Monday, November 27, 2017

PSA: Back up your images

In the culmination of a lengthy multi-week saga regarding my computer, the things I want it to do with it, and my inability to be patient with technology, I thought (for several hours and then overnight) I had lost all my images yesterday.

New images of newly fired first amendment cups--not lost.

It turns out that ignoring the problem for 20 hours solved it. The only missing images ares one I didn't actually take, but it reminds me that one should back up one's images periodically. The best time to do this, of course, is right after you terrify yourself by actually, or (one hopes) almost losing all your stuff.

I'm missing a good image of this piece and any image of it's partner. Both are now at Boxx Gallery in Tieton for their holiday show (opening this Saturday 11-4 during the Mighty Tieton Holiday Bazaar).

I remember a few years ago, I was in my office at work when the power went out, followed by groans and screams all up and down the office as faculty called out that they hadn't saved whatever they were just working on, along with a few relieved people saying they'd just saved. We probably all saved our progress regularly for the next few days.

I never successfully printed my design, but the kid used TinkerCad and hers printed mostly ok.
The problem I had yesterday had to do with updating my computer and updating iPhoto. A few weeks ago, I had to update my OS because I was trying to learn software for making objects for our 3D Clay printer. The software I was trying to use required an updated OS. So I updated the OS and spent the next week annoyed at Safari for discontinuing the bookmarks bar. Chrome's fine, but I use Chrome for Canvas and Safari for stuff like my blog and goofing around online. (I acknowledge that this may be silly, but Safari has my bookmarks.)

 I never did get the software that required the OS update to save correctly, but look at this dinosaur duck a student made.

Apparently I hadn't updated my blog in some time, because I also hadn't opened iPhoto in the new OS until last night. Once I opened it, I was offered an exciting opportunity to pay Apple more money for iCloud storage. I declined, then iPhoto proceeded to update? without any sign of progress for over an hour. After a couple hours, I thought there must be a problem, so I tried to investigate and was met with several alarming surprises, one of which being a pop up that said iPhoto is unavailable in my country, another being that when one searches for iPhoto or Photos in the App store, there are no results. IDK

Don't mock my pain, Apple!

After this glimpse at the terrifying possibility of losing all my photos, and realizing that if I did, it would be my stupid fault for not backing them up, I went to bed. This afternoon when I got home from work, iPhoto had updated (I couldn't look this morning because it would have ruined my day if it was still stuck on that mocking orange "Have fun with Photos" screen). So, all's well that ends well.   I'm going to back up my photos now.

There may be more cats in the future, Camden.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

3D Clay Printer: First Weeks

This was our first "print." While the machine was priming it began to extrude and wouldn't stop when we "stopped" the "print" so I just caught the clay on a piece of paper on my hand, twisting as it came out.

Yakima Valley College Gets A 3D Printer for Clay

At last year's NCECA Conference in Portland, I saw a 3D Clay printer being demonstrated. I also saw a good deal of 3D printed clay at the conference, though I only saw one person (Brett Freund) who was using the printer in a really interesting way. But I thought the newness of the process and the fact that this machine prints wet clay, rather than liquid slip, which means that we could print, then alter the prints immediately, meant that there were possibilities for my students to be creative and really explore the unknown possibilities of this process.

Our first successful print came during a day when we worked at it for more than 5 hours, but only managed two successful prints total--and then broke the microSD card inside the machine.

After the conference, I submitted a proposal for my school to purchase a printer for our classroom. The proposal was approved quickly and we received the printer early in the fall. Of course I didn't anticipate that it would be that easy to get started. We got the printer, but the pug mill attachment was incorrect and we spent 5 weeks looking for a solution. Eventually the YVC facilities folks hooked us up and we were able to print for the first time at the end of October.

First Attempts to use the 3D Clay Printer

The first print that wouldn't stick. I can tell the machine starts too fast, but I didn't know that then, in part because the instructions and videos don't actually say how fast to print.

I took some videos of the printing process in October, but was feeling really frustrated because the clay often didn't stick to the printing surface and the extruded layers sometimes didn't stick to one another. I didn't understand why and had trouble finding out why from someone with experience. 

Our first successful print, stuck to the base, even though almost all the other prints needed a clay base prepare ahead of time in order to stick to the base. The company contact condescendingly told me that we should have had a piece of red constructions paper, and later, re-watching the videos I see where the paper was mentioned, but I still submit that a paper checklist with this sort of information would be much more helpful than videos I can't watch easily in my studio.

Since that first day, I've used the printer 4 or 5 days to print a variety of digital objects that came with the printer software, as well as some student designs. Of course it would be really helpful if I were just working with the printer during this time, but I was teaching class, grading assignments, helping students, attending meetings, and completing other full-time faculty obligations, so my time with the printer has been relatively limited. 

