Exploring Proximity with Dots

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Wmcullen

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Joined
Dec 1, 2020
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396
Location
Fairfax, Virginia
I'm not sure if this process is right or wrong; unique or common. But it works for me and I want to share in case it's interesting.​
08: Exploring Proximity with Dots
last post: 07: Center Band Circles
h19.jpg
Incorporating dots into your pen designs can add an element of unscripted freedom. They can be made free-hand with a drill or drill-press, require easily obtained materials, and provide an opportunity to explore different design principles such as proximity.

The Problem
According to Gestalt Theory "the human brain will attempt to simplify and organize complex images or designs that consist of many elements, by subconsciously arranging the parts into... a whole..."

For instance, 16 dots can either create a pattern...
h1a.jpg

...or when places differently can imply a continuous path.
h1b.jpg

I wanted to explore these principles with a series of pens.

Here's my process
(Not rocket surgery, just how I do it.)
1. I started with a block of dark morado wood drilled with a 7mm bit.
h2.jpg

2.A brass tube without glue was inserted into the dark wood and placed between two regularly prepared blanks on a mandrel.
h3.jpg

3. The light wood blanks acted like a vice to "hold" the morado in place.
h4.jpg

This is not the final turning, so I neither sanded nor finished.
h5.jpg

4. It's sometimes helpful to draw patterns of your intended path.
5. I drilled a series of holes free-hand, careful to only penetrate one side.
h6.jpg

Tip #1: Sharp bits make a big difference. I recently sharpened mine and wish I'd done it sooner.
Tip #2: I position bits so only a little bit sticks out of the chuck. This cuts down on bending and wandering.

6. Small dowels are glued into all the holes. Thin dowels (3/32") can be cut with sharp scissors.
h7.jpg

Tip #3: It's worth your time to inspect the end of the dowel after every scissor cut. If the new working end is damaged or torn, it might need to be trimmed again before using.
h15.jpg

h8.jpg

7. Assembling the dowels on an old mandrel is a GREAT way to free up a hand and work quickly.
Tip #4: Remove the glued piece from the mandrel before it dries. Please don't ask how I know this!!
h11.jpg

8. Once everything is set, re-drilling the center hole removes bits of wood and dried glue.
h9.jpg

9. Glue a brass tube into the blank and trim.
Tip #5: If the dowels stick out too far, consider trimming them before turning.
10. Turn the pen.
h10.jpg


So far this is my favorite pen which mixes 3/16" and 3/32" dowels (from Walmart) with a light wood center band. But I have more to make.
h19.jpg


Summary
If you're looking for inspiration, you might want to explore Gestalt Theory and cook up your own design experiments based on the principles.

Resource Link: https://www.toptal.com/designers/ui/gestalt-principles-of-design
 

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TDahl

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Dec 11, 2019
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Brentwood
Excellent details. I think your post will enhance everyone's skills. Thank you for posting.
 

dogcatcher

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TX, NM or on the road
While you are working on this, drill a few holes for 1/4" diameter dowels, turn them smooth. then drill for 1/8 inside of the 1/4" dowels and insert a different color dowel. I know I used to buy walnut, cherry and maple in the past, but it has been a few years. May have to dye the 1/8" dowel.
 

jttheclockman

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Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
18,920
Location
NJ, USA.
While you are working on this, drill a few holes for 1/4" diameter dowels, turn them smooth. then drill for 1/8 inside of the 1/4" dowels and insert a different color dowel. I know I used to buy walnut, cherry and maple in the past, but it has been a few years. May have to dye the 1/8" dowel.
Or pour colored epoxy in them and make it like a mosaic pin. Use metals. The sky is the limit.
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
9,280
Location
Tunica, Mississippi,
I love dots in pens. Very few people use them, and I really like that you are focusing upon the exploration of functionality and aesthetics in the designs. In the first few pens that I used dots, - and because of the symbolism portrayed in that first few, I intentionally placed them in a seemingly random and disorderly pattern. In later pens, I changed to a more orderly fashion for aesthetics sake, but the symbolism was gone.

In some pens, I laid out (drew) a grid on the blank to help me in pin point precisely where the dots were to go. I placed sequential marks vertically and horizontally on the turned blank (still about 1/16" larger than finished size) and then turned the lathe on slow. AS the blank turned, I could make out the pencil dots and just marked rings on it - as it turned. This gave me the circumference locations. Then I stopped the lathe and drew a line lengthwise at specific points, creating a grid. That took about 10 minutes or so for each blank, but helped me in creating precise order to the dots. If that doesn't make sense, fill free to PM me (anyone who needs more clarification.)

