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All posts for the month August, 2011

For reasons unbeknownst to us, our web page has become unreachable.  We apologize for this inconvenience and are working on a solution.  In the meanwhile, please feel free to check out:

3D renderings of all available models on Picasa
Photos of Cosmic SpaceCrafts in action on Flickr
New Facebook fanpage

A blog entry will be forthcoming to announce the reestablishment of our web page.  As a result of a more streamlined production process, The Playful Geometer is currently reassessing the pricing of our products.  Please stay tuned for our re-launch to discover the new price tags on our most affordable products to date.

EDIT: It appears our web host lost our account after some upgrades, but we should have it back up in no time with and upgraded service offered freely as a result of this failure.

A quick post to confirm that the Earth Grid and Great Rhombihexacron models have been upgraded as described in the last blog post.  Here are some pictures of the newly constructed models:

Earth Grid Model: Fiesty Firecracker Etheriality

I am really happy with how this shape has “tightened up”.  Closing the cracks that were caused by the use of velcro has really enhanced the kaleidoscopic effect which is more prominent in this less spikey shape.

Great Rhombihexacron Model: Imagend Splendaria
The deeply-saturated, vibrant colours of this flavour really give a wonderful glow when lit up.

My camera failed to capture the beautiful glow of these lanterns when lit up (especially without a tripod which I used in earlier shots). The colours are all out of skew, but you can get the idea …

Great Rhombihexacron Model: Imagend Splendaria
Earth Grid Model: Fiesty Firecracker Etheriality

Now there is only the smaller and larger versions of the Cumulated Icosahedron as well as the Rhombicosacron (which still needs some better flavours) to test out.  This may have to wait until after the exhibitions at Open Mind Eco-Festival and Lumiere Festival this month.

However, pending the arrival of my new 13″ laminator (which was supposed to arrive yesterday), I should have my first SpaceCraft Zonohedra ArchBishop cap as seen here and day now… but of course mine will be decorated with fractals as per the usual

BING !  That is, the light of B-ING, the AHA moment, wherein a light bulb flashes atop the head O= :-D   ! As the moon approached its fullest this lunation,  some discoveries came through that have greatly improved the design of the Cosmic SpaceCraft Lanterns.  Now the lantern “shades” are nothing but laminated paper, held together by pure ingenuity !


As I described in a previous blog post, I had recently discovered SlideTabs, a paper model-building system that enables the construction of a variety of polyhedra, most of them simpler and smaller than the shapes featured by The Playful Geometer’s Cosmic SpaceCraft Lanterns.  I experimented with the system and modified it for making mini-lanterns for chirstmas lights.   I thinned the tabs so that the shadows they form would only cast on the black border printed on the shapes.  I cut a bunch of these smaller shapes out by hand and it was somewhat pain-staking.  My medium, laminated prints, proved ammenable to the SlideTab system, but the tabs with their roughly cut edges did not slide so smoothly, so I was hesitant to have anyone else try and put the shapes together.
 


In hopes of getting a friend’s US Cutter LaserPoint cutting machine to cut out my more complicated star lamps, I redesigned the panel images and incorporated the SlideTabs V2 tabs for the edges that fold together to make a single pyramid from one page. 


Satisfied with the hand-cut prototype, I brought laminated prints to my friend’s shop for a test cut.  Well, I spent all evening trying to get that thing to work with no avail.  It was a terrible hassle because I had to move the laser a precise location 4 times before it would cut, and I not once was able to get an acceptable result after about 6 hours of trial and error.  That was rather frustrating…


Luckily I hadn’t done my taxes in 3 years, so when I got my return this year, I had enough money to purchase something even better, the Craft Robo Pro CE5000-40.  It’s probably the most expensive thing I’ve ever purchased, but I truly feel it was a wise investment.  It’s definitely the key to producing affordable digitally decorated polyhedral lanterns.  I like it a lot because I don’t have to manually move the laser eye around much at all, it just finds all the registration marks on its own…well, not perfectly…it does fail to read them sometimes or it will cut out the image unevenly sometimes.  I think that’s mostly because of the ever-so-slight wrinkle of the laminated paper.  At first I was only getting an accurate cut about half the time, but now I’m batting more like +90%.  I found holding the page to the machine — especially when it’s reading — has improved this average greatly.


