Making a future for making

Today’s news of Maker Media’s troubles has made me think. The following thread of ramblings is my (Simon’s) perspective on issues affecting Maker Faires and other events, and the maker movement generally.

I feel that a lot of the issues come from the clash between volunteer led community culture and profiteering & financial realities. The maker community was and is built on the efforts of volunteers, both the behemoth organisers who put on events, or made things happen in the founding of hackspaces, and the smaller efforts of individual makers themselves. But growing success has lead to the promise of profits/rewards in all sorts of ways. I’m not saying this is bad but it distorts the culture in a few ways:

1) Reward hunting vs. doing it for the love of it:

Tailoring activities for greatest rewards. I’m guilty of this: I used to write up my projects to share them with the world, but now I write them up to win instructables contest prizes. These prizes are great motivation; the continuous stream of deadlines makes me finish more projects, more quickly… but only stuff that fits the contest briefs. My limited effort has moved off things that don’t pay back. Only recently have I got frustrated with the lack of art in my activities, and I have made some of my best artistic stuff. I think a similar effect sucks smart proactive people from the maker community to becoming start-ups, youtubers, etc. To survive, these people have to spend a lot of effort on their enterprises, leaving little for volunteer work. People with impressive makes are often paid to attend events, leaving a degree of expectation or demotivation when payment isn’t an option. Also key people in the maker community who put in lots of effort can be demotivated if certain activities give a large income, where other big impact activities are left with zero or even significant personal expense.

2) Secrecy vs. collaboration and open discussion:

When good ideas lead to better rewards, subconscious competitive behaviour ensues. Few people share ideas as freely if the idea has a value (whether monetary or in terms of improving audiences). I recently discussed one of my project ideas to a medium sized YouTube that led to him making an awesome build and a video that got 140k views in under a day. While I have the feeling of being impressed and happy the idea went somewhere, I also have a niggling negative feeling I should have been given some recognition or thanks. That feeling is MUCH stronger given I know this video has helped increase his channel viewership and given him a few hundred pounds in one day. I’m going to try not to let this experience close my openness to discuss things, but on average that is likely to be the broader effect of adding ‘fame and fortune’ value to ideas.

3) Paying customer syndrome:

As events get more expensive, those visiting assume that those exhibiting are paid professionals. This both means they are much less understanding of bodges or failures than they would be otherwise and also there is an assumed separation that they couldn’t do this because they aren’t a professional MakerFaire exhibitor. I’m always shocked when people say they couldn’t do what I do because they have a full time job, so do I folks!
Sellers at maker events treat them as business events and are intolerant of organisational upsets, which only acts to demotivate the largely volunteer organising teams.

4) When the love runs out:

Some volunteers put an exceptional amount of effort into building an organisational monument. Be it EMF, various Maker Faires, founding Hackspaces there are a number of things that are made to happen by committed individuals. These people owe nothing to the world, and have the absolute right to check out at any time. The problem is that keeping the monument going requires someone to step in. The behemoth organisers often hold on after the love is gone rather than seeing their creation fail. It seems the gratitude you get for making something everybody loves is being enslaved by it until it becomes too much, then watching it fall to ruin.
It doesn’t have to be this negative. I think the culture could do much better at highlighting the efforts of the behind the scenes work, showing that those heros that make things happen are normal people with day jobs, and also generating an expectation of people volunteering if they are active in the community rather than feeding the false dream that you’ll make you fame and fortune, be it on YouTube or as a start up. That way, the limited effort people have to spare could be encouraged to focus on something useful.
I think EMF is a great example of this. Despite paying a serious ticket price, there is a continuous reminder that there is an expectation that everyone volunteers. Also the recent open discussion about Jonty and Russ looking to hand over the reins not just in the back rooms chats with ‘insiders’ but publicly at the closing ceremony is a great thing. They remind people that this is a community event with outstanding individuals running it, that it shouldn’t be taken for granted, and that people should step in and help.

5) The startup maker fallacy

One of the critical issues I perceive in the culture is that several parts of the community are trying to rebrand startups as the maker movement. Apparently, THE successful outcome for a maker is to form a start up, and all makers want to do this. Utter nonsense

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind business being made in the maker movement, companies like Sparkfun and Adafruit add some of the best resources and impetus to the community, and their products are a great help in achieving great projects accessible to inexperienced makers. But there is a current theme to much of the material piped into the maker community that the successful outcome for a maker is to start a business from it. Whether it is questions in makers hour asking about how your business operates, Hackaday prizes and other competitions offering a prize of funding the launch of your startup based on your idea, or the incessant yap of cynical start-ups that say they are the new best thing for makers.
Recently many have commented that an enterprise that becomes successful has by definition moved out of the ‘maker’ category. I disagree, but I think any ‘for makers’ business should spend a significant fraction of its time and effort helping the community with support documentation and tutorials (not just a single set of instructions) of how to use and preferably misuse the kit; Adafruit being the shining example. Digikey sell things makers can use, where Adafruit sell products for makers.

