Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Teaching! Customising a Designer Toy

My days at the University of Hertfordshire were some of the best of my life. Being able to learn awesome skillz whilst being surrounded by likeminded people, and working on your own projects? I'd go back any day. I'm a visiting lecturer now, having given a seminar on getting into the modelmaking industry for the last four years. This year, for the first time, I was asked to lead a turbo (one week) project with the current second years.

I came up with a project which would teach and test them in a number of ways. I wanted to get them to focus on achieving a high level of surface finish, with a classy paint application. Usually, students (myself included, during my time there) will use spray cans to paint their models and leave the finish as it comes from the can. I wanted to show them how much an even sheen achieved with a lacquer can improve the quality of their models. On top of this, I wanted to get them thinking about how to get parts moving without being sloppy, and I also wanted the project to leave them with something that they might feel happy enough about to include at their degree show next year.

Well, it'd be a shame if I didn't do a toy then, wouldn't it?

With only a week, it needed to be something simple. I figured I'd need to supply the toy for them to work on, or they'd run out of time. I set about designing a simple base figure in the vein of Munnys and Dunnys, with rotating joints at the neck and arms. I designed it in Rhino, and machined the master.

I assembled it, only doing the bare minimum of sanding before tooling it and casting. Usually I'd complete the finishing on any model before casting it, but then the students wouldn't have had enough work to do!

I had 20 students, so 20 casts were made, plus one extra for me. The mould was on its last legs by the end, as was I having only had three weeks between coming up with the project and starting to teach it! The students were great, coming up with interesting design ideas and taking on board the advice I offered. It was a pleasure to teach such a great bunch!

My 'demo piece' (yeah, I just wanted to do one myself).

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