Friday, September 10, 2010

Far East

Home now - need to find time to collate my notes into a proper posting.

In the meantime - here is the first presentation I put together for my students on the subjects of the trip:

I am leaving GR in a few minutes as a part of delegation of American jewelry scholars and makers in China. Mary Lee Hu is leading a troupe of us across the continent to visit design schools, practitioners, and tribal areas over the next 10 days. I have been looking for an opportunity to travel to China, Korea, Japan, or Vietnam since grad school - and am really excited to be able to share my work with, and experience their history and present. Not sure if I will be able to blog much on my trip, but I'll try.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Or browse them yourself at

So blogspot seemed to be unavailable in China... Just getting to the US now. Too much to say about China, the trip, the people I travelled with, etc. It was a great experience, and I am very glad I went. Working on a presentation about the creation of the Miao bubble necklace for my students...will try to update later.

Location:Terminal Dr SE,Grand Rapids,United States

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Universe is laced around your wrist"

I am a CarTalk fan. And one of my favorite things about that show is the intermissions; when they play music that is overtly or subtly related to cars or car culture. Even though that music is often country, and is f-ing terrible; I really think the way a subject is translated through different artforms is interesting.
I have been trying to keep a mental list of those kinds of things as related to my medium, but my ability to store such things in my (nearly) 36 year old brain is waning. So I will share some of them here on occasion. The first two are:

Spill Canvas' Bracelets:
I found fountains of imagery that are passing
Through me like a knife
From a group of friends that prefer to attack from the back
I'm trying to grasp concepts of your dimensions
While my universe is laced around your wrist
I am the bracelet you sport
I am everything that you have ever missed, and more

I was hoping I could tell you this with two feet on the ground
But I don't think I can talk, because I'm not very stable right now

In this dream that I had....
"You can't kill heroes"-that's what we said to them
"You can't kill us"
With our instruments broken before us
And the boys in the line they begin to count to five
And the trigger pulls
The bullets pepper the brick wall behind our heads
And the smoke, it fills the air
The captain yells to cease fire
And the squad begins to wait and stare
As the dust clears the air, and we're still standing
With smiles on both our faces
We spit their faulty ammo to the ground
And remind them once again
With smiles on both our faces
We spit their faulty ammo to the ground
And remind them once again that you can't kill heroes

I was hoping I could tell you this with two feet on the ground
But I don't think I can talk, because I'm not very stable right now
No, I'm not very stable right now

The song:

and Panic at the Disco's Northern Downpour:
ntastic posing greed
Then we should feed our jewelry to the sea
For diamonds do appear to be
Just like broken glass to me

And then she said she can't believe
Genius only comes along
In storms of fabled foreign tongues
Tripping eyes, and flooded lungs
Northern downpour sends its love

Hey moon, please forget to fall down
Hey moon, don't you go down

Sugarcane in the easy mornin'
Weathervanes my one and lonely

The ink is running toward the page
It's chasin' off the days
Look back at both feet
And that winding knee
I missed your skin when you were east
You clicked your heels and wished for me

Through playful lips made of yarn
That fragile Capricorn
Unraveled words like moths upon old scarves
I know the world's a broken bone
But melt your headaches, call it home

