Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Blogs about arts-and-crafts

3D Printer Notes.


I used to be a member at a local maker space (it's since closed) where they had certification classes for their 3D printers. Here are the notes I took during that class, and while working with the printer a half dozen times or so. The shop had MakerBot Replicator2s, and so your mileage may vary for other 3D printers.

The MakerBot Replicator2 uses fused filament or PLA type material. A "voxel" is a 3D pixel; .04mm for this machine. It will overcome a 45° overhang of empty space. The base material is food-safe, but printed things can't be food-safe because they're so porous that they can't reliably be cleaned. You can paint or finish printed things.

Set up:

From the Repbot's menu, choose Utilities, then Level.

  1. Pull out the .09 fin from the level gauge.
  2. Slide the gauge between the Repbot's nozzle and the build plate. Adjust the plate up or down using the screws underneath the plate (directly below the nozzle) until the level slides between nozzle and plate with just a wee bit of friction. The screws release tension on the page; less tension means the plate moves up.
  3. Push Repbot's M button to advance to the next point. Repeat above 2 more times.

It's OK to just set the first 3 points, and then skip the rest of the set-up.


Makerware on the host computer can import .stl or .obj file formats. You can also use an SD card directly in the Repbot.

  1. Choose File > Make it
    • Choose Low, Standard or High. (Higher resolution is slower.)
    • Check or uncheck Rafts (physical "helper" structures that help the printer overcome physical overhangs) and Supports (scaffolding for negative space. These scaffolds are meant to be removed from the item after it's printed.
  2. Check Preview before printing. The preview will show you how long the print will take.
  3. Make It!
  4. In Quality, set the Infill and Number of Shells.

Useful Commands

To customize the infill pattern for your print: Try catfill!


Export: gcode, slices only. In Makerware, File > Make from File. Or just bring it into Makerware.


Other related software:

Art Show Notes.


I recently un-installed my second art show, and I wanted to share some of my learnings and thoughts from it. These art shows are monthly rotating displays of art made by Getty Images employees; not the professional photographers (though there are several regular folks who have photography hobbies at Getty). For my second show, I was invited to put up work from my recent "Screenprinting on Glass" class, which I take at Pratt Fine Arts in Seattle.

Raven - enameled image on kilnformed glass This is a Native American style raven image, screenprinted with red enamel onto black glass. I didn't like the results when it first came out of the kiln, so I cut the glass into strips and staggered them a bit before capping it with clear glass and re-firing. The second firing did a much better job of demonstrating the flexibility of glass. After the piece was up for about a week, a colleague bought this piece - hurray!

Art Show Tips:

Mothers' Day Paperweight.


I made this paperweight during an Art By Fire Blow Your Own event in April of 2010. The colored core was (probably) made from shards of a failed piece at Art By Fire, which were preheated in a small kiln. I picked that up on a bitrod, and did a few rounds of shape and encase to create the final form.

Mother's Day Paperweight My favorite part of this piece is all of the bubbles; created by leaving divots instead of a smooth surface when dipping into the furnace for another layer of glass. There is a particularly lovely streak of teeny bubbles, and one large bubble in the center.



Sculpted glass icicle Sculpted glass icicle in stand I made this icicle during an Art By Fire's Blow Your Own event in January of 2010.

There are many ways to make an icicle, but the workflow for this one was to grab a pre-heated hunk of scrap color (opaque works well here), twist it around, and then encase the color. Then even out the heat, flatten the piece with the tags, (reheat) and use the tweezers to twist it up. Last, knock it off into a nest and put a hook on it. The top of this icicle didn't twist much compared to the bottom (the top could have used more heat), but I like the shape anyway.

As always, thanks to the husband for the photography.

Olympic Color Rods.


It doesn't seem like it's been all that long, but I've been a student glassblower for 3 years. When I first started taking glassblowing lessons, I would always buy glass color supplies from the convenient store inside the hotshop.

But in the past year, I've been going to Olympic Color Rods, and I really do prefer them for glassblowing supplies. The folks at OCR are always super nice, and they're great at helping me find what I want, or explaining something if I'm not sure what I'm looking for. And they've got tons of copies of Ed Schmid's glassblowing books (both Beginning and Advanced), which Amazon doesn't seem to stock.

Blown glass vessel, and a cat silhouette The best thing about buying your color at OCR is that they've got several huge bins of scrap bar color, and they'll let you select which chunks of scrap you want. You can dig through the scrap box and choose those lovely reds, pinks and purples without getting stuck with more white or green from a pre-packed student color pack. I made this little amphora using one such scrap bar.

Ingrid the cat was very interested in my photography session.

More blogs about arts-and-crafts: