Documentation: Neopixel Programming.

Now my ship is fully (well almost, the sail needs attaching now) constructed, it was easier to make a decision on how many neopixels I would need in total, for the night-light. I have devised that I will need 9 in total. 6 for both sides of the ship and 3 going up the mast in order to light up the sail.

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I need to double check something with Aidan tomorrow in Field, regarding if I need the neopixel coding more than once or if that will apply to all 9 of my neopixels. Once this is sorted, I need to collect the arduino from Mal Bennett in Photography, and solder the necessary neopixels together and set it up, then I am finished with the arduino side to my night-light.


Documentation: The Creation of the Viking Vessel Ship.

I was inspired by my interest in past cultures, which led me into the library to visit the section where everything on Viking culture was stored (See post here) which began to inform my ideas. I started to roughly sketch out simple Viking ship designs in my sketchbook, before I was happy on a design that I liked.
field viking schematics

Once I got a design that I was happy with, I emailed Charlie Bull asking for assistance with Adobe Illustrator. I was given a date and time, so before my meeting with her, I mocked up a design sheet to scale, with accurate measurements of what was required to create my outcome for Disobedient Objects. Doing this made mocking it up in Illustrator with Charlie a breeze, as all the measurements and work was already complete. To create the ship schematics, I used the pen tool and spiral tool to create all the shapes that I needed.

viking ship 12

After everything was mocked up in Illustrator, after a few final tweaks when I realised I had not added the necessary slots for the mast and main boat structure into the schematics, it was taken into soft modelling on the first floor with an induction with Joe on how to set the laser cutter up. With one or two re-adjustments of the AI file and the laser cutter, it was sent to cut. The first cutting session took 15 minutes 7 seconds and did not penetrate thoroughly through the acrylic. I sent it to be cut for another 15 minutes 7 seconds, which penetrated all the way through my acrylic sheet this time, and I had the flat pack outcome of my Viking ship that I wanted. Before I could put them together, I had to mark out where I wanted to drill holes for the Neopixels and for the sail fixtures to go through the mast.

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The first issue I encountered with my ‘easy to create’ flat pack design was that in theory, I designed in Illustrator the slots correctly, but I did not account for the fact that in Illustrator, they were a square in size which would have accounted for the slots if they were a square in height. However, I completely spaced about the fact that they would be fitted width ways, not height ways and this led to having to hacksaw through small red blocks of acrylic and glueing them over the right amount of space needed to create a cosy fit so the structural integrity would not collapse completely. This also applied to the mast of the ship, which had the same issue.

Whilst fixing the two base panels into the ship, I found it was still not as structurally secure as I had hoped it would be, so I decided to add in an extra two panels below it. I chose black acrylic for these, because I was still running with the colour association of sweets and at the time, I was thinking of liquorice. Mmm. Once the second set of base panels were fitted, I found it was secure and moved onto securing the mast.

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Before I attached the mast, I began to work on the shields for the vessel. This was of course using melted sweets that I experimented with, earlier in the project. I had so many prototypes that I started cutting out circular shapes with scissors and found a sheet of aluminium did the job for creating the hooks to attach them onto the ship’s structure. I used fantastic elastic glue to secure the hook fixings onto the sweet shields and was immediately pleased with this outcome as my idea was really beginning to form as a 3D outcome right in front of me.

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I acquired these small wood sticks that I thought would be brilliant for the structure of the sail for the ship, and after measuring out how long I wanted them, I sawed off the excess and slotted them through the drilled holes provided. Now that the mast and the sail structure was attached to the rest of the ship’s structural integrity, I moved onto a fun stage of finalising my outcome for Disobedient Objects.

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Using five different types of sweets (gummy bears, jelly babies, jelly snakes, jelly beans, midget gems) from melting more sweets first thing in the morning ready to create the sail, I layered a sheet of baking parchment over a nice curved piece of aluminium. I began to layer the sweets over each other, until I had this amazing sheet of colours swirling together. Once I was happy that I had enough coverage for the sail, I went into Martin Burnell’s workshop in the Maker space and borrowed a heat gun to melt it to fuse it all together.

