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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Hobbies: Art to Maker

Well it's been a while.

I am still alive, just my interest have changed so much so that writing about being a Software Engineer seemed tedious. 

So why am I reviving this blog?

Well I am almost done writing a post about my new 3D printer and thought it might be good to write how I got here...

So my last post was in 2013 just as I was starting out in Microsoft. I no longer worked on GIS so I didn't want to keep writing posts on that, and my work at Microsoft was at the time with using internal MS tools (even the build system was unique). I thought about writing about my hobbies back than but they weren't tech based so I just let the blog slip away...

Since childhood I had been dabbling in art, from pencil painting to oil/water colors. My parents were very supportive as my father is a hobby artist and my mother dabbles in it. 

Before starting at Microsoft I decided to challenge myself with a pencil drawing a day, I would find an image (usually a portrait) in 500px and draw it (later I also posted it in Facebook).

In 2014 I was looking around Pinterest at wood based arts (I thought to show my father something for him to try) when I found Pyrography (or as I like to call the Art of Burning stuff up) and ordered from Ebay a basic burner to try out. 

It took me a few months and I decided to buy a better tool - Razertip SS-D10 it cost me around 400$ (but if you are thinking on buying one I suggest you go for the SK burner instead). Once again I posted the results at Facebook

With Pyrography I tried to outdo myself over and over. I burned on wood bark, wood logs until I found plywood - Poplar and Birch are the best. Then I bought a bunch of furniture from Ikea, sanded the top off (it is never good to burn chemicals) and burned on them.

(Pyrography on Birch Plywood)

The leap from there to buying a saw was very short but I ran into a problem - all my cuts were not 90 degrees. For making small art pieces it was fine but I had other goals - namely skipping Ikea (and the annoying sanding).

When Microsoft Garage opened in Israel I was more interested in it's laser and Woodworking tools than with the 3D Printers. It didn't replace my Pyrography just added a new technical side to it, if I needed to make something with precise cuts I used the laser - for art I kept using Pyrography.

Than at 2017 a friend suggested we do a furniture building course together, 10 classes that teach you planning and building a furniture from a precut pieces of wood. Basically the teaching was on how to plan a furniture to a cut list (that you give to a carpenter to cut for you), from there it went to sanding the edges, using screws to join the wood pieces together, using hinges/drawer hardware, painting and finishes. The course is built so that in the end you make a make a furniture and you can guess what I did with that - it took me around a year to make and involved a lot of Pyrography:

(Feb 2018: one side is the Dark side and the other is Light side)

This course gave me the push I needed to finally buy a Table Saw and to buy Steve Ramsey's Weekend Woodworker course that teaches everything about being a woodworker. As opposed to the furniture making course this teaches you how to cut the work and work with it until you get a specific piece of furniture. But Steve Ramsey's teaches not only how to make a specific piece but why make it like that and how to always do it safely.

At the summer of 2018 there was a Microsoft Hackathon where for the first time there was a Maker side of things - two groups making something that is not a software. My group which was mostly from my team (Excel) made a giant Excel spreadsheet where the humans were the calculators but they were suspended in the air and had to use their hands to move around. The structure was mostly from wooden beams so it was great to take things I worked on at home and make them at work.

During 2019 I mostly taught a woodworking class at the garage (making a toolbox):

(people went home with a toolbox like this one, laser etching included)

And in the Hackathon making a side table. 

(the prototype and the demo, this time after the Hackathon I added a Pyrography element)

After the Hackathon I decide I wanted to get back to making and do less teaching (and my actual job demanded more attention). 

At 2019 I also started experimenting with Epoxy Resin. I started by making coasters (something I learned in a Garage workshop. I bought some molds online and started making epoxy shapes. Most often vases or other boxes like:

But also Death Stars:

(Ice sphere mold)

And then I went and put things in the epoxy (usually plants):

(picked up some plants from my parents house, dead plants work the best (water and epoxy don't mix))

That was also the point where I started to use 3D printing to make things that I could later make a mold of. I used the 3D printer we had at work, I started by printing simple shapes - things that I can do a mold of more easily - usually things without support as they were more easy to demold. 

(The middle is the original 3D print, the others are the epoxy replicas. Even this simple shape was a bit hard to demold

Then I moved to more complex shapes, like this phone holder:

(On the right the 3D print, on the left the epoxy resin result. I had to cut the mold to get the epoxy out or I would have made more than one piece)

And then the Corona came and I could no longer 3D print in work so I bought one but that will have to wait until the next post.