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.