I got tired of seeing my plastic totes fall apart every few years and go to the dump. When I found a bunch of discounted aluminum channel, I knew it was time to build a better box.
In fact, I built six of them. I cut them out of 1/4″ birch plywood with a Mars 130 laser cutter and finished them off with hardware from diyroadcases.com. Design was a cinch with custom files created on makercase.com. I used the finger joints design option for extra strength. The box was glued together, trimmed with riveted ball-corners, and finished with multiple coats of black spray paint and acrylic caulk.
Is it a better box? Time will tell, but all signs point to yes.
Come out to Maker Faire 2018 for the best and freshest maker goodness and see what has become of the original Maker Faire after over 10 years in action. I’ll be there with Steadcraft, where you can see my latest designs–wearables inspired by vintage fashion and crafted with a hybrid of digital and manual techniques.
Design by Grant Diffendaffer for Steadcraft. Machine embroidered, finished with bronze buttons prototyped by 3D printing and molded from metal clay
In my stories about the Capitol Theater, I mentioned the theater-seat end-caps that I designed and which were fabricated from laser cut steel. The mobile deco theater, which was inspired by the great movie palaces of the 1920’s, reflects many of the design choices made by architects of the great Fox Theater chain. Some of these imaginative masterpieces have been restored today to their former glory. Deco was a diverse and sometimes contradictory mix of influences and could be seen to incorporate both sparse modern geometry and lavish ornamental tradition sometimes lifted directly from Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cultures. Prime examples of the latter are the Fox Oakland, and The Fox Atlanta. A full and honest critique of these design choices would have to take into account the arguments of Orientalism, and cultural colonialism. Is this just culture candy? What is the difference between an homage and a rip-off? Considering these choices and responsibilities with respect to the Capitol Theater was an interesting personal journey, and it was important to me to stay on the side of homage. I think that is the intention of the Capitol Theater generally, as a playful through-the-looking-glass view back at these historical treasures.
My original inspiration for the end-caps was from the Fox Theater in Spokane, another masterpiece of the era which eschewed fetischization of foreign cultural influences to a degree (not entirely) for a blend of natural (ocean) imagery and strict geometric forms.
Here is a shot of the Spokane Fox Theater seat end-cap:
Spokane Fox Theater seats
While the Capitol Theater features a facade that is largely streamline and geometric, the interior is inspired in many ways by Indian architecture and culture, in particular the scalloped arches found throughout Mughal design across Northern India. This theater’s proscenium arch can be seen in the Red Fort in Delhi for example. I was lucky to pick up this project from Clif Florio, who gave me the idea of a sun, moon, and stars theme. I added to that the arch curves, which the Capitol Theater features in several places, most prominently in the proscenium arch. In addition to layering them at the bottom of my design, I also carried them into the rooflines of the moon chair and the parapets of the sun chair–both ways in which the curve appears in traditional architecture. I’ve always been inspired by the desert, and in addition to having traveled the deserts of Rajasthan in Northern India, I am a lover of the desert of Southern Utah. The star chair includes the iconic profile of Factory Butte in the San Rafael Desert of Southern Utah.
Capitol Theater Seat End-Caps. Design by Grant Diffendaffer. Capitol Theater by Five Ton Crane
Capitol Theater. By Five Ton Crane. Theater seat end-cap design by Grant Diffendaffer. Photo Copyright Grant Diffendaffer
I’ve been too busy doing and making to write much this last year but I’ve got to tell you to come on down to the original Maker Faire this weekend at the San Mateo Fairgrounds where you can hear all about it in person. I’m back with Steadcraft and eager to show you all of my latest creations. I’m busy in the studio right now putting last minute finishing touches on a collection of creations. Come see how my craft has taken a digital turn–with familiar handcraft like metal work and embroidery having found their way out of history–through circuitry melded with creativity.
I’ll be showing my latest machine creation–a P3Steel. Whut’s that you say? It is an open source 3D printer–a derivative of the most famous such design, a Prusa I3. Come find out why I thought it was worth my time to go down this particular kit rabbit-hole (Mostly it is a Spanish thing).
The main reason I haven’t been posting here (besides being busy building aforementioned metal beast), is that I have been heavily occupied by my new job (since September 2016) working as a Mechanician in the Digital Fabrication Lab (DFL) at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. There, we assist students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning with the creation of models–an essential part of their process. What is digital about that? While students have been drawing with computers for quite some time, the fabrication side of things has taken a little longer to catch up. Now though, instead of primarily focusing on manually cutting and gluing everything, students also use computerized machinery. The lab has half a dozen laser cutters, 8 3D printers, a CNC router (with tool changer), a CNC mill and a Zund.
The latest addition in the DFL is a desktop 3D scanner. I have recently picked up a Sony A7 ii (full frame digital camera)–with the purpose of upping my photogrammetry game. Come on down to the DFL (sign up first) May 30th, 31st, and June 1st and I’ll teach you everything I know about reality capture and 3D printing.
What else has happened in the last year…let’s see… In my life, I have also done a short creative stint with the Mythbusters production team as they reboot the series after the great Adam and Jamie moved on to other things.
I got to go to Mexico this winter where the best three hours I spent were in the National Museum of Anthropology. Besides being an overwhelming presentation of incredible ancient monumental (and personal ornamental) artworks, representative of fantastically developed long lost civilizations, it is probably the best place I have ever been for photogramettry. I could have stayed there for days on end.
I don’t have enough fancy tools in my life so I bought into a huge and powerful laser cutter.
I witnessed the kinetic creations of the otherworldly famous Kinetic Sculpture Grand Challenge.
I delved into 3D stop motion filmaking (my secret dream job).
I spent months trying to build a complete photogrammetry model of the Storied Haven. Part of the work that I do with 5 Ton Crane, this site installation is headed to the Hermitage Museum in Virginia. One of our previous projects, the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, was just installed outside the Wings over the Rockies Museum in Denver. We also made permanent installations of our Oakland Squared project in the Latham Square Building in downtown Oakland and the Moffett Library at U.C. Berkeley.
I managed not to get washed off the hillside in this winter’s epic rains.
And now I am digging into an upcoming exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum.
I had an excellent reception at Maker Faire with Steadcraft last year and I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be returning once again this year! Mark your calendar and come on down to the Maker Faire May 20th-22nd.
You’ll be glad to know that I’m still plan crowdfunding to enable me to enter low level production with the new jewelry line and distribute it more widely. Stay tuned for more information on how you can be one of the first to wear my vintage inspired digitally designed jewelry and accessories.
For the time being, enjoy this gallery of photos of my new earrings.
Bronze Earrings. Available soon from Steadcraft.com