Archive for the ‘Projects’Category

Laser Collage version 2.0: The Eric Carle Method

Squid Attack by Shellie Lewis, paper, acrylic paints, gel medium, Micron pen, vector design and laser, 7.5 x 9.5 inches, 2014.

Squid Attack by Shellie Lewis, paper, acrylic paints, gel medium, Micron pen, vector design and laser, 7.5 x 9.5 inches, 2014.

The next logical extension of the Laser Collage process is something I call The Eric Carle Method. Children’s book author Eric Carle is known for his collage are using his hand painted papers. The main difference is that you are adding paint to the process rather than using ambient papers or recycled materials for the collage art.   Squid Attack 02   I had a clear idea of what I wanted in this design and drew the squid and submarine in Adobe Illustrator using the pen tool. That step took me at least three hours. I used a Gelli Arts soft monoprinting plate to roll acrylic paints onto and made the color combinations I wanted for scene, aiming for a red / blue /yellow primary color scheme. This version pops out and seems more playful. I may try a version with darker colors and low intensity hues to see if it looks more realistic. Today, I was just aiming for a fun picture. My paper was an 80# weight cardstock with a hard, smooth finish. This paper held the acrylic paints well with little to no warping and dried fast. I used the Epilog Mini laser to cut and etch my drawings. The vector cutting was at speed 20 / power 25 / hz 500. Only the slightest edge of the design had a sign of the laser, literally just the plane the thickness of the paper; viewed from above there was no visible scorch. The acrylic paints had some resistance to being etched and I used speed 100 / power 50 to etch the eye and a few lines.   Squid-Attack-03   Matte acrylic gel medium glued the arranged layers together. Boards and wax paper were helpful to press the art flat. I used a Micron pen to fill in the etched lines on the body and for the eye and some thinned white acrylic paint for highlights and reflections. I’m really happy with how my giant squids came out. This was unfortunate for anyone who was at the space today because I went around with them when they were done. It’s not often that someone comes up to you and asks, “Have you seen my squids?” File that under the heading “Because: Hackerspace.”

30

08 2014

ShapeOko Building Adventures So Far

Inventables donated a ShapeOko 2 CNC Router “The Works” kit to Pumping Station:One, and we’ve been doing a group build over four sessions so far. It’s been a chance for people to learn about open hardware and CNC firsthand from the ground up, and participate in making PS:One’s next machine. We’ve had participants with various levels of experience working together, and I think everyone learned something new.

During the first session, we assembled wheels and bearings, and attached them to plates for the x, y,and z axes. We started the next session with parts that looked like this:

shapeoko2-6

The instructions describe the z-axis assembly as the most intricate, and they’re not kidding. It took a lot of fiddly work and some mistakes to get here:

shapeoko2-7Here are some of the participants, planning what to do next:

shapeoko2-2We assembled the carriages, then the gantry and machine frame. The machine came together well during this session:

shapeoko2-8I think #1177 (“Minion”) the ShapeOko1 is jealous of its newer, larger, and shiner sibling #5549 (so far unnicknamed):

shapeoko2-1During the third session, we squared and wired the ShapeOko and installed the drag chain (“e-chain”) with some help from Zach from Inventables.

shapeoko2-5During the fourth session, we nearly finished the wiring and made a custom holder for the emergency stop button:

shapeoko2-4Thank you to everyone who helped so far! Our next build session will be Thursday, August 28th at 7pm in PS:One’s shop. We’ll be testing the motors, troubleshooting, and sending the “hello world” job. Come see the machine move!

Thank you Ron (I think) for the Session 2 photos and Allen for the Session 3 photo.

25

08 2014

Laser Collage: An art form for and from the hacker/maker community

Art-Sharks-Shellie-Lewis-2014-WEB

Art Sharks by Shellie Lewis, paper collage and laser technology, 6×8 inches, 2014.

