Sorauren Ave at Wabash Ave in Toronto, because I showed him how to do it.
Black Rose Valentines, Matthew Robert White

John J with Matthew Robert WhiteAt the Sorauren Farmer’s Market, there is a local beekeeper selling a wax rose standing beside Matthew Robert White holding his bitumen covered black rose, which you cannot really see that clearly against his dark jacket, but i believe the picture expands if you click it. The wax rose is perfect crafty valentine and will be a hot item in Matt’s store.

The secret to popup retail is hosting timely events that resonate with some distinct part of society at a particular time of the year.  Valentines Day is a great opportunity for sell all different types of roses and chocolates and romantic gifts. But this article is about people making different types of roses,including dried roses and even copper metal roses which are great variations on a theme that might not be as relevant to society another other day of the year. Popup retail is huge trend now as the events can double as internet attractions and travel coupon destinations.

Ired roses dipped in flat roofing tar wrote about how I made Black Roses for Valentines on Smart Canucks and this left this piece on D.I.Y bitumen covered roses on Medium last week by photographing and comprehensively documenting a visit to their their tarpots which are known in the industry as ‘tar boilers’, but which are in fact filled with 500 degree bitumen. Dave the flat roofer at the ToughRoof flat roofing job site in Toronto gave me lots of good information and was very accommodating and even   delved even deeper in the science of the operation on this post on Fuel Ghoul which is my chemical science theme Typepad blog.

Roofing tar may contain coal tar but is mostly petroleum bitumen especially with Canada being blessed with the tar sands in Alberta. This material is certainly a by product of that refining process.

dave beside solid unmelted roofing tar, petroleum bitumen

Roofing tar is solid at room temperature. It gets delivered to the job as a black solid block that when heated to 500 degrees becomes an oily liquid used on flat roofs to fix leaks. It is made from coal tar and petroleum byproducts. Coal tar is a deep brown or black residue, which is made during coal production process. Coal tar must be refined and processed to meet standards for roofing use.

Dave tarring rosesToughRoof seals, bonds or repair areas on the roof that damaged or are slowly deteriorating. Newer formulations of roofing tar are asbestos free, but may contain solvents, surface adherents, plastics and mineral fillers/fibers. Coal tar roof cement is applied by trowel, while other types of roofing tars are applied like paint or caulk.

Most roofing tar formulas are black in color, but some manufacturers have also created versions in lighter colors like silver and white. Some brands of roofing tar can be painted when dry to match the roof’s original color scheme. Roofing tar can be removed by using a tar remover, but removers may cause damage to certain roofing surfaces.

The black rose is certainly beautiful and has inspired both pop-up holiday retailers and copy cats

beautiful black rose

Local Basement Waterproofing Contractor also makes Valentines Day Rose

Bill Korenowsky of Royal Waterproofing is a basement waterproofing contractor in Toronto who also made up some custom treated roses for Valentines Day, but its probably not something Matthew would deign to sell in his fashionable pop-up stores.

Bill Korenowsky with Waterproof Rose

Bill Korenowsky with Waterproof Rose

Bill dipped roses in Bakor Aqua-Bloc® 770-06 which is a one component elastomeric waterproofing compound designed to replace conventional hot mop felt ply and/or pre-formed sheeting systems. It is applied in a single application, which cures through solvent evaporation to provide a heavy-duty, seamless,  rubber-like impervious membrane. This is a liquid applied waterproof product that is good for year round use.

dipping red roses in waterproofing compound

Dipping red roses in waterproofing compound with Bill Korenowski of Royal Waterproofing in Toronto.

Excellent for use on concrete, masonry foundation walls, parking decks, planters and reflective pools its not that great for flowers.  Contractors use with Yellow Jacket reinforcing fabric to treat cracks and joints but the mixture is too stiff to penetrate the plant’s crevices. Heavy bodied trowel grade coating this stuff probably does a wonderful job on cement to provide seamless rubberized asphalt membrane, but it’s terrible for roses.

red rose plastic membrane from waterproofing contractor

In the language of flowers, black roses signify death, or supreme hatred, but a perfectly preserved red rose could symbolize a perpetual romance, and a supernaturally strong enduring love that defies nature.

Waterproofed roses might be considered kitschy or artificial but such a product would satisfy a gift givers desire for originality and quality messaging. The idea of preserving the flower’s beauty in a transparent or beautifully coloured body cast is universally appealing to retailers and romantics.

 

 

Spray foam guys insulate upscale Toronto

What is it like to be a spray foam guy?  There is a good story on Bizcovering magazine with an inside look at life as a spray foam insulation guy in Toronto and the piece used some pictures seen below.  This is Tim, a spray tech, who is also the truck driver and generator operator.  He’s on site to meet me first thing in the morning, opening up the back of the company truck and getting ready to help his teammate, the prime applicator. The prime is the rock star spray foam applicator who has had lots of training in the fine art of insulating residential houses with polyurethane rigid foam insulation. The pictures below shows Rob Campbell’s ride along on Oct 22nd to document a Toronto spray foam insulation company at work insulating a new home construction in a posh Forest Hill neighbourhood.