Hey moon, please forget to fall down
Hey moon, don't you go down

Sugarcane in the easy mornin'
Weathervanes my one and lonely

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Thank you Joe, Heather, Peter, Deb and company for having me at MassArt.
  • SNAG conference Houston Extreme Media Lounge Call for Content. If you have, or can quickly create, dynamic media (video etc) that highlights you, your work, your process, or some creative capacity that doesn't fit into those bounds - enter this (free) competition.
Links/products/resources I talked about (or meant to) or which will be useful to those interested in following up:
  • Courtney Starrett (The artist who taught me the silicone slip casting technique I demonstrated)
  • Amazing Materials Research center in NYC with awesome (not free) online database - (someone should email them about a free trial for the dept/school if you're library/another program isn't already subscribing on your behalf) - Material Connexion
  • Pneumatic Cartridge Injection Gun and Supplies
    8880096 Pneumatic Cartridge Gun 12 ounce 100 PSI
    (12-24quantity) 8880020 Cartridge 12 ounce HDPE With Plunger
    8880068 4" X 1/16" Orifice 50
  • My casting urethane ingots and carving a pendant demo - photos
  • The slides exported from my lecture
  • My multimedia/video clips/projects
  • The catalog pages from my sabbatical exhibition
  • Images of the Rhino surfaces demo model we worked on
  • SmoothOn Crystal Clear - high quality, optically clear, polishable plastic (heat cured 220/1 PDF/instructions)
  • Link to photos of the production of a large pendant using Crystal Clear
  • My Rapid Prototyping sample library
  • Shapeways (If you don't need speed, or the ability to return something if it's not perfect, and your files are perfect this is the cheapest RP service bureau for most things. Especially ProMetal - this is the only affordable way to do very small parts)
  • ProtoCam (Another excellent service bureau in PA)
  • eMachineshop (Just go there, download it, try it. The CAD interface is a little tricky to import and figure out - but there is no other service like it. Essentially it is a way to take basic design information (2D lines) and test drive its production in a ridiculous number of materials and processes at the click(s) of (a) button(s).
  • Ponoko (online LASER cutting service/shop specializing in organic materials)
  • SuperiorCutting (Holland, MI based LASER cutting service that does an excellent job on metal parts and has NO minimums. Note: they require high integrity .dwg files - open and check in Rhino etc for excessive points etc. My recommendation is to email the file to Randy and then call the next day to make sure they got it/all is well etc and give him you CC number over the phone. They are awesome, but not super fast on customer service etc)
  • (the 3D printing, CNC machining, LASER cutting, vinyl cutting, 3D scanning and various other tech laboratory at Kendall. There are a few pages of links and other information you may find useful. It's not kept up as well as it should be.)
  • (The simplest, fastest, and IMHO best rendering platform for object designers - free trial and $99/yr student license. OSX capable!)
  • Vacucoat - (Vacuum Metalizing service bureau in Detroit area - send a gang of parts as a group and you just may get them for free! Need to send them a stable, primed, smooth part
  • Moment of Inspiration - a Rhino compatible 3D modeler that is drawing tablet aware, gets a lot of the visual clutter out of the way, etc.
  • Thermoplastic Elastomer at MSC - search strippable coatings or here
  • Video clips I showed:
    Modern Marvels Plastics
    SME Rapid Prototyping
    SME Plastics Finishing/Vacuum Metallizing
    Eames Topology and Fiberglass Chairs (Films of Charles and Ray Eames)
    How It's Made Plastic Cups and Flatware

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Call for Juried Content

Call for Juried Content | Multimedia Exhibition Opportunity

The eXtreme Media Lounge is looking for dynamic media from
metals/jewelry students, faculty, professionals, and others to present
at the SNAG conference March 10-13.

What is dynamic media?

In this case: any images, clips, and sound that can be successfully
assembled into a video file and uploaded to YouTube.

Final selections will be shown in the eXtreme Media Lounge which makes
its debut at the 2010 SNAG Conference in Houston.

Deadline for juried selection:
March 8th, 2010 - 12:30pm EST

Who is jurying the content?

Phil Renato and Michael Dale Bernard | ,

To find out more, go to:

KeyShot Rises

I am a big fan of fast and awesome. For the last couple of years one of the incarnations of these attributes has been a 3D rendering application called Hypershot. A few of the details that attracted me to it include:
  • Mac and Windows versions (with one license that works for both)
  • No spotlights, bar lights, ground planes, etc (lights and reflections come from HDR images)
  • Import from many 3D filetypes (including Rhino), simple render options, a nice selection of built in materials, realtime progressive preview, fast, beautiful renderings
I was a beta tester for their version 2 (dElitist Software) over the Fall; and was excited about its impending introduction as I was crushed when I read that there was a divorce between the company that published Hypershot (Bunkspeed) from the people who developed the technology (Luxion) (Read all about it here). I don't care why or who did what - I care about who is going to bring my software back and keep developing it.

Until a few days ago the one who explained the most about their intentions was Bunkspeed; their CEO Philip Lunn explained that they will be releasing a "next generation" solution. Unfortunately, the latest word is that this software (based on iRay technology) is going to be Windows only for the immediate future. So, even if it's as good in other ways, one of the primary advantages of this app (for me) is a no go from the start.

Then I saw that Luxion's website turned from explaining that they 'will soon be releasing' their new version, to a link to a new brand/product with a link to download a trial and a store and a gallery. Within a few minutes I got an email from a familiar former Bunkspeed employee. I got the link to download the software, and the word that my existing Hypershot licenses would not only be honored (FREE!!!); but would be automatically imported into Keyshot. Psyched wasn't even the word for it.

So, it's been a few hours. I've installed, imported all of my Hypershot assets, and am in business again. Keyshot is almost identical to Hypershot 1.9x; with the pleasing advantage of being fully certified for Snow Leopard. The workflow is the same, the files exchange flawlessly, the materials and environments and backplates from HS just work. This is still very much a 1.x product - none of the 2.x improvements in interface or underlying tech are yet present. But at least we have crew working on things. Thank you Luxion; I am looking forward to your future.

I've uploaded my initial experiments to Flickr for comparison.
These images are one of my old .bip files in Hypershot.
These images are the exact same file in Keyshot.

