Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Companion Cube Wall Sconces

I have finally gotten the chance to update on one of my personal works, and hopefully I get the chance to update many more in the near future.  This work is based off of the Valve computer game Portal.  This dangerously addicting puzzle masterpiece with its witty sense of humor has become a favorite past time of my boyfriend and I.  So naturally, for our anniversary, I decided to make him something based off of the game that we spent so many hours playing together.

I have the computer program Rhinoceros in which I modeled the background portal booleaned to a half of a companion cube.  Modeling the portal was fairly easy, just making an oval with smoothed edges.  I did need to make the oval hollow however seeing that I wanted the piece to be light enough to hang on the wall. A general rule of thumb to follow when 3d printing hollow objects such as this is to have a sustainable wall thickness which I generally maintain at .08 inches depending on the piece (if I’m working in millimeters I generally keep objects solid for stability). To do this, I just offset my object within itself, then I booleaned differenced the offset object out of the original piece.  This leaves me a nice hollow cavity that saves me lots of money at the end of the day because it’s less material to print.

The trickiest part of creating the portal cube for me was the corners.  Getting that exact shape was fairly difficult and led to much cursing on my end while trying to get things to line up nicely.  However, the beautiful thing about the companion cube is that it’s symmetrical, so once I nailed down one corner I was able to mirror it to wherever it needed to be. 

I decided to print in plaster since it’s a cheap material, lightweight, and I am very familiar with it.  Fortunately I have a bunch of test parts of plaster lying around from previous projects, so I was able to test out how acrylic paint would dry on the material.  The plaster did absorb the paint slightly which gave it a softer look.  It also dried several shades lighter, so that is something to keep in mind if anyone wants to repeat my endeavor.  Overall, I thought the plaster received the paint nicely, so I decided against using any kind of sealer since it’s a decorative wall piece that will not be touched often.  Future projects I do plan on experimenting with sealers for wearable pieces. 

The printing provider I used was Shapeways (http://www.shapeways.com/).  They are very cost effective and super helpful if you have any questions.  They also provide a copious amount of printing materials to choose from.  So I highly suggest on checking them out. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

3d printed resin record

Recently in 3d printing technology a playable record was printed from the material resin with a Objet Connex 500.  Amanda Ghassaei documents her process in a video that I have linked below.  Most of us who have designed utilizing CAD are aware that you fabricate models by creating meshes that are made up of tiny little triangles.  Ghassaei explains, because of how complex it would be to traditionally draft an audio file, she had to create a program to do the conversion for her.  This conversion broke down the numbers that created the raw audio data into the form of a readable wave form or groove on the resin disc.  The wave length transcribed in the disc is read by the turntable stylus which travels along the path (groove) to re-create the path in an audio form that we can hear.

The quality of the recording is admittedly not great, but this does arise the question, how do different printed materials sound? The original vinyl record came into popularity since it had a much better sound quality than the original shellac records.    Over the last century we have moved from different ways to produce sound from the phonograph cylinder, to the shellac record, to the vinyl record, to the laser read compact disc, now we rely heavily on the mp3.

However, people are nostalgic.  What has come into fashion is using our current technology in the guise of its predecessor.  Such as the iphone with its retro hand telephone attachment. Or the large 1980's boombox that attaches to your mp3 player so you get that retro look with a clean modern sound.  We find it cool and hip to have the style of the yesteryear with the convenience of modern technology.  I would not find it surprising if this program is used in different materials to play with sound.  To use modern 3d printing technology to re-create something our parents used.  I would love to hear how different materials sounded and see what kind of music could be created with this program.  I really hope innovative companies like Shapeways eat this up and experiment to see how far we can go.


 http://www.amandaghassaei.com/3D_printed_record.html - Amanda Ghassaei's website with video and images

Sunday, July 14, 2013

liquid metal 3D Printer Shapeways3d printing is a new and exciting field in the world of design.  It has become an incredible tool for creating the relics bound within our imaginations and gives us a way to give them tangibility.  3d printing and rendering has come a long way since my professors’ education in the nineties where CAD was a complex programming software that you had to grapple with, let alone the cost of materials. Now our fortunate generation is the one with technology at our fingertips.  We have several different auto CAD programs at our mercy that we wield to create objects from a long list of very cost effective materials that our fore fathers of the CAD-iverse did not have.  It even has come to the point that I know several people with their own personal 3d printer and I myself plan to get one.  A few years ago the tech nerd would drop a small fortune on a maker-bot that they would assemble themselves, and that maker-bot would take several hours to heat abs nylon through a tube to create your object.  Now we have small 3d printers available for around $2000 that can print in multiple materials quickly and more efficiently than its maker-bot predecessor.   It’s incredibly the leaps and bounds that the 3d printing realm has taken in the last few years.

