Tuesday, August 16, 2016

An New Blog for A New Crafting Artform - IdeaRoom3D

If you are/were a follower of this blog, you know how much respect I have for the crafting community.  You also know of my passion for 3D design and printing.  From the day I began to blog about 3D printing I fully anticipated that someday the craft and 3D printing world would find that tipping point where they converged.

I think that time has finally come.

What was needed was a low cost 3D printer that could produce prints in materials that were well suited for crafting and some way to colorize and beautify the prints.  The low-cost 3D printer has arrived in the form of the M3D Micro, which can print in a variety of materials, including flexible "Tough 3D Ink" in a variety of colors... including clear!   With flexible materials we can create personalized bracelets, designer barrettes, custom pins and faces for stuffed animals!  It's a wonderful new material.

M3D Micro 3D Printer

And, a way to bring the prints to life with full color has arrived with the Craftwell eBrush  airbrush system!

Craftwell's eBrush Airbrush System

I have tested the eBrush with M3D's flexible materials and with their ABS-R.  I am certain it will also work well with PLA.

I have started a new blog that will be devoted to exploring the M3D line of printers with an emphasis on creating crafts.  And, I'm very happy to be blogging about Craftwell products again. 

The new blog is called "IdeaRoom3D".

 The reason behind that name, is my belief, from years of experience in 3D printing, that ANY room can become an "Idea Room" with the presence of a 3D printer.  There is something about having the ability to turn abstract ideas into physical reality in 3D form that unleashes creativity in a very dynamic and powerful way. 

Want to ask you to join me in my new IdeaRoom3D blog to see if 3D printing is in your future.  The crafting community is THE most creative community that I know.  But, it's more than that.  It's also a wonderful loving community because that is why you do what you do.

I expect that a lot of groundwork needs to be done before most of you will be ready to invest in a 3D printer.  So, be patient with me as I explore how to create appealing items that enhance your current creative work.  Designing in 3D is certainly one hurdle.  But, I have found a site that can turn our familiar SVG files into 3D objects and, believe it or not, I find using my favorite 3D design application even easier to use than Inkscape.

Going from 2D art to 3D art is a journey that we can take a step at a time.  And, i can assure you it's going to be a LOT of fun!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Recommendation for an Excellent Camera to Shoot Our Works

Believe it or not, my first foray into the world of crafts around 2000.  My participation in the Craft Report (now Handmade Business) forums  was posting about how craft artists could use digital cameras to shoot their own work.  To say that I met with resistance from professional photographers on the forum is a monumental understatement.  It was just plain vicious.

But, in time, more and more artists and craftsperson have found they they can, in fact, effectively shoot images of their own work.

The question isn't whether it CAN be done; but, what is the best equipment and technique that can allow us to do so easily and effectively.

I have always been uneasy about recommending cameras for those wishing to shoot their own work.   The range of cameras is SO wide and the means of individuals is so critical to the choice of a camera that I just didn't feel comfortable recommending a particular camera.... until now.

Some Background

While I had spend years as a videographer, I moved into digital photography around 2000 to help my daughter by shooting her ceramic sculptures.

Fleurette: Sculpture by Cheryl Meeks photo Fleurette01.jpg
Fleurette by Cheryl Meeks - Carved Porcelain

I have always used high level DSLR or SLR digital cameras.  These cameras have cost at least $1,500+ and the camera+lens combination (Canon 5D MK II with 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L lenses) that I have used for the last 3 years exceeds $7,000.  This is hardly affordable for most artists and craftspersons.   Moreover, SLRs, oddly enough, with their large image chips and shalloe depth of field, might be LESS effective for shooting small objects for pacing images on Etsy or eBay.

On the other hand, on the low end, point & shoot cameras, the problem is how to control the lighting to present our work in the best light possible. 

My daughter recently began creating ceramic marbles and wanted to photograph them herself.  She was not at all interested in a complex SLR so I began to serious look at the options.   Her new interest coincided with my interest in finding a smaller and lighter camera for myself for my blogging and teaching as the Canon 5D is quite heavy.

This lead me to so-called "bridge cameras".   We first turned to the Nikon L840.  She likes it.  I hate it.  The appeal for her is how easy it is to use.  But, its lack of a hot shoe for a flash has required me to come up with less-than-ideal lighting strategies for her to use.  We're still working on that.

But, in the meantime, I knew that the L840 would drive me crazy.  Interestingly, my solution came about through my long-time interest in video.  I use a Panasonic x920 and had subscribed to a blog by Graham Houghton to follow his articles about that video camera.  Along the way, he also wrote about a Panasonic Lumix still camera called the Lumix DMC-FZ200.

I took a chance and ordered one.   I could not be happier.

I have come to believe that if an artist or crafts person does not already have an SLR camera, then the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is an infinitely better choice as at $247 (B& H Photo) it is probably THE greatest bargain in a still camera that I have ever seen.  The price/performance ratio is astounding.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera

 It offers the ease and simplicity of a point & shoot with extended capabilities normally found on professional SLRs... like a hot-shoe and f2.8 lens.   From now on it is the Lumix FZ200 that that will be my go-to camera for shooting my 3D objects and images for my blogs.  

So, the question is this.  Are you interested in shooting your own work?  If so, are you interested in learning how to use a camera like the FZ200 to do so?  Your comments will determine whether or not we go down this path.  We will cover low cost lighting solutions for smaller (Under 12"x12"x12") objects and the use of auxiliary lenses for shooting high detail or very small objects.

Let me know.  :)

For Craft Artists the Sands are Always Shiftimg.... POSITIVELY!

As I look back over the last 14 years, since I first started blogging about crafts, I am amazing at how far the landscape has shifted.  The offerings of products have not only changed; but, the variety of new methods for reaching our design goals have vastly increased.

But, sometimes, the biggest changes are in ourselves as our interests expand or compress over time.  I finally gave my paper cutters to a charitable organization after seeing them sit idly for a number of years as my attention was turned to 3D design and printing.

But, even in that endeavor, today is a lot different than it was just 3 years ago when I obtained my first 3D printer.  I started with a kit and was overjoyed when 3D Systems introduced the first true consumer 3D printer, the 1st Generation Cube.  Now, 3 generations of the Cube have come and gone and 3D Systems has announced they are leaving the consumer marketplace.

There is a reason for that.  So many new companies have introduced 3D printers with ever lower price points that in just a few short years the profit margins on 3D printers are under a great deal of stress.

The good news is that this plethora of options among 3D printers means they are more affordable than ever.

The other good news is that companies like Autodesk are committed to making 3D design easier and easier.  Believe me, if you can create SVG files for cutting, you can easily learn ro create your own 3D designs.  In fact, I actually find it EASIER to design in 3D than in 2D.

The reason for my writing this particular post is to alert you to a new 3D printer offering that just might be the tipping point for home 3D printing.

It actually comes from the TOY industry!

I have no idea how well it works; but, at $300 (List) it certainly begins to be an appealing product for parents and families.  It's from Mattel and is called The ThingMaker.

Mattel Is Making a $300 3D Printing Toy Studio For Kids

I don't do cut and paste articles so until I can get some real experience with the Thingmaker, I will not offer and opinion of its viability.  But, I did want you to know about it so you can be aware that the sands are shifting in YOUR direction!  :)