Every artist hopes to come up with an original idea, to be on the forefront of the next big idea or movement. This is hoping against the odds as the past two centuries have seen an explosion of movements, styles and schools of thought that rained down in Western art like a meteor shower.  Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and many other modern movements would originate, peak and dissipate rapidly, lasting a few decades or less. World Wars arose and crushed other movements like Romanticism or Der Blaue Reiter. There are many forms of art that we can reach into the past and mine: appropriate and carry on with. In fact, schools of American Impressionists are still working in different lineages since the 19th century from William Merrit Chase, John Singer Sargent and other painters. Waves of more recent artists have imitated Picasso and Warhol. For the contemporary artist hoping to create something unique, there is very little chance of inventing something new.

Current technologies are opening the door for innovation. Many times, I am seeing where maker technologies are being used to vary production of traditional physical media arts and crafts. Laser cutters are being used to etch intaglio printmaking plates, textiles are incorporating electronics and lights, robotics are animating sculpture, and digital media is widely available. Video, animation and interactive arts are now accessible to most of the general public. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the hacker/maker culture.

Laser-collage-01-Shellie-Lewis-2014-WEB

 

I may have come upon an idea that can become an art style uniquely ours: Laser Collage. I have always enjoyed collage for drawing on images and materials readily available around people. At its most basic level, the only thing needed to create collage art is some form of glue or paste. Good scissors, a razor blade or hobby knife are helpful. Throughout art history, most fine art collage works have followed their siblings in painting and drawing, largely staying within the bounds of a rectangle or square. Contemporary painters such as Elizabeth Murray, Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly set their abstract works free from the tyranny of the rectangular border. Now artists in the hacker/maker community can liberate the collage from the rectangle.

Laser Collage innovates through using two things well loved in the hacker/maker community: digital vector art and laser cutters. By using a vector design, the exterior borders of a collage art can take any form. Art works can have further elements by using raster etching as well as the vector cutting abilities of the laser. Artists can utilize recycled materials. I am excited by the possibilities for this medium. Functional and three dimensional designs are possible beyond flat two dimensional art works. Laser Collage is an art style that frees the collage art to be any size and shape. This is an art form that can be uniquely ours.

Laser-collage-02-Shellie-Lewis-2014-WEB

 

My experiments with these samples were basic in materials. I used recycled chipboard (i.e. common food packaging like cereal boxes) and a simple glue stick. I avoided PVA [polyvinyl acetate] “white” glue since it is similar enough to PVC to be a possible problem with dangerous fumes from a laser. Any glycerine and wheat-based adhesive like glue sticks, YES! Paste or acrylic-based adhesive like gel medium should be safe for laser cutting.

Using the Epilog Mini 30W laser, I got an excellent cut through the variable thickness layers of paper and chipboard using a vector setting of speed 15 / power 100 / hz 2500. The edges have a little scorch, so you may want to adjust your cutting power or increase the speed. Raster etches were at speed 40 / power 100. Etching has interesting potential for etching your collage in a fashion that lower layers reveal different colors in the design. My approach was to cover the chipboard surface first in collage elements with my glue stick and then place it in the laser cutter for cutting and etching. The artist controls the materials used, color palette, range of colors, form of the collage pieces, flow of the collage design, number of layers cut by the laser, laser etching elements and the ultimate size and shape of the border.

Creators without access to a laser cutter could use vector designs using an electronic cutter like a software hacked Cricut, a Silhouette cutter or similar machine. I have often seen owners of these tools cut elements to incorporate into collages, artist books and paper arts, yet still retain the linear borders of a square or rectangle. Shaped collages would be restricted by the width of the cutting machine which is usually around 12 – 15 inches, whereas laser cutters tend to have larger cutting dimensions. I am most excited by the potential for the medium through laser cutting technology because a laser cuts details a lot finer than a metal blade can and etching adds more depth to the design.

 

Inspired by Shark Week 2014!

Inspired by Shark Week 2014!

