Failing Better – Part 2

Well, I am continuing to fail successfully at this project. Here are some updates.

Through a rough series of failures, Xindi and I are learning more and more that the CNC is not the best tool for this specific project. This week, we finally got access to a laser cutter! It is so satisfying to watch this machine cut out our fingers the way they were meant to be. Plus, way less sanding or drilling. We implemented cut outs in the fingers to improve the weight. Bonus, it gives us more access to the inside of the joints for the spring adjustment. Although we plan on painting them with a metallic finish, the burnt wood aesthetic is really lovely. We still have a long way to go, though. Our file needs a lot of cleaning and better precision with dimensions.

Laser cut parts with plastic, lightweight hardware.

Another huge challenge we face is the attachment of a human hand to this thing. Rings slip out. Gloves slip out We struggle with stabilizing the actor’s palm.

We tried to implement an adjustable system to attach any sized hand using little chains and hooks at the end of the fingers. Didn’t work out. This week, we’re attempting a hybrid with rings and a glove to see if we can get more dexterity. I think next week we’ll try thimbles.

What I would like to specifically point out in this post is the value of having a space like we do to fail. The raptor lab is a mess; there are mechanical body part failures everywhere. But we have a place, a safe place to mess up. It’s ok to make something that doesn’t work. When you present a prototype each week, there are a flurry of constructive criticism and helpful suggestions. This kind of feedback is circulating constantly.

Class mantra

We also have a plethora of resources to learn off of. We have access to maker spaces with laser cutters and 3D printers, and an entire scene shop equipped with tools and resources. Additionally, we have professionals to vet ideas off of. This includes all of the faculty and staff of the theatre department, plus some amazing guest artists,

We also have time to fail. Don’t get me wrong, we are definitely working in a crunched timeline, but Karen and J.E. have blocked out so much time to fail and make mistakes. That’s the point of prototyping. I know its crazy, but I had never thought to give myself that time while working on a project. I just calculated how long it would take me to build a thing. That’s it.

Obviously from my last post, failure is an important, albeit sometimes painful, part of the creating process. What is equally important though, is giving yourself plenty of room, and time, to fail.

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