One more hint: I noticed you were using a mandrel. I began doing my dots just after I began using TBC. With something as intricate as dots, It is very helpful to be able to take the blank off and put it back on several times without any fuss. TBC allowed me to do that much better than the mandrel. With the mandrel, the spacing and dropping of spacers and nut drove me crazy. I didn't do that every time but I did drop parts enough that it was a little irritating. With TBC, it was instant on and instant off with the blank to the lathe, and that really did allow me more time to concentrate on the work on the blank itself rather than the mechanics of taking mandrel apart and putting it back together. This is an important issue when customizing individual blanks as dots require.

Thanks for posting!
 
Last edited:

walshjp17

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Joined
Jul 29, 2012
Messages
3,410
Location
Weddington, NC
I really like your thought processes, Bill. Your ideas are kicking off a bunch of other ideas for me. Great tutorials. Thanks for sharing.
 

Wmcullen

Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
Messages
396
Location
Fairfax, Virginia
Thanks, you just kicked this old memory in gear, I did not use small dowels, I used plastic stick,, from a Pick Up Stick game.
Just saw that Pick Up Sticks are a few bucks... I'm on it. What a great idea!

In some pens, I laid out (drew) a grid
Hank- that sounds like an awesome project. I suppose pen turning can appeal to any mood: whether you want to execute a plan or fly by the seat of your pants. God bless it.

Your ideas are kicking off a bunch of other ideas for me.
Right? I'm enjoying this community so much for that very reason. The replies from the masters above are absolute gold and inspiring me to spend more time in my unheated garage. I think we're having fun! ; )

I'm really looking forward to sharing my next post which will deal, again, with dots. I'll try to put it together this weekend!
And please keep the comments coming. Feedback is a gift!
 

magpens

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Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
15,912
Location
Canada
Great ideas here !!!!

Very nice work !!! ... thanks very much for showing and inspiring us !!!
 

Ray-CA

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2020
Messages
283
Location
San Diego CA, USA (SAN)
I'm not sure if this process is right or wrong; unique or common. But it works for me and I want to share in case it's interesting.​
08: Exploring Proximity with Dots
last post: 07: Center Band Circles
View attachment 296502

Incorporating dots into your pen designs can add an element of unscripted freedom. They can be made free-hand with a drill or drill-press, require easily obtained materials, and provide an opportunity to explore different design principles such as proximity.

The Problem
According to Gestalt Theory "the human brain will attempt to simplify and organize complex images or designs that consist of many elements, by subconsciously arranging the parts into... a whole..."

For instance, 16 dots can either create a pattern...
View attachment 296504
...or when places differently can imply a continuous path.
View attachment 296505
I wanted to explore these principles with a series of pens.

Here's my process
(Not rocket surgery, just how I do it.)
1. I started with a block of dark morado wood drilled with a 7mm bit.
View attachment 296506
2.A brass tube without glue was inserted into the dark wood and placed between two regularly prepared blanks on a mandrel.
View attachment 296507
3. The light wood blanks acted like a vice to "hold" the morado in place.
View attachment 296508
This is not the final turning, so I neither sanded nor finished.
View attachment 296509
4. It's sometimes helpful to draw patterns of your intended path.
5. I drilled a series of holes free-hand, careful to only penetrate one side.
View attachment 296510
Tip #1: Sharp bits make a big difference. I recently sharpened mine and wish I'd done it sooner.
Tip #2: I position bits so only a little bit sticks out of the chuck. This cuts down on bending and wandering.

6. Small dowels are glued into all the holes. Thin dowels (3/32") can be cut with sharp scissors.
View attachment 296511
Tip #3: It's worth your time to inspect the end of the dowel after every scissor cut. If the new working end is damaged or torn, it might need to be trimmed again before using.
View attachment 296512
View attachment 296513
7. Assembling the dowels on an old mandrel is a GREAT way to free up a hand and work quickly.
Tip #4: Remove the glued piece from the mandrel before it dries. Please don't ask how I know this!!
View attachment 296514
8. Once everything is set, re-drilling the center hole removes bits of wood and dried glue.
View attachment 296515
9. Glue a brass tube into the blank and trim.
Tip #5: If the dowels stick out too far, consider trimming them before turning.
10. Turn the pen.
View attachment 296516

So far this is my favorite pen which mixes 3/16" and 3/32" dowels (from Walmart) with a light wood center band. But I have more to make.
View attachment 296527

Summary
If you're looking for inspiration, you might want to explore Gestalt Theory and cook up your own design experiments based on the principles.

Resource Link: https://www.toptal.com/designers/ui/gestalt-principles-of-design
I'm just drilled some random 1/8" and 3/16" holes in a purple heart blank. Went all the way through and drilled it out a couple of hours later. Be ready to turn tomorrow afternoon. Should be interesting to see how it works out.

Ray
 
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