dimension, color, texture, and shape

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August 2007

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Tuesday, August 7th

In the beginning

Seems I have been remiss about sharing what's going on in the 'fine art' part of my life. So to start things a bit more effectively, here's a quick recap of about where I'm at.

A long time ago (apparently it is) when I was in college and specifically in my fine art studies, I got entranced by the notion of understanding of why paintings convey the feelings that they do.

The realization was made that paintings are in fact quite complex with a number of parameters that could influence the viewer. Like any good pseudo scientist, methods were created to look at each device with a more sterile eye.

One of the more successful approaches was to use a procedural style of painting. It was useful in exploring how shape is read as well as massing and 'weight' and other stimuli.

It was fascinating for a time until I kind of reached an 'endgame' - a visualization occurred where all manner of combinations and permutations were seen. What to do now?

I think that this must happen to most painters who find themselves following a reductive process. Historically, it seems to happen quite a bit. It starts from standard objective painting and mercurially ramps up to a precipice of simple perfection. At this point the person has to stop start over or do something completely different. What can you do when you reach that point? Would it have been possible for Pollack or Rothko to go back and begin again? Warhol completely changed media.

I reached the point. Initially, I thought that all things were thought on the matter and this was end.

Now, it seems it is not the end, merely just a junction. The process seems to be more about me now as I am fascinated at how I subconsciously create. There are very few ways in which expression can occur yet there are obviously successful ones and then there are not. How is this possible and what makes one better than another? These are my new questions.

Yeah, I know: light on pictures. Well, they're coming.
[Karma: 1 (+/-)] Eric on 08.07.07 @ 02:35 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Sunday, August 5th

That other thing

Well, I missed the entry date for the Muji competition. While I am pretty pissed about that, there was just no way I could have made it with everything else that was going on. I did get pretty far on the projects I was working on and I am certainly going to continue working to completion.

The things that I was going to enter was going to be a couple of lamps. They are kind of a variation on a similar theme. Style-wise , the primary one needs something like a complete overhaul, but the other is looking really good.

Working through these, I realized that I would need to make some lamp shades for them. I have never even thought of making shades before and if I had thought about it, I probably thought that the technology would be a speed bump to pass over at a later date. Well, it's a 'later date'.

Firstly, I'd like to point out that the internet was nearly completely useless for this. Either there is a specific void in this bit of information or it has some sort of specific name that no-one has told me. So I spent $6.00 on a book to essentially impart this word to me: vellum. I guess vellum is what nearly all lamp shades are made out of (asside from the oriental ones). This is cut and glued with what looks to be rubber cement onto an armature and from there covered with the appropriate decorative paper or fabric to taste. The riddle is solved, now onto an armature.

Here is my 'rough draft' armature. It is made with galvanized steel wire bent to shape and soldered together. Easy enough. I figure the armature is there mainly to a) keep shape of the total shade and b) keep the vellum and the decorative extras from coming in contact with the bulb. On this note, I figure I would have much greater leeway in shade styling using CF bulbs rather than standard incandescents.

The final step for today was to figure out the shape of the paper by strapping a piece onto it and tracing the armature.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Eric on 08.05.07 @ 09:35 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Wednesday, July 4th

Big blades and small pieces or why I need a bandsaw.

So I've got a couple of ideas for this Muji design competition. I am not quite sure whether to enter the second one, as I think it may not do as well and I am a bit greedy with it - which brings us to today's entry.

The second entry needs a manner in which to pose two metal (or other material, I suppose) rods. While this is easy to achieve in a more well-appointed shop, it posed a bit of an issue for me. I am sure that larger places would have just rocked one up in Solidworks and shipped it off to an SLA producer, that wasn't available here, because the model maker just couldn't get it back to me in time ;)

What to do... Well here is my solution. Basically, it is a friction/compression fit affair where the two rods are secured by the pressure given by the wing-nutted through bolt. Being that there are four parts, it is able to position the second rod in 360 degrees of space. Yeah, I know the bolt head is a bit tacky and it seems that the squares have a hard time lining up, but it's just a prototype.

