Monday, 20 February 2012

Cyber teapots

The results of playing in solidworks - the first (and made in a hurry - I was about to be thrown out) pictures of my new cyber teapots.
Having got past the problem of creating a sieve over the spout (for leaf tea lovers) and cutting off excess extrusions, I've been playing with the handle ergonomics and form. Next I'm going to try and pierce out the flared foot ring at the bottom of the teapot, as I have never tried a wrap feature tool before - I want to know how it would work to wrap a series of patterned cut outs at the base. Then of course I need a lid.

The pot on the left has a smoothly arching handle (arch created using the spline sketch tool and the mirror entity tool to get it symmetrical) with a slightly sickle moon like profile to create a dip in the upper side for the thumb to rest in (and because I wondered what a cross section different to oval would look like). This was turned solid using the swept boss tool (basically it tells the cross section to make a solid extrusion that follows the path of a line you draw for it).

While using this I noticed a twist option on the swept boss. I got curious, so I tried a twisted handle next. This was a bit more complicated, as I discovered it would only work on a line with no joins in it. It had to be drawn in one go, and splines are not the most easily manipulated lines, so it probably isn't too symmetrical (and it certainly isn't round at the top!). However, once you get past that, it's quite easy, you set the swept boss to twist along the path and control the amount of twist by telling it an angle to twist by. I engineered this one so that it has a levelled out section at the top for holding the handle by. I really like this effect as it's visually quite striking, so I'm going to experiment with it some more on my next handles.

If all goes well, I hope to be able to design a teapot for the Wedgwood Museum shop using this software and then create a mould using 3D printing so I can batch produce them! The Wedgwood Museum is a huge collection of ceramics spanning the entire career of the Wedgwood ceramics company from the 18th century to the present day, based in Stoke on Trent:

Wedgwood is one of the most famous names in British pottery, with Josiah, the founder, having been a great innovator and scientist, developing new materials and techniques to create their signature blue jasper ware with white relief moulding (so, my use of software to create Wedgwood inspired teapots seems somewhat fitting). However, when the company went into administration, and after a long (and continuing) court battle, the museum has been found liable for paying the debts of the Wedgwood company pension fund:
This is a huge shame, as this museum is unique in that it shows the creative and technical progression of a single maker/company through history, and as a result there are things you can learn from viewing this collection that you can't from most museum ceramic displays. Most museum displays show a range of ceramics from a range of makers, sometimes from one time period, or sometimes over history. These can show you ideas and techniques from the different times, but it's harder to see the progression as every maker   specialises in their own techniques and styles.

So, the Wedgwood museum is asking artists to create pieces to sell in the shop to help raise money to prevent the collection being sold off, and this is how I got involved. Anyone interested in supporting the museum should visit their website above.

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