Grant Diffendaffer

Design. Make. Educate.


It’s been a bit since Maker Faire now and my plans to launch a kickstarter for Steadcraft are simmering on the back burner for a bit while summer plans take precedence.  I have built out quite an assortment of earrings in fine silver, bronze, and copper, as well as a nice looking round of bronze and steel married metal earrings.  Mostly I’m judging my success by my ability to re-create a single design in all three metals and to have very few pieces lost to breakage, which happens both when the delicate earrings are in their fragile bone-dry state before firing, as well as when I hammer them to their final domed form.  It’s very frustrating to break pieces–especially when they came out of the kiln looking beautiful and I pound them with a hammer and dapping punch and they break.  You know–like I couldn’t just leave well enough alone?  It’s an instructive lesson though.  I don’t want to be sending out something so fragile that it breaks from regular use.  Hammering the metal work-hardens it, forms it, and if it breaks, either alerts me to a design defect or an under-fired kiln load.  At this point I just have to fill in a few missing pieces and I will have a full set of earrings ready to go.  Have a look:

As I mentioned previously, there are other designs in the works for Steadcraft–belt buckles, pins, cuffs, pendants, and more.  As with most prototyping processes, Accomplishing a design and prototyping plan on schedule can be a challenge on limited time and resources–but it is happening little by little as I can find time for it.  As far as that goes–I don’t have any time at all for the next six weeks so it will have to wait.  I may pare back on the designs I initially plan to offer–or given a bit of time might have them in time for the holidays along with the rest of the line.

When you see some of what I’ve been working on outside of Steadcraft, you will understand my diversion (plus everybody has to pay the bills right?).  In addition to some construction and fabrication work, I have been putting time into the Storied Haven project, set to debut in just weeks.  Stay tuned for more on Steadcraft, Storied Haven, and my other project, Star Star Roadhouse, after That Thing in The Desert.

 

 

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Glad to be featured in this article about the Maker Faire this weekend!

via Make

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Designers are always pushing the boundaries with fashion and the place to see this happening is Maker Faire Bay Area. Every year there is always something interesting to see. People are continuously experimenting with new ways to upcycle old clothing and incorporate technology into designs that stretch the imagination.

Last year, fashiontech designer Anouk Wipprecht dazzled the crowd when she showed off her Faraday cage dress while engaging the Tesla coils onstage. This year, there will be plenty of fascinating fashion that you won’t want to miss. Check out this collection of 10+ fun exhibits and make sure you add them to your list so you don’t pass them by.

  1. IMAGINING WEARABLES SHOWCASE

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Wearable technology is evolving rapidly and Maker Faire Bay Area 2015 is the place to see the new and interesting creations people are designing. To make it easier on attendees, there will be an exhibition of wearable tech from makers, artists, designers, researchers, and inventors. Expand your knowledge on how technology can enhance fashion with the different clothes and accessories that will be on display at the Imagining Wearables Showcase.

  1. METAWEAR


MetaWear co-founder Laura Kassovic was inspired to combine her love for sewing and soldering to create fun wearables. If you want to be able to try out, touch, and play with new wearable tech, then you’ll want to make sure to check them out at the faire. MetaWear is going to show off many awesome projects including heated hoodies, headbands that let you know when you have received a traumatic blow, light-up and neopixel jewelry, and a sun hat that knows when you need to re-apply sunscreen. Make sure to check them out if you want to hear more about what they have done and how you can make your own wearables.

  1. KIKIMAKER’S E-FASHIONS

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Annika Lo has been a maker since she was just a toddler. When she was only six years old, she received the book Fashioning Technology which sparked an interest in soft circuits that has only grown over time. Her exhibit will consist of various pieces of clothing that she designed and sewed herself. She combines soft-circuits and lights powered by Lilypad Arduinos to make some pretty fun creations.

