Archive for November, 2015

Solving Problems with Entropy

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Going into the final stage of my project, I realized a lot of things about what I was doing as far as the process itself goes. For  example, my project is not about a final result. It is not about getting a physical end result. My project is a study of the process. The first hurdle with this was to look at the process of manufacturing. In most large-scale cases there is a designer who determines colors and patterns, and then hands it off to a manufacturer that executes the design choices. This is a dynamic that I find incredibly interesting, and wanted to play with. In order to get around the need to bring in an outside designer, I wrote a program that uses Brownian Motion (which is a computer generated particle system) to generate a line pattern.

Looking at Brownian Motion made me start thinking about entropy and chaos, and how even on a computer all of these things are pre-calculated. So I began researching what other ways I could use entropy to put a pattern on a pot. My first thought was to do something like a spinmaster or spirograph, where the pot would be on a spinning platform and pigments would be dripped onto it. However the problem with this was that it made transferring the pattern generated by the program almost impossible. Then I found a technique using nail polish in water that I realized would work perfectly. The water is a second particle system, but a real-world example rather than a computer generated one. And I could draw the pattern on top of the water, because of the film that the nail polish makes. And clay is the ideal material as a surface, because it’s so porous and absorbent that the polish dries almost instantly, and doesn’t have a chance to smear or rub off.

This project was an interesting exercise in taking direction, as opposed to designing something for myself. Yes, the design is just a complex line, but the manufacturing is the important part. As a 3D prop modeler, my entire job will be taking the concepts from other people and turning them into fully formed objects. This project is a smaller scale to that, with a computer telling me what to do, and I have to figure out how to do it. The biggest hurdle was finding a way to transfer the pattern from the computer to the water. The best way I found to do it was to trace the lines on tissue paper and then lay it in the water. This also keeps the polish in place, because without a medium to hold it, it just spreads across the surface of the basin.

End results aside I am calling this project a success, because I found a way to take a pattern that was given to me and transfer it onto a ceramic piece. The entropy created by both the Processing program and the water bath was to eliminate the typical precision that computer generated graphics tend to have. Digital artists have a reputation for clean, crisp lines, because computers lend themselves to that. Organic shapes are something that every digital artist struggles with, and the dual particle systems forced precision lines into organic shapes, breaking the stereotype of digital art.


This is a short video showing the process that I used, as well as the clay pots that I used to demonstrate.



Clay Meets Electronics: Clay as a material for teaching Physical Computing- Prototype Presentation

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Concept Development:

Based on feedback received during the design presentation, review with Michael and some independent reflection I decided to make a set of activities designed for kids to learn Physical Computing using clay as a material for story-telling.

Here are some properties of clay that render it good for use as an entry-level material:

-Malleable: can be moulded easily with hands+simple tools

-Rigid: can be transformed to rigid forms

– Insulative: can mount electronics easily on the surface

-Adhesive: can be combined with other lumps of clay + electronics can be plugged in easily


Activity 1: Decorating a clay form with Graphite and LED’s to learn about circuit loops and to provide a segue into using digital technologies for some sensing action on clay forms. Inspiration for decorating these pots with  was derived from art forms such as Warli and other African Prints(

A fine folkart tradition - Warli Painting

Courtesy : Pandiyan V (Follow A fine folkart tradition – Warli Painting)


Graphite on clay tab     Light up LED on clay tablet


Activity 2: demonstrating some sensing and action and seeing how Clay forms impart playfulness

The idea here is to see how clay can transform the look of electronics which look very functional to impart a sense of play

Bell Demo Clay


Further Exploration:

To develop the learning further the idea is to explore the use of clay as an insulator in forming some basic components for a circuit. Think switches and connectors and other Input/Outputs.

Using everyday materials to lower the entry barrier for Electronic Craft- Design Presentaion

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Textile Tilt sensor courtesy @


“The materials and tools we use as well as the approaches we take to design, prototype and build technology greatly influence how we think about technology, the collection of people who think about technology, and the look and feel of the technology itself.”[1]

I have encountered a lot of Leah Buechley’s work on maker learning and trying to engage girls in computer science through craft and always felt inspired by it. The paper “Crafting technology: Reimagining the processes, materials, and cultures of electronics” by Wilson and Buechley revealed the research that had gone behind developing some of the craft+electronic techniques. I had always seen the more playful side of their work  but this paper talked about how they spoke with crafters to gain insights on what motivated crafter’s, their experiences with their craft etc. The paper revealed some inherent differences between traditional crafters(sewer’s, carvers and painters) and electronic makers and demonstrated some examples of “high” and “low” tech that tried to combine crafts+ electronics.

A Kit-of-No-Parts demo wall

A Kit of no Parts by Plusea


My initial idea was in the space of maker learning and aimed to use clay as the material along with everyday conductive objects(paper clips, pencil circuits, batteries etc.) to make analog electronic circuits and to make some of this content on maker-;earning more accessible to audiences who may not have access to stores like Adafruit or Sparkfun.


The clay would serve as the material that would give form to the parts. The advantage of using clay over paper and materials was that clay can be moulded into 3-D forms easily when compared to paper, textiles etc.