The next thing to do now is to attach the sail to the ship and edit a pre-existing Arduino coding that I have from my first year’s field project to add more lighting and change the colours to pure white. I then just have to fit the arduino and neopixels onto the ship and it is complete, ready for my summative deadline on Thursday.


Personal Development Plan.


My journey through Constellation this term has been one that has challenged me academically. Firstly, I was daunted by the 4,000 word assignment that was due at the end of the term, because I felt that I was not confident or strong in this module. I struggled to adapt to reading theoretical and philosophical texts at the start of the five-hour lectures and I would not participate within the study group itself to begin with. I wanted to contribute to the discussions within the study group, but I was always afraid to speak up because I was scared of being wrong or appearing stupid. However, as the weeks went by, my confidence flourished and the anxiety I felt at the start of this module dissolved into the background as I grew confident through the weeks, which was demonstrated when I started to actively participate in the weekly study groups. As my confidence grew, I began to learn to adapt to reading theoretical and philosophical texts for each lecture – reading such texts may still not be my strongest ability but it is still a hurdle that I have managed to overcome to participate successfully within my study group in Constellation.

Throughout Dr. Morgan’s lectures, I have discovered that I am passionate about exploring the theory of Semiotics in deeper depths than I already have touched on for my 4,000 word assignment. The theory of Semiotics has started to feed into my practice as I have started to question what symbolic nature I want my artefacts to posses and how I want other people to perceive the object when it is displayed.

In addition to the theory of Semiotics, through Dr. Morgan’s lectures I have learnt about the theory of cool, where you look at something that was described as ‘cool’ and apply the theory of why it was to be considered ‘cool’. I have been educated about the importance of transitional objects and how, regardless of age, transitional objects guide you from infancy, to help inform, educate and develop the progression from infancy through to independent childhood, and into adolescence and adulthood. Although the age group changes, the transitional objects remain – the objects also alter with the age groups.

Furthermore, I acquired knowledge about consumer culture, where businesses use gimmicks to convince people that they need an object or item. In further depths, I learned that in some cases consumer culture is used to demonstrate wealth and upper class, who can afford such luxuries as for example, the brand new iPhone X.

Alongside this, within the study group, we studied social and cultural connotations, which piqued my interest and I enjoyed, through my 4,000 word assignment, how social and cultural connotations are established within materiality and objects.

Following on in the weekly lectures within the study group, I explored the concept of a subject and an object, where I learnt how to tell what was an active subject – which is that of conscious being – and an object – which is inanimate unless manipulated by an active subject.

I thoroughly found it interesting to discover social movements such as Shaker Design founded in the 18th century by Ann Lee, who paved the way for many future designers to come. They were crafts people with incredible amount of skill, who created everything that they needed, from crockery to clothing and furniture, Shaker Design is still influencing the world of designers today.

Because of this feed through Constellation, I am now beginning to apply theory to my practice. I am looking at the symbolic nature of the objects or artefacts I create, and I am looking at the symbolic nature in which materiality I choose to create my artefacts with. I am starting to consider social and cultural connotations of materiality within the objects I am creating within my practice, as I am more aware that each materiality has symbolic meaning, let alone social and cultural connotations.

Learning to know about objects and materiality, to me, has been essential to my practice as a maker, because I am always experimenting with new materials and processes that accompany the materiality, and I am constant with creating artefacts within my practice. The newfound knowledge from theories we have covered within the study group has enabled me to consider materiality more carefully, and it has changed my thinking pattern. I am now currently in Field and developing a Viking Nightlight. Before the feed from Constellation, I would have chosen any random colour of acrylic for the body of work but because of my new understanding of Semiotics through the study group, I chose red acrylic as symbolic nature for blood spilt on battlefields and Viking homelands as well as invasions Vikings actively underwent.

