April 11, 2018

Adventures in 3D printing...

Oooh, here’s my latest toy and obsession!  I’ve been pondering the possibilities of 3D printing for several years actually, but was intimidated by having to learn CAD programming, so kept putting it off.  I finally decided it was time to just make the leap, so waited for the newest 3D printer shootout issue of Make Magazine for the newest reviews, and decided on the Prusa MK3. That was actually the easy part, harder was figuring out what program(s) to use - I really wanted to be able to make free-form organic shapes, and I needed something with a fairly easy learning curve since I’m new to CAD.  I ended up with Sculptris by Pixologic which really feels to me like sculpting with clay, which makes me really, really happy.  I’m actually using a combination of three programs to get to my final printed shape, Sculptris to get the basic shape, then I import into Meshmixer to make the shape more printable (there are options in meshmixer that aren’t available in Sculptris), then finally I’m using the slicer program that comes with the Prusa to finalize the print before printing.  

The printer itself had a bit of a learning curve, I kept losing my prints at first from it coming off the print bed. Turns out a stick of Elmers Disappearing Purple glue stick is absolute magic!  Also just learning what I could get away with as far as how small an area I could have touching the print bed vs the volume of the rest of the piece. I seem to have it mostly figured out now, and most of my prints seem to be successful. 

My end goals for my 3D printed objects is to be able to print components that can be used in larger sculptures. I want to make printed oozers that I can wrap with wire and turn into a larger piece, and to be able to make multiples in varying sizes.  This seems to be working fairly well so far. 

I’ve also managed to solve a longstanding challenge that I have wanted to do for awhile now but hadn’t figured out a solution to. The idea of oil painting on an organic shape to use in my sculptures has been an obsession of mine, but until now finding the right object and surface has eluded me. Until my beloved Prusa!  Using a layer of plastic primer followed by a layer of oil painting gesso, I’m able to make the perfect surface to paint on, and my first experiment with it worked beautifully!  Waiting for the surface to dry so I can start wire wrapping and sculpting with them, so excited!

Anyhow, I’ll update with finished pieces shortly!!

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February 07, 2018

Props props props! Shrek Dragon time...

*Dragon has moved on to her new home in Petaluma, please contact www.cinnabartheater.org regarding rental inquiries, thanks!  I still have Pinnochio's nose available for sale, please  contact me for more info.

Oh wow, I have been neglecting this blog for a really long time, haven’t I!  Life has been really busy and while I’ve been making art, it hasn’t made it to my blog or website. I will try to change that moving forward, promise!  In the meantime, I finally updated my website with some of the work I’ve done in the past few years, do check it out at www.squishymatter.com.

So what else have I been up to?  Well, with two kids in musical theatre this year, I’ve been up to my eyeballs making props for Theatre in the Mountains. With the middle school play being Shrek this year, this has been a full time job the past few months, but I’m finished and wanted to share. 

The big one has been Dragon, which needed to be a life-sized dragon to be carried by 4 kids, with a moving mouth and wings. After plenty of online research on how others have done this, I settled on making the head from Worbla thermoplastic, and the body from a fabric covered flexible armature.  I’ll post some pics of the process here for anyone else lucky enough to have to make one of these (did anyone catch the sarcasm there?), or alternatively, for anyone not wanting a full time job in dragon construction, this beauty is available for rent (or possibly purchase). Contact www.cinnabartheater.org for info. 

Anyhow, here’s the quasi-tutorial, I took photos when I remembered, so apologies if a few are missing. 

For the head I used Worbla thermoplastic sheet - TAP plastics sells this, or it is available online. It cuts with scissors and you use a heat gun to melt it enough to mold it into shape. It sticks to itself, and is extremely lightweight so is great for props and costumes.  First I made a positive mold of the head shape out of oil based modeling clay, then I covered the clay with plastic wrap, and then covered that with duct tape. 

I used a sharpie to draw a pattern that would lay reasonably flat, then cut it with the exacto knife. I then used the resulting pattern to cut the Worbla sheet (allowing for a bit of overlap) and cut two copies of the Worbla for each so I could make a double layer for strength.  The duct tape then went back onto the clay form to keep the hot Worbla from sticking to the clay. One piece was heated at a time and molded onto the form, edges were reheated and smoothed together, and once the first layer was done I repeated it with the second layer and smoothed everything out before removing the clay. 

Once the clay was out, I made horns and fins and other extrusions and attached those, and also attached a short plastic pipe to fit a longer pipe in for carrying.  I also made a lower jaw using the same process. 

