Scissor Lift

Next up was a gear-driven scissor lift. I prototyped with Acrylic and Delrin.



Turns out that the material properties of the Delrin aren’t ideal for laser cutting. There was a little meltiness and a lot of unevenness along the cuts. This created a lot of friction and twisting along the vertical axis when the lift was constructed. I even added springs to assist with closing but the friction was too high for them to make any difference.




Thesis Begins!

…ok, so I’m a little late. Thesis technically started when the semester started. But I’m playing catch-up while we’re locked out of the official super-top-secret thesis blog. Actually, I shouldn’t have even mentioned that there’s a super-top-secret thesis blog. Forget that I said that.

Anyway, there are some important pieces of documentation that go along with the thesis proposal process:

  • Title
  • Thesis Question (what are you trying to answer with your thesis project?)
  • Project Description
  • Research Process
  • Personal Statement

Some of these are more interesting than others. Here’re the highlights from my thesis proposal. And some behind the scenes scribblings.



It’s totally a word. It means “excess government.” I think it’s an apt and an appropriately playful title at this stage, assuming my project is going to be exploring organizational systems, hierarchies, and ontology. 

Project Description

My project is a series of discrete, but thematically-related projects – each a thought experiment or an exploration of a concept outlined in my thesis question.

The work may take the form of a piece of conceptual software (e.g. one that reorganizes the architecture of a traditional word processing program), a functional system of sculptures that work together, my workspace itself, lists, or a set of tools with a specific, but conceptual purpose.

You’ll probably notice that I’m keeping it pretty vague here. That’s intentional. At this stage (however late in the game that may be) I’m still exploring what form my project is going to take. You can see some of the initial explorations here and here. And an ever-expanding list of inspiration here

I think that both physical media and digital media are equally appropriate for playing with the idea of structure organization. And, so I’m torn. 

Research Process

This isn’t that interesting plus it’s going to be an evolving process.

So far it’s consisted of a lot of reading. I’ve also be actively seeking conversation from friends and advisors. It’s been helpful to have to explain again and again what interests me in this project. Every time I do, I think I understand it a little better. And the concepts coalesce a bit more. 

I’m also going to try and get out to museums and galleries to experience work in person. Which isn’t, historically, something I’ve done. But recently I helped draft Wall Drawing #990 by Sol Lewitt and the experience was way more impactful than I would have imagined drawing a bunch of straight lines could be. You can read about that here. 

Personal Statement

I think part of why “this project” is that ITP is overwhelming.

Every day since I started has been a (mostly) joyful deluge of information and media and technology and BRAND NEW THINGS! I’ve found myself mired at times in the amount of information, the complexity of the systems, the depth of knowledge that I’m swimming in. It’s exciting and why I’m here and nowhere else. But it’s also been a struggle for me.

I’m constantly surrounded by and using systems (of technology and design) for creative endeavors, but I’ve struggled with developing a one for myself to organize and make sense of it all. I think its time to use that struggle to my advantage. And instead of being stymied by it, I want to embrace it and explore it and play with it.

These ideas of structure and organization and ontology are big and complex. And I’m excited about the challenge of unpacking them and using this thesis process to develop something coherent and cogent to say about them.

As I was preparing for this semester, I took a retrospective look at my work during my time at ITP. I noticed a trend, which probably deserves it’s own blog post to unpack. Most of my work has unintentionally, and oddly enough, been related to organization and/or workspaces.


I literally built a desk.

I experimented with creating new digital workspaces

Weird, right? Especially since my desk at home looks like I’m the mayor of a shantytown. 


My point is that this is what I find myself drawn to. And part of the thesis process for me is going to figure why that is and what I have to say about it. 

Lazy Curator Twitter Bot

Hi. Welcome to my curated blog.

You obviously appreciate the sophisticated things in life, carefully selected for their unique value and interest. Maybe you’re even a curator yourself! And if so, then you’re like me – you curate every aspect of your life. You curate what delightful additions to put into your locally-sourced, hand-crafted, artisan greek yougourt in the mornings. (Do you see what I did there? I curated an extra ‘u’ and an extra ‘o’ to add into the word yogurt.) You curate what socks you wear, what boots, your glasses, the music you listen to. Maybe you even curate which train you take to work! To your job as an influential curator! And if you’re a true curator you’re sick of those people who have jumped on the bandwagon of curation recently. It’s despicable.

That’s why I created @LazyCurator. It’s a Twitterbot that find the word “curated” in recent tweets and replaces it with “lazily picked at random.” Which is more likely the case for how these weak-kneed plebeians are populating their blogs and Sly Stallone-themed art shows. Now we have a running list of those who are masquerading among us true curators.