Here I have linked a video of one of the latest feats our generation has opened up to the world of 3d printing. Printing liquid metal, developed by a team at North Carolina University, they have found a way to oxidize the surface of a small bead of liquid metal to stabilize it enough so that it can remain in liquid form to create malleable liquid metal structures.  We are very used to heating polymer materials that quickly cool into non-malleable structures when taken away from its heat source.  Here we have a material that stays liquid in room temperature allowing further manipulation which can lead to huge leaps and bounds for the technology field when it comes to computer parts, wires, connectors, electrodes, etc.   Anyone who has worked with metal knows that metal, to become liquid, needs intense heat typically from a torch, and it does not stay liquid when that heat source is removed.  It cools far too quickly, but this technique finds a way around that reality.  From what I understand the metal they have chosen to work with is gallium.  It is a very soft metal that does not appear in nature.  

Gallium has a very low melting point, just above room temperature.  It has been reported that if the element is held long enough it will melt in your hand.  I know it seems less impressive using such a soft malleable metal for this technique, but the metal does have the conductivity needed for electronics and it could lead to new ways of printing with precious metals down the road.  I look forward to where this will lead printing with metals since we typically tend to focus on printing with polymers.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Farlow's Scientific Glassblowing Inc Takes An Artistic Look At Learning

So I came across a rather interesting company on the interwebs that does these phenomenal medical models that are completely rendered out of glass.  Farlow’s Scientific Glassblowing Inc. is a company based in California who feel very strongly that a learning tool can also be beautiful.  I have taken numerous biology and anatomy courses and have never come across a model that could be classified as art.

 Here we have a company that takes the artery system of the brain and creates a meticulous representation utilizing transparent glass tubes to depict the flow path that the blood takes.  The best part about this piece is that it is not just aesthetic but a fully functional model as well, so you can actually see the blood flow through the system.  Another model that really blew my mind (no pun intended) was the aneurysm model which shows the swollen area that happens in the artery by having a bubbled area in the glass tube in which blood will pool.  In addition to these models are ones for the heart, lungs, sinus, and other body systems.

However the most impressive model by far is the full size demonstrator system that they have cheekily nicknamed “Mrs. Einstein”.  This model has all the major arteries in the body represented and have them connected properly to the four chambers of the heart, so that this model also allows for functional use.  What is so wonderful about these pieces is that you can clearly see how everything works.  Traditionally most classes use animals to dissect, but even with the injected dyes it is really difficult to see what is going on without constant aid of a book. 

This really reminds me of the "Body Works" exhibit where they take actual bodies donated to science, and pose them so you can see how your body actually performs.  I would love to even see a collaboration or a similar exhibition.  This company is providing people a really beautiful way to learn and proving that learning doesn't have to be uninteresting.  I really hope to see more of these around especially since I haven’t gotten to chance to play with one myself.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hurricane Sandy's Effects on Silverware

A lot of us on the East Coast felt the effects of Hurricane Sandy, whether it was the torrential rainfall or the maelstrom winds, there was quite a bit of destruction left in her wake.  And as human beings often do, we cleaned up the mess and resumed our daily lives, quick to forget the chaos that was inflicted.  However, for many, Sandy had much more lingering effects.  Sandy is still a looming dark cloud to those who owned homes along the Jersey Shore who had to abandon their belongings and head inland for drier land.  Still today, they are waiting for a certificate of occupancy that will deem it safe for them to venture back into their homes and access the loss and damage.

