Final Project Documentation


Over the summer, I taught students essay writing. One of the students I talked to seemed to have a problem describing her feelings. While she could somewhat explain it in Chinese, she had a rougher time using English to express her feelings.

Inspired by this, I thought of making something that could help someone express or learn how to express their feelings. However, this toy would hopefully be able to help people from all age groups to learn about basic emotions


Initially I wasn’t sure about what materials to use. I thought of several materials, such as MDF, acrylic, and felt.

The Making

During the first concept presentation, I thought of making a peel-able ball that’ll reveal each facial expression, almost like a facial expression matryoshka.  However, the zipper that I was thinking of using would’ve got in the way of it. The zippers would make the toy bulge up a lot and it’ll also be hard to place the zipper in such curvy surface.

However, I still wanted to stick to the ‘peeling’ idea and thought that maybe instead of having it made out of fabric, I could make the shell (or petals, actually) out of a sturdier material that’s pulled together with a drawstring.

However, as I was sketching for the petals, I kept track of other ideas that came up during this time. The next sketch was inspired by this toy that Alexis got during the visit to the Toy Expo. It’s a toy that has button you can push and shift. So I thought, perhaps I could make something like this. I thought that maybe I can make the eyes push-and-shift-able and that’s how the user will change the facial expression.

The materials I thought of was 3D printing. However, prototyping with 3D printing would’ve both taken a long time and wasted a lot of materials. So I began my research first on how spring in push buttons like that works. (At this point I already forgot about my initial idea)

As I was working on this I thought that there must be another way of making a rotating object without this mechanism. This is when I stumbled upon the idea of having a tube with facial expression that rotates.

The material I thought of using was a PVC pipe. However, I learnt from Nicholas that making cutout on a PVC pipe would be pretty tough. My idea was to have 3 PVC pipes stacked within each other. The outermost pipe would have a cutout the size that’ll allow the face expression to be seen, while the middle pipe will have cutouts of eyes and mouth, showing four variations of facial expressions. The four facial expressions are anger, sadness, happiness, and confusion.

Hearing that PVC pipe would be hard to make cutouts on, I figured that maybe instead of making the facial expression cutouts on the PVC, I can make cutouts on felt and paste the felt on the pipe. I’m not sure as to how this would fly so on the side, I was also sketching for other ideas… (please excuse the annotations on the side…) At this point, I prepared for the rotating PVC idea by 3d printing a bearing to allow the toy to rotate. 

However, I still couldn’t figure out how to best approach this. I then didn’t realise that the deadline was approaching and somehow thought of making a simpler version of the rotating PVC pipe/tube. I then started sketching it again (at this point kind of abandoning the other ideas)

I used MDF board and clear acrylic. The idea is that the gears will allow them to move.


From working on this, I learnt several things.

  • It’s totally okay to have materials wasted.
    • One thing that made me panicked is the amount of materials I wasted during the midterm project. I panicked and felt like I must have done something wrong because I wasted so much materials in the process. However, after talking with Marcela after the final presentation, I was reminded that waste is inevitable in production of anything, especially tangible products. I guess I should’ve instead tried to ‘waste better’ as opposed to being panicked when my first prototype/design didn’t work, scrapped the entire idea, and so on. Had I stuck to one idea, I could’ve instead built on the previous version of the prototype
  • I also learnt that I was very distracted during the brainstorming process. While having a lot of ideas is great in the early process of a project, constantly changing ideas when I’m supposed to be past the ideation stage isn’t too great an idea. I learnt that I should’ve stuck to one idea regardless and build on that as opposed to starting over every time. This is one thing I know I do in other classes and projects outside school too, but to actually see that this has actually left me unable to come up with a final product (which I imagined would’ve been a lot more polished than it is), actually says that perhaps I should’ve paid more attention to this particular shortcoming of mine and tried harder to stick to one idea.

Final Puzzle

To make a project that had a surprise, I chose to make a toy with an unhappy surprise.

