Digital fabrication – journey so far

Ever since I was a kid I remember wanting to make things. I wanted to accomplish everything on a grand scale. I made things out of toilet rolls and newspaper and foil and glue; but I really wanted to make things from wood and metal and plastic – ‘real’ materials. I was fascinated with replication and the ‘permanence’ of machine made goods. I remember asking my dad at 7 years old for a bubble jet printer (even the name excited me), but he giggled and said we needed a computer before we could use a printer.

We were given a second hand Commodore 64 shortly after that, and an excellent dot matrix printer. Dad showed me how to program sprites to appear on the screen. I would print out sprites that I carefully programmed, and draw in the details. It was like really low res pixel art. One I remember doing was something like this:

impression of an old sprite drawing

I think it was meant to be either a monster or a praying mantis (I dunno, they seem pretty similar to me in my head).

Over the years we kept trading up via hand-me-down computers. Today, I have my own modern laptop. The software on it would have blown the mind of the inquisitive child I was.

Which brings me to something so entirely wonderful that’s captured my heart for the last year or so:

Modern digital fabrication for the masses.

Digital fabrication is a term to describe the translation of a computer generated design, into a real world object.

A simple pictorial equation:
sketch plus computer equals real object
You can now design an object on your computer from a sketch, send it to the appropriate service via the internet, pick your material and receive it in as little as 2 weeks. Your own, custom item. This is the future for the little people, the non-heavyweights in manufacturing and object design.

Services such as Ponoko, Shapeways and Cloudfab are enabling designers all over the world to create things that wouldn’t normally be possible and or affordable for them.

Invented an awesome new tool? Get a prototype created using 3D printing before mass producing your final in a factory, like these guys. Designed some jewellery but don’t have your own bandsaw or lasercutter? Outsource it to someone who can with ease.

An example of my lasercut jewellery for Owl Posse:

wooden brooches

Small run/on demand digital fabrication is changing the game for many. I’m so excited to be taking part! It’s not a lot of financial investment to get started, and there’s some amazing free software out there to create your best ideas in! Expect some more detailed posts from me on digital fabrication in the near future. I’ll be reviewing some of the online places offering these amazing services, and the software that can bridge the gap between your sketches and your final product.

If you’re as excited about this stuff as I am, watch the following animation called ‘Fully Printed’, which gives us a playful glimpse into the future of custom product manufacturing. It’s rather lovely!

FULL PRINTED from nueve ojos on Vimeo.

Thanks to Vector Camp for the cute Macbook illustration used in this post.

My imagination

When I took this shot tonight from my balcony, the child in me wondered who lives in the ‘cloud’ on top of that ‘castle’.

Pottering around

Normally when you’re sick, you spend your time in bed, feeling miserable. Your home becomes a lonely, dark cage full of tissues and medication.

My mind is a bit ill at the moment, which is affecting my body also. A week off work was the doctor’s orders. The heaviest medication I’ve been prescribed is Vitamin B+ supplements. I look okay on the outside. I’ve had some demons chasing me this year and they’ve finally caught me. Trying to beat the anxiety monster can be like sword fighting in the dark. You never quite know what your enemy looks like, or when he’ll strike next.

Even though I’m well enough to be out, I’m seeking the comforts of my home and the familiar. I’m hoping a stable environment will help create a better acceptance of uncertainty. Rather than seeing a cage, I see the little bits of me at my best around here.

Shelf of friendly beasts

Can you tell I like owls?

Geese measuring cups and tea set


My late grandmother's Corningware collection + a coffee set she bought me for my 21st

I call her Madam Gaga

On reflection, I can see the little things that added up to me being here in this situation. While some of it was unpreventable, other things could have been taken care of earlier on. My other half will be pleased to read that, he’s always on the firing line of my stubbornness! Without his support recently, I’m not sure I’d feel so certain that I’ll get better.

Dear Adobe CS5 – a break up letter

Dear Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Subscription Edition),

You and I have done some great things together. In fact, your predecessors CS4 and CS3 were also on the scene before you arrived. We’ve pretty much always been a happy family. I’ll always remember the late nights at university, processing photos, layouts, videos and CDROM’s using your marvelous tools. Indeed you’ve played a big part in my professional career, bringing that extra sparkle to my work.

But people change, my dear software package. I no longer require all of your tools. At best I have need of Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash. Gone are the days of InDesign, Dreamweaver (I shudder), and Fireworks. I wish I could keep you, but you’re just too expensive. I’ve shunned the pirates who do not respect your worth. I’ve showed you loyalty, locked into contract with you. But now that contract is over, I can only sign up for another; or pay even more to keep you flexible. You’re just not flexible enough for that price, honey.

I’m afraid I’ve met other people. A lovely chap called Inkscape, eager to please and lovingly created by an open source community. His playground friend, LineForm. A slick and handsome mistress, Pixelmator. I think we’re all going to get along fine. Photoshop’s little sister, Photoshop Elements seems pretty cool. Maybe we can work something out there. Flash is a charming friend I’d like to keep close in case I ever need him, however having enough cash to woo him over may take some time.

I have fond, fond memories, CS. We achieved amazing things together. I will miss your integrated environment. That said I will not miss your crashes, your tech support staff (who had no idea what you were, a subscription edition) or the space you take up on my hard drive.

It’s not me, it’s you. Truly.

Goodbye x

I used to read more

I was such an avid reader as a kid. I worked in a library for 5 years while studying for my VCE and though uni. I would take home a bag full of books each week. Sadly I read much less these days. I find it hard to slow down and indulge in a good book for a bit. My partner is helping me by encouraging a bedtime ritual of it. It’s been my saviour recently to help with night time anxiety.

This is the current pile next to my bed. I’m trying not to feel too guilty looking at it now.

Pile of books on bedside table

I think literature is one of our greatest creations as humans. I love how it stimulates the imagination.

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Welcome! Owl Posse is an up and coming contemporary jewellery line. It features super cool digital manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting. You can shop the collection here!

Designed in Melbourne, Australia and Las Vegas, NV USA.

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