My Autodesk Residency Answered
I was an Artist in Residence at Pier 9 from January through March of 2014, just a few months after the facility opened. I completed three projects during my residency, but split some of my projects into several Instructables.
Citrus Juice Press with Mortise-and-Tenon Joinery
"Tiny Planet" 3D Printed Mechanical Sculpture
"The Manhattan Project" Cocktail Machine (Coming Soon!)
Here are some things that were wonderful about my Residency:
-Vanessa and Noah were extremely supportive as coordinators/facilitators/etc. They worked tirelessly to organize and improve a rapidly growing program filled with newbies like me. Whether it's just bouncing ideas around or getting connected with a person who has a particular skill, they were always willing to take a minute and help out.
-Shop staff and Instructables staff were very helpful in navigating the tricky details of the shop, writing and publishing Ibles, etc. I relied heavily on help from Sean, Gabe, Dan, and Martin to help me work with tools in the CNC, Metal, and 3D Printing shops. They were patient and interested in helping me become a skilled operator.
-Having access to the tools at Pier 9, particularly the Omax Waterjet and the Objet 3D Printers, allowed me to quickly move from design through prototype to final product. As a mechanical sculptor, I am used to spending months on a single project, waiting days or weeks for waterjet/lasercut parts to ship to me, etc.
-Classes and workshops, both formal and spur-of-the-moment style, gave me the resources to use so many tools that it was sometimes overwhelming (see below), but always awesome. Gabe's weekly software sessions, Audrey's photography tutorial, and of course all the Safety and Basic Use classes in the shop, were excellent ways to gain experience with new tools or learn how to better use familiar ones.
-Free, endless coffee.
Here are some challenges I faced during my residency:
-The open-office style space at the Pier makes it quite difficult to focus (for me at least). Wearing headphones can help, but I also found that doing computer work elsewhere was more efficient. I know that the layout is meant to facilitate community, and it does, but I have found that I have to be vigilant so that my "talking about doing cool stuff" time does not eclipse my "doing cool stuff" time.
-CNC tools can do incredible things very quickly, but they are fickle and, especially in the hands of novices, break often. Other times, they are just so popular there is a line to use them. Shop staff do a superb job of keeping the shop running smoothly, but I learned to always head to the Pier with a list of projects to work on, in case the tool I most wanted to use was unavailable.
-There is an overstimulation that seems impossible to avoid at the Pier. New ideas come so fast, it becomes hard to pin yourself down to one and begin the nitty gritty work of actually making it happen. It can be quite difficult.
-There is some pressure at the Pier, and I imagine it will grow, to use Autodesk software. As much as I would like to gain experience using Inventor and Maya, I decided that I would get more done by sticking with the software I was comfortable with.
-Free, endless coffee.
I walked away from my Residency with a host of new skills, a number of new friends and professional colleagues, and a few projects to boot! It was a great time, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks Pier 9!