Category Archives: The Forge

Appleton Maker Fest

Appleton, Wisconsin is the nicest little city you’ve never heard of. Along with low crime rates and a thriving local music scene, it’s home to Lawrence University, a Harry Houdini museum with an interactive straightjacket exhibit, and the first Edison hydroelectric plant in the United States. Last weekend the Appleton Maker Space hosted their first Maker Fest.

makerfest

The Appleton Maker Space is tucked back in a mostly-underutilized commercial space off the west end of Appleton’s main drag, just the kind of location where you’d expect a hackerspace to be gestating.

Bonus: AMS is right across the street from some of the finest deep-dish pizza in town.*

Pizza wasn’t needed this day because, being that this is Wisconsin, the Appleton Maker Space provided a bratwurst concession for peckish attendees.

Our coastal and international readers should be aware that no event in Wisconsin can be held without at least thirty pounds of bratwurst in attendance. Pretty sure it’s in the state constitution.

The space was packed with dedicated Makers– I’ll leave it to their website to point out all the cool hardware they’ve got over there. Here’s one corner of the event, complete with the obligatory LAN party of kids playing Minecraft.

makerspace

Amid the chaos one usually associates with a makerspace’s being open to the chaos, someone was personalizing a banana for a younger attendee by etching her name into the skin. Of all the projects I’ve ever envisoned for a laser cutter, this’d be about the last one I’d ever come up with. Fantastic idea. I’d totally personalize all my bananas if we had a laser cutter at Zheng Labs.

banana

Show and tell time arrived and the assembled crowd asked for an “ominous puffy doll” to be modeled and printed on one of the RepRaps. I already had the laptop out so I fired up Maya and made this little guy. Concept to execution in ten minutes.

first pass

Later on I buffed out some of the stray vertices and cut a hole in the back so that Ominous Puffy can stick to your fridge with the addition of a neodymium magnet.

ominous puffy

You can download Ominous Puffy from his page in The Forge.

Heads up, badgers. I’ll be blogging, tweeting, and instagramming the ever-living snot out of Maker Faire Milwaukee in a couple of weeks, so if you’d like to meet up IRL and geek out over filament diameters drop me a line.

* deep dish isn’t pizza. New York style is pizza. Bring it, haters.

Zheng’s Garden Guardian

zhengs garden guardian

downloadNecessity! Mother of invention and all that. One could, I suppose, just jam a wooden stake into the ground to prevent a garden hose from raking over one’s flowerbeds, but that would lack panache and, worse, deprive one of an opportunity to use a 3D printer and Bondo on the same project.

The first step in this design is grabbing a horse head off Thingiverse and modify it to suit my purposes. The original is almost exactly what I need, and with just a couple of tweaks I can have it atop my new garden guardian.

knight original

First, that mane! This chess piece was designed as part of an OpenGL chess application, and is by necessity low-polygon. Selecting just the mane and deleting the faces is pretty easy, and then it’s just a matter of closing up the holes.

remove mane

I’ll add a lattice to re-pose the horse so he’s got a more regal bearing: less Mr. Ed and more Seabiscuit. Normally the overhang under the chin would be a huge printing problem, but I’ll be splitting this model in half down the middle before printing. The only overhang I’ll need to be concerned with is the ears.

knight lattice

And it probably makes sense to smooth the model a bit at this point. Sometimes a one-size-fits-all smoothing algorithm can obscure important details, but I need some extra vertices so I can bump out the cheeks and nostrils.

knight smoothed

I’ve always been partial to the stylized manes on Tang Dynasty horse sculptures, so butch mohawk of awesome it is for this piece. Now he looks like Kallark the Gladiator as I start to sculpt his cheeks with Maya’s sculpt geometry tool.

cheeks

Scratch that, I think he’s starting to resemble Benedict Cumberbatch. Must be the flared nostrils.

cumberbatch 1

The mane is looking a little blah and not very Tang dynasty, so I add some detail and some stylized bristle.

