I have cut green 8mm Valchromat with Bespoke Laser UK, a laser cutting company based in Cwmbran. This is because there is not a laser cutter that it powerful enough to cut through the material at university, this includes the Fab Lab’s laser cutter.
This is the box light with a few changes made from the last cut. The front is longer, and can be compressed to distort the front panel. The next challenge is to find a way of holding the distortion, I plan to use laser cut toggles and elastic, but needed to wait for this piece to be finished to begin to figure out the size they need to be.
After the success of the bendy wood I have created, I am now working out ways in which to imbed an E14 bulb holder and a pygmy LED. I have worked out that the smallest the wood can be is 40mm by 40mm to allow for the size of the bulb holder, it is quite a large fitting to hold such a small bulb.
This is the first attempt to cut into the wood to allow this all to fit, and for the bulb to shine through. I have cut a 33mm hole 84mm into the wood, which allows for the bulb holder and the bulb to fit in snugly. I have had a problem with this first piece, as I then attempted to create 20mm holes around each side. I have learnt the hard way that the wood is too fragile for this as you can see in the bottom picture it has broken.
I have since attempted to create these holes again, but instead I have created the smaller 20mm holes before cutting the larger 33mm hole and it has been successful. The wood left at the corners is quite fragile, but I like the look of the fragility and it adds a bit more interest to the piece, rather than a bendy stick of wood.
Next I need to tackle the design of the base, I don’t want something over complex as I feel it will have to potential to take away from the beauty of the bend.
I have been experimenting with solid wood to create a bendable and directional light. These two pieces are cut from lime wood and oak, it is important that I use hard woods for this concept as the soft woods such as pine do not have the strength to withstand the bending. This is because the rings are further apart in soft woods due to the speed at which they grow, a hardwood tree will grow slower meaning that the rings are closer together.
This is a piece in pine, which broke as the bend reached its limit and illustrates why it is important to use a hard wood.
Now I have successful experimentation I need to work out how I will wire up the light, I can either attempt to conceal the wire within the wood, which will mean creating the piece in sections as a hole will need to be drilled through the wood. The alternative is to use fabric flex, in a similar way to my flatpack lights. This will make a feature of the wiring as well as the bend of the wood.
Because I want the lighting to be adjustable I am going to need to be able to fix the light in place at varying angles. I plan to do this using wedges of perspex that will slot into the cuts. I have created a prototype below using Rhino and then cut in model board using a CNC milling machine, it gives an idea of the size of what can be inserted into the wood. Because the size of the cut is 3mm I can only insert something that goes up to a maximum of 5mm. This is a very tight fit, so perhaps losing half a millimetre from the end would make it easier to insert and remove. A number of these will be needed to create a larger wedge, so I want to use a material that is clear. I will be meeting with Dipec, a company that specialises in fabricating 3D plastics, in the next few days to find out what they can do to help me create accurate perspex versions of my designs.
I now need to focus on designing a suitable base that will also have storage space for the wedges.
Here are two of the laser cut “kits” that I am working on. The first has not yet been successful, but when hun the springyness of the cuts is something that I want to develop and use. I was hoping I would be able to get these to slot together, but I was not precise enough when drawing them out to be cut. I am hoping that I will be able to find a solution to this, as I like the idea of creating a cone like structure. I will also experiment with cutting the hinge design at an angle, to allow a wrapping effect for another kit.
The second kit is almost there, it slots together nicely but there is a slight overlap of the materials. I also feel that the little notches are too small and fiddly and will not work well in wood, so I am going to make these larger before the next cut. I will also add a fitting for the light bulb to be inserted, but I am not sure what to do with the base. This light could be created as a pendant, or with adjustments, to turned into a table light.
I have taken a break from laser cutting and have decided to play with strips of cardboard instead to get a feel for what these lights could look like.
The first design is quite simple, created with two pieces alternately cut and slotted together, this design has potential, but a “kiss” cut using a loser cutter would also be needed. This type of cut does not cut all the way through the material, but comes close. It would allow more bendability of the material.
The second involves a fluorescent (or LED) tube fitted through the middle. The bends in the wood could be made using the living hinge designs that I have created, or through a method of cutting wood called “kerf” cutting, where a cut is made using a circular saw that can be adjusted so it does not cut all of the way through the wood. I am yet to experiment with this method.
The third simply employs the use of a living hinge but is tapered at the top. This design could use individual LEDs that are slotted into the gaps at the bottom (it would also aid the tapering of the material). It would also be interesting to see how this would work with the use of conductive ink, eliminating the need for wiring but adding the difficulty of concealing a power source.