Bunkspeed, I'm still looking forward to seeing what you have to offer as well. I like at least the potential of HyperMove; even if I've been a little frustrated with the bugs and idiosyncrasies. There is certainly room for any software that makes the designer's job easier. I hope to have our students using both ASAP; I'll let them help us figure which (or possibly both if the $ is right) we will go with in the Fall.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I could only be more psyched about American cars if I were teleported back for the 1967 unveiling of the Camaro. Or, maybe, if GM pulled a Corvette out of its hat fueled solely by the hot, vaporized hormones of its driver. That would solve the climate crisis - and absorb/leverage some otherwise unspent energy.

Liz and I hit Cobo Hall today to check out the 2010 North American International Auto Show. We missed the big unveilings and, luckily, the crowds. I felt like a kid again. Not in an acne way, but in a way that made me feel a rush of energy and obsession for something sexy and impractical. I love cars. New cars, old cars, fast cars...OK, not slow cars, or most of the really tiny cars. But a car is pretty much the every-thing.

Here are a few of the things we saw:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

dElitist Software

Screen shot 2009-09-16 at 10.59.47 PM
Hypershot 2010 in fullscreen mode with some quick SmoothTeddy models

Today, one of our students was talking about the future in Thesis class. He was contemplating a body of work that embraces the rapid changes in the world; but was unsure about taking on an optimistic point of view because he really didn't believe it. Well, in at least one respect, I am looking forward to the future. Not a future of increasingly sophisticated and complicated systems, where only those of us who are willing and able to memorize and control complicated workflows can create. I am looking forward to the generations of software and hardware that we can understand by playing with them, where there are results between technical success and failure. Naked edges in NURBS, incompatible filetypes, out of gamut colors, drivers that won't install...I think this stuff is dying. Designers are increasingly capable of giving us studio tools that barely even need to be taught as technical subjects in college courses. What's my evidence? For now, Hypershot.

When I started 3D modeling, less than 10 years ago, the modeling process was complicated enough - generating anything approaching photo-realistic renderings was pretty much rocket science to me. 3D Studio Max has about 100 dialog boxes with sub boxes within sub boxes - it's super powerful and too difficult to learn and has way more features than a designer would EVER use. Flamingo was awesome and fairly straight forward - but was still more difficult to setup than a photography studio to take pictures of physical work. When an auto designer at GM introduced me to Hypershot my first words were "this is how rendering should work." I took existing data that I had created with significant labor, and used Hypershot's virtual camera to take pictures of it in views and materials that were realistic and compelling. This software DSLR is faster, has more flexibility, and can shoot in dynamic points of view that my Olympus Evolt 500 could get into only if I fitted it with a robotic tripod arm and a lens with infinite depth of field. And I was realistically rendering within minutes of getting the model into rough shape. I could confidently 'digitally prototype' my design well before the piece was "watertight;" making decisions about whether or not something was right before I even finished the form, before I hit "print" on any of our 3D printers, before I went through the 20 hours of finishing one of my castings.

The new render queue in Hypershot '10, visual, simple, it persists even if you have to close it out, crashes etc.

The key advantages, to me, of Hypershot include: it is always rendering in real time. As soon as you move your viewport, it starts casting shadows, reflections, etc. There are NO LIGHTS. You get dynamic light from an environment map which not only illuminates, but provides the reflections to accentuate your form (and you switch between them at will to change the mood of the image). There is no visible horizon to worry about accidentally seeing in the frame. If you are looking, like me, for some kind of neutral infinity background, it uses any .jpg or .tiff image as a 'backplate' behind your rendering to cover the environment/ground behind the model. And there are few complicated choices to make in the selection of materials and output etc. You drag and drop, slide qualities up and down, choose between few standard formats for the image.

Recently I started beta testing the '10 version of Hypershot. And its ease of use, professional power, visual simplicity, and available customization is an example I wish more companies would follow. It has gotten more sophisticated, there are more options. But they were designed in such a way that they are fairly intuitive, they don't obscure the process of image making - they clearly facilitate it. When I demo this software for my students tomorrow, it will be with an awareness that my traditional role as vessel of technical knowledge is fast becoming obsolete. I am looking forward to this future - when I can concentrate on helping them with their bigger problems; like becoming effective designers - not mechanics. My role as chief know it all is all but over, right when I was about to run out of steam staying two steps ahead of them on the latest version of software...

Hypershot '10 is the '64 Mustang, Chester Carlson's photocopier, the first Macintosh. One of those things you didn't know you needed or wanted until someone put this beautiful, simple, game changing widget in front of you and said "hello," I love you. Now, if we could just work on getting the price down, you could all see what I mean.

My experiments with Hypershot (2)010 so far can be found here. Many more images from my students and I using Hypershot 1.5-1.9 can be found here.