As for whether makers all aspire to turn their makes into products… I certainly don’t. believe the attraction of making is a means of creative expression, within the constraint of time tools, budget and expertise. If it is too easy, too unoriginal, or too unconstrained, the rewarding feeling is not there. For example, building a kit is fun if you don’t think you can make that sort of thing, but lacks the satisfaction of something that has your creative input and originality. And if you do something as a business, you need to be efficient; that often means gaining suitable expertise and tools, and then making lots of the same thing. That doesn’t scratch the maker itch very well. I’m often told I could go into business selling some of the better things I’ve made. I probably could, but I know I wouldn’t enjoy it because it would suck the fun out of it; I have to concentrate to not lose interest before finishing a one off for myself… Inventing things and then designing them to a saleable quality sounds like my day job, and I already have one of those, and I operate better in a company than I would going it alone.

6) Together we stand, divided we fall:

I guess the other challenge is that makers are naturally creative and would much rather envisage their own new event than help with one that isn’t quite how they’d do it. We should implore people to be more collaborative and less divisional, and in turn be more inclusive of others’ ideas if they are backed up with hard graft to help make things happen.

7) Maker events should feature real “grass roots” makers:

…and preferably a wide variety of them. Maker events really need to ensure they select their content carefully. I believe this is behind the falling attendance at the Bay Area Maker Faire over the last few years.

I went in 2016, and while I did enjoy it, it was difficult to find makers or their exhibits between the big business pet projects and the startups and kickstarter start-up wannabes. Over 50% of what was there was 3rd rate start ups and would be kickstarters trying to catch the maker startup bandwagon.

There was a particularly irritating abundance of people with microcontroller boards that were *apparently* much better than an Arduino that would never have the documentation or libraries of Arduino trying to sell them to unsuspecting would-be makers who would be forever put off by them.

This is a common trait that gnaws at the heart of the maker industry: This popular open source project could be improved, I could join the team and improve it or I could set up a business and undermine it with a better on paper but unsupported.Or worse I could steal the open source design and make it cheaper, undermining it with no pretence of benefit.

There were so many people trying to sell kits or get backers. Some of them were even mildly interesting, but I didn’t cross the Atlantic to come to a big trade show, and parents definitely wouldn’t appreciate taking their kids to inspire a make-not-buy culture only to be walking through halls and halls of gizmos being sold.

Maybe my UK Maker Faire experiences set my expectations too high, but I was expecting more eccentric creative exhibits.

Much of what was interesting there was out of reach of real life people, either professional paid shows (such as the giant version of the board game mousetrap) or the interesting projects of big industry (e.g. DoE personal aircon robots to follow you around and keep you cool or Google’s spin out motion stabilised spoon for Parkinson’s sufferers). Average Joe builds were few and far between. There were a good few eccentric vehicles, like giant penny-farthing like tricycles, the giraffe that Adam Savage appeared on was awesome and just about achievable (suspending some disbelief about cost and storage challenges!), there were cup cake cars that zoomed around, and there were a fair few art installations such as welded sculptures and fireball generators. It’s just for the big Maker Faire, oodles of times larger than the old Newcastle Maker Faire, there were comparatively few impressive builds that were in any way accessible in terms of realistic budgets for makers. I came away feeling it was most notably an event of impressive budgets rather than impressive ideas… It is very easy to make an impressive build if your budget is thousands.

As a result, the degree to which the event inspires people to make interesting things and participate in the maker community is significantly reduced, instead people who go are encouraged either to buy stuff that they won’t use, or try to think of their own start up. So, despite being in the target audience and previously keen, I decided I’d not go back, and I suspect that even without the cost of flights, the non-trivial ticket cost would mean that a fair few locals might be of the same opinion.

