Category Archives: Artistic Endeavors

Laser Etching Glass

Glass fusing and slumping equipment
Newly donated glass fusing and slumping equipment.

It started right after some donated glass fusing and slumping equipment, more on that in a future post, that was dropped off at Castlemakers. Troy, one of our more creative members, came in during open shop night with a sheet of glass and asked what our laser engraver/cutter would do to it. Since I wasn’t sure, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out.

Etching glass with our CO2 laser.

As it turns out it, it works great for etching! Power settings were modest and it gives a nice frosted look to the glass in a single pass.

Cutting really didn’t work though. We weren’t totally surprised that cutting would be more difficult, so started experimenting with the settings.

With wood or acrylic you can make multiple passes that will continue to cut through the material. A slower process, and sometimes takes refocusing the beam, but you can get the job done.

CO2 Laser Cutting Glass Results

In this case we learned that the glass seems to absorb enough heat that it starts chipping and cracking. Perhaps it was the type of glass we were using, the glass used was a home project leftover. You can see from the picture it was not a clean cut and eventually created a longer crack in the glass. For now we’ll just manually cut glass until we get the new diamond saw setup. But we did learn how to etch using the laser!

October Happenings

Temperatures in the 40’s meant the 2022 Putt Putnam County was literally our ‘coolest’ one yet!

This month started off with our 6th annual Putt Putnam County event, which is always exciting not only for those building a mini-golf hole but also the crowd played course down Franklin Street. This year was much colder than usual, but still fun for those that made it out to play the community built 12 hole course this year. We’ll be looking to increase the number next year, so start working on ideas now!

Yard bird welding
Becky and Chuck show off the yard birds they made in our Intro to Welding class.

We’ve also had several classes this month, including offering our first welding class where people could learn how to weld by making a yard bird! Troy Fiechter, one of our members & a talented artist/welder on his own, taught the basics of welding in the half-day class and then helped them to make their own yard art using a wide variety of different scrap parts and tools.

Our Tinkercad/3D Printing class was a good turnout and nice mix, combining interested locals and people that drove up from Linton, Indiana. Not the farthest someone’s driven to take one of our classes (Kokomo still holds that record), but nice to know that others appreciate our offerings. October also means we get to help out with Putnam County Public Library‘s Halloween Event, which we bring out one of our 3D printers to make bats, skulls, and other scary objects to give away to the kids that come there.

We’ve got a number of classes planned for November, including a Raspberry Pi configuration class this Wednesday and Learning to Solder class later in the month. Check out our learning / classes webpage for those & more.

Making Holiday Cards

It was great to be able to offer a Cricut/ electronic cutter class again before the upcoming holidays. We offered the class several years ago, actually before we had the current Cricut Maker at the makerspace. 

Cricut class at Castlemakers.
Laurie showing some of the things that can be made with an electronic cutter.

The class covered the basics by making several gift bags and a holiday greeting card, although the makerspace machine can be used for lighter and heavier materials including fabric and even balsa wood. Laurie Hardwick, who has a history of creating all kinds of things with a Cricut, taught the class and did a phenomenal job – the things she brought in to show everyone were amazing. 

If there’s interest, we can do another Cricut class after the first of the year. If you’d like to make more holiday items, be sure to check out our classes webpage for an upcoming lasercutter class where you can learn to make a holiday ornament.

Edible Art In Gelatin

Learning to create petals and leaves in gelatin.

This last week we offered something completely different – a class on making edible flowers in gelatin. “Jelly Art” is a popular technique in Asia using a syringe to inject natural ingredient colors into a clear gelatin base. With the proper needles and some patience, participants made some pretty amazing decorative gelatin art that they could take home to eat if they wanted.

Flower petals & leaves are made with natural ingredients that are injected into the special gelatin.

For all of us that had never done this before, it was surprisingly easy, although having someone demonstrate how to do it (and help if a mistake was made) was perhaps the most valuable part of the class. If you’re interested in the materials used, we’ve got a webpage for the class that explains the materials used in making the gorgeous flowers.