Troubleshooting & Trial and Error

The 3D Clay printer comes with no written troubleshooting instructions and minimal written instructions of any kind, including set up. The customer is advised to view online videos, which I did before setting up and attempting to print, but all the videos assume that you are more familiar with the process and 3D printers in general than I was when we began. I needed a list of definitions before I could even understand the videos.

Our second successful print on the first day shifted and leaned because the printing speed was faster than I would recommend. I can't say it is faster than recommended, because I cannot find any speed recommendations.

In our initial prints, we followed all the directions we could remember from the videos, but without much guidance as far as speed of the extruder, speed of the movement, or much of anything else, we mostly were just trying stuff at random. At the time, I wasn't sure that I would be able to figure out the issues without help from someone with experience with this machine. Now, however, looking back at the first video, it is pretty easy to see what went wrong at the time--it was printing too fast at the start. We've also learned that putting down a layer of wet clay for a base is usually essential.

This print was done on the second day, when the speed controls didn't appear to relate to the actual experienced speed of the print.

The thing I am not able to figure out is why the printer/software/file combination sometimes prints at a different speed using the same settings. You can hear me explaining the situation on the video to a student. This print is moving much more slowly than the previous print, but I'm printing the same file, the clay is coming from the same tube, minutes later, and the extruder speed and x/y movement speed are set at the same speeds as in the print immediately before this. The only difference is the actual experienced speed of the x/y movement is much slower.

A successful print on the second day, when the speed varied at random.

The machine seems to be working basically fine and is generally fairly reliable, but the support is difficult to navigate and frustrating when much time and effort is wasted--especially when I can't get much more than a couple hours at a time to work on it. I get the impression that the company is overwhelmed with the machines they are sending out, but they could provide much clearer instructions, troubleshooting, advice, and support--at least from this new customer's perspective. 

The second shape we printed requires some work after printing to open the closed top and open the negative space of the handle.

Students Figure the Thing Out

At NCECA last year, I had asked how hard it was to learn the online object making software. The woman at the booth suggested that the students would just figure it out. After making a few attempts to learn various 3D object making programs, and discovering that they and the tutorials are often designed to now work with a Mac (they keep directing me to right click on my one-button mouse), I was hoping the students would come through for me.

This student's design worked fairly well except for the open section on top of the leg. 

I opened up use of the printer to my students, letting them know that I am not much of a resource for the object making software. I told the students they could look into online tutorials for programs like TinkerCAD, but that I wouldn't be able to help. One student came back with a design she had made herself and it printed correctly on the first try and, to my surprise, the second. Then she and another student proceeded to print successfully or semi-successfully over the course of 2 days and 4 prints. There were some unsuccessful prints mixed in too, but fewer than at the start of our printing process.

This student design was also the first object to successfully print twice in a row. 

Hopefully soon I will be able to print some finished images of work and maybe even get some time to spend on the printer and software myself.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Come See My Work

The next two weeks are fairly busy with art exhibitions and openings, several of which feature my work.
my work at Boxx Gallery

First, this Thursday, November 2, the Maker Space Gallery is hosting paintings by Amanda Ontiveros. Opening reception at 6-9pm. Yakima Maker Space is on 1st Street between Yakima and Chestnut Avenues.

Amanda's work at Maker Space

You can see my work twice this Saturday, first at Boxx Gallery in Tieton with a reception from 11-1pm and at Larson Gallery in Yakima with a reception from 3-5pm (awards at 4pm).

my work at Larson Gallery

The Boxx Gallery show is called "What's on Your Plate?" and features works related to plates, eating, kitchens, and associated imagery and forms. I've got a completely non-functional plate sculpture and a wacky mug in the show. I haven't seen much of what other folks have.

The show at Larson Gallery is the annual Central Washington Artists' Exhibition, featuring a small sculpture of mine. Also showing at CWAE is Meghan Flynn, drawing and design instructor at Yakima Valley College. Her hyperrealistic drawing of rocks is worth checking out.

All three receptions are free and open to the public, so stop by and join us. Boxx Gallery is open on Saturdays from 11-1 and the exhibition is open through the end of the month. Larson Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 10-5 and Saturday 1-5, except for Veteran's Day and the Thanksgiving Holiday. The exhibition closes December 2.

one of my mugs (soon to be) at Oak Hollow Gallery

Also opening next week is the Holiday show at Oak Hollow Gallery. I will have some mugs and bulbs for sale. The show opens November 7, but there will be an open house November 11. The show runs through the end of the year, but work is only there until it sells.