The best Maker Faires I have been to have been UK faires such as Newcastle, Derby and Brighton. The variety of exhibits I can remember off-hand is incredible, from inflatable tentacles, through strange tweeting taxidermy, medieval yarn spinning techniques, musical floppy disk drives, very geeky mini-golf coarses, giant cardboard spiders, revolving caravans…. the list goes on. 80% of stalls are ‘normal’ makers. At most UK events the number of businesses exhibiting has been lower, and those that there have been a good fit; either exhibiting projects rather than just products, or craft maker-sellers (e.g. knitted spectroscopy scarves). I think the only disappointing Maker Faire I’ve been to in the UK was one in Elephant and Castle that felt like it could have been a Kickstarter tradeshow, but perhaps I was in a funny mood having seen a girl cycle into a moving car that morning.

Interesting shows, and things to buy can maker up some of a maker event, but to be a true maker event there should be things that you as a punter could make if only you’d had the idea. Accessible builds inspire would-be-makers to try building their own ideas.

A lot of makers I know came away quite negative about Makers Central. Some of the issue was a strong domination by craft, especially woodwork. Is that a problem? Not as such, wood working is as valid a maker pastime as 3D printing, laser cutting, soldering, programming, or grinding and welding, but an event that uses the tag line “*THE* event for the maker community” should probably make more of an effort to include more of the maker community. But I don’t think woodwork focus is the only issue, I think the biggest issue is the balance of business and maker exhibits. Unlike Maker Faires, Makers Central doesn’t have a call to makers, instead advertising paid pitches. EXPENSIVE paid pitches. There may actually be interest in giving free plots to interesting maker exhibits, but there’s no communication of this that has reached me if so. As a result, as a punter the place feels like a trade show. It’s interesting to look around all the tools on sale, and it was great to get hands on with a few tools that I’d be unlikely to try in other circumstances, but it wasn’t really a very ‘maker’ event. Aside from a few exceptions (Hacky Racers for a start) there wasn’t much creative making beyond using a tool designed for a job to do that job. The only big makes were by superstar YouTubers, making them about as accessible to the average punter as buying one of the CNC routers on sale. The message the event was giving was something like “Here is a great maker who makes awesome flame throwing vehicles, and you can make table if you buy a lathe and a planer-thicknesser”.
To be more than ‘meet Colin Furze, drool over a £3000 CNC router, then maybe buy a chisel’, Makers Central needs to embrace more of the maker community, and actually invite some normal makers.

So what now for UK events? Maker Faires (even aside from whether the name is there to licence) seem to be in short supply. Brighton stopped a few years ago when no-one took over organising it after the organisers stepped down. Newcastle is gone now too. Glasgow has postponed to 2020, and I understand Derby is awaiting reopening. I’m not aware of a single 2019 Maker Faire event. MakeFest in Liverpool is the only remaining maker event I’m aware of, and I only found out about that after call for makers had closed :(

Where am I going with this? Who knows? But I think I’ve talked myself into a few opinions:

  • I think Maker Media becoming a not for profit would be a good outcome (rather than acquisition by another business that wants to add another business spin using bought brand heritage).
  • I think the maker community should decouple itself from the push into forming startups, and should try to work out what maker really means. Fiddling with electronics to make a product isn’t being a maker, fiddling with electronics to express your creativity is.
  • I think there should be more public discussion (as well as applause for) the way people who make our community and events make things happen. Present it as accessible, as these people are human, not gods. There is a tendency to try to make events and institutions swan like, presenting an unmoving facade of ‘professionalism’ and hiding all the activity that keeps things going under the waterline. This should be reversed!
  • I think there should be more maker events in the UK, and these should focus on grass roots making.
  • Finally, I think trying to be more cohesive and united as a community would help. Local communities can be strong, but we should build a UK united maker community. There is too much moaning and not enough doing (me included). Despite the creative drive to do our own thing, we should try to support and improve a united whole rather than adding more fragmentation. Ideally a centralised calendar of what events are happening when would be nice too!


This weekend, Jelly and Marshmallows got to play with fire at Electromagnetic Field 2018.


For those who don’t know, EMF is a fabulous festival of geekery, where there are all sorts of making, hacking and technology, with talks on topics from tweetable wedding dresses through how to dispose of dead bodies, to animatronics for movies.

Last time we were at EMF we heard rumours that they wanted more fiery installations so we started thinking and researching. And what we decided on was to run a firenado.

Check out these great videos from twitter:


Firenado video from @DrFootleg



Firenado video from @TheArduinoGuy

We use ten 18-inch 80W fans to swirl air in towards a fire pit with a 50cm paella dish full of burning fuel (isopropyl alcohol and barbecue lighting fluid). As the air is drawn in the vortex accelerates, just like bath water down the plug hole. The extra air makes the fire burn hot and the flames get bigger, growing the vortex into a column of fire. This column of hot rising burning gas actually acts as a chimney drawing the air in at the bottom even faster.

