TwentyEleven – Week Eight

Hey people, not going to be a lengthy post tonight as I’m a little tuckered out after a big weekend. I had a 2 day rock-fest jamming with my pals Nick and Nick (in no particular order) and developed a new even more unlistenably slow and heavy style of music than what we started with.

That said, I have some new stuff  on the bench and would hate to miss the chance to show off a little!

After my recent weaving adventures and some internet reading, I narrowed down my material requirements to some sort of “silk tweed” – and then managed to find an AMAZING piece of fabric on eBay finishing that night. Good timing? You bet it was.  48 hours later I got hold of a (larger than expected) piece of tweed made from recycled sari silk in the most ridiculous amount of colours. I have incorporated it into a new pair of prototypes and am now set on sourcing, or weaving my own, tighter and finer version of this fabric for my production models. This one is just a little too chunky and is hard to work with on a shoe pattern scale, it just needs to be woven much tighter.

TOP : Fabric + First sewn up pattern test
BOTTOM : Patterns cut + Sunday night’s effort at lasting. Missing buckles, platform and heel.

There are some good points (better technique) and some bad points (changed my design half way through, added straps and buckles, regretting it now that they are much harder to make) of these ones, but on the whole I’m happy with them. Will have soles and heels added this week, ready for Dani to wear them – finally a pair in her size! Drop in for a visit at Pieces of Eight later this month for a viewing.

Listening to :  Talking Heads – Little Creatures

Trip to the gallery

Hey guys, dani here.  Just wanted to tell you about a project I got myself into.

I decided to put forward a proposal thinking it was worth a shot…now I find myself trying to figure out how to make 120 bowls!

They are for the NGV 150 Anniversary, and will be for sale in the gift shop later this year.  I proposed the colours come from the two very famous and very Melbourne paintings in the NGV collection- John Brack’s The Bar and Collins St, 5 pm.

I have a few colours in my range that already fit, so it should be a nice match.  I’m just peeing my pants a little.  Intern time?

troy, is this you?

In Motion!

Hey hey, seeing as we have a new camera here that we have so far only taken photos of our niece with, and a few trees, I decided to give it’s “full HD video” capabilities a go last week and made a nuisance of myself hovering over Dani’s shoulder for an hour while she did some work on a necklace.
In her words this is “not very interesting” and she would like me do it again when she is making “something good” … but a little editing and some floaty music makes any old task seem much more watchable.

I’ve also used some of my new skills in video treatment / colour grading etc to get a bit of a 70s look going on here. I hope you like it!

Late night secrets

You know your life has changed somewhat when you’re 31, male, and up at midnight on a Sunday looking at videos on the internet… and you end up watching one about a handbag, twice.

This is total craftmanship porn.
Emma, Janine, James, Tom and Jess – watch it if you have a moment!

I now know that at least a few months of my life will be spent making bags as well as shoes – at some stage, not immediately, but eventually.
More things to learn. Great.


That’s the sound of my RepRap doing something all by itself!
It was followed by me quietly doing a tennis player’s fist-clenched-booyah sort of moment (because Dani is asleep).

Seems my little man is no longer a baby, he can walk (well, adjust his axis) by himself and before you know it he’ll be extruding PLA and working full time for his dad as a shoemaker’s heel manufacturer. Employee of the month wont be far behind after I have awarded it to myself a few times.

It was a pretty ‘free form’ day today, as there seems to be NO pictures at all on the internet of where to put all the electronics once you have them all talking to each other. The TechZone set that I have differs from the originally designed ones,  so I guess any place that fits is good enough. I did come up short on some wire though, so my placing must not be ‘optimal’ but I’ll document that for fellow builders later in the week.

Stepper controller and 12V power block

more stepper controllers, and cables, and cable ties.
More useful non-zoomed photos for other builders will be in the Mendel Build page asap.

Tomorrow night will be a full range of movement test, at the moment it only goes left (hello Zoolander printer! ok,  so it is now officially called Derek the Printer) because I haven’t set up the little sensors to tell it Derek where to stop. Then I build a ‘hot head’ and start melting plastic at 200+ degrees all over the place and hoping it forms some sort of object. Be prepared for some humorously bad failures that week people…

The whole back panel with bits of electronics hanging off it.

So no shoemaking for TwentyEleven Week Seven, but plenty of progress in other areas that will allllll add up in the end.

Listening to : Christbait – Dirtypunkmutha

Nick and I have begun to refine our jam session sounds to something very slow, heavy and evil, so i’m listening to the old masters to learn how to be brutal, Melbourne style.
You’re all invited to my eventual robot/sexy shoes/heavy metal launch party and be as confused as everyone else there will be with it all.

Ahhhh, that’s MUCH better

Quick post as I am knee deep in things finally WORKING again, and shouldn’t in be here typing about it…
After the last post where I was having ‘one of those days’, I’m back with renewed enthusiasm.

Thursday I decided to stop dicking around with 55 bits of string and went to the shed and made a proper Rigid Heddle loom, as is used by most of the home weaving community who were born after the 1800s.

I took an artist’s easel I had here, stripped it, turned some stuff around, made some extra bits and hey presto, loom.
It was much better, it worked well, I weaved and managed to get the bee out of my bonnet.

I’m not at all happy with the weaving itself, but that is just a matter of thread count/spacing/thickness, so I am now happy to know it CAN work, but it might not be exactly what I want.

