Instructables + Laser = ????


So here’s the deal friends… Ben Nelson, fellow maker, DIY enthusiast, and Milwaukee Makerspace member, has won his fair share of contests over at Instructables, and it’s prompted me to give it a try as well, so I present to you my first Instructable: Creating Random Art for Puzzles.

And I’ll be totally honest, the main reason for me publishing it was to enter this contest to win a laser cutter from Hurricane Lasers. (I have no shame in telling you that!)

Ever since the Makerspace got a laser cutter, I’ve fallen in love, and it’s become my favorite tool, possibly even surpassing the RepRap. (Shhh, don’t tell the RepRaster 5000 that!) You’ve probably seen a few of my posts about things I’ve laser cut. Of course lately the laser cutter seem to break down every other week, so getting time to go to the space when it’s working is tough. Luckily, my friends at Lovesick Robot Studios helped me out with this project.

Laser-cut puzzle coasters

When I started on this project, I wasn’t even sure where it would go, but I wanted to explore the concept of introducing random elements into my art and see where it would take me. Well… this is the first stop: puzzles created with random art.

Puzzle: Solved!

Of course if you know me, you know I also love making coasters… so I made puzzle coasters with random art in addition to a normal puzzle. (The “normal” puzzle was made with a printer, some board, and an X-ACTO knife. All the details are in the Instructable.)

Puzzle? Coasters? Both!

So here’s the deal friends… I’d really appreciate if you vote for me in the contest, because if I win, I’ll get my own laser cutter… but rest assured, I won’t just keep it to myself. If you need something etched or cut, well, I may be able to help you out. I mean, if I win this contest. So yeah, I’d appreciate your vote.

So go to the page to vote. See the image at the top of this post which shows where the “VOTE” button is.) Also, since I took my sweet time, we’ve only got two days…. Voting ends the 20th, so don’t put it off… vote now! Don’t see the vote button? Make sure you log in. Don’t have an account? Create one!


Update: As of 2012-09-28 I have not been chosen as a finalist. Oh well.



Art #002

In almost all programming languages there’s a function to generate a random number. The random number can then be used to choose a random word, color, shape, etc. In art things are often random, but in specific ways. When drawing, can you really make your hand “randomly” create a line? Isn’t your subconscious always having some effect on the outcome? Short of feeding electric pulses to your muscles to make your arm movements “truly” random, I’m not convinced. (And no, I’m not ready to send live current to my own arms!)

This idea of introducing randomness to the creation of art is something I’ve been doing for a while now. I didn’t really think about it too much, but now I am.

Art #002

The Drawbot I built in 2011 brings this idea of randomness into its operation. The patterns I programmed into it had certain criteria (turn left, go forward, turn left, go backward) but the randomness is in the amount of movement. I like this because even though a device that’s mechanical and electronic should be able to repeat the same thing over and over again (and is sometimes expected to) this doesn’t. It’s also assembled with parts that are nowhere near precision in their movement, which adds more randomness to it all.

The Arc-O-Matic follows a similar concept. The current programming forces it to stick to a preset path (drawing arcs) with no randomness introduced into the code, but again, because of the lack of precision parts swinging around an arm with a pen on it, even when it tries to draw the exact same path, there are variations that cause them to be different each time.

Art #003

Besides the art robots that typically just draw an image, I’ve been experimenting with introducing randomness into the generation of other art, which is starting digital, and will eventually be part of the analog world. I’ve also got a few ideas for interactive digital pieces that will rely on input from the physical world, but still inject randomness into them.

So yeah, that’s sort of what I’ve been working on lately. I should have more to show and talk about in a month or so.