Project #2, Process Post #1 (Form creation)

Sketches of possible pod forms

First off, my apologies for the barrage of belated process posts coming your way. Because I was feeling somewhat pressed for time with this project, I chose to assemble documentation of my work as I went, but to compile it for the blog after the fact.

The first step of my project was the creation of the ‘pod’ shape. I wanted to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, in order to be able to get my model file in to the Rapid Prototyping Centre as quickly as possible – with the end-of-term rush wait times went from 1 to about 3 days and sometimes longer if there was a technical glitch of some sort.

I started experimenting with different shapes by molding microcrystalline wax into forms that felt comfortable to grip. (The use of microcrystalline wax was fairly arbitrary, based on its cheapness, ease of molding, and the fact that I had a large block of it on hand.) Once I had created a few of these models, I started to sketch abstracted versions of them to come up with a form that was simple and visually pleasing.

The Leaf Touch vibrator (Photo: www.leafvibes.com)

When I visited Come As You Are to get some information on the electronics component, I realized that vibrators could also offer useful information on form, since they similarly need to account for ergonomics as well as visual content. I particularly liked those that had a simple and unified form – that is, those whose exterior consisted of only few distinct elements, and which had the least complex geometries. I had already planned that the outer surface would be one continuous form, but I was on the fence as to how much definition should be added to the surface, in terms of grips for the fingers, etc. This led me to conclude that I should limit the form as much as possible – in practical terms, create a form that

required the least number of curves, and the least convoluted curves, to construct in Rhino.

Ultimately, I chose to create a teardrop-like shape. I felt this provided a sense of organicity that was going to be important in establishing/emphasizing the relationship between the wearer and the jewelry. In addition this shape was likely to hang well as a pendant. To construct the form, I created two curves to define the profile of the object (one curve for the back, one for the front). I then created a 2-point circle between the first endpoints of these curves, to define the object’s cross-sectional shape. To create the bulk of the form, I then did a 2-rail sweep of the cross-sectional circle along the two profile curves, and capped the resulting surface to generate a solid polysurface. Next, I copied and scaled down the polysurface to being to define an interior cavity. Of course, because Rhino Nurbs objects are, at a technical level, just surfaces without internal structure, additional work was needed to actually create the cavity. I split both polysurfaces with a single plane, and then created planar surfaces between the edges of the lower segments of both polysurfaces and the edges of the upper surfaces of both polysurfaces; this generated two solids – an upper and a lower. So that these two solids could fit together once printed, I extruded a thin polysurface from the inner edge of the lower solid, and copied and subtracted this new polysurface from the upper solid.

Renderings of the 'pod', showing different possible surface treatments.

I then had the pod printed on the Fused Deposition Modeling printer at the RPC. I chose the FDM because, based on my previous work with the arteries pendant, and with my projects for my Small Objects class, I have found that the FDM tends to be sturdier, and I felt it was more likely to stand up to the drilling and weaving that was going to be necessary for some of the surface treatments I was considering. (It is also a substantially cheaper process, which allowed me to make a larger number of prints than I could have afforded on the MJM.) In the end, there was a mix-up with the printing process which resulted in me receiving both FDM and MJM prints of the object. This worked out well, as I was able to use the FDM prints for my weaving-based treatments as well as on their own to provide an additional texture, and I was able to use the much smoother-surfaced MJM prints for my paint and rubber treatments, eliminating the substantial preliminary finishing that would have been required had I used the FDM prints.

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