 

Laser Collage is my humble offering to the continuum of Western art history. Maybe I will be the only one interested in this form but I am putting the concept online hoping other people will want to try it. Mixed media elements including paints, markers, pens and pencils can also be easily incorporated. Feel free to experiment with the process on your own and please respond if you want to show your work in this medium, if you have any discoveries or develop a variation of the technique.

22

08 2014

Fixing the Welcome Pi/Bone

Welcome TV

Welcome TV

When I first visited the space over a year and a half ago now, the first thing I saw when walking in the door was a big TV showing various information, including bus times and the space’s blog. I immediately wanted to know how it worked and was told it was transmitting through a Raspberry Pi. I would later learn how they worked and, recently, what that one was doing specifically. I have dubbed the TV the “Welcome TV” and whatever runs it similarly. Since then, the RPi has stopped transmitting successfully and I began to figure out to fix it, or rather replace it.

After research and lucky guesses, I found the software it was using was Screenly. The issue with Screenly is that its not open source and very limited in the free version. Also, after reinstalling it a few times, it doesn’t seem to like our network. So I decided to use something else. I found that a Beaglebone Black should do the trick with a program called Xibo. Both are more complicated and suitable than the RPi and Screenly.

So far, I have found that Xibo should work on a Beaglebone running Ubuntu, but have not had the chance to test it since Maker Faire Detroit was this weekend and have been busy with classes otherwise. It should get tested by the end of this week and I’ll know for sure if it will work. The Xibo team does not officially support it for RPi and assumingly Beaglebone either so I’m making it using forums and the seat of my pants. Which is arguably, the best way to make.

03

08 2014

Dean’s Dust Collection System

 

There are many exciting things happening in the shop lately including the ShopBot CNC router and dust collection system. The latter of which I will tell you about now. The dust collection system is a project that Dean is in charge of. He has been diligently staying late in the evenings to work on it, sometimes until 1:00 AM. The dust collection system will be made up of a filter, blower, a Clear Vue cyclone and ducting. The ducting will be attached to the ShopBot,  SawStop table saw, band saw, and other tools in the wood shop.

The air will be sucked into the cyclone by the fan, which runs on a 3 phase induction, 5 horsepower motor. It will then be filtered in two stages. The first stage is the cyclone, which will filter out heavier particles into a trash can below it. The second stage will be an actual filter that will trap all the smaller particles. After that, the filtered air will be blown back into the shop.

There is also a Dylos air quality monitor hooked up in the shop that keeps track of the particles in the air. It can be hooked up to a computer via an RS232 serial port for graphing purposes. Besides that, it displays the current readings on both large and small particles. The hope is that the readings will drop significantly after the dust collection system is up and running.

I would like to thank Michael S. for doing the wiring for this and Dean for his many hours of labor on this project. We all hope it will make the shop much tidier and I am certain it will. Also, Dean would like help installing the ducting, which arrived today!

 

10

07 2014

Join Us For Some Science!

spring

Hands-On Science | Experimentation | Curiosity Knows No Bounds

Applied Sciences Chicago

This is a group for anyone interested in applied sciences, including optical and scanning electron microscopy, fermentation science, saponification, herbalism, astronomy and planetary science, and citizen science.

We started this Meetup because many people think science must be done in a lab with expensive equipment. We want to show how easy and fun scientific experiments can be. We will gather to do science, talk about news in the world of science, and have field trips to places like Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin.

This group is open to people of all experience levels, from complete newbies to working scientists. Bring your curiosity and join us!

Also, please like our page on Facebook. Help us reach 100 likes by the end of July!

07

07 2014

Hack Your Coffee!

image_9

Have you ever felt dissatisfied?

Have you ever woken up in the morning, considered all the projects you had ahead for the day, all the worthless meetings and teleconferences, and just said, “blah?”

You take a sip of your morning coffee, expecting a moment of brightness, goodness, something to cling onto by the fingernails, to hold you throughout the day, as you say to yourself, “You know, today is gonna suck, but at least I have this freshly brewed Java Supremo from Overpriced Cafe”?