Opening Sprayfoam truck , day in the life  of spray foam guy

Spray foam insulation is an excellent albeit more expensive choice for home insulation.  The cost is minimum $3 per square foot of wall and roof, and the price varies depending on whether its open cell or closed cell foam being installed. Spray foam comes in two varieties, open-cell and closed-cell composition, and both types have different properties which make them good for one thing or another.. i might explain. Of the two options, closed-cell foam is the better insulator. Once cured, it also becomes a vapor retarder (because the tiny cells are closed moisture cannot enter the foam). but its disadvantage is price and weight.  Its heavy and expensive and sometimes you dont need that much insulation , and sometimes its too much and open cell is better.  Open cell foam has open bubbles Open-cell foam has a lower R-value, and acts as more of an air temperature and acoustic barrier; open cell foam is not an effective vapor barrier. Open cell foam is lighter, less dense and cheaper (because less material is used as it expands larger) and is applied as interior wall home insulation in places where moisture isn’t a variable.

Below Montana Mike puts on a full has-mat suit with respiratory system, boots and gloves, helmet and visor. Its intense.

put on suit for spray foam insulation application, back of truck,

Like any good chemical reaction there are some rather noxious chemicals produced as a bi-product of spray foam reaction between Isocyanates and the Walltite resin, both components are prepared by BASF and detailed on Fuel Ghoul blog about spray foam insulation in Toronto which outlines the process by which a Graco H40 component proportioner heats and pumps both liquids to the sprayer unit whereupon they combine at the nozzle tip of the gun.

mixing spray foam components together on job site with Graco H-40 Plural Component Reactor

The two substances must be hot when they combine to create the best chemical effect, and to make the best R-value rigid foam insulation. In the photo below, the tech tweaks a Graco H-40 Hydraulic Series Plural Component Reactor‘s front panel , adjusting temperature on the 12.0 kW heater in the machine. From residential foam insulation projects to high-volume commercial projects, Graco brand proportioners are a mainstay in the mobile spray foam industry. This rig alone, not including the truck and generator could cost about thirty five thousand dollars and comes with fifty foot of hose, and ten feet of heated whip and a Fusion AP  spray gun applicator.

Graco H-40 Hydraulic Series Plural Component Reactor With 20.4 kW Heater

Spray foam insulation is a bit of phenomenon especially here in Canada partly due to celebrity endorsements the home renovation TV shows that have propelled spokespeople to fame and fortune. These TV personalities have made deals with spray foam insulation manufacturers to endorse the product as being green and environmentally responsible, energy efficient, and 100 % cost effective – all of which is true.

spray foam tech basement wall headers in Forest Hill neighbourhood TorontoAll the same, spray foam insulation has been in the news lately and the people and processes have been called into question by a CBC Marketplace TV news doc that shows ‘how spray foam can go very wrong’ by examining the unlivable homes of unhappy customers.

The History Spray Foam Insulation

Otto Bayerm Germanchemieist who created polyurethane riigid foamWhat we know today as rigid foam insulation was invented in the 1950s by the German scientist Otto Bayer. He was trying to come up with something to replace rubber tires. He was eventually quite successful, but polyurethane wasn’t used to make wheels until the 1970s . Today the wheels under the folding metal steps of modern escalators are made of polyurethane, as are skateboard wheels.

Polyurethane has been around for about sixty years now – it has history stretching back to Germans scientists who pioneered many synthetics before World War II.  They were searching for synthetic textiles, rubber and silk. Twelve years after the war ended, in 1957 Otto Bayer and a German research team made advances with alkyd resins when they modified them with diisocyanates for the first time and made coatings and the first ever rigid foam products.  Today, anyone that has ever taken high school shop class, or refinished furniture, or stained a deck knows something about urethane wood finishes and the hard substance created when it hardens on the brush.

spray foam technician doing basement headers in Toronto Here is the crew starting work insulating the basement of a new home in Forest Hill.  They start at the bottom of the building doing the exterior wall ‘headers’. The team takes over the job site for a few hours each day and they often work lunches and late into the evening to be there when the other contractors are absent.  These guys are very careful not to expose any other tradespeople to the noxious gasses often created during the spray foam application process (I had to wear a breathing mask, visor and cover-alls as I followed the applicator around the basement).

Spray Foam in Toronto

Fuel Ghoul reports that the Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association (CUFCA) estimates that spray foam insulation was installed in approx 350,000 homes in Canada last year, a number that has been growing by 33 percent every year over the last decade. Part of the product’s appeal is that, when properly installed, spray foam insulation can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to fifty (50) per cent, according to the Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association (CUFCA) and so this really is advanced chemistry at work.

2011 Antique Bottles Show and Sale in Toronto

The history of the industrial age is written in glass. The ‘slug plates’ that make the embossed labels in Canadian whiskey, soda, dairy, liquor and medicine bottles, read like pages in a book.  The names of the merchants and the contents of the vessels are from a simpler time of men and machines.

There is no better place to study this history then at a large bottle show in an urban center. The area’s most valuable glass is on display and the dealers are storytellers with lots of rare and precious knowledge locked up in their heads.