The crowd seemed to enjoy the fire and we certainly did! Fortunately the only fire engine that needed to attend was Mark’s Hack Racer Rule Zero!


Thanks EMF for sponsoring us (and trusting us) to do it. Also I want to give a quick mention as we took a lot of inspiration from the Firenado YouTube videos from NightHawkInLight and Unallocated Space; thanks guys!

Philae found? (Congratulations ESA!)

ESA are still looking for where the Philae Lander ended up after its bounce-a-thon, but early indications suggest it may have been found

Philae landed safely

Philae landed safely

This model was printed on an UP! Plus V2 from AngelLM’s thingiverse model. That saved me a bit of effort, thanks!

On a serious note congratulations ESA on successfully landing Philae (3 times) on a comet hurtling through the solar system at 135,000km/h 1/3 of a billion miles away.

Photo copyright: ESA

Photo copyright: ESA

Most designers struggle to ensure a kettle will still work 10 years after it is made…

…Not bad ESA, not bad at all


Brighton Maker Faire 2013


A few weeks ago, Jelly and Marshmallows were at Brighton’s Mini Maker Faire, exhibiting the Kinect controlled crane, Firebox the balancing robot and our new cardboard wind tunnel. Here’s a quick run down of how our stand worked out, followed by our highlights and observations from the day:

Our stuff…

Kinect controlled crane

This year the crane was functional all day, thanks mainly to our stand being away from direct sunlight and against a wall. The big toy crane and bowl of sweets attracted plenty of attention and kids were queuing up all day to have a go. Unfortunately a number of factors made it difficult for the kids to control the crane:

  • The Kinect tracking was slightly erratic – it randomly lost track of the individual. Having been tuned on our 6ish foot selves this seemed to be considerably worse for ‘small people’.
  • The control method was novel and physically challenging. It might sound simple to ‘stick your right arm out and act like a crane’ but your arm quickly becomes tired and required a fair amount of coordination to make the correct movements.
  • Kids have a very wide range of abilities (learning, coordination, concentration) and many of them struggled to pick it up before they got frustrated.
  • The neutral position for the control was a natural position for an adult, but seemed to require  shorter people to lean forward. This made it all the more awkward.

A few older children managed to successfully control the crane to pick up the sweets (one even picked up a bowl full!), but for most it was too difficult. To make it more fun and to allow more people to be involved, we changed the game slightly – the movement of the crane was controlled by the crane’s original wired controller, and the grabber was controlled via the Kinect. This worked really well, and the kids really enjoyed using it. I think they would have enjoyed using the stock crane just as much though and they weren’t really learning anything.
One thing the crane did succeed at was making the operators look like idiots, it’s just a shame it was mainly me:


Firebox performed as usual, getting lots of attention. Despite not touching him for nearly a year, with just a battery charge and some minor glue gun repairs to his body work, he ran well all day. Maybe before next year he’ll get a few upgrades :-)

Cardboard Wind Tunnel

The new wind tunnel performed great, with rarely a break in the crowds of kids and parents vying to get their planes tested. The combination of a simple practical task, a bit of science, some flashy lights, smoke and a big green button seemed to work really well and get people interested. We had a few technical problems with the smoke and the fan control (big green button) but it ran pretty much continuously all day. More interesting for us was the response of the crowds to the ‘task’: most followed the simple supplied instructions to make a ‘standard’ plane and were interested in the science of flight. A few made planes of their own design, but on the whole any adults who were interested hung back and just observed. It surprised us that a few adults couldn’t make a paper plane even with the ‘child friendly’ instructions provided!

Between the crane and the wind tunnel, I think we learnt a lot at this Maker Faire of what people are interested in and capable of.

The rest of the Maker Faire…

…had the usual mix of crafts and technology, displays and hands on workshops. Here’s our highlights of the other stands


Secret Squirrel was a great, if slightly creepy, concoction of Gareth James , A stuffed squirrel with an ear horn (and microphone), connected to text to speech software, that tweeted the ‘secrets’ that attendees whispered. Secret squirrel’s twitter feed is here:  Not So Secret Squirrel


Another stylish project by Gareth was this lovely live display of the next three trains to Brighton from Hove.


Fabrivan were showing off their big laser, cutting stuff live for the public throughout the day. They’re a Fablab/Techshop like outfit with laser cutters, routers etc, based in Brighton. I thought it was brilliant that people could see and access such technology for themselves.

