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We made a giant laser cut & etched banana and stained it yellow and put it on the wall. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because we’re artists and we have a sense of humor and sometimes enjoy social commentary. But wait, there’s more!

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You see, this specific banana is best know as being a piece of art created by Andy Warhol. Or maybe it’s best known as being the cover of a Velvet Underground album. Also, as we all know, Warhol was a thief. But maybe he was a thief in the way Steve Jobs was a thief. “Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal.”

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So I stole Warhol’s banana, but I really just downloaded a file that someone else created, which is fitting. Stealing is pretty easy nowadays. Thanks, Internet!

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But where did Warhol steal it from? Well, most likely an ashtray from Wing Corp. Do you like a banana? Enjoy Banana. Or maybe you should go to court and sue someone over banana. Art is ridiculous because life is ridiculous.

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Maybe you want to buy your own banana? You could probably do that, but you can’t buy our banana, because it’s not for sale! (I remain hopeful that someday someone comes into the office and actually recognizes the banana.)

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The banana was laser etched and then cut from 1/4″ Baltic Birch Plywood and it took about five hours. I think it should have gone faster but this was (more or less) a stress test for the laser cutter. It definitely etches (and cuts) stronger on the left side than the right. Good to know.

Becky is holding a Cutie (aka a “mandarin orange”) for scale. I forgot to bring a banana for scale. I should probably do that. There’s also a 12 ounce can in some of the photos, which is also for scale. I don’t know how many ounces the banana is.

Do you like a banana? See Also: MaKey MaKey Banana Pong, MaKey MaKey Banana Pong (code), The Art of Tinkering, and Bluth Family Stair Car.

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We had a chili contest at work and because we are all clever and ridiculous we had great names for our chili. I named mine Winning Chili. Unfortunately the judge renamed it with unnecessary quotes to be “Winning Chili” which is just not the same…

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Carrie had two chilis, one being named The Winner, which the judge also renamed with unnecessary quotes to be “The Winner”…

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…and another named Best In Class which somehow avoided the dreaded addition of unnecessary quotes.

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Stacie went with a strangely named Aunt Lota’s Hot Meat & Cool Beans, which definitely won for highest character count, but lacked the words Winning, Winner or Best.

My chili wasn’t even really chili, it was Chili Mac & Cheese, because I’ve never made chili, but I have made mac & cheese, and I just added a bunch of chili ingredients. I probably won because the judges were a bunch of teachers and I reasoned that teachers would like mac & cheese because most teacher in this country are underpaid and probably used to eating a lot of mac & cheese.

(Note: while the paragraph above might be humorous, it’s also sad. I donated the prize to a teacher.)

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I made wax balls, and it worked, and I did it using 3D printed molds. I won’t get into why I want/need wax balls in this post, but I swear it has nothing to do with candle making or bath bombs. (These balls are about 12mm in diameter.)

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I originally modeled one ball with one sprue, and then used the loop function of OpenSCAD to make a series of them in a row, slightly overlapping the sprues.

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My original plan was to make silicone molds (like I did with this wax stick) and went as far as creating a positive and a mold box, but along the way I thought about just using a 3D printed mold…

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Here’s the 3D printed mold created using PLA filament. The holes are for bolting the two pieces together using 3mm hardware. (I used tape in the earlier versions, but it did not work well.)

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I didn’t need to fill all the bolt holes, but wanted a few options so I could get tight clamping. Wax doesn’t have the same low viscosity of something like water, but when melted is a bit runny, so I just want to make sure I can keep it from leaking out too much.

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Once the mold is assembled it’s just a matter of melting some wax and pouring it into the mold. I’ve had a few balls with air pockets when demolding, so I’ve taken to sticking a thin piece of wire in to stir around the wax in an attempt to remove the air. (I do have a vacuum pump which I’ve considered trying to use, but the chamber is currently too small to fit much in it.)

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Hey, wax balls! Originally I tried spraying the mold with mold release, but I don’t think it helped much. What does help is putting the cooled molds into the freezer for a bit (this is a known trick for getting wax candles out of glass jars.) It helps solidify the wax enough to make it come out fairly easily. I do break a few every now and then but a lot less than before I used the freezer method.

The other great thing about using 3D printed molds is that I can very easily (and cheaply) make a whole bunch of molds, which is good, because I may need a few thousand wax balls…

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Hey there! It’s time for another LinkDump post. Yeah, a link dump! They are (typically) blog posts that link to other things on the old Internet Web, and often have little or no commentary. Sometimes I’ll just post links to things I’ve read or looked at or need to check out in the future, or just want to share.

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I was fortunate enough to be invited to Maker Faire Miami by Mario the Maker, who I’ve followed online for quite a while, and had met previously at Maker Faire Orlando.

I’ll admit, when he invited me, and told me it was at Miami Dade College (which I had been to before) I assumed it would be indoors. When he told me it was 84 degrees there a few weeks before the Faire, I hoped it would be indoors. I got there and found out it was all outdoors. When people asked me how Miami was, I say “Hot!” (I’m from the Midwest, I don’t handle heat well.)

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Besides that darn heat, Maker Faire Miami was pretty awesome. Every Faire in every city has a different flavor, and while I know a little about the Maker community in Miami, it was great to see more of it. Most of my time there was spent assisting where I could, and a lot of that involved helping with the Power Racing Series.

This was the first year for Power Racing in Miami, and the Orlando Crew pretty much took care of everything. We had a few issues with water, and power, and magic smoke, but in the end things worked out pretty good, especially for a first attempt.

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Orlando (well, MakerFX Makerspace) also brought along their “Print a Shirt” station, where you can pay $5 to screen print your own t-shirt. (Or $10 if you buy one already printed.) Now that’s how you incentivize making!

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As usual, Florida favorites included Hedgeclipper and the work from Moonlighter Makerspace. They had a giant tent filled with awesome things.

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One of the more interesting exhibits I came across was this little CNC lathe made for engraving drumsticks. I was interested in it because it looked like the little CNC machine I built from a kit a few years ago. Indeed, I talked to the Maker and that’s what it was, a heavily modified version of the same kit. We talked a bit about the Grbl firmware and I gave him a few tips on saving the settings. (Check out a video of it in action.)

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I met a lot of great people in Miami. I talked with John Edgar Park and I think we bonded a little over our love of documenting and sharing work. I met Abby K. (VEX iCutie) who was super enthusiastic about what she made, and spent time explaining her robot to me. I also got to meet Esteffanie (YouTube, Instagram) who gave an inspiring talk about making and failing, and continuing to try new things.

Overall, Maker Faire Miami was a great event, and I’m really glad I got to be involved with it. If you’re in the Miami area, check it out next year, as I’m sure I’ll only get better with age!

Want more photos? There’s a bunch in my Maker Faire Miami album.

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