Monday, September 29, 2008

Marcia Lausen Lecture

Marcia Lausen came to Towson University to talk to us about election design and what she's doing to change it. I learned so much from listening to her speak. What struck me as the most interesting part of her lecture was in the beginning where she talked about text and how making small changes to it can make a huge difference in how something is read. For example, she showed us a ballot she redesigned with lower case letters which were more legible than the older example with all caps which formed hard to read rectangular shapes.

Another example she gave was how center type is being eliminated because it is too decorative. We read left to right and usually when we are creating something we want the reader to be able to decipher quickly what is written. So the redesign that Marcia made was to change text from center to flush left.

A third example I found to be interesting was that she said to keep font size, weight and any other variations to a minimum. I would have thought that lots of variation would be more exciting, but when she showed an example of complicated versus simple, the simple was much clearer.

I was surprised to hear that the most important information on a design needs to be black. My first instinct tells me to put important information in red or a bright color to catch the viewer's attention. However, she showed us how black is the most legible and pops off the page unlike any other color.

I am in the process of designing business cards for myself right now and this lecture came at a perfect time. The information I learned from Marcia has helped to completely change and improve my design.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AAR for Deconstruct/Reconstruct Project


What I think I did well was I took a risk by incorporating a lot of curves into my die forms. I also worked very hard at coming up with a form I liked and went through about 16 pages of sketches until I came up with something I liked. I did a lot of sketches on how I would alter the form I finally chose too. In the end, although my edges didn't meet up the way I would have liked, I was very pleased with the shapes I had. It also helped having extra time, so in order to make sure I have some extra time for the next project I plan to jump in IMMEDIATELY to allow myself some wiggle room.


What didn't work so well was my time management. Next time I really need to create a project management sheet where I plan out ahead of time what I need to get done each day. I also need to work on my chasing a little bit to make sure that the edges are completely flat so that they will meet up when the form is cut out. I know what I was doing wrong now (hammering waaaay too hard) so I think now I just need to practice.

What Ifs:

The project could have been more successful not only if the edges would have met up, but if I wouldn't have used so much glue. The glue made the pieces look a little messy. I also learned after I turned my project in that my I'm filing all wrong. So I think the forms could potentially look a lot better if they were chased correctly and I got some more control when filing. The good part about my project what the overall shape of each form.

Design Techniques and Materials by Raymond Guidot

Designers have to coordinate the engineering and technical requirements of manufacturing, and the use and appearance of the object from the client's perspective. Past materials and methods as well as new innovative materials and methods are outlined - from the Industrial Revolution's use of coke to mass produce cast iron to the development of semi-synthetic materials (ebonite, celluloid, etc.) and the first totally synthetic material (bakelite) that contained different marbling effects in pieces produced in the same mold (differentiation in mass production) and aluminum. Phenolic resin used to mold cases for appliances (record players, cameras, radios, etc.), pressed sheet metal, and steel were used to create many iconic designs of the World War II era.

Military research resulted in mechanical welding replacing riveting and the development of many synthetic materials - thermoplastics such as nylon, plexiglass, Tupperware, polyethylene and polypropylene, PVC, polystyrene, and ABS. Two that made particular impact in the 1930's were polyurethane and polyester (especially fiberglass-strengthened polyester).

Composite materials (reinforced plastics, laminates, reinforced concrete, metal alloys) are based on natural structures.

CAD (computer aided design) and rapid prototyping are described, as well as ecological design, as well as choice of materials.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006

In the first chapter on "Intelligent Design," Barbara Bloemink discusses how modern designers are using natural laws, materials, processes, and appearances as their main subjects. Designers like Hitoshi Ujiie, Jason Miller and David Wiseman bring natural forms into the interior environment. In the recent past, we turned our backs on the natural world, preferring technology. But now, we're turning back to the natural world for solutions to specific problems. She examines the interplay between technology and engineering and nature in several venues - the life-like animations created at Pixar, the self-organizing and adaptive iPod, the robotic vacuum cleaners that closely resemble animals foraging for food, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab's Mars rovers - Spirit and Opportunity, and the many ways robots mimic human behavior.

The second chapter on "Craft and Community in Design" has Brooke Hodge examining how the design process encourages community - thinkers and doers coming together to create - whether physically or virtually.