Digital Intervention:

Since I believed that the circuits being produced at the end of this would be analog I thought of other ways of digital intervention.

I started pondering about what Digital is really good for : speed of production, distribution and this helped me arrive at using Intructables as a digital means of sharing my process with he maker community. This would also mark as my transformation from being a Lurker to a Contributor in the Maker Community. Another transformation I anticipated was people using the process and remixing the projects to make what was most meaningful to them.



Feedback on design:

-to bring out the advantages of the materiality of the clay more

-since,there was no guarantee that people would comment on/remix the approach, I should consider rethinking the digital intervention

-using clay to make sensors?



[1] Buechley, Leah, and Hannah Perner-Wilson. “Crafting technology: Reimagining the processes, materials, and cultures of electronics.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 19.3 (2012): 21.

[2] Buechley, Leah, and Hannah Perner-Wilson. “Crafting technology: Reimagining the processes, materials, and cultures of electronics.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 19.3 (2012): 21.




Portal Interactive Lamp: Prototype

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Prototyping     Hannah Glazebrook


Original Concept

Physical implementation of a digital skybox.



I originally wanted to create a lamp that, when used, depicts the feeling of home and nostalgia in video games.


Proposal Feedback Received

A skybox may not be the way to best depict the game nostalgia. Instead, try to focus on images or colors that depict the game’s palette, and present them with an interesting way. Rather than cutting out random shapes in the clay lampshade, make sure that all changes to the form (cutouts, etc) have real meaning in the game depiction.


New Concept

Utilizing the gameplay element in Portal, bring that visual component into a lamp that works as a “Portal” to other games. In Portal, players can cast Portals on various walls, and use them to travel through space to another location. It would be interesting to create lamps that utilize this gameplay element of portal to “transport” the user to another location by allowing them to look through the Portal into another world. I want to be able to use the lamp to bring people into the worlds they enjoy, and have some control and interactivity.


Feedback from Prototype Presentation

Bring more digital into the product.

Make a dome that is reflective on the inside, with a Portal persona on the outside. Use multicolored LEDs to change the inside of the dome to reflect the colors from different game palettes, evoking the color “feel” of the games, rather than physically painting the environment on the inside.



Original Concept:

Galaxy Projector Light

(image source:


First Prototype: Interactive Lamp

For this part, I built a lamp using a coil technique and carved it to build in shapes and texture. I then built the lamp part by using Arduino and multicolored LEDs. When you turn the potentiometer, the color inside the lamp changes.

Interactive Lamp


Second Prototype: Image Analysis with Affinity Designer

For this prototype, I found several images from the video games I love personally, and analyzed them using Affinity Designer to get the RGB values. I then used that “palette” to test glazes to see whether I could get accurate glaze coloring.

Bioshock and Fallout

Top: Fallout 3 Bottom: Bioshock


Portal and Mass Effect

Top: Portal Bottom: Mass Effect 3


Second Prototype: Testing Glaze to match the palette

20151028_150258 20151028_150333

Third Prototypes: Modeling Epoxy and Acrylic Paint


For these prototypes, I used a modeling epoxy to make the domes by molding them to the shape of a wine tumbler, and painted the interior and exterior of the domes to match images selected from the games. For these, I have a Bioshock dome (left) and a Mass Effect dome. When looking through the portal on each, you can see the inside of the image. For the Bioshock dome, the exterior is Rapture (the underground city) and the inside is a walkway inside the city. For Mass Effect, the exterior of the dome is the Normandy SR-2 in orbit around a planet, and the inside of the dome is the bridge of the Normandy.

Domes with a portal. The interior is different from the exterior, representing passing through the portal to a different location in the world.


Mass Effect Inspiration


Mass Effect Execution




Bioshock Inspiration


Bioshock Execution


Challenges and Potential Solutions:


Executing the shape of the domes is challenging without slip-casting. I could make pinch or coil pots and carve them, or try and use slip molding or press molding in a mold that I 3D print.

Ceramic Skybox: Design Proposal

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Design Proposal   Hannah Glazebrook



Importance of Craft

In Shiner’s “Fate of Craft”, he states that for work to be considered craft, it must be – made by hand, have a use or purpose, be created by a craft master, and have an emphasis on material. Since we can’t do all 4 in this class (mastery takes 10,000 hours or more), I want to focus on material and use, with my final project being made by hand. I want to focus on what clay can do, the way that it could cast light differently with glaze, thickness of walls, etc. I also want to create something that will be used by someone and have a purpose other than just decoration.

Material and Use

Looking at Silve’s “Romanticism” paper gave me ideas on how different materials affect how light can be displayed. My 11-month old son is in love with lights, and I would love to be able to create something that he can look at and explore. Additionally, Giaccardi spoke about the sentimentality of objects, and that fascinated me with respect to how artifacts can take on a life of their own.

Bringing in the Digital

One of the most interesting phenomena in the digital realm (to me, anyway) is the way in which playing video games can have an impact on emotions, and how sentimental reminders from games such as toys and artifacts inspired by the game can evoke those emotions. There is also research relating to how video game immersion can be impacted by digital design decisions. That inspired me to create a physical artifact that could reflect these digital experiences and bring them into the real world.


