Parametric Hat Blocks

As part of a series of projects for Pork Pie Hatters, I’ve been reviving some old hat making equipment through a combination of laser cutting, CNC milling, and some older tried and true fabrication techniques. My favorite of these projects has been a series of hat blocks designed in SolidWorks and milled in ash.

The five Phrenology hats: Adler, Kinsey, Maslow, Freud, and Briggs.

The goal has been to recreate a number of classic hat styles for a complete production run of custom hats. The hats themselves are being fabricated at the Pork Pie Hatters Williamsbug shop. The major challenge of this project has been to recreate a complete series of hat blocks from a series of reference forms and drawings, keeping in mind the key elements crucial to each particular hat style. It would be simple to make a series of hat blocks fit for a complete set of head sizes by taking a single design and scaling it up or down. But, the crucial gesture of each design would be lost. The features like pinches in the front, the curve of the ridge along the crest of the hat, the indent at the top of a pork pie, all shift and scale independently to work holistically on different sized heads. Continue reading

Narwhal BBQ Skewers

Over the past few months I’ve been working with Melissa Dowell to make these lovely Narwhal Skewers and now (after a good deal of prototyping, experimentation, poking, and prodding) they’re finally out. The process that went into these is actually kind of fascinating first because of how difficult it was to hone in on the right way to design these in CAD and secondly because of how many different directions we explored before finally landing on the final design.

Left to right: The earliest narwhal sculpt by Melissa, the first printed prototype, and a revised prototype.

The whole project started with some sketches from Melissa. From there we chatted about ideas, industrial design considerations, and manufacturing constraints. I felt that it would be reasonable to fasten a twisted rod into a cast metal handle and we could core out the handle to provide both the fastenings for the rod and minimize weight and material.

Melissa sculpted an oversize polymer clay narwhal that we finessed and modified until it had the desired gesture and proportions. From there, we took it to Numidas Prasarn to get the thing scanned and digitized. Continue reading

Laser Cut Hat Stands

I’ve been designing things for Pork Pie Hatters for a year, now. This has included their site, a custom door, some signage, an extra large stamp, a series of hats, and a host of other things. Recently, we’ve been talking about displays, interior decoration, and finding ways to maximize the hats on display while keeping a lid on the clutter. The main problem with selling anything in Manhattan is finding a place to put any stock that isn’t out on the shelves, and the problem with buying anything in Manhattan is sorting it into your microscopic apartment. So, I came up with some flat pack hat stands.

The idea is to send folks home with hats on their heads and a flat pack hat stand, so they don’t have to find room in their lives for a hat box. Traditionally hat boxes come as flat cardboard assemblies that you construct into these 2’x2’x1′ nightmares, or they’re fully assembled oval extrusions whose main aim in life is to take up space. Continue reading

Foldy Zoetrope

I made little foldy zoetropes to send folks for the holidays. Now that they’re all sent out and people have had a chance to enjoy them, I figured I could reveal the design without anybody feeling less special. I should release the design and talk about the process behind making them. I should have time for that soon. In the meantime, check out the construction tutorial video after the fold. Continue reading

Princess Jellyfish Laser Bento

I’m a big fan of Princess Jellyfish. It’s stuffed with features and themes near and dear to my heart: gender identity and ambiguity, discovering a world outside your nerd bubble, finding outlets for your passions through building things, how style and aesthetics are a language unto themselves, the clash of cultures between the nerdy and the stylish. It’s lovely stuff.

For Halloween, Numi and I decided to have a Princess Jellyfish themed party. This mostly involved taking an idea we’d been scheming for a long time, a bento box featuring laser cut nori illustrations, and lavishing some love and attention on it. This also meant a day spent snacking on fried things, hunting around for esoteric ingredients all across town, and watching anime on youtube. Good times all in all, especially after being cooped watching Sandy rage outside. Continue reading

Silver TARDIS Ring

So, after some trial and error, I finally have some lovely TARDIS rings to show off. They’re cast from a high resolution 3d print generated in SolidWorks. One of the beautiful bits about using a CAD program to drive the design is that I can change the proportions of the ring, shank, and TARDIS independently while keeping it within some attractive, reasonable proportions.

They’re available for presale on Etsy. Continue reading

Guy Fawkes Bandannas

After seeing protests erupt all over the world I wanted to make something that could change the game a little. I want people to be able to protest with OWS without the risk of being fired for showing solidarity. I wanted to make something useful, portable, something that could make the biggest difference to the most people. I came up with this mask.