In our shop in Philadelphia, we had a client wander in who did indeed own a shore house up in New Jersey.  Earlier this year, she was allowed to go back to her house to see what became of it.  Sure enough locked away in a safe in her garage was her entire collection of silverware.  Over 170 pieces of silver wrapped up in clothe that had become damp with salt water due to the fact her house was underwater for quite a bit of time.  She was dumbstruck by what she found.  Like most people, she assumed metal to be the epitome of strength, that nothing could possibly damage it.  Instead she was faced with silver streaked with black tarnish that does not wipe off.  She tried googling a solution to her affliction online to no avail. Soaking in baking soda, vinegar, and all other do-it-yourself remedies simply did not remove the darkness.  So she came to us.

What she has come across is Silver Sulphide, a tarnish that is a covalent bond that occurs between silver and sulpher.  This happens when silver comes in contact with a chemical compound, in this case salt water, and it is induced into a low oxidization state where sulpher gets negatively charged  and becomes sulphide.  That sulphide is what bonds to silver causing the black streaking.  On an atomic level, her silverware has changed, so no home remedy is going to take that away. 

Fortunately, hers is a simple solution. We have successfully been removing the tarnish by deeply polishing each piece, taking off that top layer of silver sulphide to reveal the untouched silver underneath.  Luckily we were able to salvage her beautiful collection and I hope she puts it to good use with a dinner party to celebrate.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Okay this one is a shout out to my fellow gemology lovers.  In Early April, I had the pleasure of being a first time attendee of the NY/NJ Mineral and Fossil Show. Being a long time veteran of many a craft show, I decided to try something new and see my beloved minerals in their most raw form. I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Most craft shows feature booths that are set up like individualized miniature showrooms that are meant to invoke a particular mood that the artist wants you to feel.  This often creates a feeling of disunity for the craft show as a whole since it feels like you're jumping from store to store.  This is widely excepted since each booth needs to be radically different from the next to stand out making sure the artist has their voice heard. The mineral show however was surprisingly cohesive.

You were almost automatically guided through by very well labeled showcases.  It almost felt like a pop up museum in how each different family of stone was sectioned off allowing you to compare and contrast it against it's brethren. I found myself giddy and love drunk over being able to take time to analyze these stones, how they were grown, where, how they attached to other minerals,  and all other aspects of their creation.  Of course my euphoria was contagious.  I found myself conversing with other visitors that were equally as ecstatic as me to share the knowledge and wonderment of the spectacle sprawled out before us.

Now the gemstones themselves were the obvious showstoppers.  From the gargantuan to the pocket sized and growing in every direction off of every mineral imaginable.  The most successful portion of the show for me was the precious gemstone area.  It was off to the side in it's own little room with the displays set up very much like the rest of the show.  However, what made this part meaningful to me was the fact that the raw gemstones were put on display next to polished, cut, finished, and set into jewelry gemstones.  Seeing where that stone came from and how it originally looked makes you appreciate all the work that stone cutters truly do.  Jewelers often say the stone usually inspires the pieces they create. They build a work to showcase the stone, and this display in the precious gemstone area really exhibited that creation process well. You see the raw stone, which the cutter visualizes a cut stone. That stone gets cut and polished, then it's displayed in a piece of jewelry. Seeing that process broken down really created a new appreciation for gemstones for me. A lot of times you forget where they come from since we are used to seeing so many finished and accessible.

Something I would like to see, and have seen very little of, would be raw gemstones set as they are.  They come in such unique and beautiful shapes before they're cut. Even the inclusions give them a unique essence, writing a story only that particular gemstone can sow because it was in the right place at the right time to be grown.  I would love to see more jewelers share that side of the story.  I do admit to seeing some contemporary pieces exhibiting raw diamonds, but I'd love to see more.

I could go on forever about this wondrous experience and definitely know I will be checking out it's sister shows in the fall.

For more information check out their site

Monday, April 29, 2013

The 9.6 Million Dollar Blue Diamond

This fancy, deep-blue 5.30 carat diamond sold for a world record-breaking $9.6 million at a Bonhams auction in London. Diamontologists everywhere are in a frenzy over the new record breaking sale that occurred at the Bonhams Auction in London last Wednesday. Bonhams is an auction house, established in 1793, that specializes in the fine arts, antiques, and collectibles. So it is not surprising for Bonhams to gain access to such a rare treat of a 5.3 carat blue beauty such as this.  Sold at $1.8 million per carat, shattering the previous record for the sale of a blue diamond at $1.6 million per carat, makes this the most valued blue diamond sold in auction.