My initial thought was to try and create a light fixture that evokes the feeling of a game. My inspiration was lamps that can cast stars on the wall like this.

Galaxy Projector Light

(image source:

After considering the ways in which this lamp might take form, I considered various techniques including coil-building, slip-casting, and building the object as a cube or box.

The box idea got me thinking about whether I could replicate a skybox from a digital game into a real-world skybox that either could be looked inside, or could project outwards.


image source:


image source:

image source:


Intervention in Form

I considered building the form in multiple shapes.


Can be hand-built or slip cast, must deal with translating images to a dome-shape and maintaining shape.

Dome Prototype

Hand-built dome shape prototype

Sketch 1

Dome sketch

It could also be built as the shape of a cube, and built by rolling the clay, and then piecing it together.

Cube Lamp Sketch

Cube lamp sketch

Clay tiles can be carved and then affixed together to form a cube

Clay tiles can be carved and then affixed together to form a cube – (image source:


By varying the thickness of the walls or carving them out, the form could change the appearance of the the lamp both in translucency/opacity and in shape.

Interventions in Color

There is also a possibility to try and impact the light quality through color. One way is through Arduino. By using multicolor LEDs, I could change the appearance of the environment to be more blue, bright, red, etc.

Another possibility is changing the colors of the glazes, and mapping the colors from images in the game to the colors glazed on the lamp.

Another possibility could be using multi-colored slip casting. This would likely be more challenging and require more skill and training, but would allow the color to be actually inside the clay rather than on top.


Slip Molding

Image link:


How is it transformative?

The project brings the digital into the physical.

The project brings sentimentality to a digitally-inspired and modified physical object.

The experience from the game shapes the object, the object might shape the way you relate to the game.

There is a dialogue between digital experiences and physical experiences

The digital doesn’t just fit inside the physical, it shapes the form, color, and experience of the physical artifact.



  • Giaccardi, E., & Karana, E. (2015). Foundations of Materials Experience: An Approach for HCI. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • Shiner, L. (2010). The Fate of Craft. In S. Alfoldy (Ed.), NeoCraft: Modernity and the Crafts (pp. 33-47). Halifax: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
  • Silve. The Romanticism of Digital Making, for Craft Research and Practice, and the Upshot for Teaching Future Voices.

Entropy Prototype Testing

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

The biggest thing that I took away from my original proposal presentation was that my project naturally focuses on the process, rather than the end result. That being said, I also knew that I had to modify my original plans for the project. Originally I had thought about using only porcelain clay, and several different coloring techniques. The more I thought about it the more I realized that it served no purpose to show two ways of doing the same thing, and therefore removed the shaving cream portion of my study. It didn’t add anything, and limited the materials I could use. Now that I am only using the nail polish technique I ca n use any clay that I have access to and it doesn’t have to be fired. The only caveat to this is that the dipping has to be done quickly, because un-fired clay, as I learned today, can be made malleable again if exposed to water too long. This means that while firing is not mandatory, I may decide to do it to prolong the life of the object and not risk it falling apart during the dipping process.

Fortunately I know for a fact that my concept will work, and now I have to focus on the execution. There is no doubt that Processing can create randomized lines, nail polish will form a film on top of water, and the polish will adhere to clay when dipped into the water. With the “how” determined, now I need to focus on the “why”. Why do I want everything to be randomized? What purpose does it serve? What does it say about the correlation between craftsmanship and design? While these questions may seem rhetorical, they are in fact relevant to the process.

Several of the papers we have read this semester dealt with the ideas of craft and process, using specific examples in the paper but applying the ideas to the industry as a whole. Tim Ingold’s paper, for example, started out with the quote from Paul Klee of “Form-giving is life” and “Form is the end, death”. This idea of creation being the primary goal, with the end form being an almost unnecessary by-product, is the crux of my project. If the end result looks interesting, then that’s just an added bonus. If it looks terrible and ends up in the garbage can, that’s also totally alright. The core tenant of my project is the idea that creating is more important than creation. This is something that a lot of people could learn from, because I know that a lot of 3D modelers start out with concept sketches and get too focused on making it look exactly like it, as opposed to letting it organically change through the modeling process.

A supplementary idea in my project is that of computer-guided art. In most art that takes place at least partially on the computer, the user is trying to be as careful and precise as they can, and telling the computer explicitly what to do and how to do it. This project turns that idea on its head, where the computer is telling the user what to do. Granted, the user (in this case me) has to write the program, but this is why the program is randomized. It removes the largest portion of control that I have over what is generated. Instead of the crafter, which would be my usual role, I am instead the manufacturer, being told what the crafter wants and trying to do it as closely as I can to their specifications. This metaphor falls apart slightly upon scrutiny, since I am setting the factors that the computer can choose from, but that’s what manufacturing companies do. They say “These are the materials we have for you to choose from” and the crafter has to make the decision at that point. So the loss of control makes the project take on a life of its own, with the computer being the production lead.