  1. SUNOL GLEN SCHOOL TRASHION COLLECTIVE

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Sunol Glen School Trashion Collective first started during Earth Week in 2007. They had see Trashion shows popping up all over and were inspired to start a group of their own. They have since grown exponentially and become an annual group of K-8th graders that creates fashion from trash. They concentrate on reusing, designing, mathematics, engineering, fashion construction, and have recently explored using trash plastics in 3D printing. What started as a one time event has blossomed into something bigger because of the enthusiasm it generated in its participants. Last year they took part in the Maker Faire’s TrasHion Show and they plan to do it again this year. Make sure you stop by to check them out and be inspired.

  1. ILLUMINATED WEARABLE ART

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Tatiana Elliston has been combining technology and fashion since 2006. She has made quite a name for herself since and is an award winning Bay Area fashion designer. She has a background in engineering and her experience has enabled her to make many amazing fashion designs that incorporate EL wire and LEDs. With small battery backs hidden in pockets, she is able to light up the runways with her illuminating designs. At Maker Faire, Elliston will be showing off her original costumes and accessories.

  1. MISS VELVET CREAM: NEO-COUTURE CLOTHING

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Scatha G. Allison has been participating in the Bay Area Maker Faire since 2006. Previously, Allison has found great inspiration in the energy and enthusiasm that the Maker Faire generates. Over the years, she has participated in various fashion and trashion shows, vending, booths, and presentations. She is excited to return to the faire to show off her new clothing line: Miss Velvet Cream. With her neo-couture clothing, she wants to show off her new designs that incorporate upcycled clothing and unusual materials including plastics and organic matter. Make sure to stop by to see what she has been up to.

  1. TO GREEN AND BEYOND

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Rajee Shah is only 14 years old, but she has already accomplished so much. In December of 2013, she started a (unregistered) non-profit organization calledTo Green And Beyond. Rajee has always loved making and it was when she started making paper earrings that she discovered what she wanted to pursue: upcycling. She began making her jewelry from recycled materials and decided to focus on the green aspect of jewelry making. From the money she earned when she participated in Maker Faire last year she was able to sponsor a girl from Tech Trek. This year, she is hoping to earn even more so she will be able to sponsor another.  

  1. THE FUTURE OF FESTIVAL FASHION / STEAMPUNK HATTER

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Two great California-based companies will be showing off their fashionable leather accessories at Maker Faire this year: The Future of Festival Fashion and Steampunk Hatter.

The two inspiring people behind The Future of Festival Fashion are Arianna Feldman and Trevor Tarin, also known as the Mad Hatter. Along with their small team of Makers, they have been showing off their signature leather top hats, festival belts, and feather adornments at Burning Man, the Edwardian Ball, and numerous music festivals around America. Now, they are back to show off their amazing creations at this year’s Maker Faire.

Steampunk Hatter is the steampunk line from a bigger company: Head ‘N Home. This group truly is family-based as it all started with dad, Gary Watrous, and has grown to include more of the family including Uncle Lee, son (Garth), daughter (Heather aka Mack), and mom (Merry-Lee). Their Steampunk brand was born in 2010 when Mack started designing and developing the steampunk style. Her fresh outlook “catapulted Head ‘N Home forward into the past century.”

  1. CINDER GARDEN STEAMPUNK

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Judi Morales Gibson is a indie designer, firm believer in recycling, and creator of Cinder Gardens Steampunk Designs. For over 10 years, she has attended Burning Man where she has found inspiration for her upcycled steampunk clothing. She creates stunning designs using no new fabrics. She designs both clothing and accessories for men, women, and children. Some of her most popular items include Utila-Bustles, Bedsheet Bloomers, and Upcycled Wraps. She has also recently introduced quality top hats into her collection. Make sure to stop by and check out her affordably chic designs.

  1. STEADCRAFT: TIMELY FASHION

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Grant Diffendaffer has been fascinated with ornamental, wearable arts for a long time. He enjoys combining digital technology with handcrafted designs by utilizing 3D printing, CNC embroidery, metal clay, and natural materials. At his Maker Faire booth he will be selling products and giving demonstrations of their Printrbot 3D printer, moldmaking process, and CNC embroidery machine. He’s going to have a lot to share, so make sure you don’t miss out.