Teeth!!  The lower jaw is held on with a long threaded rod which acts like a hinge, and there is a spring attached inside the mouth so it bounces. A pull string was added later so the person in front can control the mouth. 

For the body I used a long plastic flexible drainage pipe for the spine, and lengths of irrigation tubing with connectors for ribs to give the body shape.  She got a pool noodle for a tail, with thick wire rings for smaller supports there. The head is attached to the body with a makeshift carabiner hinge so it is flexible, and lengths of pvc pipes for the poles. The wings are made from a large kite with Worbla hinges and held with springs so they move, also with pull strings to the pole.  Then I found a lovely and super stretchy shiny pink fabric for the body which was hand sewn to the armature.  And legs, can’t forget the legs.

Finally I primed and painted her head, painted her wings, and did all finishing touches including back fins, toenails, forked tongue, and gave her light up led eyes. 
Here are some photos of her in action, come see Shrek this weekend, Feb 9-11th, it’s going to be a great show!  

And here are a few pictures and videos of the exploding bird and Pinnochio's nose:

Bird in her nest (she has a bracket under the nest that fits on top of a set piece):

Video of bird in action:

Pinnochio's nose (mechanism is battery operated):

Pinnochio's nose growing:

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November 21, 2012


This is my new work, Colonization, currently on view at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose.  It is a result of my fascination with slime molds (they are amazingly beautiful, definitely worth googling), and my need to return to my larger sculptural work.  Colonization is made with polymer clay on pushpins, to be more exact I used Pluffy, which is the kids' version of Sculpey - I like the matte surface it gives, which is why I used that instead of traditional Sculpey.  It was fun to make, and even more fun to set up in the gallery.  If you are local, be sure to check it out, it is up through November 30th.

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November 19, 2012


Ok, I'm finally getting around to dealing with my photos from the Kaleid show, so wanted to post photos of one of my installation pieces, Pause.  It is made from twisted steel wire and organza fabric.  Pause is on view at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose through November 30th.

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November 16, 2012

Own some squishymatter - prints and small works now available online

A selection of quality archival prints of my drawings and watercolor paintings and some of my small original works are now available online at http://squishymatter.etsy.com - I will be adding new works as they are available, so check back often!

And as always, larger works are available at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose - 88 S 4th Street, San Jose, CA 95113.

Happy Squishy Holidays! Pin It

October 14, 2012

Karen Carlo Salinger and Michele Guieu at Kaleid Gallery

During the month of November I will be one of the featured artists at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose, along with my friend Michele Guieu.  Please join us for our artist opening on November 2nd at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose (address below), we hope to see you there!

Artist’s Reception: Friday, November 2, 2012 7pm–11pm
Part of the South FIRST FRIDAYS Art Walk
Exhibition dates: November 2–30, 2012

Reception is free and everyone of all ages are welcome.

Show runs through November 30th.

"Creature Comforts" by Karen Carlo Salinger

Suspended animation, medical curiosities, scientific illustrations and
biological specimens. Improbable creatures in impossible situations.
These are some of the ideas that I incorporate into my drawings, sculpture, and other artwork. I call them my creatures, because that is what they are - unknown organisms that take shape in my mind, the roots of which come from a lifelong interest in strange biology, microscopic life, the human body, and basically anything else ooey, gooey, creepy, strange or unusual.

"Let’s Fight Till Six and Then Have Dinner" by Michele Guieu

This installation of drawings and videos is about childhood and its fleeting moments. Everything passes, hence the title, which also refers to the fact that the show opens just a few days before presidential election day. It puts the urge to argue and the hunger for peace in (a childish) perspective.The drawings hung on the backdrop of the giant leaf are made from pages of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. I see the world Alice visits - and creates at the same time - as a response to the complicated world we
live in. In the series of short videos, I watch my two boys as they grow: the way they see the world, the creatures and the monsters they imagine.

Kaleid Gallery
88 South Fourth Street, San Jose, CA 95112
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-7pm
First Fridays ’til 11pm

There is street parking available as well as garage parking for a flat fee. If parking on the street, be sure to read all signs to ensure no fee is enforced.

Visit our Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/426545707405170/

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September 25, 2012


Just finished a new piece, this one is a bit different in that I decided to experiment with watercolors in combination with my usual pen and ink, and I really love the effect.  I titled this one Arthropodia, I think I am on a bit of a centipede-ish kick at the moment. 

This piece will be up for auction at the Loma Prieta School District "Magic on the Mountain Gala", be sure to check out the art table and get your bid in!

16 x 20" ink and watercolor
2012 Pin It