3d Printed Mechanical Clock


This 3d printed pendulum by Robert Hart was a brilliantly simple demonstration of how early clocks kept going and pendulums can keep time. He has an equally brilliant and simple website describing it here.


The day after the Maker Faire we were lucky enough to get a quick tour around Build Brighton, Brighton’s Hackerspace and get interviewed by Dominic Morrow for his upcoming podcast,  Both will be subjects of future blog posts…

3D printed bowl

A quick post on a little project I’ve just finished.
Inspired by the 3D printed ‘LightPoems’ on Shapeways, I’ve created a 3D printed bowl for a present for my uncle. Rather than spelling out a poem, this bowl contains the names of family members.


It was printed by “Shapeways” in their “strong black and flexible“.
It turns out the ‘black’ part of that materials name comes from the dye used, rather than it being inherent in the material. My only criticism of the print is that some small areas are slightly grey or still white. the build layers are also visible in some places, but I don’t think it spoils the bowl’s appearance.

_MG_9807 _MG_9806

As a reference point, this print is close to the  Shapeways maximum print size for black prints of 230x180x320mm?. It cost €154, which is a little expensive for a bowl but very cheap for a 3D printed part this large and hopefully will be an interesting bespoke present.



Newcastle Maker Faire UK 2013

Newcastle Maker Faire


We recently attended Newcastle Maker Faire, here are the highlights for us:


The Polyfoss Factory were demonstrating a very interesting process: they feed recycled and virgin plastic pellets into a candy floss machine to make a new fibrous material. The new material could then be used in low temperature, low pressure tooling (such as in a modified sandwich press) to form new products.



This cool character was roaming around the courtyard outside (built buy Alfonso Milanos)


UK hackerspaces were represented by the Hackspace Foundation. They were building up a map of hackerspace like groups, their members and the people who wanted to be part of a group. Embarrassingly Hitchin wasn’t part of their database so wasn’t on the map, but we soon sorted that out.



In the centre of the main hall was a ‘make your own jellyfish’ bench. The jellyfish were simply muffin papers? with ribbon attached, but the exciting part for the kids was loading the creation into a ‘windtunnel’ and seeing them float away. We were inspired by the interaction of craft and simple aerodynamics. I can see a craft/wind based project appearing on a Jelly and Marshmallows Maker Faire stand in future….



Makerfaires tend to attract some eccentric ‘costumes’. We saw more than our fair share of mad scientists in white coats and steam punk goggles, but one of the highlights for us was this scrolling LEDs sombrero.



Matt Venn of the Jam Jar collective was showing off an open source, laser cut drawbot. We loved the quirky drawing style mixing jittery lines with perfect perspective.


Sarah Blood was demonstrating her amazing glass bending skills, forming neon tubes over a gas flame. The few lucky people who got to have a go confirmed how difficult it is to get a good looking shape.



These cool notebooks were laser etched from plywood by Patrick Fenner. We were impressed by his human powered trike at the last Newcastle Maker Faire, and this year he was showing off the nifty laser cut clip together cases he’s designed. We were impressed by the engineering he’s put into those little clips. Many people would have just drawn a clip that ‘looks right’ then made, tested and developed it through trial and error. Patrick’s analysed the forces and stresses associated with clips and through some basic tweaks to the design created not only a simple clip that’s more robust and easier to use but also a set of equations and guidelines for others to follow. His work on plastic clips is documented on his website here.



Our friends at Oomlout were there again showing off their kits (plus their excellent documentation).



Pancake bot: food, 3d printing and Lego. Brilliant.



A giant Arduino Uno microcontroller and breadboard. That works. Mad.



I’ve been following Martins laser cutting blog for a while now, so it was great to meet him in person and play with a few of his neat wooden projects.



Rex Garrod and Tim Hunkins secret life of machines series (broadcast in the 80s) probably contributed to me becoming an engineer. So it was a real thrill to meet Tim at Derby Mini Maker Faire and find he was a nice guy in real life. He brought a weird caravan/spaceship ride to Newcastle, similar to a ‘Madhouse’ fairground ride. The outer caravan rotated around a central bench seat, creating the weird feeling of being upside down whilst you were perfectly upright. We also liked the simple intercom system of a length of flexible hose :-)



One of the freakier pieces of robotics was this mannequin knitting machine called Agnes. Using human like movements it knitted continuous woolen scarf.