Special thanks to Weiwei for teaching the class & bringing all the materials to get it done in a 3 hour class. Should we offer another class like this in the future? Let us know!

Everyone showing their completed edible flowers that they made in the class.

Jelly Art

Jelly Art flowers made in gelatin in a Castlemakers class.
Example flowers made in clear gelatin by students.

Castlemakers offered a Jelly Art class, taught by Weiwei Chao, in the fall of 2021 at the makerspace. If you’re interested in learning how to make edible gelatin flowers, we’ll be having another in the summer of 2022 when she’s back from Taiwan.

Jelly Art (sometimes called Gelatin Art) is made from a high quality gelatin with a few extra ingredients. Edible and colored liquids are injected in a clear gelatin base to create an artistic design, often flowers and leaves, to create an extremely impressive edible dessert. It is currently very popular to make these in Asia.

For the class Ms. Chao helped participants with the process of making one of these beautiful creations so that everyone got to take a flower they made home. The $40 cost for the 3 hour class included everything needed to make your own design. A list of ingredients are below.

Taiwanese made Konjac Jelly (Japanese vegetable jelly), Coconut cream, sugar, water, Butterfly pea flower powder, turmeric powder, purple sweet potato powder, Red yeast from rice, strawberry powder, green tea powder (Matcha).

Additional photos

Making Kinetic Art

Fourth floor view of the new interactive sculputure being built in IU's new Luddy Hall.
Fourth floor view of the new interactive sculpture being built in IU’s new Luddy Hall.

If you’d like first hand experience in building a kinetic art piece, Volunteers are needed through 3/31 with a new sculpture created by Phillip Beesley and the Living Architecture Systems Group in Bloomington. “Amatria” is a sentient architecture installation on the 4th floor of  Luddy Hall just off 10th street that will be visible within the campus.

Installation of components & wiring for the sentient sculpture in Bloomington.
Installation of components & wiring for the new Amatria sentient sculpture.

The new sculpture  is composed of polymer & metal scaffolding structures that hold glass vessels (including vinegar batteries) that power the LED lighting & kinetic mechanisms responding to motion & sound.  Most makers will recognize many of the components, from Adafruit circuit boards to laser cut acrylic components being made on location. The delicate mechanical moving structures alone are amazing, but with the network wiring/sensors/circuitry and software add another whole level of complexity. It’s not running yet, but will be by the new building’s grand opening April 9-13.

Check it out sometime or better yet volunteer by 3/31 for great hands-on experience with an extremely complex Internet Of Things (IOT) sculpture. A flyer is posted on our Makerspace window with more details or you can simply visit the 4th floor of Luddy Hall in Bloomington between 10am & 7pm through 3/31 to volunteer. We’re also offering an IOT class on 4/26 at the Makerspace, although for beginners, not anywhere near this level!

Strandbeest Exhibit in Chicago

An earlier Strandbeest, Animaris Apodiacula. On the far wall you can see a picture of his workspace and that room is full of parts used to make them.
An earlier Strandbeest, Animaris Apodiacula. On the far wall you can see a picture of Theo Jansen’s workspace and that room is full of parts used to make them.

Spring break turned out to be more of a making experience than expected, starting with the Strandbeest exhibit in Chicago and then taking a Chicago Public Library makerspace class and later one about laser cutting at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Fab Lab.

If you haven’t heard of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests, and even if you have, the Chicago Cultural Center has a fabulous exhibit for anyone interested in mechanical creatures. You get to see what an eccentric artist can do when combining engineering and art. Jansen’s wind powered beach creatures have evolved over the last 25 years, getting more sophisticated by storing wind energy, sensing when walking into the water, and even self-correcting to prevent them getting stuck. Some even anchor themselves if they detect a storm, all without any electronics just plastic pipe, cloth, and recycled bottles.

Close-up of the Animaris Suspedisse before the walking demo. Over by the windows you can see visitors walking a smaller one.
Close-up of the Animaris Suspedisse before the walking demo. The plastic pipe you see in the foreground hanging down with red tips is part of the propulsion system from the plastic bottle stored air. Over by the windows you can see visitors walking a smaller one, here’s a video.