It’s a foldable guy fawkes bandana that can be worn as a full or half face mask. It’s printed with safe sane protesting advice about dealing with police, sharing your location, who to call in the event of legal troubles, and more.

I’m selling them on my store, with one donated to an OWS branch around the world for each one sold –etsy.me/fawkesbandana

You can find a whole slew of images up on Flickr. Continue reading

Hackerspace Passports

For the past month I’ve been designing some passports with Mitch Altman. The purpose is to get people visiting more hackerspaces, interacting with the communities held within, and spreading ideas across different groups.

I find the scavenger hunt element – trying to fill every blank space in your “visas” section with stamps from hackerspaces across the world – incredibly appealing. I’m eager to see the stamps spaces come up with, the inks they use, and the clever elements they find to tuck in with their own passports.

If anyone reading this happens to be investigating creating stamps for their own hackerspace I got some awesome ones made up for incredibly cheap at Simon’s Stamps. I’ve been experimenting with laser cutting my own in rubber, and the results are pretty promising. You might also consider laser cutting molds and casting your own stamps. I’ve also found that gradient stamp pads lend an incredibly polished bureaucracy-approved look to your stamps.

You can download your own passport here.

Bonus:

MAKE, Adafruit

Pillow Mace!


I just put the finishing touches on a mace-shaped pillow, fashioned for NYC’s Pillow Fight Flash Mob this Saturday.  It rocks the awesome. Surprisingly it took a good yard of cushion foam and two bags of poly-fill to do this one up right and get it nice and spherical. In other interesting news this may be the first dodecahedron I’ve ever constructed.

Now, I’m not quite sure whether to call it complete and just bop people in my normal casual wear, or put together an entire Little Nemo themed ensemble to accompany it. I’ve looked into adult size footie pajamas, but they’re mad expensive for such a frivolous purpose.

Expect a forthcoming Instructable soon. Continue reading

The Anywhere Organ

Painting organ bits late at night.

I’m developing an enormous interactive musical sculpture called the Anywhere Organ. It uses organ pipes, salvaged from discarded church organs. With a combination of some electronics and CAD I’ve designed a system that can easily be expanded to more voices and pipes as I gather more pipes and add to the instrument.

This sculpture is about replicating all the most incredible aspects of pipe organs: the way they fill a space with sound, how the instrument and the building that houses it are all part of the same sonic system playing each other, how beautiful the pipes are when seen rank upon rank together, how they can mix different voices and instruments together to create complex other-worldly sounds. The crucial difference between your ordinary run-of-the-mill organ and the Anywhere Organ is that the Anywhere Organ can be brought anywhere, turning any space into a cathedral of sound.

Since church organs are fading out, steadily being replaced by digital music systems, it’s become easy to find salvaged organ parts. I’ve created a design that can easily be scaled to fit any collection of pipes from any organ. That means I can integrate pipes from hundreds of different derelict organs into one complete instrument.

Dynamically generated CAD through SolidWorks.

I’d like to make the Anywhere Organ as large, beautiful, and easy to play as possible. I’d like to create elaborate installations that make music in response to people dancing. I’d like to hybrid with musicians to make Bach concertos in abandoned buildings.

I’ve been building and refining designs for nearly two years, trying to produce a bulletproof installation that can survive the slings and arrows of ad hoc public installations. One of the major advantages of doing my prototyping through laser cutting is that different iterations are quick to produce and aren’t hampered by imperfections in execution. What you draw is what you get when it comes to laser cutting.

Me holding up the "Editor's Choice" award at World Maker Faire 2011.

The organ has played at World Maker Faire 2011 (where it won an “Editor’s Choice” award), the Lost Circus, Figment NYC, and the Amanda Palmer Kickstarter Countdown (where it was played by the Grand Theft Orchestra and Amanda Palmer herself). It has been featured on the Dark Roasted BlendKickstarterCoilhouse, and MakeZINEFEAST and The Awesome Foundation have been absolutely instrumental in the process of bringing this idea to fruition. I also had a massive surge of help from Kickstarter, recently, funding the Anywhere Organ to the tune of $3001!

For a running record of my progress you should take a look at http://anywhereorgan.tumblr.com. The source for the Anywhere Organ has also been released on Thingiverse.