transparent materials are tricky

“tricky” is one of my favorite words. i like the way it sounds, the hard edges of tr and ck and even y. when i say the word, you can almost hear the shadow of my lisp, i’m exposed. it means something difficult, but there’s a lightheartedness or cleverness, too–the trickster. there’s innuendo, turn a trick. a hint of magic, maybe more like conjuring than a deep knowing.

working with this lovely semi-transparent red PLA filament is a bit tricky: mistakes show more easily. i was too hasty to prep the earrings between varnish coats 1 and 2. i noticed some small flecks after i gently sanded the first varnish coat, but instead of patiently wiping them away or blasting them with a bit of compressed air, i resolved to wash them. within moments, i saw i saw an ugly milky sheen on each print. ARGH. there are two possibilities: the hot water reacted with the varnish, which was hard to the touch but not quite set, and this moisture caused the milkiness; alternatively, i had been working from the very bottom of the can of polyurethane spray, which can accumulate Zinc Oxide (ZnO)–this chemical compound is insoluble in water. ARGH. this had happened once before, the first time i ever used this particular spool of plastic filament. but now, there is no more to the spool, these are the last earrings i’m doing in this particular color, they are meant to be a Valentine’s day special color, blah, blah, blah. ARGH. a quick internet search pointed me towards a trick to try: cover the 3D prints with petroleum jelly. give them a good rub, let them sit, wipe off, re-wash (lukewarm water, not hot this time!), dry thoroughly, and re-apply the varnish. i lost a day fixing my failure, patiently getting petroleum jelly INTO all of the curves and details, and then OUT of all of the curves and details. i just came back from my studio, two days after this fiasco, and hope that my last spray of varnish will turn out well. i do 3 coats of varnish, sometimes 4. but the sheen is looking lovely, like a piece of hard candy that’s been sucked shiny.

i wish i hadn’t lost a day of work, but at the same time, i see how important it is to make mistakes, to know your materials, to be patient. one of my goals this week was to complete these earrings so i could photograph them, make a new Etsy listing, and send out a studio newsletter to officially launch my Etsy store. so, slight delay, but i’ll get there.

What were three significant achievements for the week?

  • i have my old electronic music tracks up on soundcloud, with album covers drawn from my digital art from the same era. ready to share!
  • i have 7 pairs of red earrings beautifully varnished and ready for hardware and packaging
  • i started semesters well at Parsons and NYU

Review your goal and weekly milestone. Did you spend time on the right things? If not, how will you improve next week?

  • i did OK on writing, reading/research, and jewelry. i neglected the animation.
  • more discipline is needed to focus on that animation. i should block off 2-hour chunks of time on wednesday, thursday, and friday because that kind of work needs a lot of focus. i should turn off my device during those work times.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this week?
– patience! as written above, i was too eager to make progress, and messed up my varnishing, losing a day of work.