Necessity is the Mother of Invention

· Making,Design,3D printing,Behind the Scenes,Conferences

I recently attended the annual Pinner's Conference at WestWorld of Scottsdale. I wanted to check it out to see if it might be worth hosting a booth there next year.

Rei standing in front of the light pink Pinner's Conference backdrop, flashing the peace sign

In the week leading up to the conference, I wanted to prepare for networking. My first order of business was to order new cards because my current ones need some help. When I initially had them printed, I didn’t notice that I had two of the numbers backwards in my phone number. So, all of these cards have a corrective sticker on the back, covering up my mistake. Unfortunately, planning ahead was not one of my stronger suits and, as such, I had no idea that it would take at least another week to get new cards. What could I do, then, to draw attention to just the website on the front of the card? I thought about printing more cards at home on my printer but those always struck me as cheap-looking and I really wanted to make an impression. I thought about making cards from some of my watercolor paintings but knew that would take a ton of time since I’d have to paint all of them. My mind went from vinyl stickers to resin charms but nothing sounded feasible in a short amount of time. Then, my brain landed on something unique that I’d seen some companies do before: 3D printed business cards. Plus, 3D printing has been the most popular class I've offered so far. 

I didn’t want my cards to be just 3D printed, however. I wanted them to be a useful giveaway as well. For an entire afternoon, I went about prototyping several ideas from keychains to necklaces to earrings. Finally, all that was left was to print them. 

3D printing is interesting in that, even though you may precisely design everything down to the millimeter, it’s still tricky to say exactly what it’ll look like when it comes off of the printer bed. Point in case, the first sets of earrings I printed were way too thick and would’ve taken close to an hour to print. On one of the first keychains, the hole for the keyring printed way too small. Additionally, modelling the sprues that held the models into the frames took a lot of trial and error so that they didn't break while the print was being removed from the bed. 

A 3D printed frame with the Maker Comet logo in the center as a keychain. The logo looks like a stylized comet with the words Maker Comet in its center.

This was all part of the iterative process and it’s something that many people may not realize. 3D modelling is just as much of an artform as painting or sculpting. It takes practice and experimentation and, even for the most seasoned modeller, mistakes happen. It rarely turns out right the first time around. Long story short, this process took all day but by the end, I wound up producing a couple of different cards that looked pretty cool.

Maker Comet's 3D printed business cards. The one on the left is the keychain from above but with the paper business card attached. The right is a pair of teardrop-shaped earrings with a ring of circles decreasing in size.

Flash forward to the day of the convention. I really didn’t know what to expect but my goodness, was I surprised! I arrived a little after the opening and there was already a line that stretched into the parking lot. The venue was smaller than other conferences I’ve attended but the organizers packed a lot into that small space. It was quite incredible to see such a variety of workshops, vendors, and artisans.

A red pipe and drape curtain with the Pinner's Conference logo stands behind an elderly lady seated on a stage. A big monitor is to the right of the picture where you can see the lady's workspace. There are many women's heads facing the stage.

I was almost late getting to my first workshop which was on book folding. I had never even heard of this particular art form until I registered for the conference. Essentially, the pages of a book are measured and folded so that when you look at it from the front, the pages form a 3D shape. 

Rei's right hand holds a pencil and it rests on the first page of the book. There is a ruler on the page as well.

For this workshop, I purchased the kit to try it out for myself. Truth be told, I don’t know if this is the craft for me but I can say I enjoyed trying out a new skill and I wound up with something that looked freaking cool! Nice!

broken image

It was uplifting to see so many talented artisans surviving in this pandemic world. It was heartening to speak with some of the attendees to learn about their creative passions. It was energizing to be around so many other like-minded entrepreneurs and to engage with my community, if only for a few hours. All in all, it was a fun show that got people excited about the making and crafting world. If you attended the Pinner’s Conference, I’d love to hear what you thought! Please post your comments below!