Monday, February 28, 2011

Trash Island

First of I should fill you all in on what trash island is... It is a collaborative project between a former KCAI student and myself with the help of other Art Institute students and The Lakeside Nature Center. We held a workshop to construct an inner tube made from construction netting and plastic bottles as the floatation device. Secondhand netting was then used to fill the tube structure. The nettings purpose was to support the roots of the plants we would be filling it with. Plants were donated from the Nature Center and one local Nursery. Then we proposed our floating garden to a committee to seek approval to launch it at Lake of the Woods in Swope Park... It was approved!
We choose Lake of the Woods at Swope Park because it is a heavily polluted public location. We wanted to use the island as a vehicle to speak about pollution not only only a global scale,(specifically the trash island that has formed in the Pacific Ocean) but also on a local spectrum.

It looks great and the plants go through a natural process to aid in water remediation. The trouble is there is no signage to communicate what our intentions were for it to speak and bring awareness to. That is why I am going to utilize the Green Sculpture elective I am in to tie up the loose ends this project so desperately needs...A sign!!!
I came up with this piece of plastic after considering several materials. I think the transparency will lend itself nicely to see the island in the background therefore tying the two together. My first instinct was to clean it up before adhering vinyl lettering but after speaking with my classmates, I think it will only heighten the grotesque nature of what it will be communicating. I still am working through some technical issues, like what type of vinyl lettering to use and coming up with the proper support leg or legs to steak it into the ground. I am really excited about the sign! I think when it is put together it will possess basic sculptural elements, balance and gesture that I explore in my studio practice. Above all I hope our project will communicate the huge pollution issue at hand and encourage individuals to make conscience decisions that effect our environment.

Boat Building Ideas

I am planning on building a boat as my main project this semester, so, in preparation, I have been looking at plans for different types of simple boats. I would really like to primarily base my boat on The American Boy's Handy Book from 1882, but I thought it could be helpful to look at some contemporary tips as well. I think I will end up making a scow, basically, but maybe with curved sides, like a skiff. I'm not sure if I will go with plywood or all-plank construction, it might depend a bit on what the best free repurposed wood I can get is. I am also thinking about the exact function or idea I am intending for the boat to have, so I can hone the design to enhance that. It would be incredible to build a birch bark canoe or a dugout, but I think that might be a bit over my head for this class.

The above link is great because it demonstrates how much one can make with pretty major limitations and a low budget. I would not have to follow the same restrictions in making my boat, but it gives a good idea of what's possible. Below are some other ideas I looked at to see a variety of options.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Manipulating Styrofoam With Steam

Recycled styrofoam cups or other styrofoam
Rubber bands 
A stove top or a hot plate
One glass bowl

Step 1
Put 2 or 3 inches of water into a pot and bring to a boil. 

Step 2
Take one of the styrofoam cups and decide where you want pressure to be applied. Put your rubber bands around the cup and it will bend according to the pressure points once set in the steam.
Step 3
Take your glass bowl and add about an inch of water to it. Next place the bowl in the center of the boiling water and put the styrofoam cup into the bowl. Cover the pot and let the cup sit there for 7 or 8 minutes. Monitor the styrofoam here to ensure that it does not melt or release any smoke or fumes. 

Step 4
Remove the styrofoam from the bowl and take off the rubber bands.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic (magic) Dome: has how to build one out of newspapers, pvc piping, and wood with perforated metal strapping for the joints.
These were all really specific to the exact size and materials they used, and to build this I needed to find a system that worked for the materials I had.
So later I discovered a website that calculates the necessary measurements you need to build one at any height.
There is also more than one frequency for a dome, and it had calculations for different kinds.

We did the one with two frequencies (this means, there were two different lengths of struts) and built it at 77.66 inches tall.

Next I did sketches to see how it would lay out and did some measurements I didn't need, to work out how we would build it.

After talking to the group, we decided we could get enough wood to make all the struts. So we got a piece of plywood then stripped it into 1inch pieces - 30 at 42.41" and 35 at 48".

Finding a joint system that could accommodate the angling of the dome was tricky. Using a flexible material allows room for the bend but doesn't have to be precisely calculated. So we ended up using rubber hose which was the right amount of sturdy but flexible.

We segmented the hose into 4 inch strips, sliced those in half long-ways, and screwed the halfs onto each end of the strut. This way we could drill holes in the hose and when we built it, we just connected the struts with bolts in the hose.

So after our team effort in the wood shop making the struts and the connectors, we took the parts outside and connected all the pieces according to this diagram-

(orange being the long struts and blue being the short struts.)