In the third chapter on "Design and Social Life," Ellen Lupton writes about design as a social activity - designers collaboration with client, fabricators, suppliers, retailers, editors, art directors, schools, etc. and designers forming their own social networks. She examines blogs from the design community and the many aspects of collaboration.

The final chapter by Matilda McQuaid is called "Transforming Design" and summarizes the work of the 87 designers in the National Design Triennial exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2006, and the ways that these 87 different design approaches transform and revolutionize our lives.

'Studio Multiples'

(for some reason it won't let me post the last page so i'll try again later...)

'Studio Multiples' by Donald Friedlich and Bruce Metcalf

The curators describe the "Exhibition in Print" in Metalsmithing 1997. Works represented in their portfolio were selected according to the following criteria - metalsmith work by production artists which had been produced a minimum of five times in a small studio setting and was original to the artist.

Production Metalwork Today by Donald Friedlich

Don discusses the responsibilities of academia versus the perils of the marketplace - the push and pull between production work and one-of-a-kind work, the inherent struggle between leraning, growth and innovation and financial success. He details production's contributions to the field by bringing a large quantity of work before the public at various prices. He concludes by noting, ironically, that despite all of the technology available today (commercial photoetching, laser cutting and CAD-CAM), the most frequently used production techniques are casting and fabrication.

When Production Had a Good Name by Bruce Metcalf

The author discusses the evolution of production from being considered cultural pioneering (modernist ideology and the Bauhaus model), to the current feeling that production represents selling out to the marketplace.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Inventory of Skills

art history knowledge and appreciation of
interpersonal skills
wire wrapping
limited knowledge of photoshop and illustrator and rhino
pop-up technology
finishing metals
roll printing
riveting (basic and some special rivets)
some clasps/closures
chasing and repousse
die forming
heat patina
liver of sulfer patina
lost wax casting
sinking and raising
solder inlay
soldering (variety of methods including pick and sweat)
some enameling
some welding

Sarah Graham

I just love Sarah Graham's work.

It's interesting how she has created all of these various types of chains. She takes the idea of a simple chain and transforms it into an elegant necklace that in my mind doesn't read "chain." Her work has a calm, soothing and organic feel to it, all of which draw me in and want to see more.

Here are some of the various chains I like:

My favorite collection is the shadow collection. How sweet are these?!

I am also very drawn to these earrings. They remind me of the forms I was attracted to while doing one of my creative caffeine assignments on interesting form.

AAR for Project Object Green

I think what I did well was that I was innovative in coming up with an unexpected and different yet simple way of attaching my brooches to the shirt. I was able to get to this point by going through a couple of steps. First I brainstormed and thought about all of the different brooches I can remember coming across. One in particular came to mind...I think it was Rebecca's idea last semester maybe...she had a brooch attached to the inside of the shirt somehow and i tried to remember how she attached it and rubber bands made sense to me, although I don't think she used those. I explored different methods of attachment for my creative caffeine assignment and tried incorporating my rubber band thoughts until I found something that worked!

One of the things that didn't work so well was my choice of glue. I used super glue to glue the pieces of the can together and this got messy. The super glue dried into a white crusty mess that I couldn't clean off the sides of the brooch. The hot glue I used to hold the twigs, rocks and pine needles in place was very ugly and distracting. I knew that using both of these glues was going to yield a messy outcome but in my mind those two glues were my only option. That is because I never explored different methods. I should have done a creative caffeine assignment on this too.

Another thing I think didn't work as well was my choice of twigs and rocks in two of the brooches. They were the first two I created and knew they were boring as soon as I made my third one with the pine needles. I should have kept going with that and should have further explored a maquette I made with moss inside.

What Ifs:
I think the project would have been more successful if I had displayed the brooches differently. I think it was wise to go about displaying two of them on fabric and wearing one, however I came very unprepared in that respect and had to borrow fabric from Jo (thanks by the way!). I pinned it up quickly without any thought and stuck my brooches on there. It looked very sloppy and unprofessional in my opinion. If I could do it again I would spend a lot more time on this because I realized at this last critique that the presentation is one of the most important parts of making something!


Finally, after an extra week of nonstop work (literally), I finished my Deconstruct/Reconstruct project. I think I might have been doing something wrong because this took me so long. I had some problems getting a tight fit when gluing the pieces of metal together. I spent that past 4 days repeating this process: gluing form together, filing, form falling apart, gluing form back together, frustrated angry outbursts, more filing, more falling apart, tears, more gluing, get the point. Maybe die forming just isn't my specialty. Anyways, here are my lovely forms ♥:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Creative Caffeine for Project Object Green

For this creative caffeine exercise we were told to find about 10 ways to work with the material we have chosen to work with. For my material investigation studies I decided to try to play around with different ways to wear the brooch I designed. While doing this I also played around with different ways of constructing the brooch I had already had a "set" idea for just in case I could come up with something even better than what I already thought of :).









