Brooch A Day - Printed Steel Rosettes

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The first month of the year is almost done and the brooch a week challenge has been fun so far. Last week I finally received the 3D printed week 1 rosette models from Shapeways.
It's always interesting to see the printed outcome. I did add some pins to the back to be able to wear them as brooches and pin them to the large canvas I hung up on the wall. It will be so much fun seeing all those hundreds of brooches on that canvas at the end of the year. Walking by that canvas everyday keeps me on track and serves as an instant inspiration board.

The design process via Rhino3D and Grasshopper modelling was explained in the last post.
All (except the Anemone Rosette design) were printed in bronze infused stainless steel which has always a nice texture from the printing process.

BAD-001 3D printed Rosette Brooch
BAD-001 Rosette 3D printed stainless steel, 32mm diameter, 3mm thick, designed in Rhino3D and Grasshopper

BAD-001 3D printed Rosette Brooch_9633
BAD-002 Rosette with denser elliptical shapes
To test I also had these 2 rosettes printed a bit larger in the smooth plastic material (polished white plastic and a set in coral red). But the details don't come out well with that material, expesially for the denser design on the right. The shapes have no refinement and bleed too much into each other. It seems to work better if there is some empty space around the printed sections (see at the end of the post below). BTW: the coral red does not look red to me but rather hot pink. It certainly gets some attention.

BAD-001 & BAD-002 3D printed Rosette Brooch
BAD-001 and 002 printed in laser sintered nylon plastic dyed coral red, nickel pin in back, 43mm diameter each

Looking at the printed circle brooches it's apparent that the detail on the printed steel can't match the detail I get from milling in wax. But neverless it's quite interesting.

BAD-004 Circle Rosette 3D printed
BAD-004  Circle Rosette Brooch: 3D printed stainless steel, 30mm diameter, 3mm thick

BAD-003 & 004 Circle Rosettes 3D printed
BAD-003 & 004 Circle Rosettes

BAD-005 Pyramid Rosettes, 3D printed
BAD-005 two versions of the Pyramid Rosette brooch in steel
BAD-007 Daisy Rosette, 3D printed
BAD-007 Daisy Flower Brooch in steel
BAD Brooch rosettes week 1, 3D printed stseel
All printed stainless steel rosettes
I knew the "tentacles" of the anemone rosette (BAD-006) would be too thin for the steel printing. I did have it print in the coral red plastic instead. This allowed me to print with a larger larger diameter and more height without getting it too heavy and being so expensive. The stainless steel printing can get quite costly, I have to say. I think I will switch more to the plastic versions where appropiate. Otherwise I will be broke making 352 brooches in steel.

BAD-006 Rosette Anemone front, 3D printed Plastic
Anemone rosette, laser sintered nylon plastic,  dyed coral red for some more craziness, 41mm diameter, 15mm high

BAD-006 Rosette Anemone side, 3D printed Plastic
The depth it pretty nice.

BAD-006 Rosette Anemone back, 3D printed Plastic
Back side with stainless steel pin

This weekend I have to make the printing files for the models from the last 2 weeks and send them off to Shapeways for printing. At least now I have a better feel for some of the material properties.


Brooch A Day First Week: Rosettes

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We are now a couple days into the BAD ( Brooch A Day) challenge and it has been fun so far. It is really liberating to think outside of the "ring making box". Brooches seems to offer lot's of design freedom. It's all very playful so far. I am trying to use the blogging as a way to keep a journal of the process. So bare with me if this gets a bit technical at times.

To dive into learning Grasshopper software I watched lot's of video tutorials to get familiar with the possibilities it offers. The first week was all about rosette designs.

BAD Week 1 brooch wax models
Wax models of week one rosette designs, CNC milled
I followed a video tutorial that outlines the grasshopper definition setup for rosette creation.

Grasshopper definition
By switching the geometry shape of the item that gets rotated and scaled, it generates lot's of different designs from the same base definition. Playing with the sliders was really fun. I love watching how the designs evolve dramatically when certain variables change.

BAD-001 & BAD-002 rosette-ellipse1-elev
Variations of a rosette by deleting certain elements and changing the depth.

