There are a lot of online mask patterns that can be printed and cut out with scissors, but it would be much nicer to laser cut one. Let the laser do the hard work. I did these four mask designs tonight; they are perfect for a last minute costume for makers on the go or their kids. Now you can put the roll of toilet tissue back and do better than being a mummy this year. Download the patterns on Thingiverse here.
Pumping Station: One is having a Halloween Party! The theme for this party is: MONSTER MASH! Bring your best ghouls, wights, Frankensteins, wizards, and werewolves to celebrate the holiday with us.
The party will start at 20:00 on Saturday, November 1st. We’ll have some beer and food available, even a Pumpkin Ale which we will be brewing at PS:One this Sunday! If you want anything in particular, feel free to BYOB.
Entrance to the party is free, but a donation of $5 to support the hackerspace is suggested. While it’s not required, you can RSVP on the meetup group to let us know you’re coming.
(We would also really appreciate if anyone wants to come by Sunday morning to help with the cleanup.)
This Saturday I’m celebrating my birthday with a solder party in the PS:One Electronics Lab. Everyone is invited to join me in building a large electronic art work for my upcoming gallery show No-Fi, at Chicago Artists Coalition.
There’ll be pizza, cake, drinks, and lots of knitted circuit boards. Come any time and stay as long as you like. We’ll be there til we run out of things to solder and/or food. Please RSVP onMeet Up so we can plan ahead.
Lucid Dream: Any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.
Dream Hackers Club took a field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art to practice reality checking this past Thursday.
Reality Check: Any actthat can be done to help determine whether one is awake or in a dream state.
We practiced building reality checking habits such as reality checking while entering a new room. We also practiced reality checking when we encountered anything dreamlike, which was often since we were surrounded by surrealist art. Later, we enacted lucid dreaming scenes to help us practice making purposeful decisions when we become lucid.
If you would like to find out how you can attended our next field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art with FREE museum admission come to Dream Hackers Club this Sunday at 7 pm in the craft room.
This past week I had the chance to look at a damaged piece of Kodachrome film using the SEM. Many thanks to Ryan for being an SEM sensei and preparing my sample!
I had recently acquired a box of sixty year old slides from my grandfather, visibly moldy and containing almost no recognizable subjects. The Kodachrome frames are unlabeled except for one: “Pat” written in pencil. I digitized them using a high res flatbed scanner and the resulting images are abstracted, textural, wrinkled, aged, rotten layers of purples and browns. In a few of the slides, a section of a window is visible, a head of a horse, two posed women. Pat turned out to be totally enshrouded in a mold veil, like most of the images. She along with the other photographic subjects had been displaced by abstracted, festering growths.
Sinewy veins stretch across, interspersed with round sacs and sac covered cylindrical pellets. Some other spherical growth breaks the surface creating a hungry alien mouth form. These images got me thinking about the many complicated layers of cultural artifacts. The film slides are part of my family archive, they indicate 1950’s photo technology, they’re fragile physical objects susceptible to mold growths. What do valued objects/ object of nostalgia become when they are separated from their initial purpose? What does it mean to keep a box of film if the intended images are no longer there? The photographer, the creator of the original image, has been deprived of his control as biological functions resulting from imperfect environment and time have taken over.
In a sense, I hope to continue the life of these objects by pushing them into their new life as veiled, abstracted images, reminders that physical world continually effects our efforts to preserve and keep stagnant. While I don’t know who Pat is, or what she looks like, I have a pretty incredible image of something related to her.
We’d previously had problems with the SEM’s vacuum system that prevented us from looking at new samples. This is now fixed! So to celebrate, I intend to do some sample preparation. (We’ve got a 3D printer nozzle to measure and examine, and a piece of color slide film covered in mold.) This will be the first time I’ve opened the sample chamber for a public demonstration.
I’d also like to thank two people who made this possible. Bruce McConachie donated the funds to purchase the parts to repair the scope. And Fitterdave did some very difficult TIG welding to fabricate a custom adaptor.
We we will be ending SEM Office Hours early to accommodate the second Applied Sciences event of the evening. At 8:30, Elizabeth Koprucki will be presenting a lecture: Explore Our Solar System: Data from Space and What You Can Do With It.
So come on out, and, in the words of the venerable Sarcastic Rover:
In case hacking on robots is your thing, we’re going to be having a SIGBOT meeting this Thursday. SIGBOT is the Special Interest Group for Robotics. We build, program, and do just about anything to do with robotics.
At this Thursday’s meeting, I’m going to give a brief overview of the Quickbot (http://o-botics.org/robots/quickbot/mooc/v2/), a small mobile robotics platform designed for teaching people how to control mobile robots. I should have one there and put together for people to poke at if they want to.
The meeting is at 19:00 on September 18, 2014 up in the electronics lab of Pumping Station: One.
“Alan Turing is the genius British mathematician who helped save millions of lives by breaking the German naval Enigma code during World War II. He also was the visionary scientist who gave birth to the computer age, pioneered artificial intelligence, and was the first to investigate the mathematical underpinnings of the living world. Turing is one of the great original thinkers of the 20th century who foresaw the digital world in which we now live. In the eyes of many scientists today, Turing sits alongside Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Charles Darwin at the table of scientific greats.
Instead of recognition for his genius, Alan Turing was driven to a terrible despair and early death – by the nation he had done so much to save…”
When: Friday September 5, 7:30 PM-9:30 PM
Doors open at 7. Feel free to BYOB. Afterwards there will be discussion. This event is free and open to the public.
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. 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. 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.