Blue diamonds themselves are a rare treat.  Diamonds are comprised purely of the element carbon.  However when boron, similar in structure to carbon, makes its way into the mix of heat and pressure, you are left with a blue diamond. Why is that? Because boron absorbs low energy red light which filters through as that gorgeous blue hue that we have all fallen in love with.  Most colored diamonds are lighter in color leaving a want for rich saturation. Excitingly enough, this piece has been unquestionably been graded a fancy deep blue in natural color.  A hard find indeed, but it gets better with VS2 clarity.  No inclusions to be seen by the naked eye allowing us to revel in the deep blue cushion cut paradise. It's okay to drool over it because I know I am.

The diamond was not sold loose, which is often the case with these larger rarer gems.  It was set in 1965 by Bulgari in a Trambino setting which truly accentuates it's center with the use of the baguette side stones.  As you can see, the baguettes are set in a channel on either side of the center. This creates movement by utilizing the lines between the baguettes and the channel itself to forcefully drive the viewer's eye to the center.  I applaud the daring of the design because quite frequently designers play it safe and leave large gemstones to stand alone. Here the designer took that beautiful stone and gave it importance when they made the bold move of placing the baguette channels on either side.

This stone has definitely earned it's place as the most expensive blue diamond sold in auction.

Please be sure to check out Bonhms' video of the auction! http://www.bonhams.com/video/13456/

Sources :


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tiffany's Homage To The Great Gatsby

Photo: Tiffany & Co. collaborated with the film’s Academy Award®-winning costume and production designer Catherine Martin to transform the fourth floor of the Fifth Avenue flagship store into a Jazz Age salon replete with urns featured in the film’s decadent party scenes.

On Wednesday April 17th Tiffany & Co. revealed their newest window display in homage to Baz Luhrmann's upcoming film "The Great Gatsby".  The original book, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was set in the roaring 1920's. This Jazz Age is the latest jewelry craze, and I absolutely applaud Tiffany for making that connection. The hottest designs selling right now are the micro beaded creations of Scott Kay and Neil Lane.  Both designers openly admit to drawing inspiration from the glitz and glam of old Hollywood, but bring a modern twist for today's woman.

Tiffany & Co. remain the pioneers of jewelry design and really stay ahead of the curve by realizing that display and delivery of a design is equally as important as the design itself.  When you display your jewelry, that's your moment to have a conversation with your viewer and convey your message.  Tiffany & Co. is unique in that they can successfully mass produce jewelry on a large scale, and yet at the same time, masterfully produce one of a kind pieces that become groundbreaking in the jewelry design world.

Photo: Today is the final day of our exclusive preview of the 2013 Blue Book Collection. Visit our Blue Book tab and enter the password BLUE BOOK to discover today’s glamorous new jewel inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s film The Great Gatsby in collaboration with Catherine Martin: http://bit.ly/Z3S252
Here we see one of those times where Tiffany & Co. flawlessly bring the Jazz Age to life from the watercolor designs in their Blue Book all the way to the vintage display cases on the fourth floor of their location on Fifth Avenue.  Even the interior decoration of the display room was antiqued to resonate the glamour of that era.  Jay Gatsby was written to be the life of the party, larger than life, and I do believe Tiffany created the perfect environment to echo that persona.



                       Photo: Brilliant diamonds effervesce like champagne, evoking the grand parties of the Roaring Twenties.



https://www.facebook.com/Tiffany?fref=ts images found on The Tiffany & Co. Facebook page

Monday, April 8, 2013

Alright kids, so I'm giving this blogging a go.  I am an assistant designer on Jeweler's Row in Philadelphia, so here you can look forward to many posts on what is going on in the design world and how it affects the jewelry industry.  It's exciting for me to be part of the blogging community that is so rampant in the design community as of right now. Hopefully soon I will be able to link and engage with other bloggers to keep an open discussion on what's going on in our field. I think it's important for designers to remain in open contact with one another.  That way we can give and receive positive and negative feedback to continue to push ourselves further.  In this contemporary day and age, we have many more options to feed our artistic outlets as well as many more peers than ever before.  This is the golden age of design, and I am very excited to share my experiences with you.