Print Your Own Robot: Part 1

I’ve had an outrageous streak of luck, lately. Firstly, I got a lovely plug from BoingBong (via the additionally lovely Xeni Jardin) that introduced a whole slew of new people to my store. Secondly, an event I’ve been hosting over at my shop, Craft Night, has been drawing an incredible crowd of excellent makers. It’s starting to feel like I’ve got a genuine tribe here in the city. Thirdly, I’ve finally been able to experiment with a technology I’ve been talking about and sketching for years: soft robots.

My friend, the extraordinary jeweler, maker, and programmer Aaron Waychoff, introduced me to Jim Bredt. Jim is many things. He moonlights as the human spotlight at the Ignobel Awards. He’s a metal smithing, mold making, 3d printing, material scientist, MIT professor. He also won an award for being a major ball buster when he taught “Introduction to Solid State Chemistry”.

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3d Print-able Sleep No More Mask

Sleep No More is an incredible production: an immersive live performance staged on an expansive five story set inhabiting New York’s abandoned McKittrick Hotel [I have been informed that the bit about the set being built out of an abandoned hotel is just PR fluff… SNM actually takes place in a warehouse scratch built to look like an old hotel. The more you know]. I don’t need to sing its praises. Other folks have done so amply, effusively, and more successfully in other formats. Just Google it.

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Make Your Own Mechanicat

I just uploaded this little mechanical kitty to Thingiverse, and I think you should make a version for yourself. After a few trials with some cheap 1/4″ plywood, I ended up splurging on pressboard made specifically for laser cutting. The first cat I cut from the cheap ply ended up burning so much it was hard to get something functional out at the end. I blame the adhesive used to laminate the sheets. I think I might try and source some thin ply made with a natural wood glue. In the meantime, Laserbits makes some excellent laser specific stuff.

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A day in the life

I have lots of updates to share. I recently got a laser, made a new series of Guy Fawkes bandanas in bright, beautiful color, and spoke at HOPE. Unfortunately I’m being pulled in a thousand different directions by projects, interesting potential new work, consulting gigs, and new adventures with Sleek and Destroy.

Stay tuned for those updates. In the meantime, take a look of this time lapse I took of a day packing orders, cutting new jewelry, and folding bandanas right after the fold.

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Apothecary Candles

I really like candle making. Despite the mess, the cost of materials, the burns, and the constant fear of spilling hot wax over everything I hold dear, it’s completely worth it. If you remember, a long time ago I made a set of candles cast from impala horns. I’ve wanted to do more projects like this, especially as I ramp up to doing an absurd huge candle project based on much larger and more elaborate horns.

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A Cheater’s Guide to Self Improvement: Addendum

As a followup to my previous post, I’m going to try and elaborate more on the individual techniques I use for tricking my brain into acting like the focused productivity machine that it certainly isn’t. Here are a selection of tools and tricks I’ve used to good effect when trying to keep my productivity up and my wasted time down. Some of them work incredibly well with me. Some of them are tricks of last resort I use when I can’t seem to get focused any other way. Your mileage may vary.

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MAKEzine Interview Postscript

Recently I was interviewed by Make Magazine for their series Meet the Makers. You can listen to the podcast here. What follows is some extra links, photos, and resources that help illustrate the projects I mentioned in the interview.

I was incredibly flattered when Mark Frauenfelder asked me if I wanted to be one of the makers interviewed for the MAKE Podcast. I jumped at the chance. Now, having concluded the interview just a few minutes ago I wanted to share some links to the projects I mentioned, offer up a little further reading, and provide downloads for the open source designs I alluded to during my chat with Mark.

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A Cheater’s Guide to Self Improvement

So, guilt is a powerful motivating force in my life. I’m pretty adept at performing complex mental ninjutsu on myself to weasel my way out of things I should be doing, that are good for me, but I’ve got no burning desire to do. Take flossing, for example. It’s a trivial task that has a pretty substantial benefit in terms of reducing the guilt I feel about generally boycotting my teeth after losing my retainer some time towards the end of high school, and reducing the number of days per week brushing a bit too hard yields slasher fiction levels of upsetting sink imagery. Yet, there’s a routine I’ve developed to work myself around and out of the desire to floss. It’s like taking a mental detour around my sense of duty and pragmatism which usually arrives at the junction of dorking around on the internet and checking my email.

This is why I create structures outside of myself for enforcing the things I want to nail down, and shunning the stuff I want to get rid of. The way I see it, the distance between an action you want to perform and the final result is a kind of switchboard. Some of the terminals are in your brain, some are in the outside world. Your own willpower is one of many factors influencing what can actually get done, and it’s a fragile, fallible, and prone to fatigue, as one famously counter intuitive study proved. Relying on it alone is a mug’s game.

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