As big fans of anything that creates sparks, we were excited to spot this wimshurst generator hiding away in one of the halls. It was actually a permanent Life Centre demonstration model, rather than a creation for Maker Faire but never the less we were thrilled to be allowed to play with it. Having made a few static generators ourselves, we were impressed by how it ‘just worked’ with no cleaning or fiddling despite having sat ignored on a shelf for quite a while.

Engineers Without Borders Bulb Logo


Andrew Lamb, my best mate from university and head of Engineers without Borders, asked if there was a way to create a ‘real’ version of their logo. Though it sounded like an interesting challenge and agreed to give It a go.
My first thought was to use an EMSL’s Egg-Bot kit to draw the logo onto a bulb. I showed Andrew the typical output of Egg-Bot and we were both concerned the streaky finish could spoil the look of the logo.
Eggbot with egg
Egg-bot operational!

Idea 2 was to use a vinyl cutter to slice the shape of the landmasses from sticky backed vinyl so they could be stuck to a bulb. I quickly realised that it would be very difficult to apply 2D stickers to a very 3D bulb without creating creases and wrinkles.

Idea 3 was to create a mask such that the bulb could be painted without requiring too much skill. The painting part seemed plausible, the challenge was how to create an accurate mask that could be quickly applied to an actual bulb. Thinking about different mask materials I’d seen before, I assessed how suitable they were: wax-too difficult to apply, masking tape – wont conform, vinyl-same, silicone/rubber-might work but could distort, rigid stencil -might work but might not give a sharp cutoff. So painting through a silicone or a rigid stencil seemed worth trying but both sounded difficult to form into the correct shape.

Now if I was an artist, I probably would have mixed up some latex, formed a rubber shell and skilfully attacked it with a scalpel. But I’m an engineer, so I decided to 3d print it. I also don’t like repeating what others have done, so I started looking around for similar projects to learn from. That’s when I found TBuser’s Two Colour Globe on Thingiverse.

That was a brilliant starting point, as I now had a nice 3D CAD model of the world, with the land masses as a separate body so I could digitally manipulate it to turn it into a mask.
Whilst I’m reasonably proficient with a few CAD program’s, 3D surface modelling is definitely not my thing, so it took several Iterations of computer program and technique to create the right shape that would be useable, paintable and printable on my printrbot.

1 2 3


For the last print I had designed my own support structure to minimise the print time but allow the detailed shape to be printable. With some fettling I got the mask to approximately conform to a light bulb, but the print resolution and slight warping meant that it wasn’t a tight fit on the light bulb and I was worried that there would be too much paint bleed.

The Printrbot version was good enough to give me some confidence that the basic approach was sound, even if the output using this exact method wasn’t good enough. So I uploaded the design to shapeways and was pleased to see that my Printrbot optimised design would only cost ~€30. Knowing that I could reduce the cost with some optimisation, and incorporating what I’d learnt from my prints, I set about redesigning the mask.


This time the mask was a thin shell with local stiffening. I added ribs around the sides and base, and included small bridges where two ‘seas’ nearly met to increase the stiffness but keep the material volume low. The new design cost ~€18 for both parts and took two weeks to arrive.



The prints arrived well packed and n good condition. I was very pleased with the resolution and the ‘strong, white and flexible’ material lived up to its name. Initially it looked like they would be perfect, but a test fit to a bulb showed that hadn’t been careful enough with my measurements. Whilst the energy efficient bulbs I’d bought we’re almost spherical, the last bit of the bulb connected to the base is much closer to conical, so the mask still didn’t fit very tightly.



It was close enough to make fit with a bit of fettling though. Attacking the mask with first a file, then a Drexel ‘milling’ bit, I removed the rib around the base and added clearance around the offending area. The mask was still a bit looser fitting than I wanted but was definitely good enough to try painting.


A bit of masking tape and some bulldog clips held the mask in place and protected the rest of the bulb during spraying.




I was very pleased with how the painting came out. It’s not perfect, and the southern hemisphere is a bit blurry around the edges, but it looks good and with a little refinement could be a practical way of making many bulbs.

20130612-002050.jpg 20130612-002126.jpg

What’s next? I’m happy to have gotten to this point, so its up to EWB what happens next. If they like it and want more bulbs making then Ill probably get another mask made. The shape needs tweaking to fit better, but I think the biggest change will be the material. Shapeways have just released a “new material” ‘for evaluation’ that is quite stretchy. This could allow me to combine my initial silicone mask idea with 3d printing, getting a complete mask that conforms well to slight variations in bulb shape and eliminates the blurry edges. This approach could have other interesting applications so it could be a good experiment in itself.