Archive for the 'research' Category

Shillito A. M. Digital Crafts: Industial Technologies for Applied Artists and Designer Makers. 2013

This book by Ann Marie Shillito has been published in October 2013 by Bloomsbury. The first heading of the introduction reads, ‘Don’t be intimidated!’ and serves as Shillito’s motivational motto for the interested maker who is on the verge to engage with digital technologies. ‘I want this book to empower, knowing that engagement with and access to digital technologies will continue to improve and that as designer makers we have exceptional knowledge and expertise to take full advantage of all the means available to enhance our practice.’

Digital crafts cover sml

A practicing designer/maker with a background as a jeweller, Shillito is also the founder of Anarkik3D developer of the 3D modelling product Cloud9. This software enables the user to employ haptic feedback – with a force feedback device – to model virtual 3D objects using also their sense of touch. (I was priveledged to tested an early prototype of this system – it had also stereo-scopic vision co-located with the users real gestural positions).

I like the fact that this complex and multifaceted theme is introduced by an experienced maker. In writing this book, Shillito has also included the voices and works of 45 international contributors who have included digital technologies together with their practice to various degrees.

Being image rich, this book makes it easy to see the diverse opportunities digital technologies have to offer for craft and design practitioners. It takes an honest look as to what would be requried from a maker to access these opportunities. The investment in acquiring the necessary skills is significant. A chapter each is given to 2D and 3D technologies and there distinct applications. Chapter 6 ‘Accessing digital technologies’ might be of particular interest to the novice digital/maker.

Chapter 2, ‘A craft-minded approach’, touches on important questions for contemporary making that sees traditional disciplines becoming less defined through the very technologies that hold so much potential for them. This chapter sets the context against which this book draws its value. It canvases the value of the skills and approaches unique to the designer/maker that both inform the output the creative works as well as the development/application of these digitally-based processes.

I have been familiar with all the technologies introduced in Digital Crafts and have used a fair part of them directly. While all aspects are illustrated with completed works by competent digital Designer/makers, I would have been interested to see how some of these works progressed from conception to realisation.

Digital Craft is certainly a worthwhile resource for anyone interested in the contemporary Designer/Maker model as well as the current state of digital manufacturing and the processes required to access them.

Link to Anarkik3D

ur QR

I am getting quite fond of QR (quick reference) codes. These strange square pattern link the ‘real’ world to information or places in cyperspace. You can ‘read’ them with your smart phone – I use the iPhone app QRReader – or create them with their phone or on a website like qrstuff. Such a code can assist with promoting professional practice and can find its way on your business and invitation cards as well as your email signature block.

Here is a QR code linking straight to my new website.

(Either scan it with a QR reader or just click on it)

Image

craft and design experience in Canberra for Vicki Halper

Below you can find a list of craft & design organisations and individuals relating to the Canberra part of the visit to Australia by Vicki Halper a USA based Smithsonian Senior Fellow.

Robert Foster, Vicki Halper, Gilbert Riedelbauch and Catrina Vignando at GAD

Robert Foster, Vicki Halper, Gilbert Riedelbauch and Catrina Vignando at the Gallery of Australian Design

Her visit was made possible through funding from the Australia Council. Her dense Canberra itinerary reflects the surprisingly active and rich design scene in this city, however one has to know where to look or whom to contact to get a true sense of it.

Her visit coincided with a symposium about Design education at the Australian National University and the ‘City of Design’ talkfest at CraftACT. Vicki’s contribution to both events were very well received and stimulated informed discussions about important contemporary issues in the craft/design field. I am particularly grateful for the time she spend with our design arts students.

Craft Australia, Host organisation

School of Art, Australian National University

The following speakers presented at the ‘DesignPlan ACT‘ a discussion about design education:

National Gallery of Australia

CraftACT – craft and design centre

The following presented at the ‘City of Design’ talkfest at CraftACT:

Canberra Glassworks

  • Ann Jackle, Executive Director,
  • Clare Belfrage, Artistic Director

Gallery of Australian Design

Gallery and Workshop Bilk contemporary jewelery and glass & metal objects

Here are a few links to makers who were mentioned frequently:

and Gallery Metalab, Sydney

I tried my best to put this list together for Vicki. If you think I have forgotten someone she has met or should know, please let me know.

It was a great pleasure to meet and get to know Vicki during her stay in Canberra.

All you can do with materials

‘One can do only four things with material’, is my current theory I like to test with this post. Four steps apply to the majority of making processes and some aspects of these are shifting from the makers workbench to distributed digital fabrication online.

It is worthwhile to look at these shifts in more detail as the mastery of digital technologies is involved in defining contemporary craft practitioners as ‘Designer Makers’.

The four processes are:

Cutting – Forming – Fusing Finishing

About these categories:

Many materials used by makers are available in flat, like sheet metal, fabric, glass. Traditional cutting tools such as saws, scissors, blades are used on them, while at the same time digitally controlled cutting processes like laser & water-jet cutting or CNC plasma cutting are becoming more and more accessible. Digital processes influence most significantly the first category, cutting. Just about all flat materials can be ‘fashioned’ this way, allowing the maker to achieve repeatable precision parts countless times. These technologies are still very specialised and expensive usually out of reach of the individual maker. However a growing fabber network will bring these tools closer to the workshop of the individual maker.