Check the schedule if you go, you can watch a 42’ long Animaris Suspendisse walk or they might actually let you move an Animaris Ordis by yourself! The exhibit also included the evolution of the creatures and a small case of what other inspired people in the making community have done with his designs. Hamster powered Strandbeest anyone? How about 3D printed Strandbeests? The Segway like device inspired by a Strandbeest was pretty impressive too! Anyone interested in building a Strandbeest here?

The Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful building itself and just across the street from Millennium Park – you can see Cloud Gate from many of the windows on the east side of the building. Make sure you check out the other exhibits in the building and look at the incredible dome on the 2nd floor of the Center.

I’ll cover the workshops on making your own greeting card using a electronic (vinyl) cutter and making a custom acrylic keychain with laser cutter in a future post…

Make Your Own Casting

sand block carving for aluminum
Sand block carving for the upcoming Community Aluminum Pour in Greencastle at the Peeler Art Center on DePauw University’s campus.

9/30 UPDATE: There are still sand blocks available for carving as of today, stop by Peeler Room 105 to make one!

A quick note on the Community Aluminum Pour; Thursday September 24th is the last day to make an original piece of art that you can have cast with recycled aluminum. From 4-8 pm you can carve your own design into a sand block that will be cast on October 2nd. There’s not a lot of information out there yet (although it has been listed on our events page) and carving is limited to 200 participants; but both the carving and casting is open to the public. I stopped by last night – still plenty of sand blocks available for carving!

If you miss the carving or don’t want to make your own casting, the main casting event will be on Friday October 2nd from 1 to 10 pm (back courtyard of Peeler Art Center). Looks to be fun, Sculpture Trails Traveling Foundry will be there to help and will be explaining the casting process.

Banana Tatooing

At our August 23rd meeting we got updates from the teams on how their Water Balloon Challenge ‘devices’ are coming along. The Barcus Bunch showed their video on development and testing of the air-compressor powered water balloon launcher for the upcoming Water Balloon Challenge, raising the competition level for all of us making launchers!

Castlemaker kids take comis to tatoo some bananas.
Castlemaker kids take comics to tattoo some bananas.

Besides the air-powered units, there are reports of the classic latex tubing powered units and rumors of a Gatling gun style unit going for the quickest reload time category. It’s going to be an interesting competition, which will be at Big Walnut Sports Park on September 13th. Please check our events and project page for updates.

Some example tattoos that were made by using needles to bruise the skin.
Some example tattoos that were made by using needles to bruise the skin.

Our making project for this meeting was tattooing bananas. After first talked about how skin tattoos worked we then talked about the process of how fruit changes colors when bruised.

After putting bunches of bananas on the table, everyone took needles to bruise the skin so it turns brown. Some used Sunday comics to trace the character outlines on the banana, others just designed their own tattoo free-form. Conclusion: there’s nothing like personalizing your own banana so no one else will mistake it for yours!!

Making Ideas from Art

While you hear a lot about STEM, many in the Making community talk a  lot about STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math). Attend a Maker Faire or look at any Make magazine and you can’t help but notice how many artistic creations (how about an electric giraffe) are being made. Many of the same things shown at the bigger Maker Faires have also made appearances at Burning Man, arguably one of the most creative artistic community rituals that I’ve encountered.

Clay Sculpture by David Katz at Peeler
One of the traveling exhibits at Peeler Gallery.  This  temporary clay sculpture in 2014 by David Katz seemed to be attached to the walls.

A good Putnam County art resource is the Peeler Art Gallery on the DePauw campus. A lot of people forget about it and it’s open to the public for free. One of the current exhibits has some Andy Warhol photos and prints, but it changes every few months. If you look at this exhibit link read it very closely, summer hours are reduced from regular hours during the school year.  It’s not a huge gallery like IMA, but I’m always amazed at the quality of the exhibits at Peeler.