Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

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Project 3: Copper Tape Origami

This week we worked on paper circuits! This assignment was different than previous ones because I was more fixated on the insides of the product, whereas in earlier projects I was more concerned with the aesthetics and (social) impact of the product. The basic circuit card and 2 LED card were a good way to get comfortable with figuring out how exactly the circuit would work. Sketching out the path first was helpful.

The final product was tricky. I chose to go with a paper crane, since I’m comfortable with the folds and thought that would give me an advantage. However, figuring out the route the circuits would take & where to place the switch proved a great challenge. I knew I wanted the switch to be activated when I pressed on the bottom folds of the paper crane (this way the wings of the crane would light up when I flapped them from the bottom). However, my initial routing placed the switch at a location where only one LED would be cut off. At the second attempt/re-route, the folds kept the switch in place, so the lights would always be on. After three revisions (at some point I just put the tape down and made demo circuits to understand how/why the switch works), I got the circuit and switch to do what I wanted it to do, which felt good! I’m feeling more comfortable with the re-iteration aspect of these projects. 

Basic Paper Circuit Card with switch. Quote: “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

Basic Paper Circuit Card with switch. Quote: “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

Basic Paper Circuit Card with switch [inside]

Picture with 2 LEDs [inside]

Picture with 2 LEDs. Quote: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

3D Paper Object / Origami [initial sketch of circuit]

3D Paper Object/Origami [final circuit route with switch]

3D Paper Object/Origami [final product]


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Project #2: Vinyl Stickers

For this assignment I made three vinyl stickers: a griffin, a logo and a multi-layered sticker.   

Griffin– penguin + wolf


Multilayer sticker / hummingbird

Coming up with the designs for the logo and multilayer stickers was a bit difficult, just like the previous exercise. I knew I wanted to put the stickers on my laptop, but I think the focus on its eventual placement constrained my thought process on what I wanted the stickers to say. I have a few stickers on my laptop already, and the reason I have the stickers I do was because they reflected things I liked or aspects of me. But, now the question would be, would I have circle stickers or rectangle or square? And what would they say?

Two of my best friends and I have a group chat named Cafe Bustelo, after a coffee brand popular with Latinos, and we had a serious conversation that ultimately spiraled into what became my multilayer design. For the three of us, hummingbirds have a powerful meaning (there’s an essay called ‘If What I Mean Is Hummingbird, If What I Mean Is Fall Into My Mouth’ that covers this). 

Inspiration from friends!

Additionally, the group chat name inspired me to make my logo, with slight modifications. The last two creations involved multiple iterations of the designs. Once I settled on something I did like, I kept it and tried to modify the aesthetics of other parts. I also let myself be comfortable with starting over and over. Ultimately I’m happy with the communal feeling of these products. 

Silhouette cutting!

Forming layers

Original logo, pre modifications

Original mockingbird design

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Project #1 – Laser Name Tag

One of my ideas for the name tag came by accident– I caught sight of a Charmander silhouette while doing the wood exercise in my lab session. I liked the clean look and light hearted feel of the vector cut out in the final test product, and so I decided I wanted to incorporate something similar in my next design. However, finding something that conveyed as much in as little space as possible proved to be difficult and required me to think outside of the box. I found myself being drawn back to Pokemon, but initially resisted the impulse. I went through several ideas in my head: perhaps doing something related to urban planning, my profession, or doing something related to New York City, my hometown. Neither of these, on their own, felt entirely authentic. I draw frequently during my free time, and some principles the art has taught me is to create something that is an extension of yourself. The authenticity and sincerity of that goal would reflect in the art as well.

When my colleagues would see my Charmander name tag, they would ask if I was a Pokemon fan and if I truly was a fan of Charmander. I would reply that while Charmander wasn’t necessarily my favorite, Squirtle was. Eventually I would find my way back to the Squirtle idea, and with it a realization that if nothing at all, it was a conversation starter. In urban planning/community development, getting people to come to a consensus and form an action plan is a difficult task. Not that Pokemon would necessarily solve this problem, but it would at least get people talking. 

I did not think I would seriously consider Pokemon as a vehicle to convey thoughts and the general philosophy around community engagement. But, given the weight of the research I do on a day to day basis, this felt at once a light departure from and a sudden arrival to my professional interests. I also decided to include other tidbits into my design– particularly, a title that I felt best conveyed my work, and a nod to my hometown and my current city. I’ve moved a lot in the last few years, so this piece felt relevant.

The conceptualization of the design was both frustrating and exciting. It required me to push myself to think differently about what I do, and about what a name tag does. While it’s important that the name tag reflect who I am, it was equally important that the name tag resonated with others. What exactly that would look like varies from person to person. Having friends and peers provide insight on my ideas in the initial phase was extremely beneficial. I was worried I would not have enough space to say all that I wanted to say, so in that respect I learned the importance of brevity and clarity. 

Sketching on Inkscape

Laser cutting time!

Final product!

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