The first 2 rosette designs where done by rotating a elliptical solid and down scaling it towards the center. Once the right rotation, density and scale factors were found, I took that into Rhino and started to manipulate it further.  To test it I also milled those designs in wax on my CMC mill. Ultimately the designs will be sent out for 3d printing in stainless steel. But since I have a mill I can at least do a test the same day to check the design. It's somewhat easier to evaluate a design if I can see and feel it. Just judging from renderings can lead to some surprises.

BAD-001 Milled Wax Rosette
Single layer rosette, CNC milled wax, can be cast in silver

BAD-002 CNC milled wax
Double layer rosette, CNC milled wax
BAD-002 rosette-ellipse2-front-back2jpg
Rendering of double layer rosette with added brooch pin

The next 2 designs used a circular shape instead of the elliptical. The look is very different. The difference between those 2 are just changing the radial density from 9 circles around the center to 15.  
Circle Rosette brooch models
CNC milled wax models

Next day I started to play with some pyramid shapes.

Screen shot grasshopper
Testing settings in Rhino and Grasshopper

BAD-005 Rendering Pyramid Rosettes, BAW52/1
2 designs, same 5 sides pyramid as a base shape but changing the rotation of the shape around the pyramid center axis yields a different design

BAD-005 / BAW52/1 Pyramid Rosette testing with CNC milled wax models
CNC milled wax model. The first test model had very thin areas in those valleys that would not print and even brake during casting.
Day six was a fun one! It crashed my computer a couple times. But it finally worked, well virtually.  The base shape was a weird morphed shape that looked like a crippled joy stick. Once used in the definitions it created some wonderful shapes and reliefs.
The rosette looked like a sea anemone and was quite complex. It can only really be 3D printed as it has undercuts. The wax model I milled just does not have the same detail. Unfortunately  for the stainless steel it's too filigrane and it got rejected by Shapeways. It can probaly only printed in the high-res plastics. So no steel version of this one :(

BAD-006 Wax front
"Sea Anemone" rosette wax model, CNC milled
BAD-006 Rosette Anemone back
Rendering, even the back has a interesting texture. If the rosette would be stainless steel using a magnet pin would allow to show off both sides.

Next day a slightly different base shape than the eliptical one from day one and 2. This series shows how playing with the sliders is a great way to get different designs very quickly. The only difference is the rotation of the shape.

BAD-007 Grasshopper Screenshots5
BAD-007 Grasshopper Screenshot4
BAD-007 Grasshopper Screenshot3
BAD-007 Grasshopper Screenshot2

CNC milled wax model

Once I get the 3D printed steel models I can just weld or solder some pin findings to the back to make them into wearable brooches. I also thought using a magnet would be fun as then the steel rosettes can be worn 2 sided.  Some have a really interesting texture in the back that ought be be shown off.

I fabricated this little magnet pin out of textured and oxidized sterling silver with a pin clutch. The final version should be made out of 3D printed steel. The strong magnet was from the hardware store.

BAD-008 Magnet Brooch
Day 8 brooch: Magnet pin
It's a very handy tool that I will keep pinned to my apron as I can use it to clean out the broken saw blades out of my previous metal filings in the bench drawer.

BAD-008 Saw Blade Pin
Day 8: Broken Saw Blade Pin Brooch

Those were the first 8 days.

The last 2 days of the challenge I used some found objects and make them into brooches.

I am waiting for my new PC to arrive on Friday to start with a new Grasshopper definition. Little spoiler: there will be some bees or wasps involved in the new design. 


Etsymetal Blog Carnival: New Years Resolution

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The change of the year always comes with some reflections on the past 12 month and what the new year should bring.
I am really happy how 2012 turned out and don't think I need to do any drastic changes with my business. Things are going in the right direction and I will just keep refining them. That might be developing a few new designs and getting rid of some old ones I am tired of making. I also hope to find time to take some professional classes to refine my skills or acquire a few new ones. The first one will be a stone setting class in a few weeks to learn some new tricks and tips from the masters.

