Thursday, June 1, 2017

General life update thing

So I've done something that's probably stupid.

See, I got some money.  A bunch of money.  Well, a bunch by my standards, yours may be different.  Anyway a donation that had a comma in it.  (American system where a period is a decimal point and a comma is used to separate every three digits on the left side of said point.)  Instead of using it to pay down some of my high interest debt I decided to use it to do hopeful things.  I have new shoes on the way and as of yesterday I have three boxes full of stuff-making components so that I can fabricate again.

I also finally got around to fixing the spring on my kitchen overhead light so that it could be used without standing on the table and forcing the chain back into it to reset things.  Well, I didn't actually fix the spring, I took a spring from a broken pen, twisted part of it into the right shape, cut it to size, (beat up a toenail clipper in the process, oops,) put it in place of the old spring that had broken more or less in half and then broke in another place when I was trying to see how the damned chain light switch thing was supposed to work.

The kind of fabrication I do uses silicone molds and two part polyurethane.  I am now set up to do this in a variety of colors, even "Totally looks like metal in spite of being plastic" which I've never done before.  Honestly, the color thing is new to me anyway, I think I've done it maybe once before.  Not "one bottle full of dye before" one singular time.

Of course, to do that kind of fabrication you need to have masters to make molds of and I most definitely do not have the luxury of paying shape-ways to make them for me right now.  Plus the only 3d modeling software I know (Alibre) is gone and its replacement (Geomagic) seems to be taking the "High cost for professionals that can afford it" route.

I've got some masters from times gone by that are just waiting to be implemented and there's a hack saw around here somewhere.

- - -

I've never really done fabrication stuff at Stealing Commas since by the time I started this place up I really didn't have the money and my few attempts to make a comeback using the aging materials that remained from times gone by were abject failures.

It'll be a new side of me for you to see, if I can make it work.  And that's a big if.

But there are things I overlooked when getting all of this expensive stuff, mostly on the mold making side.

I do two part molds and part of what that means is I need the kind of clay that doesn't dry out or harden, and a lot of fucking Legos.  Standard building legos that are the rectangular things you find in just about every lego set, but a lot of fucking legos.

The legos are what you use to make the border of the mold so the silicone doesn't just flow everywhere and become a milemeter thick coating of your entire work area.  You just build a large lego wall around where you want to pour your mold.  Trust me, it's worlds easier and a metric fuckton better than trying to make your wall with clay.

The clay is positively essential to two part molds because legos, for all their benefits, are rigid objects.  Unless something has a completely flat side that would make a good place for mold separation, you want to be able to have your master partially submerged in an otherwise mostly flat plane of clay when you pour the first half of the mold.  The flat plane marks where your mold will separate.  Once the mold is hardened you remove the clay, clean up imperfections on the plane, and flip the thing over, apply mold release so the new silicone doesn't bond to the old silicone, pour, wait, and have a two part mold.

The reason the plane is mostly flat is that for alignment and other reasons you generally want to have a (rounded) ridge near the outer edge of the mold if you practice the style of mold making that I do.

- - -

My ankle is still recovering instead of recovered and some days are better than others.  I'm at my full walking speed.  I'm afraid to attempt a jog or run.  I definitely still feel the fact that it's injured.

I had my first look at X-rays last visit.  The plate, which I can feel through my skin, is attached by five screws.  The injury was such that I also needed One Big Screw that is apparently unrelated to the plate.

There's a dark smudge that might be nothing, or might be cartilage reacting in a bad way to the whole ankle thing.  It's apparently worth keeping an eye on, but not so concerning as to get another look taken before the three month follow up I was going to have anyway.

- - -

So, maybe I'll get a chance to show off the fabrication side of my life that you've never seen, but I need clay and legos (and skill) none of which are completely certain.  Ankle continues to recover.  New shoes on the way.


  1. Shapeways is ridiculously expensive. What temperature does the master need to withstand? If you can keep it below about 80°C (176°F), you can use PLA and cheap-to-run 3D printers - should help you find one near you, or you could talk to me but shipping would start to add up.

    (I'm about to be away for a few days, but email me if you want to talk more about this.)

  2. Oh yeah, free 3d modelling software. OpenSCAD for geometric shapes (and it can get you a long way), Blender for tougher stuff. Yes, Blender has a horrible user interface. Most of the good tutorials for it seem to be on youtube.

  3. Yay shoes!

    We have lots of legos.

  4. Shoes are good. Shoes are not stupid.


    1. Shoes are kind of the opposite of stupid. It is definitionally impossible to "waste" money on something that important.

      (And then another pair for when you lose one under furniture for a month...)