fancy mane

It’s easy to whip up a fluted cylinder for the base, and I rob a few bits from my Curtain Rod Bracket, +1 for the coiled rings at the top and bottom of the cylinder. They’ll help to catch a garden hose and keep it on the guardian.

fluted

Then I’ll split the model down the middle and carve out a nail-shaped recess before printing.

half

You can get one of these spikes at pretty much any hardware store.

nail

Once the halves have been glued together, all one needs is a little Bondo to fill the seam before painting.

bondo

And then of course there’s sanding and buffing, and undercoating and overcoating and a second coat of paint and all the stuff one needs to do to make this look less like plastic. The rest of the post-production process is well-documented on my Instagram, including but not limited to the old straighten-out-the-PLA-by-putting-the-model-on-a-warm-skillet trick.

Squelching Squigs

Squigs. Sometimes we get them when 3D printing with extruded filament. Usually they’re the result of too steep an overhang in a model; there’s not enough shelf on layer X for the printer to lay down another layer of plastic on layer X+1, and gravity pulls the newly extruded filament downwards.

A squig is born. Small squigs are usually just an aesthetic issue, but larger ones will cause your print to be touched by His Noodly Appendage and then you’ve got a build plate full of plastic ramen. Not good.

I’ve entered into mass production of the Athena Makeover Kit as Faire Play rewards, and I’ve discovered a small problem. Every few prints something on the printer goes to Wally World and the spear’s clip gets all squiggy.

The clip’s strength is compromised and besides, it just looks fugly.

clip squig

Some of these Athena Makeover Kits are destined for the hands of folks who have never seen a 3D print in their lives. We can’t be giving them a bad impression of the technology’s capabilities.

Fortunately, it’s an easy fix. I’ve updated the clip to be just a little thicker at its junction with the shaft, which both makes it sturdier and eliminates the squig spawning grounds.

clip after

I also added a little bullnose between the shaft and clip, because I find 90° angles at transitional edges between volumes to be unlovely.

bullnose

Printing With Steel on the Printrbot Simple

printrbot

One of the most popular pages on this blog is Calibrating the Printrbot Simple. To be honest I haven’t been using my Simple much lately, what with the hullabaloo surrounding my Barbie-Compatible 3D printed armor Kickstarter. Just don’t have the time.

My mental juice can’t be occupied by all Kickstarter, all the time, so I took a few hours to mess around with Mr. Simple, and I decided to try an experiment that’s long been tugging at my frontal lobes. Can I print something recognizable, in metal, using my Printrbot simple and some clever engineering?

There are hobbyist metal printers on the way. I saw Vader Systems’ prototype at Maker Faire NYC, and can’t wait to get one of these bad boys into the basement at Zheng Labs.

But! Enough wishful thinking. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

I’m using baling wire for this project. You can get this stuff at any hardware store. Just make sure it’s not galvanized, because that can give off some nasty zinc fumes when it’s heated up. Also, I highly advise wearing protective gear.

wire

warning Attempt this project at your own risk! There is an excellent chance that you’ll completely junk your Printrbot, or at least melt the plastic collar at the top of the extruder nozzle. Have a fire extinguisher handy, just in case. Goggles, gloves, the whole nine yards. Be smarter than I was: under no circumstances should you down three mimosas before trying this, no matter how much fun you were having at brunch.

As a precaution, you’ll also want to cover the print bed in fire-retardant tape, unless you’re willing to deal with a flaming Printrbot.

I’m planning on doing this repeatedly, so I replaced the Printrbot Simple’s print bed with a piece of asbestos tile instead. Yay for Open Source!

I just redid the kids’ room with asbestos tile and had some left over. It’s cheap and durable and I can’t believe people just throw this stuff away. Watch this space for a blog post about turning old asbestos tile into cutting boards; I’ll be putting them on Etsy once I’ve cut a dozen of them or so.

Temperature is everything here and you’ll have to move quickly once you start, so be sure to have your gCode pre-generated. Don’t waste time slicing the model before you print.