I am feeling less daunted at the idea of writing a dissertation as I feel more confident in my capabilities of academic writing skills than I did when the module began at the start of the term. Although I may have a base outline of an idea for what I would like to write my dissertation proposal and dissertation on, I still do not know what artefact(s) I would create for this body of work, but I feel more at an advantage at this stage than a disadvantage as I felt at the very beginning of this module.

It is with thanks to Dr. Morgan’s lectures that I have gained confidence with academic writing as I am feeling confident and prepared for my Dissertation proposal and Literature review that is to come next. It is because through this study group, I feel I have found something I feel passionately about discussing within my Dissertation. I am eager to undertake the Dissertation accompanied with Artefact, where I am considering to continue my exploration into Semiotics of Materiality, because as a Maker, I am passionate about materiality and processes.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
– Leonardo da Vinci.

Contextualisation: Viking Longships.
(photo source)

The Vikings built fast ships for raiding and war. These ships were ‘dragon-ships’ or ‘longships’. The Vikings also had slower passenger and cargo ships called knorrs. They built small boats for fishing or short trips.

Viking longships could sail in shallow water. So they could travel up rivers as well as across the sea. In a raid, a ship could be hauled up on a beach. The Vikings could jump out and start fighting, and then make a quick getaway if they were chased.

A Viking ship was built beside a river or an inlet of the sea. A tall oak tree was cut to make the keel. The builders cut long planks of wood for the sides, and shorter pieces for supporting ribs and cross-beams. They used wooden pegs and iron rivets to fasten the wooden pieces together. Overlapping the side planks, known as ‘clinker-building’,made the ship very strong. People stuffed animal wool and sticky tar from pine trees into every join and crack, to keep out the water.

To launch the ship, the Vikings pushed it into the water. They slid it over log rollers to make the pushing easier.

A Viking ship had one big square sail made of woven wool. In some ships, the mast for the sail could be folded down. When there was not enough wind for the sail, the men rowed with long wooden oars. To steer the ship, one man worked a big steering oar at the back end, or stern. At the curved front end of the ship was a carved wooden figure-head.

A dragon-ship had room for between 40 and 60 men. The men slept and ate on deck. There was some space below deck for stores, but no cabins.

Vikings sailed close to the coast whenever possible, watching for landmarks. Out of sight of land, they looked for the sun: west (towards the sunset) meant they were headed for England; east (towards the sunrise) meant home to Denmark or Norway. The Vikings invented a kind of sun compass to help find their way. At night they watched the stars. Seamen knew a lot about winds and sea currents. By watching birds or even the colour of the water, an experienced sailor could tell when land was close.


Contextualisation: Philippe Starck to Bompas and Parr

Philippe Starck was discussed for his re-modelling of the Louis XVI chair within my Constellation study group, which kept coming to mind during my thought process for Disobedient Objects.

philippe starck

philippe starck lighting2

After a discussion with Jon Pigott regarding my concept, he suggested I look into Bompas and Parr, who did extraordinary things with food.

bompas & parr

Through researching Philippe Starck and the colour association from Philippe Starck’s work, I developed a new way of thinking as everything I saw I associated with sweets. I started looking at the ways in which re-designing pre-existing designs were accepted by society and tried to think of a way in which to create an art form that could be re-designed into modern society but not be acceptable.

bompas & parr

This led me onto my interests in past cultures and the Viking ships. I aim to re-modernise the Viking ship, into a night-light for children using acrylic and sweets as the base materiality for this outcome. The disobedience is that it goes against the laws of the BSI rules and regulations for electrical safety (BSI Rules & Regs here). If this was sent to a company to mass produce, it would fail BSI’s certification of safe electrical standards because I am using material that is unorthodox for use in an interior design situation. Especially given that it is designed in mind to be a night-light for children, that would be left on all night unattended or maintained, therefore it has a likelihood of being highly flammable from heat exposure and could be highly dangerous for an interior setting.

Disobedient Objects: Sweets Behaving Badly: Prototyping Materiality and Ideas.