I used the machine for the first time to cut out some lanterns as featured at the OM Reunion Project’s re:generate 2011 Summer Solstice gathering. The lanterns at this stage still contained velcro tabs to hold them together.  You can see the perforation the cutter makes for a clean fold illustrated here (more photos of OM posted on Flickr).

OM 2011: Pink CloseupOM 2011: Dome CloseupOM 2011: Blue Closeup





Although they looked pretty crisp, the velcro glue back was sticking to things and the staples that held the velcro firmly in place was catching on underlying velcro tabs when the panels were stacked.  However, at the time I was just happy to rid myself of the many troubles I had with double-sided tape, packing tape, hot glue, pipe cleaners … all sketchy to say the least.


While I did not have too much trouble putting together the lanterns made with SlideTabs V2 and velcro, I had yet to subject the general public to their construction.   Someone requested to buy one of my lanterns after seeing them at OM and I offered to put it up for them while visiting Ottawa last week.  They offered to help me put it together, and in proceeding, seemed to find it rather frustrating.  The lantern they got had already been constructed and deconstructed for a feature at another festival.  Another construction revealed lamination peeling up at the edges of the tabs.  It turns out that the lamination does not stick very strongly to black toner, as it melts at high temperatures (while it goes through the hot laminator).  I had very little trouble with this while I was hand-cutting my lanterns (without SlideTabs) even though I often cut along a black edge .  It was an unpleasant surprise to find my product was no longer very user-friendly nor stable while installing it for a friend :(


Though I got the lantern up fine in the end, I felt kind of bad about our exchange after returning home … and so it was back to the drawing board.  I quickly realized I could solve the peeling problem by making the edges of the tabs white so the laminate would stick to the paper and not peel away.  However, I was still feeling uncomfortable about the difficulty of using the SlideTabs V2 design, even without the peeling.  The pyramids of the lanterns were occasionally popping open at their tabbed edges as well.  Thus, I modified the cut lines to use SlideTabs V1, and now the pyramids were both easier to assemble and more robust.


Before this improvement, I was having to add a support pyramid to the wire as seen here : 

Support Pyramid
Support Pyramid


They are not really necessary anymore with the implementation of the SlideTabs V1, which is a relief.  I did manage to cut the support pyramids out with my cutting machine, but I had to push down the cutting head with my hand, which was tricky and perhaps dangerous (for my SpaceRobo, that is).  



The greatest breakthrough in SpaceCraft Engineering came while I was returning home from Ottawa on a bus.  I was pondering the question: “how could I make a tab that could replace the velcro ?”  The first doodle seemed like a stab in the dark, but I had to know if it would work, so I just kept tracing the shape with a pen until I could peel it out of the page and made a second one to see if they would connect.  Seen here is the artifact of my discovery:





I had some satisfactory results with my fidgeting, so when I got home, I drafted something for my cutter.  After one trial and error, a slight tweak on the original design proved to work wonders.  Now the base of each pyramid connects to the others with what I will now call WedgeTabs instead of velcro.  I set about using some old laminated designs that I couldn’t run through my machine to build the first paper-only Cosmic SpaceCraft Lantern.  This is it !



Its very strong, crisp, and its so much more fun to put together.  There’s less cracks for the light to leak out, and the little holes at the corners cast little star shapes on the wall like a disco ball.   I can barely imagine them being any more perfect !  But the evolution of Cosmic SpaceCrafts is far from over….


Here are some before and after shots :

with SlideTabs V2 tabs and velcro stapled to edges



with SlideTabs v1 and WedgeTabs



A closer look at WedgeTabs:








I’m excited about the possibility of making eco-friendly, burnable, compost-able lanterns with soy inks screen-printed on some nice natural cardstock paper, now that I don’t have to use velcro or other adhesives to hold my lanterns together.  I have yet to determine whether there would be a demand for them as compared to the colourful but plasticized digital designs.  Your input would be greatly appreciated.  Now that my R & D phase is nearly complete, it will be time to start doing some market research soon.


