February 27, 2021

Everyone is in a lot of calls these days. Phone calls, video calls, teams calls, zoom calls. We used to have meetings and now we have calls. The traditional way to stay alert (or to kill time) during a meeting, is to doodle. And for years, this was my preferred way to go through a meeting. I’m a prolific note taker, so doodling in the margins (or the whole page) was just another “note” in my mind. Like many designers, I’ve got notebooks full of doodles, some of which have revealed great ideas, cute illustrations or other worthy gems.

But now, my notes have shifted to text files, so there’s no more doodling. A sad side effect of never leaving my laptop behind for a meeting. In the before times, I’ve always preferred a hard copy notebook over any electronic device. It was a nod of respect to whoever was leading the meeting — sort of like leaving your smartphone face down (or never taking it out). It announces that I won’t be actively doing something else while I should be paying attention to the meeting. Maybe it’s generational.

So while I’m now no longer drawing in the margins, I’ve found myself — quite by accident — creating little mini sculptures during my meetings calls. After snacking on something at my desk, I end up chewing on a toothpick which acts as a kind of fidget spinner to distract part of my brain while I focus on design, coding or whatever is being said on the call. At some point, the toothpick will break and I’ll put the pieces down on the desk and start arranging them.

It all started innocently and unconsciously enough, but soon I was actively in the creative process and rearranging little pieces of wood again and again. It was really just an exploration of shapes and color in a sort of 2D/3D mix. I think the project has run it’s course and I’m done with these, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I should redraw the set? Here’s a video showing a bunch of the individual sculptures.


Note: No flies were hurt during the making of this film. The fly was not alive when I took the photo. I think it died of old age. I just found it’s corpse the integrated it into the sculpture.

Finally, I love toothpicks and could write an entire post about them, but let’s just leave it as: my favorite toothpicks are party picks.