In early November we at Fringe got a call for submissions for “Project: Wallpaper,” a collaborative installation project that was being put together by Alex and Nerissa from Golden Arrows. In the letter they asked for strips of artist-made wallpapers with which they planned to cover a wall of Gallery 263, where they have a residency through February. I told Mike Dacey (of Repeat Press) about this project that I had been thinking about where my 24x24” cnc router was converted into a marker-wielding robotic drawing machine, and we decided to try it out with the wallpaper project. The idea was to replicate a complex pattern with more precision than the human hand, while using a tool which produced distinct features associated with hand drawing. The drawn pattern had to be simple and not take away from the process which created it. Mike suggested a classic damask pattern, and it was perfect. (We had also toyed with the idea of adding a second y-axis feed roll to advance a length of paper to make really long strips, but it seemed like too much work.)
I really wanted to design the fixture around a Sharpie marker because of the iconic appeal of the drawing implement, even though it is not archival quality. I came up with a really simple design for the fixture which just replaced the router in the z-axis head of my cnc router table. I measured the pressure that I used to draw with a marker using a scale. I sized the spring retention pin on the fixture for the ID of the spring with the appropriate force for the application, and sent the drawings out for water jet machining. A shaft collar was selected to set the minimum force - limiting the spring extension by setting the clamping position on the marker. Further adjustment of the pressure could be achieved after the marker was secured and the fixture in the machine by adjusting the z-axis position of the router in software.
After the fixture was up and running we realized that there was more x-y force on the marker than I had thought there would be, so the marker needed to be limited a little bit more - a few rubber bands worked fine. I came up with a custom shaft collar that locates on the two sides of the body of the fixture to fix this problem, but have not had it made because the rubber bands are working fine for now.
So we did all of this work and ran a test pattern that Mike put together and the fixture worked great, but then we totally blew it and never got around to doing a final print or sending anything to Golden Arrows in time for the Project: Wallpaper opening show. The one “drawing” that we made is shown below.
I might try to do one complete project with this and then I’ll probably retire it. It was a successful test of a new/old process, and I’m sure that it has been done before. Time to move on.