Friday, October 9, 2015

3D pen Halloween or Mardi Gras mask

    As I have said before the only real disadvantage of the 3-D pen is its precision, but it makes up for that in its versatility and scalability. Take for instance creating costumes or costume accessories. The pen is not limited by a print table size. I can create a mask or wardrobe accessory of any size. To offset its accuracy I use a form such as a cardboard mask in the photograph below.

The mask can be found in just about any craft or costume store. It is designed as a blank mask to be decorated but I have found that it works much better as a form. It is not plastic but pressed paper or cardboard which makes it perfect because it is heat resistant. The extruded plastic will stick to the paper which helps your work from moving around uncontrollably. The plastic mask I have found are usually far too thin and would melt. 
Using various artisan hash designs like those that you would use in sketching or drawings work very well for the 3-D pen. Here I have used circles for the bottom half and ?'s for the upper half. You may want to practice or try out different designs on paper with a pencil first. Practice making the same shapes until you are consistent with the size and shape you want. Keep in mind that the 3D pens work very similar to a welder on a micro scale. Practice using the pen forward and backwards or a back-and-forth motion when you are extruding filament. Using the pen in different directions will give you different thicknesses in the plastic that is extruded. Also keep in mind that as you are working, you need to periodically lift the mask off of its form using a artisan palette knife, painting knife spatula or thin flat blade screwdriver. The plastic will have a tendency to stick to the mask which is a good thing as it will keep your work in place, but if you wait until you are completed, your project will be extremely difficult to remove from the mask without breaking it. And if you should break any part of the mask just remember that can weld it back together with the 3-D pen. Be sure and save your blank form for repairs or modifications should you need to make changes at a later date.
    Once you have completed your mask you can now sand and paint it a different color or add any embellishments, such as beads jewels etc. I use embroidery floss or ribbon to hold the mask on, as this gives it a Victorian style or feel. This looks more professional and will fetch a higher price if it doesn't look like a kids toy with an elastic band.

It should be noted that these masks can be modified and updated at a later time. Being able to change or modify what you create is one of the things that appeals me, not to mention being able to make repairs to anything that is damaged. What this amounts to is a costume design that will not only last a long time but a design that you will never get bored with.
Modified and updated mask with added eyelashes and flower.

Using a 3-D pen with a tennis ball used as a form

   One of the big disadvantages of a 3-D pen is the lack of precision. Unlike a 3-D printer the 3-D pen relies not on a computer but on how skilled you are with your hands. However you can compensate on some things by using a form rather than just creating freehand. Here I am using a tennis ball as a form to create a Christmas ornament, but realize that any ball that can withstand the heat from the pen can be used. And any size ball can be used to create even more than just ornaments, such as using a basketball to create a lampshade. You may wish to cover your ball with masking tape or some other material so the plastic does not melt into the ball. I'm using the tennis ball basically because that is what I have handy and the plastic adheres enough to the ball to make it easy to control. The disadvantage of using a tennis ball is all the small fibers that the plastic adheres to. This can make removing the finished ornament rather difficult. The trick I use to overcome this is the use of a old painter's palette knife. Using the knife as I work, I periodically carefully lift the plastic off of the tennis ball. A thin blade screwdriver could also be used in the same manner. Just be sure to lift the plastic as you work rather than trying to do it all at once at the end. If you try to wait until the end, it becomes extremely difficult to lift the plastic without breaking it.

    Once you have removed your ornament you then can began to remove the fine hairs with a lighter or hot knife. Be sure and move quickly so as not to melt the plastic ornament you're working on. Most of the ornaments that I create are shaped similar to a half finished death Star. If you wish to create a full sphere, you need to create two halves and then weld them together after you have removed them from the tennis ball form. One trick I use is to create the ornament using the lines on the tennis ball, rather than a straight half circle. This also helps hide any seem that is created when I weld the two halves together, as it is not a straight line.

     So here we have our finished ornament and all that is left to do is to add a bit of thread or ribbon to hang it by. We can also add lace, beads, crystals or other decorations to the ornament as well as sand and paint the ornament as needed. The type of artwork you use is up to you and I have personally created ornaments for all the seasons, not just Christmas. So have fun and enjoy creating a little bit of artwork with your 3-D pen.