But for now I am busily converting all my models designs to this new tab system to be subjected to the ultimate test, star-fishing  !  There’s nothing like a pack of wild kids reaching for the stars to wreak havoc on any weak links in the SpaceCraft Engineering design.


You see, I sometimes take the lanterns for walks (mostly out to their exhibits), dangling them from a tree branch raised high in the sky.  It’s like a new form of street art :-P  “Catch the Star” proved to be a rather entertaining game for the young ones at a special event once so perhaps I’m due for another ‘test drive’ with my latest prototypes.


Admittedly… perhaps I “jumped the gun” a bit on advertising my Cosmic SpaceCraft Lanterns.  I recall putting the earliest “catalogue” out with $ signs this May on my blog and recently launched a new website with price tag on it too.  I have not been soliciting sales of my lanterns much due to a (waning) lack of confidence in their construction.  Since last year’s festival season, many people have expressed a general desire to get my lanterns, but only a handful have followed through with their expressed intention.  I haven’t had any crash landing reports from my customers, but I’m glad that many folks’ plans to support my business have been delayed until now because I want the best for my customers. 


UPDATE:  Great and Small Stellated Dodecahedrons, and Star Tetrahedrons have now been upgraded/tested and are available for order.  Very soon all models should be tested and ready for purchase (or trade if you will).  With this being the culmination of years of tireless tinkering, it sure feels good to have persisted in my craft.  I love being a maker … may I be one with the greatest of such ! 

BING !  That is, the light of B-ING, the AHA moment, wherein a light bulb flashes atop the head O= :-D   ! As the moon approached its fullest this lunation,  a discovery came through that has greatly improved the design of the Cosmic SpaceCraft Lanterns.  Now the lantern “shades” are nothing but laminated paper, held together by pure ingenuity ! 

As I described in a previous blog post, I had recently discovered the SlideTabs, a paper model-building system that enables the construction of a variety of polyhedra, most of them simpler and smaller than the shapes featured by The Playful Geometer’s Cosmic SpaceCraft line.  I experimented with the system and modified for making mini-lanterns for chirstmas lights.   I thinned the tabs it so that the shadows they form would only cast on the black border printed on the shapes.  I cut a bunch of these smaller shapes out by hand and it was somewhat pain-staking.  The tabs with their rough edges did not slide so smoothly either, so I was hesitant to have anyone else try and put the shapes together. 

In hopes of getting a friend’s US Cutter LaserPoint machine to cut out my more complicated star lamps, I defined some cut lines for them, incorporating the SlideTabs V2 tabs for the edges that fold together to make a single pyramid from one page. 

Satisfied with the hand-cut prototype, I brought laminated prints to my friend’s shop for a test cut.  Well, I spent all evening trying to get that thing to work with no avail.  It was a terrible hassle because I had to move the laser a precise location 4 times before it would cut, and I not once was able to get an acceptable result after about 6 hours of trial and error.  That was rather frustrating…

Luckily I hadn’t done my taxes in 3 years, so when I got my return this year, I had enough money to purchase the Craft Robo Pro CE5000-40.  It’s probably the most expensive thing I’ve ever purchased, but I truly feel it was a wise investment.  It’s definitely the key to producing affordable digitally decorated polyhedral lanterns.  I like it a lot because I don’t have to manually move the laser eye around much at all, it just finds all the registration marks on its own…well, not perfectly…it does fail to read them sometimes or it will cut out the image unevenly sometimes.  I think that’s mostly because of the ever-so-slight wrinkle of the laminated paper.  At first I was only getting an accurate cut about half the time, but now I’m batting more like +90%.  I found holding the page to the machine — especially when it’s reading — has improved this average greatly.   

I used the machine for the first time to cut out some lanterns as featured at the OM festival. The lanterns at this stage still contained velcro tabs to hold them together.  You can see the perforation the cutter makes for a clean fold illustrated well here (thanks to Scott Sutherland of http://livingincolor.net), more photos of OM posted on Flickr

Although they looked pretty crisp, the velcro glue back was sticking to things and the staples that held the velcro firmly in place was catching on underlying velcro tabs when the panels were stacked.  However, at the time I was just happy to rid myself of the many troubles I had with double-sided tape, packing tape, hot glue, pipe cleaners, all sketchy to say the least.

