Friday, February 17, 2012

Dr Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game

Yes my fine friends here it is at last. The latest little film what I wrote. Directed by the very clever (and charming) James Cunningham and brought to life by his splendid team at MDS. Featuring the stiff upper lip of Lord Geoff Houtman, the can-do-attitude of Mr Simon McKinney and the undeniable charms of Missy Morgana Le Fay O'Reilly. Based in the fantastical world (and diseased mind) of Greg Broadmore.    Hold onto your plus fours it's going to be a wild ride...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The First Cut Is The Sweetest...

I literally don't know how to start telling you this but what I can say is that I'm extremely excited.

In my mad quest to learn how to build my clocks I'm always finding out something new and exciting. I've taught myself how to build, repair and design clocks. I've learnt a lot about the history of cuckoo clocks. I've also learnt how to make molds and build extremely complicated electronic projects. 

But recently I've branched out into a very exciting new on-line movement. 

I've joined Ponoko

The best way I can think how to describe these guys is that they're an on-line factory. You send them your designs - they fabricate them for you and send them back. What I'm about to show you is my first stumbling steps into constructing laser-cut acrylic sheets. 

I designed my test sheet in Inkscape; an open-source free application that allows you to do all sorts of fun stuff. Luckily I've had my genius cousin - Monkey - to lend a guiding hand and show me the wild and wonderful ways of Inkscape. Once you've got the hang of it I must say it's a very clever and highly addictive piece of software. 

Anyway I signed up for Ponoko and sent a project off to them. It was a fairly straight forward laser-cut piece of MDF. I'll say I was very impressed by the results. However that's a very top-secret project that I'm not ready to share with you yet.

The next project was a black acrylic sheet. I went crazy with it trying all manner of designs - from laser cut birds to the very first fledgling designs for boxes and a cuckoo clock shape. 

On the whole, these proved to be something of a failure but I have learnt a great deal about how to get it right next time! 

So here's the story of my test sheet. First off I downloaded my design to the Ponoko site. It took a few goes as my design kept being rejected, however, this was simply because I didn't read the instructions properly and hadn't formatted my design correctly. It's actually pretty straight-forward once you get the hang of it. Different coloured lines and fills will create different results - from a straight cut through the material to engraving. 

Once my design was downloaded the team were very helpful sending me emails to show me what I'd done wrong and how to fix it. They were a joy to deal this. Quick, to-the-point and extremely supportive.

Finally, after about four days, my designs arrived.

Yippee! You bet. The dents and scratches were courtesy of NZ Post (thanks guys) but thankfully Ponoko's carefully packaging meant everything inside was nice and safe.

I really wish I had taken a picture of it all still in place but I was so excited that I quickly started getting it all out and began fiddling with it. 

The bits are all held in place by a big sheet of sticky stuff that ensures nothing moves around while it's being shipped. The scorching you see is the result of the laser hard at work. Thankfully this is the paper covering that's burnt not the acrylic. The paper simply peels straight off and under it the lovely black acrylic is all beautiful, glossy, black perfection. 

Here I engraved the shape of the letters into the box to act as guide for mounting letters inside. As you can see here the little black "A" slots in nicely. Then a tiny pin-prick of super-glue ensures the letters sit tight. I must say I was impressed by how quickly and solidly the acrylic sets when bonded with super glue. Rock solid with just a few drops. Which leaves little room for error. Or clumsy fingers. 

This was one of the many theories I tested with this sheet and may I say it worked perfectly! The little box I built around this was less successful in it's design, but now I know how to do it better next time! Still it came out okay. Rather sweet in it's way. 

The same theory worked just as well with my clock shell design. I just slotted a little bird shape straight in.

The roof and floor of this turned out to be a terrible failure but still I learnt a lot. Mostly about measuring my lines more accurately. Now you'll probably notice the white "Wood of Kings" writing under the bird and the birds "X" eye. This effect was so easy to achieve thanks to the paper that covers the acrylic when it first arrives. The laser engraving burns away the paper leaving a perfect stencil around the engraved hole. I simply just painted over the hole and then, when the paint dried, I just pulled away the paper. A perfect fill every time. 

You'll see the old "Wood of Kings" turning up there in the corner again. I styled this after the iconic Holden "Kingswood" logo. which I again engraved and painted in. 

As I said just peel the paper away for a perfect result. 

I also cut out a whole series of little birds to test different cuts, size and levels of engraving. Individually they all turned out as charming little pieces that I might use elsewhere or give away to a few deserving chums. 

I'm so happy with these results and excited about what I'm going to do next. As always - watch this space.