Preheat the extruder as high as you can get it. I managed to get mine up to 275°C by disabling the firmware safeties and working under heat lamps in the basement. (Printrbot firmware hacking is a topic for another day.)

Even 275°C is way too low for melting steel, so you’ve got to help the Simple across the finish line by heating your baling wire up with a propane torch. Depending on the alloy of your wire that means somewhere around 1400°C, which should be within the range of a hardware store torch.

tip

Start the print and gently feed the hot wire into the Simple’s extruder. I epoxied a steel washer onto the collar of the extruder nozzle to protect it from the hot wire. Don’t lick the glowy part!

The print was a miserable failure, just your typical tangle of filament touched by His Noodly Appendage, ramen. This is what happens when you leave steel prints unattended:

print failure

The second time through I stayed with the print, keeping the propane flame focused on the wire as extruder pulled it in.

feed

With just a little filing and polishing the nose ring looks way better than I expected it to. Not bad for a printer kit that retails for $300, even if I did have to babysit the print the entire time.

yurenjiekuaile

Permit me a brief foray into my other hobby, studying Mandarin Chinese. It’s a remarkably concise language, so cramming the entire One Ring poem (to find them, bind them, yadda yadda yadda) onto the side of the ring is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

You can compress the whole poem into five characters, 愚人节快乐. Way fewer than required in the Black Speech of Mordor.

Flagrant stagecraft alert: I printed the ring and nose separately and welded them together afterwards; I haven’t tried printing anything with support yet.

You can download the STL files for the nose ring in the Baubles section of The Forge, or if you’re impatient or don’t have a 3D printer just grab one from Shapeways.

Pro tip: I found that copying my gCode into OpenOffice, coloring it pure red (#FF0000), and then re-pasting it back into Repetier-Host helped me get the extruder nozzle up to 282°C the second time around.

Faire Play Funding Goal Reached!

Yesterday, thanks to the combined efforts of 238 individual backers, Faire Play reached its funding goal of $5000 USD. I couldn’t be happier, and I’m very excited to begin work on the parade armor.

I’ve created a digital token of gratitude for my backers and social media enablers: the Faire Play Recurve Bow.

doll with bow

You can download the bow and quiver right now, for free, for real, no strings attached, from The Forge. Print it out and send Barbie to the range with Katniss and Merida.

This bow is sculpted from organic, locally-sourced vertices, filtered and purified from the droppings of only the mimsiest free-range borogoves, and it’ll fire a 6″ cosmetic swab across a room with dismissive ease.

The flood of support and media attention that Faire Play has received has convinced me that a not insignificant portion of the world wants to see Barbie wearing and bearing more medieval armor and arms.

I’m a huge fan of Giving The People What They Want, so I’m announcing a modest stretch goal.

If our little community can add another $1000 to the Kickstarter’s original goal, I’ll redesign the bow so that it can be printed as a single piece on Shapeways. Then anyone, anyone! will be able to make their Barbie dolls deadly at a distance with a couple of clicks. My initial tests show that Shapeways should be able to print a bow for less than $10.

During the redesign, I’ll naturally be making the bow and quiver more elegant and lovely than they are now. The quiver in particular will be a fascinating design challenge; to keep printing costs down I’ll have to remove as much material as possible from the design without compromising utility or strength. Fortunately, I live for this kind of thing.

And mascarpone with green apples. I live for that too.

So thanks everyone. This project has been a wonderful experience so far and I’m really looking forward to the next step.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of Faire Play and you’re all like whazzat? here’s the original Kickstarter video. TL;DW: It’s Barbie-Compatible 3D printed medieval armor.

Oooo! One more thing I’ve been meaning to get to! Last week I was interviewed by @dutchmogul and friends for their Go For Rainbow podcast. We talk about design and 3D printing, and eventually segue into discussing video games. Fun stuff, give it a listen.

On Wonky Geometry

The Faire Play Kickstarter is doing great: 17 days and 8% to go! Go give it some love if you’d be interested in seeing Barbie don some 3D printed medieval armor.

