When I got my Ultimaker, a little card fell out of the package, advertising a website for 3D printing enthusiasts called 3D Hubs. Here, individuals can list their 3D printers and take orders to print out parts for others in their city. The customer uploads their model through the website, and the hub in return for a reasonable fee prints the model within a specified time frame. I think this is a brilliant idea, especially as it can often take weeks to get something printed from one of the main printing bureaus. As a student or hobbyist, sometimes all you want is a quick prototype for visualising what your model would look like in real life, working to impossible seeming deadlines.
So, I decided to set up my own Hub – Geotronic Collective – and I am pleased to say so far my experience has been very positive. I have just finished my first two orders, and hopefully made two customers very happy. It has been an interesting experience for me too, printing two things that are so very different from my own work, each pushing the limits of what the UMO+ can achieve in terms of print quality and especially fine detail. Here is a print of a Fantasy Creature I did for digital artist Agneta Miskiv:
Initially I was worried about the very fine detail features of this print snapping off, especially the fingers and spikes on the back of the head. Because of the complexity of the model, I decided against using Cura to generate the support structures, and instead used open-source software Meshmixer, which is particularly good at creating custom supports. This is one thing that has been bothering me about Cura – not being able to edit support structures at the slicing stage, and instead having to rely on the software to get it right. In Meshmixer, there are a lot of adjustable parameters as well as custom profiles, then the software suggests a network of supports that can also be amended by the user as they see fit. A perfect combination between automation and control. There is a great tutorial on how to use Meshmixer on blog Extrudable Me, as unfortunately the documentation it comes with is not particularly helpful. I have found that sometimes the support suggested by the program can be a bit overkill, but the structures snap off very easily, often in one piece, which is a big advantage for delicate prints in particular. Hopefully more orders will come my way soon so I can continue my adventures in 3D printerland!
I am already getting very excited about the Body Embellishment Exhibition opening next month at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, where my Earconch will be on public display for the first time since my degree show at the Edinburgh College of Art in 2006. It will run from the 11th of April to the 6th of September – so plenty of time to marvel at the wonderful work on display. Fellow jewellers on display include greats such as Nora Fok, whose wonderful structural wefts with Nylon I have always adored. There is also a series of talks and events throughout the duration of the show.
I am so honoured to be a part of this exciting exhibition – here is a little feature in the style section of the Charlotte Observer which includes an image of my Earconch. If only I could afford to jet to the opening next month!
As some of you might have noticed, I am not the greatest at getting posts out quickly. I like the pressure of a looming deadline, hence always plan my projects so that I work right up to the wire. This blog is more about reflecting on past events rather than acting as a news bulletin of my practice.
So, this very exciting event I was asked to be part of happened almost four months ago – on the 21st and 22nd of November 2014. DJCAD in Dundee was hosting a satellite event as part of the Crafts Council’s “Make: Shift: Do” programme, aiming to introduce the general public to new forms of innovation in craft with a series of exciting talks by digital makers and trying to get everybody involved by offering hands-on workshops. In Dundee, my lovely colleague and fellow ESRC PhD scholar Joanne Bletcher curated part of the event and managed to put together an absolutely inspiring exhibition of digital craft in the foyer of the newly refurbished DJCAD Matthew building. The morning session of talks by fellow digital makers included highlights such as a demonstration of Lynsey Calder’s thermochromic tutu, and textile artist Collette Paterson’s amazingly tactile latex and felt creations. Read all about it and more on the Facebook page dedicated to the event!
I was very honored to be asked to lead a workshop on working with thermochromic silicone in the afternoon, as well as take part in the exhibition. Here are some impressions of the opening of the exhibition. Enjoy!
So, after deciding to go with the kit version of the Ultimaker Original +, the fun started at the beginning of December with the arrival of a pleasingly heavy box on my doorstep. At this point I would like to say that I absolutely love online shopping – the postman is to my mind a much improved version of Santa, delivering goodies to your doorstep all year round :).
Inside the box awaited three layers of components, with the laser cut plywood frame pieces at the very bottom. Getting these to my house unscathed had been my biggest worry, but luckily everything was well wrapped and nothing was damaged in transit.
But hold on! No packing list. I had literally no idea what anything was (only a few of the plastic bags were labelled) and so went into a mild state of panic. Luckily for the first step of the assembly process no instructions were needed – lightly sanding and painting the plywood parts. I had been to the DIY store earlier and decided on a colour scheme of satin blue for the main body and fluorescent pink for the moving parts. Mixing the paints with water to thin them down and adding custom pigment was something I had read about on various Ultimaker blogs, and it worked an absolute treat, leaving a lovely translucent matte finish.
This step took a lot longer than I thought, especially as I wanted to preserve the beautiful dark laser-cut edge on all the pieces. After I had painted all the sating blue structural parts, I started assembling the main frame.
