We have been fascinated with the plight of the bees for the last couple of years. A few months ago, when we got the chance to build an installation that tells their story, we jumped at the opportunity.
As the fabricators for the People’s Hive, we approached the project as a system of prefabricated parts (kind of like IKEA furniture) that are digitally manufactured with a laser cutter and CNC router. Here’s how the installation came together.
First, there was inspiration
Earlier this spring, an architect, Janna Levitt, and an artist, Myfanwy Macleod, travelled to Japan to learn about the fine art of beekeeping and how the decline of the bee population has tremendous consequences for our own existence on earth. Two weeks later, the two returned to Canada with an idea.
The intent was to communicate the bottom-up mentality of a hive community to inspire awareness and action surrounding the issue of colony collapse disorder. If the hive mentality can motivate thousands of bees to form an organized network working for a common goal, perhaps it is also a model humans can emulate to solve the problem at hand. A few weeks later, this question evolved to become an art installation, known as the People’s Hive, that would be a part of the Carbon 14 Climate is Culture exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Fleshing out the idea
Matt and I came into the story around the point where the idea of People’s Hive required transformation into a real-life physical artifact. We worked together with Janna and Myfanwy and drew upon several architectural archetypes – the shed, bunker, and kiosk, as a starting point to bring physical form to the idea of the hive. The final design of the structure was to be covered in a luxurious honey comb pattern and surrounded by 4 child-size beekeepers, designed to manipulate the viewer’s perception and play with the their sense of human scale.
Photos above © Ben Rahn/A-Frame
Building the system
In alignment with the bottom-up mentality of the hive, the design and fabrication of the Hive structure started with the smallest element in the piece – the hexagonal panel that make up the honeycomb cladding. Lasercut from 1/8″ acrylic in the perfect shade of yellow, the size of each panel was determined by optimizing the number of tiles that can be cut from a standard sheet of 4’ x 8’ material. These panels, when tiled, became a grid that governed the exact size and shape of the overall structure.
The plywood shell that the honeycomb panels are fastened to was precision cut on a computer controlled milling machine. We then built the stud framing to fit inside that shell. This process may seem a bit backwards, but it allowed for the most accuracy so that the prefabricated panels can tile perfectly on each face of the structure.
Every component of the Hive was designed and built to assemble with bolts and connectors on site. We put in the effort to design each component so that it can easily be transported, installed and disassembled for future exhibitions. The hard work completely paid off! Check out this time lapse of the installation process.
The project was a fantastic success and will be on display at the ROM until February 2014.
We had such a blast at this year’s Toronto Mini Maker Faire! For this special weekend event, we revisited one of our favorite childhood activities, finger painting, and updated it to our digital age with a Leap Motion, some 3D printers (of course) and a little bit of home-made code. The result, is the 3D Printer Finger Painting booth!
Over the course of two days, we watched the bewildered faces of hundreds of kids, parents, grandparents and friends as they waved their fingers over the Leap Motion micro sensor, and saw their doodles instantly appear on a digital monitor. The best part of all, is seeing those doodles come to life in 3-dimensions on our 3D printers as funky, abstract sculptures. Read on for a review of our Leap Motion experience.
We are passionate about finding the creative applications of 3D printing. We’re enamored by how 3D printing can empower people from all walks of life to shape the world around them and the products they own. Right now the tools used to create content for 3D printers are often rather archaic and unintuitive for those who are not already experienced 3D designers. The projects that are exciting us most at the moment involve finding new means of interacting with these machines that break down these barriers.
WHY FINGER PAINTING?
We knew that Makerfaire would be a busy place with many kids in attendance. Our mission was to create a fun and easy way for people to generate their own 3D content in just a few seconds without any training. Since 3D printing is a new technology we find its very helpful to get people comfortable with it by tying it to a familiar metaphor like Finger Painting or Kissing Booths. This allows people to approach 3D printing on familiar terms without being overwhelmed by the technology itself.
HARDWARE + SOFTWARE
We used the Leap Motion, Makerbot Replicator 3D Printers and a couple of regular old desktop computers. We tied them all together by writing our own software in Processing. The program we wrote allows people to generate colorful 3D models on the screen using their fingers and the Leap Motion. We then exported these models to the 3D printers using standard file formats so that they could be reconstructed in real-life.
