Sunday, September 21, 2014

flared gauntlet and the meaning of life

Last weekend I received a semi-urgent message from Peter Binkley asking me if I could create a new gauntlet that was tapered for users with a wider forearm. As I mentioned earlier, I have been working with a group of talented people to develop a new hand for the Johns Hopkins Conference. My contribution was to the design of the gauntlet for the new e-NABLE 2.0 hand called the "Raptor". Jeremy Simon had released the new Raptor arm files to the e-NABLE group so volunteers could start printing the 300 3D printed hands that we hoped to have at the conference. I needed to act fast, so I spent all day last Saturday redesigning the gauntlet so it would have some flare at the back section. This adjustment should cut down on pinching and make for a more comfortable fit. This has been a really good modeling exercise for me as it has forced me to get better at refining my sketching and set-up. Making things that are easier to manipulate and tweak has been one of my recent  goals. I am thankful for this opportunity to push my abilities to make things fit with other people's designs. 

It's rather amazing what a small group of people living thousands of miles away from each other can do when working together on the same problem. We are living in a time where we can navigate to different parts of the world with the click of a mouse, complex information is accessible within seconds, and we are able to connect with communities that bring a diverse skill-set to a particular problem. We have never lived in such a time, where  all of these things are possible. I keep telling my students that this is one of the most amazing times to live in and that they need to seize the opportunity. 

I think the largest challenge of our world is to get over the idea of ownership. I realize now, how my training as an academic, artist, designer, and craftsman can get in the way of actually doing something meaningful due to "ownership". Ownership plays a key part in actually prohibiting true progress from happening in our world. Ownership and ego create gridlock when progress needs to happen. I believe there was a time when people put aside their own well being and pride to help others in need, as a way of showing care for each other. I remember my Mother talking about her neighbors sharing the bounty of their gardens, helping when there was a big job that needed to be tackled, or just making simple "gifts" (such as the occasional baked good) for the people in her small farming community when she was a child. Helping others can get in the way when we're all trying to "get to the top" or reach our own personal goals. When was the last time you used some of your precious time and abilities to make something for someone so you could show them that you care? Go take a look at the spreadsheet and see if you can help make one the last 48 hands needed to reach our goal.

I write all of this, not as a way to call any of you out, but rather as a way to keep myself from worrying about the issue of ownership (that I warn about above). When someone at work asks me what I, MYSELF, have accomplished in the last year, what exhibitions I have entered, or what new work I have single handedly brought into fruition, I have to remember the motivation behind the things I want to accomplish. Writing this post reminds me to not worry about personal gain, but rather make decisions and live for what makes for a fulfilled life. Right now, I'd rather be helping people through the things I am able to design and through collaborating with other people who devote their time and energy to larger problems. 

I was able to get the gauntlet design to Peter and Jeremy Simon by late Saturday night and by Sunday, Jeremy had disseminated the new updated files to the e-NABLE group volunteers for them to continue with the printing of the 300 hands. The volunteers from the group are currently printing the required hands for the Conference (that happens this weekend), and as of now we have 260 hands that have been made in the last few weeks. Again, it's amazing what can happen when you get people from around the world working on a common problem. 

I printed the "ice blue" PLA hands above when I was testing the flared gauntlet design. If I were to guess, I think the girls that I have been working with might like this "icy" look. Just a guess though...


Unknown said...

Great post, Frankie. Thanks for the reminder!

Frankie Flood said...

Thanks! You know... you just reminded me that half of the fun in making is meeting great people. I never would have met you and Michael had it not been for teaching that summer class. That would have been a real shame to miss out on getting to know you both!

Thanks for THAT reminder!