The Athena Makeover Kit’s been out in the wild for twelve days now and there are several photos of prints floating around the internet. I’ve collected two of them here.

First: Bill Owens’ print of the AMK with a cut-down spear to fit his printer’s bed, with tunic hand and machine-sewn by Maddy. Nice job, Bill and Maddy!

Bill has made some suggestions for improving the boots, which I’ll be taking into account when I release the final STL files to backers at the end of the Kickstarter.

owens large

Second, Josh Ajima’s hot-pink Aegis print, shown here with a Percy Jackson figure. Love this one.

percy jackson

Josh also made a modification to the aegis clip that will help it fit other Barbie dolls with inflexible wrists. You can download it from Thingiverse. Creative Commons licensing roolz.

5mm clip

Mr. Ajima blogs at DesignMakeTeach.com, and has all kinds of great resources for STEM educators over there.

If you’ve printed an Athena Makeover Kit, Send it my way with as much info about yourself as you care to reveal, and I’ll get the photo up on the blog toot sweet.

Early printers of the AMK might have noticed some fugliness at the intersection of the shield and medusa. To wit:

aegis fail

I’ll fall on my sword for this oversight; my initial prints handled this intersecting geometry just fine, but other folks using different slicing software have had some problems with this. Here’s what it used to look like in wireframe:

bad geometry

See how the medusa is just kind of jammed into the shield face and creates some intersecting geometry? That’ll print, sure, but it’s a less-than-optimal solution to the problem. We here at Zheng Labs prefer to minimize less-than-optimal solutions.

So! Here’s what it looks like now. I’ve welded the vertices together and now the mesh is watertight as the proverbial frog’s ass.

joined geometry

The final print result is now much improved. Go on over to The Forge and Download the latest and greatest model.

aegis better

Can’t wait to see your prints.

Faire Play: Barbie-Compatible 3D Printed Medieval Armor

With all the hustle and bustle here at Zheng Labs, I neglected to put the Kickstarter on the front page! D’oh!

Here it is. Watch the video below, or just jump straight to the Kickstarter page.

You can check in at faireplay.zheng3.com for updates, or peek into The Forge for a look at the Athena Makeover Kit, my Barbie-compatible aegis, spear, and winged boots.

Hands on with Blokify

TL;DR Summary: If it’s not a federal crime to give away an app this fun for free, it should be.

We’ve been busy here at Zheng Labs since the turn of the new year. It’s a bit of an open secret among the 3Dprinting cognoscenti that I’ve got a 3d printing Kickstarter in the works; the duergar eat and sleep at the Forge these days, prototypes of prototypes are drafted and printed at a breakneck pace, and if the bellows withstand the strain and the flow of anthracite remains steady we should have something ready for public consumption in a month or two. Sooner, hopefully, rather than later.

Here’s a teaser image. #staytuned, #watchthisspace, and #allthatjazz.

teaser

But! It can’t all be long-term projects at Casa de Zheng, lest the six or seven malcontents who follow this blog lose interest and wander off into Mirkwood. So let me dig into an app I’ve been wanting to play with for a while: Blokify.

opening

Blokify is designed to make crafting 3D models kindergarten-easy. There’s only so many ways one can build with cubes, after all, so I see some Minecraft influence here, but the designers have eschewed the ultra-low-resolution aesthetic in favor of nicely-designed, toony blocks.

If you’d like to get Lao Zheng on a get-off-my-lawn rant, ask me how Minecraft’s (WASD && voxels) method of 3D modeling leaches poison into the young minds of the next generation of CAD UI designers. Thanks mucho, Notch.

The flowing river is a nice touch. The pleasant music puts me into a building mood.