Getting back to the band saw, or lack there of: to make this I cut nearly everything on the table saw. Little parts are a bit difficult to get right with the ol' 10" and the fingers get a bit close, not to mention the process gets a bit material greedy. The other thing is that I had to do this in the reverse of what you might think... I had to cut the wood components before placing the holes. Obviously, on a band saw you'd do it the opposite.

On a completely unrelated note, it seems my camera, when put on 'close-up' mode REALLY drops the saturation - as in almost to black and white. Weird.
[Karma: 2 (+/-)] Eric on 07.04.07 @ 09:26 PM CST [link] [2 Comments]

Thursday, June 28th

Improving the Kiisk

Essentially the Kiisk chair works. It would work perfectly if the gauge of metal would be increased to 20 or 18 gauge, but I would like to look to a smaller gauge. Smaller gauges would require some structural updates, as there is too much flex in the chair for my tastes. This flex creates a feeling for me of 'looseness'. While it is no danger of falling apart, I could see how that would be construed as cheap or weak.

Getting away from that means that a couple things are going to have to change. First thing is that there needs to be less flex in the seat back. When I started the project, I wanted to make sure that every part of the layout is integral to it's success and no added embellishments. That has certainly become true. The seat back flexes about .5-.75". This flex radiates though the chair legs all the way down to the point where the legs and the Earth meet - much like a giant lever. The focus of this is to diminish that flex. The plan is to reduce that flex by hopefully more than 50%.

Previously, the seat back was a flat front with a bend-over at the top and seamed. The seat back was two panels which joined at the center, like the rest of the chair. The bend-over was added after the corrugate mock-up showed that there was too little integrity. The metal version proved that there still wasn't enough with the bend over.

The biggest problem is the fact that the seat back joins each other at a small weld point. I can't really change that as it would break the styling too much. My best solution is to try and remove as much movement from the bends as I can.

The plan is to turn the seat back into a few triangles - far more stable than an open-ended rhombus. The seat back will now have a back panel. The new panel should work as a foil against the seemingly easy-going front panel. When these panels are secured to each other, I hope that the torsion that was previously seen under load will be more focused on twisting the vertical portion rather than radiating down the entire portion ending in a bit of frogging in the hind legs; basically rotating the pivot point 90 to work against the stronger portions of the chair.

The actual triangles are made by placing two parallel bends in the back seat back panel. Between the bends will be where the spot welds will be placed to affix the back to the front. The bends are placed on an angle to guard against the very flex we are trying to correct - allowing only a flex in a very specific movement, if at all.

Hopefully all of this will work...
[Karma: 4 (+/-)] Eric on 06.28.07 @ 12:42 PM CST [link] [17 Comments]

Thursday, June 21st

Ample Sample Competition

Recently, I put together a couple of entries into the Ample Sample Competition, which was all about re-tasking carpet samples. My principal thought was to use the samples in an upholstery-like manner.

I put a bit of research into such a plan, and my first thought was to take the samples and create a loop out of them. The samples have a bit of springiness to them and a loop shape seems to cater to that. A number of possible ways to realize it came into focus. The better ones made it to the mock-up phase.

Through a bit of testing, the optimum size, shape and density was found. Measurements were taken. Most exciting was the configuration for the multiple-loop scenario, much like compound springs. This created extra complexity, so I shelved the idea for a bit latter and proceeded with the single loop.

There also was a 'dark horse' configuration I was exploring, which was going to be shown merely as a concept.

The next step was to take the measurements and strap the technology to a structure. The frame is to be metal, bent and welded. Estimated cost to be in the neighborhood of about $125 for metal materials.

Obviously, at this point I was still figuring on making up a full-scale prototype. Sickness ensued and time became skint. While I was thinking that really the best thing for me to do is to have a fully-functional entry, the thought of pulling all of this together without the required amount of testing was a bit scary. I believe in my ideas, just that sometimes there are small, unforeseen issues.

The final thought was to create Adobe Illustrator renderings for the entries. It has to be Illustrator as my Solidworks skills are at best entry-level right now.

