Forest is the Trees

Look for CNC cut MDF trees in the video trailer: The Wōods by Annie Briard.

From the description:

“The Wōods” is a handmade stop-motion world explored by the viewer in a ‘choose your own adventure’ style. The work features a character and her reveries at the edge of an enchanted forest. Viewers can interact with her textually through text-messaging and through body movement, prompting different fable-like narrative moments.

Along with engaging viewers and passersby with its unique aesthetic and playful interactivity, Briard’s work also prompts contemplation about the way we relate to one another and our environment, while investigating theories around the use of the uncanny and wonderment in moving-image art.

Underneath the putty in the video are MDF trees for the stop motion set. Tallest approximately 24 inches


It’s the small things that count

Our CNC machine is temporarily out of commission due to a shearing off of the small air-intake connector that grabs and holds the tools. The size of the hole in the picture is a mere 5/64 of an inch.

Thankfully the machine’s maker in Burlington, ON has a replacement part otherwise I might have needed to order one from Italy

One snapped off fitting in a usually safe location.







Where is the visual?

Given that this is an institution of visual arts and design it is amazing that so few people who come to me with a proposed cutting project have no drawing at all of what they want me to do. To date I have cut 25 projects and the number of drawings I have seen is zero (none, nil, nada, not one). This is down by about 3 from last semester.

Yes, I am being provocative as a small number of people did present me with a computer file on first contact but eliminating them we are still left with zero.

Not even James Randi’s “skeptical brow” and the question “Do you have a readable drawing of what you want made?” have been enough to help convince people to bring a drawing.

Oddly enough some of the most detailed drawings of a proposed project do not come from the communication or industrial design students (although you would think that should be their stock in trade) but from painters.

Do you have a readable drawing of what you want made?


Stay Where You’re To

Back when the “World Wide Web” was new, and was not referred to as the “interwebs”, if you wanted information you had to seek it out. Then along came RSS (Really Simple Syndication) from TLA-land (Three Letter Acronym) and information was delivered to you for viewing in a dedicated RSS feed reader.

Instead of visiting this site to see what has newly been posted you can have you’re e-mail receive those posts as they are made. Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird each have their own idiosyncratic ways of adding feeds. The easiest way to do so is to scroll down to the bottom of this page and under “Meta” click on the “Entriess RSS” link.

You can also e-mail yourself a message with the text in the body of the message. Then, when you receive the message, click on the link in your e-mail program and it should walk you through the subscription process.

Degree Exhibition 2012

The Degree Exhibition highlights students’ creativity and innovation across design, media and visual arts in our Bachelor and Masters’ programs.

It is time to tally the number projects in the exhibition that were cut (or had support material cut) with the CNC router.

A breakdown of the past four years’ CNC representation in the graduation exhibitions follows:

2012 2011 2010 2009
Design 11 12 8 7
Sculpture 4 3 2 1
Masters 2 1 2
Printmaking 1 1 1
Ceramics 1 1
Painting 1 1

A number of students (at least 2 in Design and at least 2 in Fine Arts) whose cutting projects were identified as being destined for inclusion in the exhibition either did not display in the exhibition or entered other projects instead.

Tiffin Prototype and Production

Tiffin lunch kit by Lorea Sinclaire.

From the designer/maker’s website: “Unpacking your lunch is like unpacking a table setting: the compact kit unfolds into a meal. The bowls allow you to separate your food for combinations like curries and rice, soup and bread, granola and fruit. The set can be used in the home or carried away to work and school; or wrapped up for a picnic.

Taking inspiration from Japanese bento boxes and indian tiffins, the bowls morph shape from a sturdy square bottom to a circular top.”

Solidworks model

Solidworks model imported into ArtCAM to create toolpaths

Bottom section being cut

Bottom section finished (cut in foam insulation)

Top cut in pink foam insulation whose mascot is a fictional panther

Finished model (total time: 1:43:00 for 3 sections totalling 7 slices; total distance travelled: 1,151 ft 5.5 in)

Tiffin lunch kit, slip cast ceramic, cork, metal fittings · winter 2011

Mix and stack

La Geometrie

…While it is true that every curve which can be described by a continuous motion should be recognized in geometry, this does not mean that we should use at random the first one that we meet in the construction of a given problem. We should always choose with care the simplest curve that can be used in the solution of a problem, but it should be noted that the simplest means not merely the one most easily described, nor the one that leads to the easiest demonstration or construction of the problem, but rather the one of the simplest class that can be used to determine the required quantity…

René Descartes, 1637, La Geometrie, Book III, page 152.

A provisional post to meditate on.



…and Statistics

The last four semesters’ activity of the CNC area is presented here in numbers.

Canceled projects are ones where the student, faculty or staff member indicates they would like to do a project but never return or do the project using a different method. Declined projects are ones where the material may be inappropriate (pumpkins??), requests from general public for use of the CNC or where the needed date may be too soon (e.g. the student who wanted a complex job in two days when there were already ten or more jobs in the queue). Other projects include slideshow talks about the area, tours of the area, questions regarding the CNC process, etc.

Contacts Jobs Cut Total Job Time  (HH:MM) Jobs Canceled Jobs Declined Other Jobs
2010 spring 90 67 158:46 15 2 6
2010 fall 67 41 95:20 10 4 12
2011 spring 168 110 328:38 25 11 22
2011 fall 107 61  192:11 16 5 25

In the spring of 2011 the number of jobs cut in March and April was 53. The other 57 were cut in January, February (24 from two class’ projects) and May to August.

Job time includes four components: consultation time,  file preparation time, run time, and job set-up/clean-up time.