The annual Toronto Bottle Show, was Sunday April 17th 2011.

Dwight Fryer, UK and European poisons at the bottle show

The annual Toronto Bottle Show event is produced by the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors, one of Canada’s oldest and most respected clubs.  On this wet and rainy Sunday afternoon, more than forty antiques dealers tables proffered over 5,000 glass bottles, crocks, jugs, cans, cards, comics and period advertising pieces on tables inside the Humber College gymnasium.

In the picture above you can see Dwight Fryer sitting behind a massive collection of pretty blue and green ‘window bottles’.  These are actually poison bottles and he’s one Canada’s foremost poison bottles experts – almost all of the very pretty cobalt blue and green and amber glass you see here was priced to sell quickly between $30 and $50 each, and Dwight was selling off these gorgeous glass bottles hand over fist. It was a moment in time.

If you study glass bottles you’ll find there’s no better place to see such a huge assembly of everything that’s decent and worthy of display in the antique glass bottle collecting discipline.  Here’s some of the great stuff.torpedo bottles and terry matz on display at 2011 Toronto Bottle Show

These are absolute treasures – look here at the aqua green and cobalt blue torpedo bottles in Terry Matz display case . These are all dated between 1855 -1885 and they are all super rare. The average price for any bottle in that display case is approx $1200.  The guy sitting behind all those pretty torpedo bottles is Terry Matz, and he’s an expert and very passionate storyteller.

Dumpdiggers like Newf have large collections of salt glazed stoneware

salt glazed stoneware 2 gallon jug - merchant J.Steele, Brantford Potterymetal signs at the 2011 Toronto Bottle Show, Ed LockeThere not making anymore of these salt glazed stoneware jugs.

A real sweet spot for buying antique bottles,

Old advertising signs are growing harder to find and more valuable because they look great in modern offices and condominiums. The contrast between the new building and old signs is cool. The white walls need old paper posters, framed glass pictures and painted metal panels , and two or three colour wood or good condition cardboard advertisements. There are a lot of freshly painted white walls in our society that need embellishing with antique signs

People generally bring really rare, one-of-a-kind pieces to the bottle show.

The fellow named Ed Locke, seen in the photo to the right, brought in a Solnhofen Stone printing slab which was used in the early days of lithographic printing – $150 this piece shows an early advertisement for a Brandon Manitoba brewery which is also extremely rare.seen below

Solnhofen stone, lithographic printing, advertism,ent, Brandon, Manitoba, brewery

This is real early lithographic printing technology with a period  advertisement stamped on the surface of the limestone.  The piece stands as a reminder of how far we have come; there is a lot of water under the bridge in the evolution of this platform to the digitally replications done today. Our modern printable coupons have barcodes and expiry dates. To make such a system in the 1800s would mean hand carving a new stone for every coupon issued  Yet there are examples of the world’s first discount media buyers doing exactly that in the early 1900s. This exremely fine limestone block may only be obtained from one quary in Solnhofen Germany.

The history of pop bottles and beer bottles is another fascinating chapter in this Canadian history book. The screw cap is a very recent invention, and today’s most dominant closure method.

H. CHRISTIN stoneware ginger beer bottle, crackled glaze, OttawaThe closure mechanisms slowly evolved from simple corks to cod stoppers and complex ‘gravitating stoppers’, hinged plugs and Charles G. Hutchinson’s five bottle-stopper patents.

Here’s a cream and tan stoneware ginger beer bottle from a proprietor named H. Christin who was a brewer in Ottawa in the 1880s. This vessel was made by Brantford Pottery right here in Ontario, or  ‘Upper Canada’ as it was then known.

This bottle had a cork stopper and from this point forward there would be many different closures vying to be the dominant method. The crown cap became industry standard for this type of beverage in the 1920s.

Sharpen your eyes for cottage kitsch

Cottagers know that Kitcsh is King and the most simple furnishings and colourful trappings look great in cottages. The bottle show has lots of stuff with charm and character like some Mennonite furniture and folk art,

The chemistry of our culture dictates that cottages needs campy collectibles to feel cozy.

Modern muskoka cottage needs kitsch to look more like a cottageThe modern Muskoka cottage suffers from being too sophisticated, clean and culturally void of character

Each new domicile in the Muskoka Lakes needs large amounts of kitsch to look and feel more quaint. So many of the million dollar mansions that border Lake Muskoka are ultra modern constructions. They’re not made of pine or poplar anymore – they’re not timber frame houses at all, but rather insulated concrete forms , steel and glass monstrosities.  They lack the quaint charm of a cottage and often feel too sanitary. They dont have the charm of a family cottage, but rather feel like a house in the suburbs.

Things that look great in new cottages include,  utilitarian items like 1950’s 60s and 70s kitchenware and beer coolers, antique fishing lures, vintage boating equipment, art deco furniture and native crafts. These items find ready buyers in antique markets and in online auctions

I wrote a longer and more detailed account of the 2011 Toronto Bottle Show on Dumpdiggers blog; it’s about ten pages of text with over twenty pictures. The piece profiles 15 of the 35 dealers present at the show.