Kid-level software needs to be crazy intuitive as far as I’m concerned, so I just jump right in to the app without reading any startup guides or watching tutorials. The first UI element I poke the cobblestone block in the upper right corner. This brings up a bunch of other blocks that I can use, but for now I think I’ll stick with basic stone.

blocks

I turn my attention to the gubbins in the lower left corner. It looks it might be a camera navigation tool, so maybe it’ll orbit the camera around building area. Turns out it does something else, to which I’ll return shortly. But I still have to figure out how to move my camera around before I can build anything of consequence.

I recall that I don’t live in 1995 anymore and I’m holding a device that responds to swipes and multitouch, and start doing that. Touch with one finger to pan the camera, multitouch to orbit. Pinch to zoom. Ok, now we got this.

Tap the helpfully-checkerboarded ground to place a block and it drops onto the field with a meaty thunk. Tap the top of the first block and a second attaches with a satisfying crunch. In a few seconds you’ve got a field full of stone blocks. Sometimes blocks fly in from the sides of the field, their origin determined by some algorithmic sorcery. The sound effects really make this app entertaining. CRUNCH! THUNK! SNAP! Every block addition creates a little puff of dust.

first build

I could do this all day.

The edges of the checkerboard and an invisible ceiling limit a build to 13x13x13 blocks. Some non-triskadekaphobic over at Blokify likes primes, apparently.

Touch and hold a block for a bit and one can swipe to make a row or column. Swiping blocks into existence is fun and clicky-clacky.

horizontal

Touch and hold a little longer and the block crumbles into nothingness.

The circle in the lower left corner turns out to be an undo queue. Scrub counterclockwise and watch your model undo itself in time, then scrub clockwise to restore it.

The medieval themed blocks I’m working with naturally remind me of Seej bloxen. So I’ll make one of those.

A Seej bloxen is roughly 5x3x3cm. If I assume each Blokify block is 1cm, I’ll have to make a double-scale bloxen to get enough resolution to make the mortises underneath. Scaling the bloxen down later is trivial.

But first a few thoughts on the building process. It’s very easy to just tap tap tap the bloxen into existence, although here and there I have a bit of trouble hitting the hotspots on the sides of blocks when I need to make an overhang. It’s easier (and more fun) to sketch out my empty volume with a few wooden support blocks, and then destroy them later.

bloxen supports

I want this Blokify bloxen to be backwards-compatible with existing Seej bloxen, which means the tenons on top need to be aligned down the x-axis. Unfortunately there’s no way to put a Blokify block halfway between two others, so centered tenons are impossible with a 6-block wide bloxen.

blocks

I was looking for an opportunity to bring the model into Maya anyway, so I’ll do my vertex surgery there.

The export is two taps away through an email attachment, and it’s on my desktop in a few seconds. Well played, Blokify.

For most folks, this is where the creation ends and the printing begins, but I’ve got some edits to make and I’d like to poke around the polygons for a bit.

Here’s my first surprise; the textures on the blocks are actual geometry! The stones here are bumped out a bit and tile nicely.

into maya

The second surprise is a little less exciting: the are some long, thin, nasty-looking polygons at the junctions between blocks. Polys like these make editing a model difficult. Down this path lie non-manifold geometry and madness, so approaching these goblins with a keen eye and a keener blade is in order.

In my humble assessment Blokify doesn’t deserve to have this feature held against it, though; the subset of users who are going to edit these models in a third-party application has got to be vanishingly small. In-app editing is perfectly cromulent.

I’m able to delete the top faces of the bloxen, align the tenons down the midline, and sew the patient back up without any trouble.

The print proceeds without incident, and I’m staring at a new bloxen. Five minutes from first launch to the start of printing. Nice. For those poor souls without access to a 3D printer there’s a Shapeways export option.

Here it is, printed on my Replicator 1 with this Blue PLA.

Bloxen, Blokify

downloadTo sum up: I really like this app. It’s easy, really easy to make kid-friendly models and get them onto a printer. There’s a more-than-adequate library of free block types built into the app, and premium content’s just an AppleID password away. (Blokify lets you purchase “diamonds” for spending in-game on new blocks and environments.)