We started with the base first - 10 long struts on the ground connected. then added the next level creating a base of alternating tall and short triangles...

We kept adding until we got to the top...

and with the final joint everything held together!

I suggest using the rubber hose even though it's not the prettiest connection ever, it's flexibility really helps when you're putting it together and can't support every piece at once.

I wish I had pictures of the final thing cause it was cool.
Good job group!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My studio presentation and reading

Hello all,

For my project presentation I've created a blog to document the process. Check it out!:

Nomad Nest

For our discussion and viewing pleasure Sir Ken Robinson:

Changing Education Paradigms

See you Monday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clay Ocarina Workshop: My New Project


After the problems I had with my first project (which I actually have almost fixed now) I decided to switch gears to a project the whole class could do more easily. I decided to use thisInstructable for Clay Ocarinas as a starting point. The Instructable was pretty simple, but it had a link in it to this website, which is very comprehensive, and filled in some of the gaps.

I started by making one myself, which was easy and worked great, so I went ahead and pinched out the hollow bodies of 5 more to get the class started. Materials and tools I used were all things I already had: white earthenware clay, wooden tools, bladed tools/exactos, strips of mat board, and a spray bottle.

The class went really well, everyone followed along with learning the process and had a working whistle within 20 minutes, after a little tweaking of the air slots. The rest of the time we spent sculpting them into shapes which included a tailless platypus, a mohawked sperm, an elephant, a traditional ocarina form, and a dolphin. They are all dried out in my studio now and will be fired on Saturday. Next week I will talk to the class about how we want to finish the surfaces (stains, glazes, paints etc.) After they are finished I will post pictures of everyone with their own piece.

Total success. To anyone who wants to try making their own ocarinas I would recommend taking a middle road between the Instructable page, which doesn't explain quite enough, and the Green Verdigos page, which makes the process a bit more complicated than it needs to be if you are just doing the project for fun. I thought it was also easier, and quicker, to pinch the bodies out hollow than to shape them around a form and cut them off. No matter how it's done, its a pretty simple project with a lot of freedom for variation.

These are pictures of the pieces in a dry state.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Plunger Squat Seat

The squat seat made from a toilet plunger and bike seat was a success! With a couple of alterations from the Instructables instructions we were able to make ours for around a buck! (The cost of the Plunger.)

First we measured a piece of scrap wood to a comfortable squat height and cut to size. The instructables website recommends round wood but we improvised with what was available and used a sander to round the ends of some scrap wood.
  • Once we rounded each end of our sticks we attached the bike seats. ( In some cases this took a little elbow grease and some help.) After the seats were secured we then attached the plunger end. (We figured out a washer is good to add for more surface area before connecting the plunger to the stick with the woodscrew.) Wa la! It does not freely stand but we figure that is part of its versatile nature.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

spirograph=bike-o-graph workshop

Wednesday night's workshop demonstrated how to use bike parts to make a spirograph drawing machine. The instructables' site we chose to base the workshop from is here. I was able to make a few improvements to the design, which also cut the making time down.
Here it is:

Step 1: The tools, parts and pieces.
*compass or sting attached to a pencil
*double sided tape
*scrap 1/4" plywood
*hammer and point driver (or a chain breaker)
*WD-40 (to clean the chain and gears)
*drill and drill bits
*scroll saw (could use saber-saw)
*Hot glue gun + sticks
*recycled bike chain
*recycled bike gears
*scrap pieces of wood about 1/8" thick
*band saw
Step 2: Prepare the chain
Using the hammer and point driver (or chain breaker) release the pin from the joint in the chain. Once you've done this you can add or shorten the chain, making the circumference of the chain your desired length, thus the size of your drawing can be customized.

Step 3: Find the circumference and plot onto plywood.
I simply laid out the chain in the most accurate circle I could get by "eyeing" it. Then I took my ruler and found the largest measurement for the diameter. Using the compass, I plotted the radius (center point) of the circle. At this point, I make the compass a hair smaller than the outermost circumference measurement. This way, you can sand the circle to the perfect size (you can always take more off, but you cannot add wood back on).

