Day of Making

The Day of Making is upon us! Help me celebrate June 18th (which also happens to be my birthday) by pledging to not just make things, but help others make things. Pledge to share your knowledge with others, to help make the world a better place.

Start a new project, finish an old project, tell others about a project… Don’t sit idly by consuming when you could be creating. Check out the Make: Projects site, or Instructables, or Hackaday Projects.

I'm a Maker

New Matter

Being a maker, creative, designer, artist, whatever, you may tend to have a different perspective on things. When I moved to designing things with a computer (instead of on paper) over 20 years ago, I still wanted to have things on paper, so printing things made sense. I used to go to service bureaus to have nice prints made, and eventually I got a good (enough) printer at home that allowed me to design and print all on my own.

The first night I ever got hands-on with a 3D printer, my questions were about designing things with it. and I used software to design something and then we printed it. This, I believe, is the maker way. Now, contrasting this with selling points of the New Matter MOD-t, which is (of course) “a 3D printer for everyone”, I have to wonder if 3D printing really is for everyone…

Maybe it makes sense, as 3D printing is definitely a disruptive technology, but I often think that there’s a lot of hype. Here’s what they say:

What if you could send a physical object to a friend like a text message? What if you could subscribe to a series of objects like you do with a podcast? What if adjusting a 3D model was as easy as Instagramming a photo?

Wow, that would be awesome to come home and see my printer has yet another whistle sitting on it. (Kidding!) But really, subscribe to a series of objects? Instagramming an object? These are all things that have more to do with software and distribution than with 3D printing. In fact, you can (sort of) do all those things now. I’m wondering if the “Consumer” 3D printer will be like the inkjet printers we have today. Just sort of “there” and not something people think much about.

Remember Gutenberg, the dude who introduced printing to Europe?

…the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information — including revolutionary ideas — transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities…

That’s some revolutionary stuff, there! In fact, it sounds a little like the Internet. Sure, people may tell you that the Internet is for cat videos and to see where your friends are currently getting drunk, but that’s the silly stuff. There’s some big-picture things that you may not be aware of if you missed the early years of the web (1994 to 2004).

I see the power of 3D printing for creative people first, for those who have ideas about creating things, and improving things, and changing lives, and yes, eventually it’ll become mainstream and some stupid person will send someone a 3D model of their genitalia so they can 3D print it, you know, just like a text message.

Basement Photo Studio

Recently Steve asked about my setup for the photos I take. So I thought I’d show a few behind the scenes shots.

The setup consists of a table with a white sweep. There’s a roll of white paper held up by a few pieces of wood and a length of PVC pipe. This lets me unroll the paper to replace it as it gets dirty and worn out. A few spring clamps hold the paper in place at the edge of the table.

Basement Photo Studio

The camera sits on a tripod and there are two light stands with flashes and umbrellas. The flashes are old, and fully manual. One of them does have a dial to adjust the intensity, but the other does not. I end up moving them closer or farther a lot to adjust the light. The stands make it easy to move them around and raise and lower them. (There’s also some sandbags holding them stands steady.)

Basement Photo Studio

The flashes are fired by a set of wireless triggers, and even though I’ve had them for years, I’ve rarely had to replace the batteries. The flashes are a different story. I’ve got a set of 12 Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries and two chargers. Each flash takes 4 batteries and they tend to eat through them pretty quickly!

Basement Photo Studio

I shoot with a white background most of the time, but if I need black I’ll toss down some black fabric, or more likely, a piece of black posterboard. I’ve also been known to use hot pink posterboard, or yellow, or blue, or whatever I pick up at the dollar store.

I’ve got a few folding reflectors as well, but often I’ll just grab a piece of white foamcore board to use as a reflector. (Cheap foamcore is also available at the dollar store, though I tend to use the better stuff from a real art supply store)

I also shoot RAW images, which gives you a lot of room to adjust things when processing the images. Oh, and right now I’m shooting with a Nikon D3200, and for lenses there’s a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 that tend to get used the most.

That’s the basic setup. Any other questions?

Duchamp vs. Pete

About a month ago Bryan Cera invited me to print a copy of Marcel Duchamp’s favorite hand-carved chess set. The set had been lost to the ages, but he and Scott Kildall have resurrected it. It sounded like a fun project and it’s always interesting to collaborate with people I admire.

Duchamp Chess Set

Scott mentioned that I had a unique method of printing the pieces in parts and reassembled them in his post about the materiality of the project. I also painted my set with metallic silver paint to give it a unique look.

Duchamp Chess Set

Along the way, Patrick Lichty also printed a set, and Frankie Flood (being the Master of Metal) had to go way overboard and cast them in bronze!

Duchamp Chess Set

Anyway, my set is finally done, and I finally took photos, which you can see here. I actually spent a fair amount of time trying to replicate the shot of the original Duchamp set, getting the spacing and angles right, matching the lighting, and it’s close, but not exact. (See the top photo to compare.)

Duchamp Chess Set

Of course some of the shots I did were just because I wanted to experiment. The hot pink, and to some degree the black, show the reflective quality of the pieces, which is pretty neat.

Duchamp Chess Set

(You can view high resolution versions of each shot on Flickr, just click on the photos above.)

KickFailure

There’s a great post by Cameron Moll on Medium titled The Economics of a Kickstarter Project (or How Much I Didn’t Make) which breaks down the numbers and offers some good advice for would-be crowd-funders.

I don’t know much about Cameron, and I won’t speak ill of him or his abilities, in fact, I love the Brooklyn Bridge piece he created, but I’ve worked in the creative industry (and the print industry) long enough to understand the importance of proofing things. Oh, I call it “proofing” but Proofreading is the more correct term.

About 20 years ago I worked for the creative division of a printing company, and I just happened to be tagging along to a press check with an account executive and they thought I’d like that the brochure being printed had a domain name on it. (Hey, it was the late 1990s!) When I pointed out that the domain name being printed was not one the company owned, there was quite a bit of commotion. There may have been some swearing and yelling as well. (Note: printing ink on paper is often very expensive!)

Over the years I’ve seen time and time again that making mistakes in print is a sure way to lose money. Indeed, had Cameron hired someone to proof his work, and even if he paid them $1000, he would have doubled the amount he had left at the end of his campaign had the proofer caught his mistake.

Proofing is not the same as “checking you work” because you are often blind to your own mistakes. You need another pair of eyes, hopefully a well-trained pair of eyes, to see the things you can’t see. (I’ve seen artists get so obsessed with the details of the type they are designing that they spell their own names wrong!)

Don’t take this post to say I don’t make mistakes, I make plenty of them! I make spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes, though they typically aren’t in print. I made one earlier today on a Facebook post, and one of my coworkers caught it for me. That’s how it works. You can’t do it alone.

Note: I’m currently working as a Technical Editor for a book that should be out this summer. If you enjoyed the previous book I worked on, I think you’ll like this one too. If you need a Technical Editor, get in touch with me.

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