*BONUS* SWAP-O-RAMA-RAMA

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You can’t have a post about fashion at Maker Faire Bay Area without mentioning the Swap-O-Rama-Rama. It is a huge clothing swap that encourages people to upcycle their used clothing into something new and amazing. This year there will be workshops by local designers to teach you fun and exciting ways to make old fashions new again. Make sure to check out the different presentations and demonstrations so you can make the most of what you have and don’t miss out on the Maker Faire’s TrasHion Show which will feature fun upcycled fashions by local designers of all ages.

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People have been asking how I model my jewelry.  In the old days it was by hand with polymer clay.  Now I mostly use digital clay, and my favorite software is Zbrush.  Have a look at this magnetic locking clasp that I have been working on for a few months.  I think this is the final design.  It’s going to print right now, and I hope to plan to have it in bronze by the time Maker Faire rolls around ( 3 days!?!?).

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What if you took the best traditions of handcraft–reverence for the made object, heartful engagement with material, and mastery of skill, and combined that with 3D printing and digital fabrication? What if artisanry is not lost to unthinking machinery?  What if everything was beautiful, individual, and made to last?

May I present to you Steadcraft.  New School.  Old Fashioned.  We create jewelry and accessories that are vintage-inspired, digitally-designed, and studio-crafted with integrity.

While I will continue to make one of a kind works under my own name, I am very pleased to announce that my designs will be available as low-production works under this new moniker. Our initial release will as rewards to backers of our Kickstarter campaign, which will begin soon after we introduce it all to the world at Maker Faire Bay Area, May 16 and 17, 2015.

After the Kickstarter is wrapped up, we will open our online shop, where you will be able to choose from a wide variety of earrings in bronze, copper, steel, and silver, as well as embroidered cuffs with locking clasps, cufflinks, belt buckles, brooches and more.

Your participation in this exclusive pre-order allows me not only the funds I need to take this to the next level, but invaluable insight into the jewelry that people love most, as well as the ability to gauge my costs when operating at a larger scale.  As thanks for your support, I am offering all of this jewelry at 75% of my projected retail prices.  You help me, I help you.  I’m very grateful for the support I have received over two decades of doing this work, and I thank you all in advance for joining me as I make this next step forward.

I’ll be posting imagery of the work here in the coming weeks.  You can visit Steadcraft at www.steadcraft.com, where you will find a basic landing page with a chance to subscribe to our mailing list for first notification of our Kickstarter launch.  Please like us on facebook as well at www.facebook.com/steadcraft. And don’t forget to come find us at Maker Faire!

 

 

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This happened while I slept (and before and after).  12 hours on the Printrbot.  After removing it from the support structure, I will mold the model with silicone and re-create it in bronze using metal clay.  After seeing the beautiful finish the last buckle took with a bit of torch patina I can’t wait to see this in finished form.  You can see it yourself in person at Maker Faire Bay Area in just one week!  I’ll have a whole booth there with a brand new business name (stay tuned for website) and all of my gorgeous new jewelry.  I have tons of earrings in bronze, copper, and silver and am burning the midnight oil rounding out my line with embroidered cuffs, cufflinks, pendants, hat pins and more.

I’ll be making an early release of my jewelry line, available exclusively on Kickstarter within two weeks.  This pre-order process will allow me to gauge interest in my various offerings, refine my production methods, and reduce the amount of time I spend on individual pieces (think savings for you), as well as providing me the funds to create reproductions of my designs, improve my equipment (think even more beautiful results), and to put the work in front of you and on your body.  Early supporters get discounts as a reward for enabling my scaled up production process.