Two features I’d like to see:

1. Explosives. If the proclivities of the younger Zhengspawn are any indicator, the ability to make a design go kablooie when I’m done with it would be a huge hit with the under-10 set.
2. A bevel feature. The final print’s edges are a little sharp. Not so much a problem for me, but little hands might find the corners undesirable.

Blokify’s available on The App Store, natch.

Happy building!

Getting Lost in the Thicket

Bloxen, Bramble

You can download the .STL file for this model fo’ free, fo’ realz, from The Forge, along with many other Creative Commons-licensed designs. Just head to the Seej fortifications section and start clicking like a dolphin on meth. Knock your mean self out, hoss.

I’ve been doing a lot of simple models lately, like ye olde Semi-Formal Pocket Gear Train or the Bonsai Gibbon. These models are big on concept but easy on execution.

A few weeks ago I cranked out a floral Seej bloxen. Bumping out geometry to make vines is easy and fun, and got me started down another path I’ve been waiting to tread for quite some time.

I’d been feeling the need for an art challenge. How complicated of a model can I make with the tools I have available? Can I keep an excruciatingly complex mesh manifold and, importantly, printable on a Replicator1?

I feel like the tone of press coverage for 3D printing has recently shifted from “gee whiz” to “now what?” My Replicator1, as amazing a machine as it still objectively is by the standards of human technological progress, is beginning to feel dated.

The most complicated model I’ve released so far is the Barrow bloxen, but that thing’s a big honking mess of intersecting faces. It’ll print, but at the mathematical level it’s inelegant and causes me to feel an emotion somewhere between embarrassment and disdain.

I’ve been wanting to create a woodland player race for Seej, and a thicket seems like the kind of thing dryads might use to keep attackers out. So I’ll start fresh and create a tangle of vertices and faces, vine by vine, making sure the mesh remains manifold and printable as I go.

The first step is to start with a template bloxen and freehand draw a base for the model.

bloxen template

Then extrude the base, bevel the edges, and subdivide the mesh to get some sculptable vertices for the next step. Beveling the edges can introduce non-manifold geometry if one isn’t careful, so it’s important to visually inspect the tighter corners of the bevels to make sure edges aren’t accidentally intersecting before subdividing the mesh.

subdivide base

After a little bit of sculpting with Maya’s sculpt geometry tool to make the base a little bumpy, it’s a simple matter to punch out the bloxen’s mortises with a pair of cubes. If I’m careful with the placement of vines later on, this bloxen will stack handily with existing designs.

punch mortises

I’ve got digital skulls all over my hard drive: occupational hazard. Everything’s Better With Skulls, so I’ll add a little bit of art detail here. In hindsight I should have waited to add the rocks until later in the project because their extra geometry interfered with attaching some of the vines to the base.

rocks and skull

The process for adding vines is in theory simple, but in practice increasingly difficult as the thicket gets more dense:

  • draw a NURBS curve
  • extrude a polygon along its length with a twist and a taper
  • add some variation with the sculpt polygon tool
  • smooth the mesh
  • join the vine to the base, other vines, and neighboring geometry

I like to color different elements while I’m working so I can tell what I’ve worked on and what remains to be done. So I draw a gear-like profile for the first vine and extrude it a bit. Once the vine is smoothed those gear teeth will look like gnarly roots.

vine base extruded

I don’t need all the extra geometry created by the gear teeth so I merge some of the vertices to turn my profile poly into an octagon, and then extrude it along a twisty curve.

first vine

I want to rough out the major volumes before I get too tangled up in vines, so I add a squirrel. Everything’s Better With Squirrels.

I’m just going to take a moment to reflect on the fact that due to good planning I have a relatively simple way to add poseable squirrels to just about any model.

pose squirrel

Kestenbaum the squirrel needs a vine to grip, so back to the NURBS curves it is to create a suitably convoluted path.

path for vine

I’ll integrate Kestenbaum’s haunches with the skull’s parietal bones later, off-camera.