On this competition, I didn't win, but I can take a little comfort in the fact that my work was a close competitor to the actual winners in concept and the other was completely different in technology. I think that I will actually build up these as full-scale prototypes in the near future anyhow.
[Karma: 6 (+/-)] Eric on 06.21.07 @ 01:28 PM CST [link] [162 Comments]


I'd just like to point out that I have finally figured out how to post links on this newer version of Greymatter (I guess it helps to read the manual), so I think things will run a bit more smoothly now.
[Karma: 1 (+/-)] Eric on 06.21.07 @ 12:29 PM CST [link] [141 Comments]

Wednesday, June 6th

Following the old ways

Like I mentioned before, things around here are a bit tighter than I would like, but I am convinced that this won't crimp what I want to work on, it might slow things down, but things will keep moving forward just have to be a bit more frugal.

With this is mind, I have few projects coming up which will require some metal forming tools, namely some metal slappers and forming mallets. Going out and buying these items can be a bit costly. The slappers, are especially expensive, weighing in at about $60 each. The mallets run around $20 each. I need two of each. $140 without shipping.

I heard once that in oldin' times craftsmen would have to make their own tools and perhaps that was the first thing they would have to do to learn the craft. This is what I will do then, as well of course, doing the math on the projects puts me quite a bit ahead as well.

Firstly, I did some research on what was available and did my best estimating of the sizes these mallets and slappers would be. Then I took those dimensions and made some patterns. The ones from the store were made of solid maple and plastic, due to cost and construction capabilities mine would be made of layered red oak.

For the slappers, they were made of two or four layers, which were cut with a jigsaw to the rough shape before being drilled and doweled for strength. The slappers were then liberally glued together and clamped viciously for drying .

After the glue had set, the slappers were released from the clamps and were put to the sander for final shaping and finishing.

The mallets were done in a similar way excepting for the rough cutting was done after the gluing on the table saw. The chamfered ends of the head was done on the tablesaw with an angle cut jig. The handle hole had to be chased after gluing to allow for the handle to be installed. Then, the heads were shaped and smoothed on the sander, before some hand sanding finish work.

Since I don't have a wood lathe (or any lathe, for that matter) yet, I had to turn down the diameter of the handle using the table saw. The shoulder was put in to hold the head firm. Then the slit was cut in for a shim. Some finish sanding had to be done before adding it to the head. It got half way in with general arm force and I drove it the rest of the way with a dead-blow. Apparently, the shim is not needed.

At the end of the day, two slappers and two mallets cost me only $23 in raw materials and about 4 hours of construction time. I am anxious to use them, but there are a few more tool projects that need to be attacked first.

Obviously, if you cruise the flickr page, there are other shots as well.
[Karma: 3 (+/-)] Eric on 06.06.07 @ 11:58 PM CST [link] [394 Comments]

Friday, April 27th

The Bent Music Festival and other thoughts

Last weekend I was able to go to the bulk of the Bent Music Festival. It was nice to get out of town a bit and see some friends I hadn't seen in a while and through them realize how much you can achieve if you pursue what you love.

On another note, I learned that when you are trying to do 'Avant Garde' (or more to the point 'creepy') that you can head balls to the walls at it but if you are not careful something could happen. That something, like a sonic boom, is crossing the line into comical, dumb or much worse: just plain sad. I think further that the line is really hard to find and probably sits more with the audience than the performer in most cases. I suppose this is where the term 'misunderstood artist' comes from.

I did also get to see a bit of Minneapolis, which has a truly thriving art scene. It's almost scary that it's so pervasive, perhaps even stifling - a stark contrast to Milwaukee. Makes me think that perhaps another city might be in my future. It probably won't be Minneapolis, but something where there may be more opportunities to move forward with what I'm doing. Besides, it seems Minneapolis is a morning city... I have become a morning person (not by choice) over time, but a whole town like that? creepy.
[Karma: 7 (+/-)] Eric on 04.27.07 @ 05:49 PM CST [link] [2639 Comments]