You take that sip… and you say to yourself, “Really?  That’s it?  This is how my day is going to begin, not with a bang, but with a whimper?”

Yes, I too have felt that way.  I had wished there was a way I could seek out bold new flavor profiles in my morning coffee, beyond just “mild” “medium” and “strong.”  I wished there was a way to hack my morning coffee.

Thankfully, there are options.  Today, we are trained to only look for coffee at our grocer, or perhaps at the local cafe where we can pick and choose from pre-selected and pre-roasted coffee, perhaps even pre-ground, for our approval.  Or, we can do things the way our great-great-grandparents did it, which is, we roast our own damn coffee.  There are many ways to do this, one of which is with an air-pop popcorn popper.

image_3

That’s right, this noble device, previously only a monotasked tool to deliver copious amounts of fluffed corn to your gaping maw whilst watching reruns of ‘Love Boat’ and ‘Magnum PI’ can also serve as a way to roast our precious coffee the same way the pioneers did.  Well, not really, but close enough.

Currently only one batch of green coffee beans has been successfully roasted and served to unsuspecting denizens of PS:1 (No, those are not flavor crystals, THAT’S REAL FLAVOR DANGIT) to glowing reviews.  This is only a proof-of-concept batch at this point, with much more work and experimentation to be conducted, but with continued testing and sampling, the overall goal is to create a viable procedure, optimize the process, and eventually create the capability at PS:1 to roast coffee, and tailor to your specific discerning tastes.

The output of this project will include a wiki page with optional training, an understanding of the variables of coffee roasting and how to tweak the process to serve your tastes (i.e. using APPLIED SCIENCE to understand the roasting process), and recommendations on where to source green coffee beans.

More information is forthcoming in a future 300 Seconds of Fame!

 

 

 

02

07 2014

Liquid Nitrogen – Part 1

LN2 withdrawal systemLiquid nitrogen (LN2) rocks. Yes, officially speaking, I need to get liquid nitrogen at PS:One so that we can do serious sciencey stuff, like, say, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy on the scanning electron microscope. But, unofficially? Driving nails into wood with a frozen banana, or making ice cream, is just plain awesome. And the clouds of chilled water vapor billowing out of flasks like something from a mad scientist’s lab… what can I say, I’m easily amused.

First, we need a source to buy LN2. Fortunately, a very generous individual, who happens to own a really cool company that has helped us in the past with CO2 tanks and refills, and provided free LN2 to test the EDX detector on the scanning electron microscope, offered us a great deal for purchasing it. But transporting -321F liquid to PS:One and storing it presents unique challenges.

LN2 boring the plugSo we need to start with a large storage dewar. These can be ridiculously expensive. I scoured eBay, found one, posted a crowdfunding request to the PS:One mailing list, and, thanks to the generosity of a bunch of donors, I made the purchase.

Read the rest of this entry →

26

06 2014

From Laser Cutting to Casting — Starting My Projects at Pumping Station: One

photo 2

Here is my latest creation

photo 1

In wax before it is to be cast

This is a turkey vulture pendant that I created as per request of a member here for a birthday present. The recipient is a Naturalist for the Nature preserve here in IL.

So how I went about creating this: created the design through Adobe Illustrator, laser cut the pendant out with our Epilog  laser engraver, and did a lost wax cast to get the final piece in sterling silver, then added a patina to the metal for the shading.

To check out my website or contact me for collaborations see www.ellagentz.squarespace.com.

24

06 2014

First Hackaday Prize Session

We just ended out first meeting which consisted of an overview of the contest, introductions, individual skill sets and brainstorming project ideas. So far, we are going to do something involving plants. Whether that is hacking a plant directly or using sensors around a plant is yet to be determined. Feel free to attend our second meeting which is tentatively to be held next Wednesday at 7:00 PM.

11

06 2014