3D printing and Gingerbread

The rolling pin story object began to come into its own today.  I managed to print a sample of the rolling pin (a quarter) to test to see how the writing would look when imprinted onto dough. It was funny as the drawing of the rolling pin was sliced up and printed on the ‘makerbot’ and watching how it printed the layers was fantastic.  It actually still felt like I was making it and seeing the words appear was quite emotional.

Tonight I decided to put the pin to the test!  I aquired a girl and boy gingerbread cookie cutter as per the recipe and got all set up.  I also filmed the process to document what I was doing and how I was feeling whilst making the recipe.  It was quite an emotional experience, reading somebodies hand writing and following their instructions to see how it would work.  As well as making the gingerbread people I practiced printing into the dough with the section of rolling pin and it worked so well!  I was shocked at how good an impression I got from it to be honest!  When it baked it disappeared slightly but I think I need to roll the dough thinner.  I was wondering what I want to actually do with the gingerbread people after making or what I can do with the participant…?  Like getting the participant to use the rolling pin and see her mothers words be printed?  I will have  think.

On the plus side I took the biscuits to a friends child’s 2nd birthday party and they went down a treat!  It was quite rewarding actually, seeing people who I knew and had only just met sharing this recipe that had been hidden in a book, but was now again being enjoyed by a number of people.  I will have to tell my participant about it!


Bottle  Casting


This object is causing me a little bit of bother…So much so that I am currently making two different artefacts as I am not sure which one will turn out better!

The glass bottle cast (bottom) looked fantastic when I’d done it.  It really picked up a lot of detail that the plaster missed out, although the plaster will be shined up hopefully to see if I can pour into it.  I then decided on the top to cast the medal and the ribbon.  I had to bend the medal to sit snuggly round the bottle which I felt a bit bad about.  It is only a replica and I would never dream of doing it with the real thing, but still felt bad for doing it.  I also attempted to create a silicone medal in a silicone mould.  It was however not the outcome I wanted as annoyingly the release agent I have been using is wax based and leaves a matt finish.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find something that has a clear finish about it.

As I remembered from my MA the Silastic (translucent silicone) doesn’t like the pink silicone as I tried casting into it but it stayed sticky.

When I demoulded the bottle I did a fast cast of it to mould leather round and then put it back in the original mould to do the top.

Looking forward to de- moulding…….!

Medal Part 2

This morning I went back into the studio to carry on working on the bottle and medal.  All was not as well as it was yesterday as I had an issue with a number of factors.  The bottle was a little bit stuck in the plaster of paris and so I had to cut into the edge to let it out which has slightly worried me that there may be a not so neat join when I come to do the silicone bottle although this may end up being part of the design.  When it was out the plaster had a dull finish.  I really thought it would be shiny and so I have reluctantly done the other half of the mould in the hope I can polish it up to a high shine before casting in the T-4.  I might have to read up on this technique.

When the bottle was removed I removed the medal from the silicone mould.  I wanted to make a ‘fast-cast’ plastic version of it…fast cast goes from liquid to solid in about 5 minutes so it’s quite handy and allows you to form it if done quick enough.  The middle image shows the first fast cast attempt.  Unfortunately moisture had got into the fast cast and so it bubbled up and turned foamy!  It was very bizarre, however the technician had some more in teh cupboard, however the ‘new’ fast cast wasn’t very fast and took about 20 minutes to go off enough to make it mallable and demould it.  You can see when it was demoulded it was formed inside the bottle to make it fit the inner curves.  I did this twice, just to make sure it fit snuggly.  I then used vaseline as a barrier on the bottle again, reinserted and moulded the top half of the glass bottle to be de-moulded tomorrow.  Sometimes the casting process takes a lot longer than thought of so it can be quite frustraiting and I feel like I’ve achieved little some days.  It does however give you chance to reflect on and tweak the process.  I’ve also set up two tests to see if they work….one is casting silicone (pink) into silicone (pink) and silicone (T-4) into silicone (pink).  One to see if they go off as this would allow me to create a silicone medal rather than a fast cast for the bottle.  I alos worked out how to pour the translucent silicone by casting one half with the medal in flat, once this has set then put the mould together and pour in to the other side.  This will mean there is no join…..unless I put a frame around the bottle which could be another design amendment.

I’m really enjoying making at the moment and working with each story overlapping.  I think this saves me from taking on the stories on as a burden and allows just enough emersion each day into a couple of stories rather than being too full on with one.


