This week’s prompt (making something with two different materials) was challenging for its lack of constraints. I had two initial ideas: make a miniature of the lightning field, a piece where metal rods are placed in the desert and lightning occasionally strikes ; make a self portrait using metal rods at varying heights. In both cases I thought about using cork and tracked down some really well priced pieces at big reuse. But gowanus was a bit far (and the f has been undergoing service changes), so I started with the metal rods. I made a trip to metaliferous and picked out a handful of rods and tubes to start working with. Three foot aluminium tubes were the cheapest, so I got a bunch of those, plus some brass rods and tubes. I really wanted to do all brass but at least to start it was too risky buying all that material.
I researched tesla coils and other ways of generating a “lightning” effect, but they were all too intimidating for me to pull off for this project. So I got to work on the self portrait idea. But still, my metal tubes were too pricey to experiment with, so I went to blick and bought foamcore and some wooden dowels. Of course they did not have the small size I wanted, so I got 3′ long pieces in 1/8th and 1/4in diameters.
My first experiment was just laying out 2″ sections of wood on to the foamcore. I was able to easily snap my rods into correctly sized pieces but I quickly realized that this experiment would require waaay too much material. My initial layout called for 6 x 6 rods and that was not going to be enough for fidelity…
Cutting foam board with a box knife = no good.
It was much easier to use a nail to poke holes in the foam board.
So I got to tracking down toothpicks! And of course, no one sells wooden toothpicks any more! So I put in an amazon order and waited a day. I also started playing around with wire.
The next day, I found a metal fronted cork board on the street. I brought it back to the shop to play around with. I tested its resistance and cut a hole in the back of it to see how light would look.
It was a cool effect and I might return to it. But toothpicks!
Ok I needed a real plan with the tooth picks, so I set up a 10×10 grid and used a nail to make the holes.
I sketched out a face across the grid (I wanted the elevation to make a face) and cut the toothpicks to size with a wire cutter. so for example, the shape of the heads would be higher up, and the eyes a bit recessed from there, the nose higher, etc….It was a huge failure!
Ok I needed a break from my toothpicks… I started playing around with the brass rods and wire.
I didn’t know what the heck to do from here, but I kept playing with different arrangements… time to sleep on it.
The next and final day, I started trying to fit strips of leds behind the metal corkboard. I’d cut holes in the cork where each led would emit light from, preventing broader diffusion. I measured it out the best I could, and started going at it with a 3/4″ spade bit.
Probably not the best drill bit to choose – something that could eat more material would’ve been nice. But I went back over with a dremel to clear more material from each hole….but I accidentally ate in to the metal a few times.
Finally, I used the dremel to make space for the strip to be set in and gave it a whirl.
Wow was I uneven. Unfortunately I ran out of time… my prototyping/ideation process was incredibly messy and often frustrating. But it showed me that I could persist through these experiments based around materials and eventually land on something compelling to work on. But it all takes time and a strong will…. Overall I’m invigorated to keep exploring, and hopefully finish this final led/corkboard concept.