[twitter-timeline id=667787063702458368 username=LazyCurator]

What You Missed: Subtraction Final

Yeah…so towards the end of last semester things got busy. As they do. And I neglected my blog for a bit. Now my summer trysts are over and I’m back at it. Starting with a series I’m calling What You Missed. This is (possibly) the first in a series of posts catching up on things/events that have transpired and deserve a blog post but don’t have one yet.

I’m starting with my final project from Ben Light’s Subtraction.

The Cryptex

So here’s the thing about the Cryptex…it’s sort of a made-up real object. Cylindrical coded objects safes have been around for a while. The Jefferson Disk is proof. But the neologism “cryptex” was coined by everyone’s favorite author of mysteries kicked into motion by shadowy ancient organizations, unbreakable codes, and the fate of the free world/religion: Dan Brown. A physical version was build for him and subsequently patented in 2004. Just for the hell of it I guess.

For my subtraction final I decided to make one using just the metal lathe. (The 4-axis mill came in handy too as an overpowered drill press as you’ll see later.)


A cryptex™ has 3 main components. An inner sleeve with pegs. An outer sleeve with a channel. And x-number of rings that form the locking mechanism, depending on how long your cryptex is. They go on the outer sleeve. Then The inner sleeve fits into the ring/outer sleeve assembly. Simple enough.

Except that the rings need to fit all these little pegs on the inner sleeve and they need to be able to rotate until the holes line up and the interior sleeve can slide out and there can’t be any gaps on the exterior. (Think bicycle lock.) So the rings are designed with a recess on the interior for the inner sleeve’s pegs to sit in and still allow the rings to rotate. If it isn’t clear yet, keep going. All will be illuminated.

(Was that an Illuminati reference? Is Cole part of the Illuminati? These are all good questions to be asking.)


I started with two stock materials. One was a length of .75″ aluminum rod for the inner sleeve. The other was a length of 1.25″ aluminum tube for the outer sleeve and rings. At this point all of my measurements were done so it was a matter of machining the parts to spec.

Milling the Sleeves

Milling the Rings

After I checked my tolerances, I started milling the rings. Each one needed to nest into the next, while leaving enough room for the pegs to sit inbetween each ring.

4-axis for 2-axis

I needed a few precise operations done that I a) couldn’t do on an unmodified drill press b) couldn’t rig up a modification on the drill press that was safe/satisfactory c) would have taken forever if I had trusted the 4-axis on it’s own. So I opted to take the literal wheel and control the 4-axis by hand. Essentially using it as a 2-axis, hand-cranked mill.

For each operation I set the spindle speed and, very carefully, moved the bit little by little.


Power Coating

Power coating uses the principles of static electricity to evenly and completely coat a metal object in a plastic-y paint-y type material. Then you bake it. The material melts together, sets, cools, and you’ve got a powered coated thing. As much as I liked the metal look of the raw aluminum I thought this would lend an air of “finishedness” to the project. It sort of did. The coat was even-ish on the sleeves. But I coated the rings twice which gave them a slightly different color.


The arrows and dots helped me keep track of the interior slots and where the pegs/channel were so that I could easily slide the assembly apart and back together.

Photo May 06, 10 46 27 PM

The finished* cryptex.



*After several failed experiments with electroplating and laser cutting, I still never arrived at a satisfactory solution for a code around each ring, so I just put on some stickers. Which, I know, defeats the whole point of it locking to being with.


Basic CAD Drawing

This week we had to recreate this object.  I’m more comfortable with Rhino, so that’s what I used for this assignment instead of the suggested VectorWorks.

Metal Lathe

Material Before & After

Photo Apr 08, 5 52 59 PM

The aluminum stock was surprisingly easy to turn. It’s definitely a more delicate process than the wooden lathe. Not because it’s unnecessary to to be delicate on the wooden lathe, but rather because on the metal lathe you are removed from the physical feeling of the material. Spinning a wheel to change the depth of the bit is a much different process that using your arms and hands to push into the material.

Finished Piece

Photo Apr 08, 5 57 28 PM

Lathe: Foosball Guy

Here I’m using a drill jig to create the hole for the crossbar on the blank.

Photo Mar 22, 6 20 59 PM Photo Mar 22, 6 22 12 PM

Rounding out the blank after both the crossbar hole and pin hole are drilled.

Photo Mar 22, 6 28 31 PM

Creating a rough shape.

Photo Mar 22, 6 56 13 PM

Photo Mar 22, 7 01 54 PM

Photo Mar 22, 7 03 33 PM

Semi-finished piece, before I sanded his legs flat on each side.

Photo Mar 22, 7 04 36 PM