A couple moissanite rings completed in 2012

I am also teaching myself a new CAD software and hope this leads to new explorations. More info on this and the brooch making challenge can be found in last weeks post. The first couple days of this Brooch A Day challenge have been fun so far. Can't wait to see what new inspirations I get out of this.

Overall I think 2013 will just be a year for refining my business and my life and maybe even find more balance and free time to do other things.

Feel free to check out New Year's resolutions of other Etsymetal Member's

Lou Hunter
Laura Jane Bouton
Mary Anne Karren:
Theresa Kwong:
Danielle Miller:


2013 Year of the Grasshopper and Making Brooches

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Happy New Year! 2013 will be the year of the Grasshopper for me. No, I did not invent a new animal sign for a Chinese Year. It's just my motto for this year. Grasshopper is a plugin for a 3D modelling software Rhinoceros and one I want to learn. So this year my resolution is to play with it as much as I can. To help me stay on track I use the same motivator I used 2 years ago to learn Rhino 3D: I joined a flickr group to create a Brooch a Bay (BAD) or Brooch a Week (BAW). Anyone can join and submit designs. It's a personal challenge and open to interpretation as long as it is some sort of brooch, pin or badge.

In 2011 I did the Ring a Week challenge by designing and modelling 1 ring design per week in Rhino. I only went up to 32 weeks and got sidetracked with ... well live.  But it was still successful and I eventually learned the software. It is now a part of my everyday work and allows me to create a few of my selling ring designs. Posting the learning results to flickr and blogging about it was a great way to see the progress and change in complexity during the year. Plus it serves as a form of journal. What worked once, could work again.

Grasshopper definition for first brooch project

Grasshopper is a free software plugin for Rhino 3D geared towards parametric form generation. It allows exploring shapes and designs through algorithms. It's often used in complex architectural designs but also in lot's of other design applications. I have seen it in action in my former day job as an architect used by those nerdy computer kids. But I haven't actually used it myself. It's a great tool to explore options and variations of designs, shapes and patterns. It allows making instant changes without having to remodel everything. It should be a awesome tool for jewelry applications and especially brooches that allow more flexibility than rings.

Brooches can really be anything that can get attached to clothing. As long as it has a pin of some sort - it's a brooch. I have never made a brooch and probably have never even worn one, ok maybe some pins or badges long time ago. I am excited to get out of my ring making comfort zone and explore another medium a bit. Brooches will allow me to play with patterns, reliefs, shapes and forms that would not be suitable for other jewelry applications.

BAD2013-001 & BAD2013-002 rosette-ellipse1-elev
Variations of a Rosette design, Rendering

I am not sure yet if I will follow through with the daily BAD challenge but I will try. Since Grasshopper allows creation of design variations I can use those spin offs as each days submission. I am hoping to create a mini series each week and post the best brooch design in the weekly challenge.  It will start out with renderings first. I will also send out files to Shapeways to be 3D printed in stainless steel or plastic/ resins or if appropriate mill them on my CNC mill and cast in silver. With any of these production methods there is a lag time of 2 to 3 weeks between the design and having the milled/cast or printed object in my hand. Once there is a physical object I can attach pin findings to it to make it a brooch or pin.

Modelling in Rhino and Grasshopper

I really see this challenge as a learning experience and to some extent as an art project. I have no intent to sell these brooches (through if something amazing comes along I might eventually add them in my shop).  I am just looking forward to some playful explorations and extending my design repertoire. It will be inevitable that I get stuck with the software, sidetracked with life and too busy with my business. But I hope I can always return and play some more. You can follow along on Flickr and I will try to blog off and on.

One of the first things I need to do is buying a new computer. I crashed the program multiple times this week while just playing with some simple definitions. So far I used Rhino4 via Paralles on my MAC book pro. It worked ok for some simpler ring designs but I already started to have problems with modelling bracelets as the files got bigger and bigger.  It's time to to upgrade to a dedicated PC and the newer software. I was hoping they would develop the MAC version of Rhino a bit faster but I don't really see that happen anytime soon (Rhino is available for MAC but no plugins like T-splines or Grasshopper yet). So I am out PC computer shopping. It's not my favorite thing to do, Mac shopping would be a lot more fun. 

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