That’s the only sort of answer I’m ever looking for… I’m ridiculously inquisitive, so an answer of “yes it worked, but no, it’s not what you want” is fine with me, an answer of “you’ll never know because it didn’t work out” will keep me awake at night.

I’m going to do the good designer thing and step back, look at what I really need to achieve and perhaps head in another direction. I’ll keep you all posted, and cheers for the comments and suggestions.


Today saw the first grinding and whirring of the motors, and the flashing of many lights in computery looking patterns, so with a few more hours I might have it moving its bits around in complete robotic autonomy.
To anyone out there still thinking of buying / making one… wait…. when mine is done I PROMISE to collate all the useful instructions in to one page so you dont have to get as frustrated as I have been clicking link after link trying to narrow down the info to something useful.

Test bench setup…

I’ll put up a video when I have more time for multimedia nerdery.

Listening to : Ghost – Opus Eponymous

Satanic Pop? Who would have thought it would be so enjoyable?
That ol’ Satan, he loves a good melody. Have a listen, you’ll dig it.

Arrgh. Silence is no good.

Just an update to let you know that the last 6 days since posting have been somewhat of a waste of time.

I decided to address two ‘on the backburner’ projects instead of barreling ahead with the shoemaking as I was getting worried that the shoe vs. experimental endeavors ratio might be getting too shoe heavy, and end up leaving me forced to make designs with less options than I’d like.

Long story short, I need to finish my RepRap printer, and I want to learn to weave fabric by hand…by the end of this month.
I am having minimal success in both areas.
I am not happy about this.

The printer now has 2 flashing lights that supposedly tell me it is ‘online’. That’s all it does so far.
Not exactly Terminator stuff, but, it is 2 more lights than it had flashing last week.

I then changed to weaving,  set up a ‘basic frame loom’ and covered it with kilometers of thread, which then got tangled, and messy and made me tired and start sighing a lot.

So this week’s score is:
Steve – 0
Difficult Projects – 2

not my photo, but my weaving attempts currently look just as inspiring… Ooh, string, in lines.

I will persist though, don’t you worry. As I heard Anthony Robbins* say once – there are no such things as problems, only challenges to be overcome.
If anyone out there in Melbourne has a small loom (or can recommend where i’d buy one cheap) let me know.

Listening to : Soulja Boy, still. It’s like an addiction to some nasty cheap drug.

* I don’t listen to his tapes, but I did download them for sampling back when I was a wannabe mashup mixer, and now they come up on random on the iPod.  funny stuff.

The Internet and me.

Dani got me this as a birthday card this year, and I love it.
It’s a Shrigley (we’re a bit obsessed with him around here)

… and the irony that I spent time looking for an image of this illustration on the internet, whilst I should be making shoes, seemed like the perfect thing to blog about… why not go all the way?
I probably should have capped it off by animating it or something, but that would just be silly.

The Golden Age!

Hey kids,
With my birthday celebrations and self-imposed deadlines using up ALL of my enthusiasm recently, there has been little work going on in the Shed of Excellence for week 5.

But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining – and a few days of non productivity turned out to be just what I needed.
It gave me time to head back in to the CBD and spend a few aimless hours wandering around the arcades and alleyways on the lookout for future shop locations, and…

I remembered as I walked past the GPO that I’d recently read the blog of a girly who has set up a shop hidden in it’s monstrous walls, so with a keen eye I climbed the stairwell to level 2 and a half and whammo, I was there… and what a find it was! The ‘girly’ is Karlee Slater, and her shop / blog / business is The Golden Age – Vintage Made to Measure clothing. You may have heard of her as she is starting to get write ups in the press and shopping guides etc.

The Golden Age
Level 2.5, The GPO Building,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Golden Age offers women’s clothing, made to measure
from vintage patterns. Specialising in dresses, suits and coats
from the 1930’s -late 1950’s, The Golden Age can also copy
existing vintage items and always has a small, well edited
selection of vintage and deadstock items from the 20’s-60’s.

Anyhoot, long story short, she is wayyyy cool, she has a little seamstress studio set up in the GPO that she renovated herself (awesome) and she makes REAL clothes, from real nice fabrics, for really really nice girls (and guys?) … and I get pretty excited about other people ‘living the dream’ and not being afraid to bust balls, spend long hours and work, work, work to get the results.

I didnt take any photos as I’m not that sort of investigative blogger, but I can steal some from her site and advise any of you ladies that are out there and either thinking of what to get/wear/buy to a wedding, or are just looking to knock the (bobby) socks off the crowd at your next party to give her a holler, and get yourself something made that will fit well and make all the guys be all “damn, that is, um, pretty hot…”

Oh, and as the icing on the cake, we talked Cars, dresses, hammocks, hot rods and Black Sabbath all within one 10 min conversation with no awkwardness!
What a champ. Her hubby does auto upholstery, so if I find out his place of business I’ll talk that up too… leather + cars + vintage = right up my alley.

As for the shoemaking, here’s some in-the-making snapshots of Prototype #2.

A quick no-lining mockup to make sure my pattern is all good, and now it’s time to work out how exactly I’m going to achieve the weaved/textile sort of look I want for the coloured inlays. Youtube, here I come.

I’m thinking something like this, but woven / friendship band sort of idea?

Listening to : Soulja Boy – Speakers Going Hammer < oh, I know, it’s rubbish, but it’s sooo good.

I totally need to get me a Donk.
Yarraville wont know what hit it.