Design Research for Project Object Green

So, I was brainstorming how to create a wearable and easily reproducible piece of jewelry using cans discarded for recycling. Our large recycling bin is consistently full of shiny aluminum cans. My aesthetic is to not only reclaim these discarded materials but to combine them with natural materials of and from the earth – twigs, stones, leaves, etc. I want the theme of my pieces to be in the spirit of saving the earth.

My market research via the internet revealed an overused technique of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made from cutting the flattened can into various shapes and affixing those shapes on either ear wires, chains of various lengths, barrettes, or pinbacks, such as those at and directly below.


"To recycle a soda can, you usually just throw it away into one of those government mandated recycling bins. How about a creative way to use your empty cans? Look no further than Etsy. Available are these Dr. Pepper Earrings ($7) and the Mountain Dew Bracelet ($8), which can also double as a necklace for midgets. These would make a great gift for the caffeine lover in your life. Now all they have to do is make a Sprite version for people who don’t drink caffeine."
- Andrew Dobrow

"I cut pieces from aluminum cans, ensure there are no sharp edges, and assemble them to make these lovely little flowers. This one can take on its new life as a brooch/pin, barrette, hairpin, or magnet. I used a rhinestone brad to hold the flower together and to give the pin a bit of sparkle."
- BarkerBell Herbs and Heirlooms


Some people have added finer materials, like Swarovski crystals or sterling silver, to create earrings and cuff bracelets, as at or below.

"Delicate, sparkling and beautiful – each earring is a double-layered flower cut from recycled soda pop cans. In the center, a glittering Swarovski crystal."

"These bracelets are made with a generous dose of 100% sterling silver and real beer or soda cans (personally emptied by Dana Roth or a close friend). The aluminum is secured to the bracelet with sterling rivets and protected from damage by silver end-caps."


In the same manner, others added recycled wire and fashioned angels or people, or simply used the pop-tabs alone, as in below.

"The jewelry featured here are from the Bombulu Workshop in Mombasa, Kenya. The fun and funky earrings and pin above were made from recycled soda pop cans and wire. The choker consists of soda can tops. Their creativity and skill at making such great jewelry out of discards is amazing - just look at the angel pin."


Then, I ran across an interesting and different idea – bottle cap brooch- at below. This brooch, secured on a store-bought pin back, is made from a metal juice bottle cap. The cap is painted with acrylic paint and the concave side is filled with beads. I liked the “look” of this and wanted to incorporate this idea into my soda can brooch.

"unique brooch using a bottle cap...and variety of beads"
-Christina Panczyk


Once I had decided on my idea, I browsed the web and found something very similar to what I had in mind at (below). They incorporated the concave can bottom to create a look similar to the bottle cap brooch. However, the brooch is worn with a store-bought pin back.

I had to think of an alternate way to attach the brooch to the body. Since creating handmade pin backs would have been an inefficient use of my time, I experimented during my creative caffeine assignment with different methods of attachment. I settled on sandwiching one can top between two can bottoms, creating a smoother and more finished look. The back of the brooch then has a beveled edge which can be secured onto a shirt from behind with a simple rubber band. This method of attachment allows you to avoid poking holes in clothing and firmly secures the brooch. However, they are really only meant to be worn on thin jersey material or cotton t-shirts.

"This DIY is from the wonderful book Fabulous Jewelry from Found Objects."


These are my brooches:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Arthur David Hash

As soon as I heard that Arthur Hash was coming to speak I knew I recognized his name from somewhere. It took me a couple of minutes before I realized that I looked at some of his bracelets for inspiration for a project last year I did on slime mold. I posted the pages from my sketchbook where I referenced his work.

Here are a few of his other pieces that caught my eye:

I think this is such a clever idea, and the abstract design makes a beautiful piece.

Above is a brooch from Don Friedlich's magnification series that I love.

This "bubble bracelet" by Arthur Hash reminded me of Don's brooch.

I found this on Hash's flickr site. It has no label so I have no idea what it is, but I think the form is really nice.