The response at Maker Faire was fantastic! It drew crowds throughout the weekend. I think the most rewarding part was seeing how many people were able to use it without any instruction – especially kids. Our favorite finger painter was a little boy who was convinced that clapping his hands and spreading his little fingers out like a fan resulted in explosion of cubes on the doodle screen. It was really the speed of his motion that the program responded to, but he was having so much fun creating with his big clapping gestures, all we could do was sit back and smile. We loved seeing how different people approached the sensor and learned to self-navigate our program on their own terms, bringing their own personality.
What’s nice about the Leap is that casually interacting with the computer becomes a very low cost investment of time and attention for a passer-by at a busy venue like Maker Faire. People don’t have to waste time fumbling around with a keyboard and mouse – this is a big part of why we chose it for this event. For 3D printing in particular the Leap is especially interesting, because unlike a mouse, which moves around on a 2D plane, the Leap is specifically equipped to interpret 3D input. This helps alleviate one of the major pain points in getting new users to create 3D content, which is navigating 3D space on a 2D screen with a 2D input device.
We’ve been busy BEES… busy working on an exciting new project that will be installed as apart of Carbon 14, an exhibition exploring the scientific and cultural aspects of climate change, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto! People’s Hive is a dream collaboration with Myfanwy Macleod and Janna Levitt. It has been months in the making and we cannot wait for everything to come together. Here’s a little sneak peak of the working progress.
Today, we finally loaded up the van and moved all the parts into the museum. Our little honey comb project sleeps in a gallery corner tonight, install starts tomorrow! Stay tuned for the big reveal!
Toronto’s maker community is a bunch of ridiculously smart, fun-loving, think-outside-the-box people who will be gathering for Toronto Mini Maker Faire this weekend! Matt and I are super excited to be apart of the celebration and have two days of 3D printing interactive activities planned for the event. Join us!
September 21 | 10AM-9:00PM
September 22 | 10AM-5:30PM
(20% off promo code: AWESOME)
Love this spread in the Fall issue of Designlines Magazine, which features our Boreal Necklace, made from 3D printed wood! Check out these behind the scenes snaps of the photoshoot where the team’s beautiful art direction and photography came together. Read the whole article by Evan Davies here.
Image Credit: Naomi Finlay
As designers, we’ve found the prospect of personal 3D printing to be tremendously empowering, and it has been our ambition to share that opportunity with as many people as possible. Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to team up with some fantastic not-for-profits, schools and other organizations over the past few months to give hundreds of people their first 3D printing experience here in Toronto. In light of this success, we’ve decided to make friendly, hands-on 3D printing classes a permanent part of what we do at Hot Pop Factory.
Starting this summer, we’ve partnered up with Draft Print 3D and others to open up our ‘3D Printing for Total Beginners‘ workshop to the public. We’ll be running this class on a bi-weekly basis, and we’ll be adding more advanced follow-up courses as demand grows. These 3D printing classes will be focused on providing you with a first-hand, interactive experience, where you will have the opportunity to bring your design ideas to life using 3D printing.
We have four dates already lined-up for this month, you can view the full listing here:
The last few months have been a whirlwind for Bi-Ying and I. We managed to pick-up coverage from almost every major Canadian media outlet. Its been the ride of a life time so far, and we can’t thank all of our friends and supporters enough for making it happen! Here is a little recap of some of the coverage:
Did you know that our newest collections are made so that each piece is literally one of a kind? That means, we intend for each design to be made into infinite variations, and we will only make each variation once. As soon as a piece is snatched up by a customer, we will replace it with a different one! So for those of you that got a little something for your mums this weekend, tell her that her Hot Pop is a true unique, just like her.
Happy Mum’s Day!
It’s finally here! We are so proud and excited to bring to you two brand spanking new collections of jewelry. Platonix is a fun and colourful series of geometric jewels that are made of lightweight and durable nylon. The designs feature dynamic clusters of platonix shapes, and is available in 4 modern colors.
Boreal is a series of elegant necklaces that features a never-before-seen material used in its pendants – 3D printed WOOD! It’s actually made of 40% real cherry wood and polymer. When it’s being made, you can actually smell the faintest hint of charred wood in the room! Both of these collections are produced so that each new piece has a slight variation to the last, making each item actually one of a kind!
And if all of this isn’t enough, we’ve also revamped our SHOP, which is now fully stocked for your browsing pleasure! Enjoy!