My fourth design could also benefit from the use of conductive ink and LED bulbs. I want to further explore the idea of creating layers of the laser cut material and the possibility of allowing these layers to be moved up and down with the use of a threaded rod. Adding this to the design of a hinge could prove difficult, so a method of slotting each hinge into another piece that could wind around the thread would need to be employed. The design could also be turned ninety degrees to allow for a design that could move from left to right. It would be a useful light to have above a workbench as the lighting source can be adjusted to different sections of the bench.
The fifth design is relatively simple and allows for any number of parts to be added on. This would need to have conductive ink to allow for the design to work, as wiring would compromise the concept I have created and limit the possibilities of an infinite number of parts. Again, barely power could become an issue as one battery would be needed to power a small number of these loops.
I think some of these designs allow the potential to create a variety of kits that allow the consumer the choice of purchasing a kit that is simple to put together or can become quite skilled and complex.
I have been researching methods of making wood bend, and have come across the concept of living hinges. Many open source options are available on sites such as Obrary (http://obrary.com/products/living-hinge-patterns?variant=798259727) which are quite successful, but I have chosen to design my own patterns to see what light patterns I can create whilst maintaining the characteristics of being a workable and bendable material.
These are my three most successful “hinges,” there are other trials that did not bend or broke under stress. (Looking that the top image) The hinge on top one is my favourite, perhaps because it is more intricate. It also bends a little bit more than the one below. The design below is not as pleasing to the eye as there is a lot of material still left, although it is more sturdy than the first. The bottom design is the most bendy, but is unable to hold its own form, which could become a problem with some design concepts. It is, however, fun to play with and the perfect stress release because of the pattern created through play. I feel that this would be better applied to the creation of jewellery or small objects to form a game.
I have many more ideas planned, but with the constraints of using the laser cutter (which is in high demand) I am working slower than I would like to be at the moment.
Creating curved wood formations. I am experimenting with construction veneer to create circular and semi circular forms.
The process involves using two sheets of wood with wood glue between the two layers. the piece is either fastened around a form, like the first image above, or it can be pressed using a form, like the lower image. I am yet to test the second method, but I feel that it will be more successful than my previous attempts.
The larger piece in the first image has bamboo veneer laid over the top, as this will allow light to pass through the laser cut holes and a pattern using a lighting source behind.
The smaller two pieces have been laser cut using a “living hinge” concept that allows wood to become more malleable. I feel that the use of glue here has made the wood less bendable than before it was glued, the wood feels more fragile when held.
The most important component for the light is this 10mm threaded rod. Except that it isn’t actually 10mm. I’ve spent a lot of time working out the measurements of the rod and also refining the cuts made using the laser cutter as material is lost when the piece is cut. Finally I have got there, and the bar fits snugly into both the wooden measurements and the perspex. There’s more experimentation to come.
New brief. This is my second field project which focuses on the idea of entrepreneurship and the ability to create works suitable to be made through small scale production and to be sold through a variety of mediums. I have chosen to develop a design I was working with in another project by using the off cut material as inspiration. I am developing a light design that mirrors the box/bronze light I am working on (that will be finished soon). This light also fits with my previous brief of “The Raw and Ready Made,” so could potentially feature as a submission there also.
This light works on the idea of the “ready made” as it uses a variety of bought components and I hope to sell the item in a flat pack state that allows the owner to build the “product” themselves. Purchasing flat pack furniture and building it at home creates a sense of achievement and ownership, this could also be viable for art works. It enables the owner of the artefact to share an ownership with the maker.
Through this project I am focusing on creating a product with a high finish and more of an identity as a maker though the exploration of makers marks. Makers marks are most commonly used in the ceramic industry to identify works to a particular factory or maker. I want to develop this idea to become something that I brand original works with in the variety of materials I explore through my practice.
Medal development. I’ve been quite busy developing my medal ideas and aesthetics. I have successfully 3D printed a circular lithopane and taken a mould, which l have then cast porcelain. These are test pieces, so I can see how much they shrink in the kilns at different temperatures. Also, to test the opacity. From my adventures in porcelain last year I believe they will work. I hope.
The next step is to look at glazes and methods of getting the text, which translates to ‘presence is more than being’, on to the pieces. I think I want the text to obstruct the image, this can only be decided through experimentation though.
I’m hoping that glazing will happen this week.