Step 4: Drill and cut on scroll saw.
Using a large drill bit (larger than 1/4"), drill a hole on the inside of the circle close to the edge. Take your wood to the scroll saw and cut along the inside of your line. (Note: if you are cutting a large circle out of your plywood, you may be able to save those scraps to make a smaller spirograph with a smaller chain.)
Step 5: Sand circumference to size and glue
Using an oscillating sander, sand the circumference to where the
chain will fit tightly within the circle. (Note: be careful, because it is easy to take too much off.) Once fitted, use the hot glue gun to glue the outer edge of the chain to the inside of your plywood cutout. (Note: also, be careful not to let the hot glue seep into the gaps of the chain, or else the gear will bump into the glue messing up your lines). Don't use too much glue, but enough to make it hold well.

Step 6: Preparing the gears.
The graphs you can generate will depend on the number of teeth in your chainring and the number of links in your chain. If you think of the graph as a star, the number of points in the star will be the lowest common multiple of the tooth number and link number divided by the tooth number. The number of times you have to trace around is the lowest common multiple divided by the link number.

Here are some examples off the instructable's post:

130:52 -> 5 points (5x52 = 260 = 130x2)
130:48 -> 65 points (65x48 = 3120 = 130x24)
84:52 -> 21 points (21x52 = 1092 = 84x12)
84:48 -> 7 points (7x48 = 336 = 84x4)

I didn't really pay attention to this, but I had a number of gears to switch out with in case they were proportional and wouldn't skip beats.

In the instrucable's post, they used the gear just as it was. This led to gooey residue getting on the page and choppy transitions in the line when the pencil got close to the chain, thus making it come loose from its path. To problem solve this, I cut out a small disc of wood that did not interfere with the gears (just smaller than the circumference of the gear). Make sure the disc of wood is no thicker than an 1/8". Because this elevates the gear, the pressure of your pencil (when close to the circumference of the circle), does not make your gear come loose from the chain. Also, this prevents the metal of the gear from scraping your paper with the gook that it picks up from the chain. Another advantage to this addition is that you can customize your marker/pencil holes. Simply drill holes into the exposed wood using different sizes for different marking utensils, and in various places. This makes one gear have a number of options for one drawing.

To attach the disc of wood to your gear, simply use double sided tape between the two, then use a clamp to apply pressure, therefore there will be a strong hold. Then you're ready to drill.

Step 7: The good stuff!
Clamp your chain template on top of your paper on a table (or I prefer to just have a friend hold it down). Enjoy making cool drawings and colorful designs!
You can play around with the shape of your circumference to make unique shapes too!


Hope you all had fun, and feel like you learned something!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My project and why it's failing (plus pictures!)

OK. So here's how it's going.

Project: DIY Airbrush

Why it's failing:
The first main problem is that I didn't have (or have easily accessible) any of the materials. The second problem is that the Instructable I am working from is designed as a super low-tech blow-powered airbrush. Come to find out, there are more complications than I anticipated in upgrading it to a heavier-duty air compressor powered airbrush. One of these complications is the fact that I need couplings to attach the tubes to the compressor hose. So, I went to Harbor Freight and spent 26 dollars on 6 each of 2 kinds of parts. When I returned I found that one part I got I didn't need and I did in fact really need a splitter (so both hoses could be hooked to the air) and some kind of regulator valve (stopping the air by bending the hose doesn't workView Blog too great). So, I went to the hardware store to get the other things I needed for everyone to make an airbrush. This brings us to the third major problem. Getting all the materials for everyone to make one of these puppies would be expensive. As in 63 dollars, not counting the hardware to connect the airbrush to the air compressor, which was mostly too big for my tiny flexible tubing and also super pricey (especially since I was at Ace and had already blown my chance to get what I needed cheaper at Harbor Freight). Even if I bought all of the stuff, I hadn't finished and tested one of these yet, so I didn't know if they would even work.
Therefore, I gave up on both the valve-controlled air compressor connection and having all the materials for everyone to make one on Wednesday and I went back to studio to at least try to get one working so that I could see if it was worth it and to try not to let the whole project be a complete failure.

On a more positive note:
Here is a series of pictures which show some key points in the progress of my trial airbrush.

1. Everything is cut, drilled, and mostly assembled. Materials used were a marker, 3 types of flexible tubing, a length of PVC pipe, capped on both ends, and the nozzle from a spray bottle (but based on the pictures, not the exact same kind as the Instructables person used.)

2. Epoxy! It holds stuff together and smells bad. I used Emily's, cause I was out.

3. Loookin goood. Everything is epoxied together and just needs to set.

4. Oh wait. Here are the stupid fittings I bought that don't do what I need. Sure wish I'd planned that better.

Now, all I can do is wait until tomorrow to try out the airbrush with some paint and see if it works, then we will talk in class and figure out what I'm going to do about teaching you all to make them.
See you tonight.