Report from the Fall: Tactility, Sandpiles, Microcontrollers, Dual Color Printing... -Oh my!

The fall brought a more-contracted-than-usual studio schedule due to a heavy load of work obligations at the university. With less operating days per week and several more research directions we wanted to go into, we had to become creative with using resources and planning our progress.

We started a close collaboration with the newest UW makerspace, The Mill, and benefitted greatly from the electronics workshops being offered by the first UW makerspace, CoMotion. Our connections with these much larger and more universal makerspaces allow us to tap into both knowledge-base and equipment that is on our “wishlist”. The “wishlist” is long, and contains diverse things like basic programming, Arduino, small motors, dual printers, etc…., which, on the face of it, seem to stray away from ceramics. We find them to be the necessary steps in order to test ideas for experimental augmentations/alterations of the ceramic 3D printer for the purpose of generating new possibilities with clay techniques, forms and surfaces. Slip Rabbit interns, Erica Lee and Kayla Lee (not related) worked with Timea on every aspect of this initial research preparation.

We created test forms that challenged the dual color printer and our Rhino skills. We created pulsating lights that were run by Arduino boards. On Thursdays, we would teleconference for an hour with our WXML math group counterparts, to shed light on the mathematical nature of sandpile models (chip-firing games). This resulted in series of new textured forms designed by Timea, both cups and larger vessels, with a dense yet delicate, almost bead-like design that shows the equilibrium state of each matrix. Surprisingly, each matrix size (think rows and columns!) produces a slightly different pattern of distribution in this final state of stability, yet there are some matrices that never stabilize. We don’t yet know why.

In November, we opened our doors for our Fall Open House, which was not only well-attended but also offered networking opportunities among diverse communities of clay, glass, engineering, IxD/UxD, and Women in 3D Printing, which Slip Rabbit is proud to be a member of. Timea visited Material Matters at ECUAD for a day of tech exchange and we were happy to welcome UCSB art historian and craft history expert Jenni Sorkin for a studio visit and discussion about digital ceramics. Jenni’s visit (and UW lecture) inspired Timea’s new interactive project: be-HELD, in which participants are asked to “dance with the machine” while it prints a particular shape that could not otherwise be made by and on the printer. This interaction was a highly popular party trick at our open house. We love doing it too when we have a chance, because it demonstrates how much the human is initiating and authoring the process. We could always rely on our communication intern, Nick Wong, to document studio life and keep our Instagram page fresh.

Below are a few images from these exciting past months.