For my Disobedient Objects project, given how short of a deadline it is to summative (three weeks), I wanted to explore disobedience in materiality. I was inspired by Adhockism from the first week task in this project of building a catapult and I enjoyed working with wood, so through this, I started to think about unorthodox materiality. This is when I started investigating materials that wouldn’t necessarily be used as materials within art practice. This train of thought led onto me discussing my initial ideas with my friend (and classmate) Heather, who introduced me into the world of sweets as materiality.

It started off with a packet of Haribo starmix and a packet of strawberry laces and baking parchment. And borrowing the department’s microwave in the kitchenette.

This was extremely fun to do, as I never knew what would result in what. It was also fascinating how different sweets – like the foam ones to the gummy ones – react differently to heat and what texture they created. Some looked amazing with light shone through it, whilst others not so much but still were interesting alone without light.

sweets 7sweets 9sweets 10

Another form of experimentation was melting gummy bears in the microwave, before putting another sheet of baking parchment on top to sink into the melted sweets. We gently pried the sheets apart and slowly pulled it down to create this shell form. Unfortunately, it did not remain it’s structural integrity and ended up looking like something else (we’ll come back to that later on).

sweets 11

Heather ended up bringing in fizzy cola bottles and providing me with more materiality exploration. The fizzy cola bottles had an interesting reaction to heat, but, their structural shape gave me another idea for my outcome in Disobedient Objects, where I may take it into a mould to mass produce with something else.

I found the fizzy cola bottles reaction to heat was that they seemed to create a thin, sugary sheet, that was almost transparent except they kept their colouration. I decided to play around with this and integrate different sweets to combine and see what would happen. I had fun ‘trapping’ strawberry laces inside melted fizzy cola bottles, which inspired another aspect of my concept for my outcome within this project. I am extremely pleased with Heather offering the fizzy cola bottles as a suggested material to experiment with.

Going back to the Haribo starmix, I picked out a small prototype of melted gummy bears and made a quick mock-up of a very wonky, wire-structured lamp to test out something I had in mind. I wanted to see how easy it would be to stretch the newfound material over the wire structure, and how much the gummy bears would retract or stick. I was pleased to discover the jelly sweet structures are very malleable and stretchy to begin with, but I also discovered that after a day or so after it was stretched over the wire, the melted material is not so malleable or sticky. It has solidified to an extent.

sweets 12

This series of investigation led onto the next exploration into other sweets and how they reacted to heat and how they could be integrated within my project design. I bought in sherbet lemons, midget gems and jelly beans whilst Heather (who by this point, was just helping me mass-produce prototypes for fun) bought in jelly babies and jelly snakes.

The jelly snakes (ft. what used to be the weird shell structure from above) when melted resulted in incredible colours and glass-blown appearance. The patterns they created when held up to light or had light shone through them was pretty cool, too. Also, you can see how transparent some parts of the gummy bear structure had become, after it collapsed from it’s original form.

sweets 17

I found this material suited the quick nature of my Disobedient Objects project, because the mass-production of prototypes is so quick and easy to do, that I feel like this is the material I want to work in.

The sherbet lemons reacted to heat a lot more differently than I thought they would, although, I am not sure what I was expecting them to react like in the microwave. But I found it fascinating how the sherbet remained in different parts and also was easy to ‘spin’ sugar.

The jelly beans when melted gave the effects of stained glass, and the colours are so vividly refrained when others colouration was simply melted away to sheer plastic appearance.

The jelly babies as can be seen in the photo, the second one within the row, resulted in the same sort of texture and stretchiness as the gummy bears did, however some of the sugar dusting and parts of its structure remained.

The midget gems personally, were my favourite when experimenting with different sweets to melt and stretch, and play around with in general. As you can see from the video, once it is removed from the heat in the microwave, it bubbles and melts from the inside out, but what really attracted my eye was how easy it was to create patterns with the different colours, because they merged together or kept their vivid colours. They’re also so textured and amazing to look at through light.