Every now and then a vine is going to branch off from the main trunk. The process is similar to extruding along a polygon along a path except I like to cut a hole in the main trunk first, round it off, and then extrude.

branch hole
branch extrude

After much lathering, rinsing, and repeating I’m convinced the workflow I’ve got is mostly sound and maintains a manifold mesh. The viny bloxen is beginning to take shape.

keeping track

I add vine after vine after vine over the next few days, and then get a little bored and decide to add something more interesting. A cylinder helps me block out where a bird’s nest is going to sit.

nest cylinder

And after a little subdividing and sculpting the nest is ready to go in. It needs a few little vines to keep it supported inside the bramble, and of course it wouldn’t be much of a 3d nest without some elongated spheres for eggs.

sculpted nest

Jumping ahead in time a bit, here’s a top-down view of the print before manual cleanup, showing the eggs in situ.

eggs

And then I’m back to meticulously adding vines a few at a time and running test prints to make sure the model’s as self-supporting as it can be. After a few weeks of working, an hour here, an hour there, I’m ready to begin adding thorns to the vines.

Moving all those thorns into place by hand (I think there are somewhere around 350 of them) would be way too time consuming, so I settle for a hybrid manual/scripting approach.

I manually go through the mesh and identify the polygon faces where I think a vine needs a thorn, and then write a short MEL script that constrains an instance of the thorn to those worldspace coordinates and then locks the thorn’s y-axis to the average of the faces’ surface normals. It sounds more complicated than it is.

add thorns

Sometimes the surface normal average doesn’t make perfect sense for the thorn’s orientation, so there’s a little bit of manual tweaking for a good 30% of the thorns.

I’m running test prints every few days throughout this process, just to make sure the model was mostly self-supporting. Chances are I missed one or two overhangs, but the density of the vines is such that stray filament strands actually add to the look for the final print.

The almost-final mesh is looking quite gnarly.

final

Because I am a homonin of questionable morels, I add a few mushrooms hidden inside the bramble so that others can experience the joy of finding them. These 3d fungi are far more detailed than they need to be at this resolution, but I’m planning to make a Dryad battle flag in the same style later so my small extra investment in time won’t be wasted.

xray shroom

The mesh has dozens of tiny holes created by Maya’s boolean operations, mostly at junctions between vines. I fix these when I find them but allow netfabb to do the cleanup on most of them.

holes

I could keep adding detail to this model forever, but in practice the mesh is getting too unwieldy to work with. Sometimes it’s like working inside an actual thicket, with vines obscuring my view and 3d thorns scratching up against my camera lens.

Here’s a final print at 200% scale to bring out the details:

bramble 03

Whew. Glad this one’s finished. Time to move on.

Five New(ish) Baubles!

A thousand pardons, my friends. I stepped over my personal Schwarzschild radius and fell into an art singularity over the last two weeks.

Some light has escaped; peer into the Scrying Pool to see what I’ve been working on, among other things. That particular opus is still gnawing the inner walls of it’s chrysalis, so #staytuned for another update, coming soon.

I’ve managed to zeldovich a few crumbs from beyond the event horizon and stuff them into the Baubles section of The Forge with the remainder of my 3d-modeled miscellany. They are, in no particular order:

The Tinkeriffic BB Bearing, cousin to the 40mm spool spindle and 32mm spindle, all of which use Tinkertoy rods and 4.5mm BB’s to provide a smooth ride for your filament spools.

Tinkeriffic BB Bearing Spool

Magnetic Pocket Gears! that use these magnets to freely rotate while sticking to clothing. I’ve got these fellas on Shapeways too, in case you’d like a set in stainless steel, gold, or silver.

Pocket Gears

And finally a Bonsai Gibbon, designed specifically for the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Zheng3’s winter hobby but made available to lovers of pines and primates everywhere.

Bonsai Gibbon

How do I get my pennies so shiny? Vinegar? Hells no. H2C2O4 FTW, y’all.

The blogging backlog is cleared, so watch this space for new models. I’ve got three or four new concepts in the hopper.