 

 

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I’ve mentioned that I’ll be crowdfunding my jewelry launch at Maker Faire, but this is something else you will want to see.  If you have been following me here for long, you may know that I’m involved with a group of Oakland centered artists called Five Ton Crane. We hammered out the Steampunk Treehouse in 2007, which was installed at Burning Man and now lives permanently at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. Or maybe you remember the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, which, after blasting off the playa in 2009 made a half dozen stops around the galaxy, including NASA Ames, and two years amid earthlings on the San Francisco embarcadero.  If that doesn’t ring a bell maybe you have been around when the Nautilus Submarine Art Car has surfaced, like the time when Adam Savage stood aboard deck to tell the crowds at Maker Faire what he has learned about working hard and working smart.

Now as we turn the page it’s your opportunity to become part of the story:

Our Next Adventure

Five Ton Crane needs your help to build its next project: Storied Haven.

It is a large scale, immersive sculpture rooted in storytelling that will debut at Burning Man 2015 and continue onward thereafter.

She is the keeper of stories, holder of memories, steward of dreams. In a fairytale world where animals talk and children shouldn’t wander the woods at night, an enchanted home inside of a grand boot lures us. It beckons to wayward passersby with a promise of fantastical delight and dark mystery.

Join us and be part of Five Ton Crane’s exciting new chapter.

Source: Storied Haven Project | Indiegogo

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I’ve been working on this bronze belt buckle for about four months now. A while for a simple belt buckle perhaps, but this one proved not so simple. I had been looking for a way to improve my bas-relief sculpting skills for a while and this proved to be a perfect challenge. So what started out as a simple decorative design soon turned into full sculptural relief.
After coming up with the basic design, came a half dozen digital versions, before I spent days refining the final digital model. After that began a series of attempts to print the model. At around 11 hours for the final print, it was by far the longest that I have successfully completed yet. There were a number of print failures and several digital revisions before I came up with a fully functional physical model.

The next step was to mold it in silicone rubber. The mold-making challenge is not minor, as it presents opportunity to lose or deform some of the fine detail that I have spent hours creating. I got a pretty good mold this time, with only a few small air bubbles. In fact, the silicone creates such an accurate impression on the metal clay that the final air-dried metal clay model shows the intended fine detail, as well as small mold imperfections and artifacts of the 3D-printing process.

When the model is air-dry I sand and file it to take off the rough edges. Then I polish selectively with water, with a fine paint brush and rubber tipped clay tools to remove artifacts from the 3D printing process. These include layer lines as well as the extremely fine patterns created by the X and Y axis stepper motors. The infinitesimally small movements these motors make appear smooth to the naked eye, drawing what appears to be a circle (for example). In reality, that circle is stepped. It is drawn by two motors, each of which moves on a linear axis. This is not much of a drawback if you only need a functional plastic part, but these artifacts are amplified when the piece is re-created in shiny metal.
After firing, the metal is finished with 3 grades of abrasive and polished with a silicone wheel.

You can’t miss the giant crack in the back of this buckle. In my eagerness to see the finished piece I de-molded the raw clay too early. I felt it flex as I began, and left it to dry for a few more hours at about 150F. It looked OK when I finally de-molded it–aside from some damage to an ear (oops). Unfortunately the crack opened wide under the stress of the 1700 degree firing process. Not all is lost though as enough integrity remains in the buckle that I hope to be able to fill the crack and achieve a mostly seamless repair. If not I will have not spent too much on the material if you consider the 4 month learning process I got out of it. I’m especially happy to have achieved sturdy and solid connections on the back of the buckle. Both the brass embed that creates the hook and the pegs formed from metal clay were an experiment. The brass survived firing well and should hold up to a bit of hammering to work-harden it. The pegs were designed to capture a wire loop to attach to the belt. They held up well to the hammering necessary to capture the wire, as well as the hammering to release it again.

All of this is good news, not only for my friend, who stands to get his buckle soon, but for the belt buckles I have in the pipeline for production here. I’ll be back soon with photos of the finished belt buckle.  Stay tuned for those along with a whole new line of jewelry which I will be revealing at Maker Faire!  I’ll also have lot’s more to say about my modeling process and the tools I use.

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