The forming is still mostly in the hands of the crafts practitioner with digital 3 dimensional processes only on the periphery and used in niche applications. Once cut to size, many materials are traditionally formed through impact like the use of hammers or with the help of heat, steam or formed into and over molds. Rabid prototyping is a representing the digital fabrication for this category. For example in contemporary jewelery very detailed 3D wax or polymer prints are used to achieve –  once cast in metal – very unique results.

The third category, fusing, relies heavily on the skilled work of the maker and no influence of any digital technology in this category is evident. All crafts have developed processes of combining materials either two of the same kind or as a mix of different materials. Some are permanent while others can be separated again. These fusing processes include welding, gluing, riveting, stitching, bolting.

Finishing: the treatment of the works surface is typically one of the last steps in the making process, while adding significant value to the finished object, it is time consuming.  Many of the finishing processes are completed by hand. However an increasing number of digital and computer controlled processes are relevant to this category such as digital printing on fabric, laser engraving. Some of the finishing processes are mechanical or chemical and can include techniques such as engraving, polishing, printing, anodizing, lacquering.

Digital fabrication has without doubt much to offer for contemporary craft practice and over time will get more important for the contemporary designer maker. By becoming more accessible digital fabrication has the potential to contribute significantly across the entire making processes.

To integrate these technologies with traditional tools the maker has to add the required digital skills to the tool set as well. Just about all cutting processes I mentioned are based on the ability to generate vector based drawings. These would require a basic knowledge of a software such as Illustrator.

To address rapid prototyping processes, one has to master a CAD program first. Typically this requires a much steeper learning curve until one is able to create a well-formed 3D computer model. However non of these skills can’t be learned (or taught for that matter).

Together with an increasingly fast, accessible internet and more user friendly web 2 services, digital fabrication is ready to be explored creatively.

web 2 and distributed manufacturing for designer – maker

Based on web 2 technologies, a growing variety of production processes are becoming easily accessible for anyone.
An online interface makes highly specialized technologies available. Once you setup your account, payment and shipping options are selected you can start producing and in some cases have access to a network of like-minded users or potential customers.
Companies like Ponoko (laser cutting and engraving), RedEye (Rapid Prototyping) and blurb (bookmaking) can successfully contribute to a designer/maker practice. A competent level of computer skills are required to address these services to achieve the best outcome. For waterjet or laser cutting, which are essentially two dimensional processes, of flat or sheet materials the mastery of a vector-based graphics program like Adobe Illustrator is essential. To use the RedEye ‘factory of the future’ one needs to generate a .stl file of a virtual 3D object that had been modeled in a CAD program.
The underlying specialized technology, for a long time the domain of the manufacturing industry, is expensive and usually out of reach of a single craft practitioner. If acquired, such equipment would ‘tie’ the individual maker to this technology for a long time and introducing a high level of risk to their business. Not to mention high running cost and that these digitally based technologies become obsolete within a few years.

desk lamp head

I have used several of these processes while designing and making the ‘desk light‘, it has a waterjet cut stainless steel plate, a lasercut lamp shade (Ponoko) and Rapid Prototyping parts. Using these technologies has led the design process to new solutions and made the making of this light relatively easy.

Highlights Exhibitions

My first solo exhibition since 2001 called ‘Highlights’ opened in February 2009 at Craft ACT in Canberra and then in May at Metalab, in Sydney. Many thanks to Catrina Vignando, general manager Craft Australia and Grace Cochran who have opened those shows respectively. Highlights represents a change in my practice with the focus on light objects as well as highlighting how combining making processes (manual, digital and distributed) can address the designer/maker model as a contemporary approach to craft. See earlier post of the design/making of the light ‘Desk 30’.

The exhibitions were well received and successfully set up by Jason Hugonnet, curator and exhibition manager Craft ACT and Cesar Cueva, director of Metalab. Please find Jason Hugonnet’s exhibition review here.

Highlights at CraftACT

Highlights at CraftACT, Canberra, Image by Creative Image Photography

Highlights at metalab, Sydney

Highlights at metalab, Sydney. Image 'Indesignlive.com'

I wish I had known about this site earlier. The “Rare Book Room”.

Many of my posts share findings about two particular prints published in Albrecht Dürer’s 2nd edition of the Painters Manual 1538 (Unterweysung der Messung). In order to see these woodcuts in relation to their descriptive texts and their ‘context’ within the book, I had to travel to Melbourne, Nürnberg, Munich and Vienna.

I could have had a very good ‘preview’ of this book on the “Rare Book Room” site where a good quality, page by page, reproduction of the Manual is available.

On the intro page of this fantastic site it says: ‘The Rare Book Room site has been constructed as an educational site intended to allow the visitor to examine and read some of the great books of the world.’ And it is a pleasure to turn the pages of these special books.

You can see the two prints by Dürer I referred in some of my posts in the rare bookroom here:

The Draughtsman of the Lute and A draughtsman drawing a reclining woman.

My blogs about the ‘Lute’ print are:
‘Did Albrecht Dürer get it wrong, a surprise discovery in one of his prints’
‘Ist Albrecht Dürer ein Fehler unterlaufen eine überraschende Entdeckung in seinem Holzschnittes der Zeichner der Laute’
‘Further to Albrecht Dürer woodcut The draughtsman of the Lute’

My blogs about the ‘Reclining woman’ are:
‘A page out of Dürer’s own copy of the Painters Manual’
‘Male or Female? One of Dürer’s prints in the context of gender, feminism and other theories.’
‘Dürer lost in translation? German Klartext and English translation of one page of Dürer’s handwritten manuscript of his 2nd edition of the painters manual’


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