My studio is starting to get a little crammed with me adding more and more gadgets over the years, so I had to start expanding upwards by modifying a huge ikea shelf with a pull out platform. It’s the perfect size for my Ultimaker, and the shelves above hold my collection of various filaments. The assembly process itself took about seven days in total, and there were various bumps in the road as the parts were not fully labelled (particularly the multiple bags of screws) and such operations rarely go completely smoothly. But by the end of December, as 2015 was dawning, my Ultimaker was fully pimped and ready to go…and here it is in all its glory, my ‘girly’ Ultimaker Original + as one of my (male) friends called it – with mood lighting!
I recently took part in a really exciting collaborative project between the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and the Royal College of Art alumni initiative In Tandem, supported by the Jerwood Foundation. For the project, the bust of Sir John Soane was digitally scanned to create a 3D model which was in turn divided into a number of fragments. Each participating designer was then given a digital printout of a randomly selected fragment to work with and design their own object in response. I was fortunate to receive an ear, which I turned into a temperature responsive wall sculpture with detachable necklace, based on architectural elements found within the Soane Museum.
I wanted to create something that looked and felt almost organic while being connected intimately to Sir Soane, his collections and his house. The colour was inspired by the eponymous yellow south drawing room with its black architectural mouldings, while the shapes of the necklace were abstractions of the famous domed ceiling of the breakfast room and Sir John’s urn collection. The title “Soane’s Burning Ear” refers to a story about the betrayal of Sir John’s son George, who published an article in a prominent architectural journal deriding the architectural practice of his father. This has come to be seen as a turning point in Soane’s life as the shock was allegedly responsible for the death of his beloved wife Elizabeth. The title “Soane’s Burning Ear” plays on the expression “My ears are burning”, and reflects Soane’s anger and disappointment with his son after this episode, expressed through the red colour of the silicone.
The object itself consists of two parts – the fragment of Sir John’s ear, taken from the bust and coated in a temperature reactive silicone and a 3D-printed pendant made from SLA plastic with a black, facetted sterling silver chain. The ear fragment acts as a holder for the pendant, and can either be displayed as an object or hung on the wall via the small hook on the back. When the pendant is detached, the ear becomes clearly visible, and a piece of the pendant seems to stay behind, giving the impression of Sir John wearing an earring. When the temperature of the fragment changes, for example through prolonged touch, direct sunlight or a rise in environmental temperature, the silicone changes colour and slowly transitions from dark red to bright yellow, blending in with the pendant and thus unifying the piece. This change is symbolic of time passing and obscuring the emotional turmoil of the past, shifting the focus onto the fragments of Sir John’s legacy as an architect and collector.
An exhibition of all pieces from this project at the Sir John Soane’s Museum will be open to the public from the 4th – 22nd of November 2014.
After returning from the very inspiring All Makers Now? Conference in Falmouth, I am buzzing with ideas and projects to add to my research. I met so many interesting researchers, artists and tinkerers in Falmouth, all working around the same themes and problems as me.
One of the most interesting discoveries was that of a website detailing recipes for using alternatives to the expensive materials supplied for the Z-corp 3D printer. While we had long suspected that the special white powder used in these machines is in fact plain plaster powder, research teams at US universities have started to tackle this head on by finding viable alternatives to bring down the cost of printing. As these printers need to be used regularly in order to keep working, this is a very welcome development. Cost is a major deterrent when it comes to creativity and experimentation, so hopefully I will be able to get some gears moving and try some of the recipes in our machine.
More exciting discoveries I made at the conference to follow soon. Now a summer of conferences and site visits is drawing to a close, it’s time to buckle down and finish writing that chapter of my thesis. But first, some impressions from the All Makers Now? Conference…enjoy!
Conference Participants enjoying the Smart Materials Workshop on Friday:
The opening of the All Makers Now? Exhibition at Trelissick House and Gardens on Thursday night:
After a prolonged absence I am yet again resuming my research and thus this blog. And what better way to ease back into the swing of things than with a fun project. I have a few projects on the go at the moment, but the one I have just finished is the Jewellery Exchange, as promoted by Olga on Facebook. I believe 370 participating contemporary jewellery artists got partnered up with one another and agreed to make and swap a piece each by mid-April. I just received my piece in the mail from my partner Safira Blom, who is based in Sweden, this morning and I am absolutely delighted with it.
My own piece made its way to Sweden last week and I think it was well received. Incorporating 3-D printed elements and my signature thermochromic silicone shapes, it is the first of a new body of work I am currently developing, based on Macro images of cells, structures and minerals. Unfortunately we are not allowed to release images of the finished pieces before the jewellery exchange website has been unveiled, so instead I am posting a tiny glimpse of its structure in extreme close up. Enjoy!