I know I should probably finish a few pieces first, but actually I like the idea that i’m working with a few stories at the same time, rather than one after the other.  This object combines the medal with a bottle so what I am trying to do is embed the medal into the bottle and cast the bottle in silicone, so technically the glass bottle is the mould.  To do this I need to create a mould of the bottle in plaster of paris so the glass surface stays shiny.  I then need to let it completely air dry before casting into it  Then I need to cast the medal to make a silicone version of it, to then use to position in the bottle mould to then cast into….! It’s a bit of a crazy process.  So far yesterday I got to the stage where I’d done half the bottle mould and then covered the medal in silicone.  I will be creating the next bit today….!

Will update later.

Making Mountains

Having begun to explore the software of 3DS Max last week with the rolling pin, I now have started to work on the wok idea that I attached earlier this week.  So to recap, the story revolves around a lost romantic love that started on a climbing expedition in the himalayas.  The lost love object is a wok that instead of being a treasured object in the case of other stories was actually taken as a result of the relationship ending.  Having thought about the object as the signifier, I felt that the object I first invisaged didn’t capture the story as I had wanted it to be captured.

Having used the 3D software last week and realised it’s capabilities I wanted to try creating a ‘wok’ shape like a mountain range and then print it.  I looked at some tutorials online as to how to create peaks or mountain ranges

I thought about how I could tie the object of the wok in with the climbing expedition and so I sourced pictures of the Himalayan mountains from the internet and adapted them into a circular image with a black border.  I found out that when using the displacement mapping feature white areas will become more distorted then on a scale to black get less so.  Converting images to black and white allowed me to experiment with the different shapes.  I want to try and create a wok shape, but with mountains growing out the bottom.  I am currently experimenting with gradient colour to see if I can create the perfect colours for a ‘wok shape with mountains’.  Always the starting point has to be the Himalayas!  I will speak to my participant to see if they have a picture of the mountain themselves to add that bit more depth.



3D Max Reflection and Possibilities!

The past three days have been tough… I’ve spent three days learning how to use a totally new programme called Auto Desk 3DS Max.  I forgot how hard it is to do a whole course intensively and my mind struggled to adjust to certain things, but I managed to get through it!  After the first morning when I’d started working out where all the tools were I was actually OK!  It started to seem quite fun!  By the end I was working on my own project seen above!

This is the rolling pin that I wanted to have the text wrapped around it, either extruded or sunk in (intruded???).  What I had to do as part of the process was scan in the real text from the story (the recipe book talked about by my participant).  I then had to put in illustrator and live trace it to create outlines.  Annoyingly as it was it would not all fit around the rolling pin and so I had to rejig slightly to create longer lines of writing, which hasn’t changed the content, just the shape to be 13cm deep.  This means it will wrap perfectly round the rolling pin.

Looking at the recipe has made me reflect on it a few times and made me think that I need to make some of these gingerbread men using the recipe….that might be a job for this afternoon!  It feels like then I am fully embedded with the sights, sounds and smells of the whole experience.  Plus baking for my PhD also sounds brilliant!!!!

So anyway, back to 3Ds Max…..  I took the text in as an DXG file and Simon, our instructor put it on the big screen for me to see.  What happened was where it had been converted, he noticed there were thousands of nodes (anchor points etc) and so we had to try and get these down so it would process quicker and more efficiently.  In doing this however, the middles of some of the letters disappeared (which was confusing).  It made him realise that the line (vector) was actually duplicated so there was two versions of the line.  This meant that all the lines and also a fill that wasn’t visible had to be removed in Auto CAD first, which he kindly started to do and then I managed to complete before the end of the session.  He also showed me how to rotate it and create the curve and extrude, to which I have very crude instructions, but I intend to try and draw this up tomorrow afternoon.  I have really enjoyed learning how to use something like this.  I also want to try and create some plates to use with a press so I can emboss into the leather maybe in some cases?  Think this may be a nice application of a digital technology and also the conference in Plymouth Making Futures is all about the digital and how it is applied so I will be able to talk about my experience with that.

The rolling pin can then be 3D printed, which I can use as the final object or maybe cast it in silicone?  This process is now evolving a little bit as to what I had first envisaged.

The strange thing I found with this was at the beginning when I was learning how to do the process of deleting the extra fills and lines, I wasn’t thinking about the story….I was learning a process.  When I got into doing it, I started reading the words and remembering the story, so making allows us to learn a process and then when that process becomes second nature it allows for thinking or story telling…. or memories to be captured possibly?