While I did not have too much trouble putting together the lanterns made with SlideTabs, I had yet to subject the general public to their construction.   Someone requested to buy one of my lanterns after seeing them at OM and I offered to put it up for them while visiting Ottawa last week.  They offered to help me put it together, and in proceeding, seemed to find it rather frustrating.  The lantern they got had already been constructed and deconstructed for a feature at another festival.  Another construction revealed lamination peeling up at the edges of the tabs.  It turns out that the lamination does not stick very strongly to black toner, as it melts at high temperatures (while it goes through the hot laminator).  I had very little trouble with this while I was hand-cutting my lanterns (without SlideTabs) even though I often cut along a black edge .  It was an unpleasant surprise to find my product was no longer very user-friendly nor stable while installing it for a friend :(

Though I got the lantern up fine in the end, I felt kind of bad about our exchange after returning home … and so it was back to the drawing board.  I quickly realized I could solve the peeling problem by making the edges of the tabs white so the laminate would stick to the paper and not peel away.  However, I was still feeling uncomfortable about the difficulty of using the SlideTabs V2 design, even without the peeling.  The pyramids of the lanterns were occasionally popping open at their tabbed edges as well.  Thus, I modified the cut lines to use SlideTabs V1, and now the pyramids were both easier to assemble and more robust.

Before this improvement, I was having to add a support pyramid to the wire as seen here :

They are not really necessary anymore with the implementation of the SlideTabs V1, which is a relief.  I did manage to cut the support pyramids out with my cutting machine, but I had to push down the cutting head with my hand, which was tricky and perhaps dangerous (for my SpaceRobo, that is).  

The greatest breakthrough in SpaceCraft Engineering came while I was returning home from Ottawa on a bus.  I was pondering the question: “how could I make a tab that could replace the velcro ?”  The first doodle seemed like a stab in the dark, but I had to know if it would work, so I just kept tracing the shape with a pen until I could peel it out of the page and made a second one to see if they would connect.  Seen here is the artifact of my discovery:

I had some satisfactory results, so when I got home, I drafted something for my cutter.  After one trial and error, a slight tweak on the original design proved to work wonders.  I set about using some old laminated designs that I couldn’t run through my machine to build the first paper-only Cosmic SpaceCraft Lantern.  This is it !

Its very strong, very crisp, and its so much more fun to put together.  I can barely imagine them being any more perfect !

This also means that there is a possibility of making eco-friendly lanterns with soy inks screen-printed on some nice natural cardstock paper.  I have yet to determine whether there would be a market for them as compared to the colourful but plasticized digital designs.  Your input would be greatly appreciated.  Now that my R & D phase is nearly complete, it will be time to start doing some market research soon.

But for now I am busily converting all my models designs to this new tab system to be subjected to the ultimate test, star-fishing  !  There’s nothing like a pack of wild kids reaching for the stars to wreak havoc on any weak links in the SpaceCraft Engineering design.  You see, I sometimes take the lanterns for walks (mostly out to their exhibits), dangling them from a tree branch raised high in the sky.  It’s like a new form of street art :-P  “Catch the Star” proved to be a rather entertaining game for the young ones at a special event once so perhaps I’m due for another ‘test drive’ with my latest prototypes.

Admittedly… perhaps I “jumped the gun” a bit on advertising my Cosmic SpaceCraft Lanterns.  I recall putting the earliest “catalogue” out with $ signs this May on my blog and recently launched a new website with price tag on it too.  For over a year now, I have not been soliciting sales of my lanterns much due to a (waning) lack of confidence in their construction.  Since last year’s festival season, many people have expressed a general desire to purchase my lanterns, but only a handful have followed through to seal the deal.  I haven’t had any crash landing reports from my customers, but I’m glad that many folks’ plans to support my business have been delayed until now because I want the best for my customers.  Within a couple of weeks, all models should be tested and ready for purchase (or trade if you will).  This is the culmination of years of tireless tinkering…. it sure feels good to be a maker !  May I be one with the greatest of such.