The concept: The best part about a puzzle is having the ability to complete it. What if the puzzle in physically not possible to complete? I decided to make it a jigsaw puzzle because I didn’t want anyone to blame themselves for not being able to complete the puzzle. If I made it a jigsaw puzzle, it would be very clear that it was not their fault, but the fault of the puzzle itself. If it was more complicated, people might feel too frustrated and believe that they weren’t smart enough to figure it out.

The process:

I first cut out my pieces and design on cardboard. I wanted the design to be challenging, so that people who felt confident about their puzzle making skills would want to give it a try. I soon found out that cardboard is terrible for puzzles, since the top and bottom can detach from each other, and that it’s very difficult to pop tiny lasercut pieces out of a piece of cardboard.

I then decided that I wanted to make really interesting packaging. I liked the way my puzzle looked, and wanted the box to be made of the same material. As I user tested the puzzle on myself and a few friends, I found that the puzzle pieces would keep moving around and it would be very difficult to put them together without others moving. I needed a frame, and a box for the pieces. I then thought about how I could incorporate the two. I was having a lot of difficulty imagining how the mechanics of the box would work, so I used cardboard to cut out the pieces I needed. I realized that I needed supports on the sides of the box, and that I would be able to put the frame on the inner side of the top of the box.

To further think through my idea, I also 3D modeled my idea: 

In order to make the frame on the underside of the box, I had to glue two pieces of the wood together. To make the top of the box not double the thickness of all the other walls, I decided to make all of the box and puzzle out of 5mm thickness material, and the top out of 3mm. Then, my top would be two 3mm pieces together that wouldn’t be so thick compared to the rest of the box. I also found prints for the box on boxmaker, and then modified them in illustrator so that they fit with my designs. 

After a few iterations, I realized I needed much fewer puzzle pieces, and that I needed to simply the design. Instead of etching, I cut much lighter for the design.

This was the final design that I lasercut.

And this is the final! I originally decided to cut too many pieces that wouldn’t fit, but I ran out of time. If I were to continue working on this, I would cut out a few more that don’t fit, and take a few out. At this point, only a few are taken out, making the puzzle impossible to complete.


3D Modeling and Character Design

Using Cinema 4D: After having been exposed to Blender, using Cinema4D was a struggle. It was nice to have the menu exposed, verses relying on hotkeys, but even just the navigation was difficult for me to get a grasp on within the short time we had. It was also very difficult to find the translations of things I was familiar with in blender in Cinema4D. What I did find similar to Blender was that effects were applied just like modifiers, and could be edited afterwards.

My 3D print:

In total, I believe I 3-D printed at least five chickens. Each one with a slightly different deformity, some with hats, some without, each chicken had its own personality. The wings didn’t print on the first three, and the feet were something that took many attempts in order to get right. Some of the feet fell off, some of the wings had holes in them, but at the end of all my 3D printing, I knew that my chickens were just like humans. Each had their own problems and differences, but together they could be strong and defeat whomever they did not like.


Unfortunately, I forgot my chickens at school so here are some pictures of the very first conceived chicken.




With all of my 3D printed chickens, it was finally time to mold. I took my best chicken without legs (for ease of use), and set to mold it into yet another chicken.

Mixing the materials was relatively easy, aside from the noxious smell. We measured everything well and everything dried well. I did not get a chance to color my chicken, so I had another white chicken. Taking the 3D printed chicken out of the mold was incredibly difficult though. It was definitely not a one-person job, especially since the vasaline made everything very slippery. Taking the mold out of the silicone mold was a three-person job, but with teamwork we made the dream work! Alas, another chicken was born.

This chicken, however, was slightly different than the others. Although it was similar in color and size, it was rougher around the edges. It had slight deformities, and was significantly heavier. If I were making another five for my army, using the molds would have helped a lot, but the chickens would not have been as good quality as I would’ve liked.

Week 12: Molds and 3d printing!

I took LINDA’s Face and made a bunch of mold of it!
Step 1: print the Linda face

Step 2: Wait

Step 3: Cast her face in the silicon! ( make sure to have a watertight case for your model. ALSO remember to glue your model to the base of the case, as 3dprinted models tend to float.

Step 4: more waiting.


Marcela made Vegan chocolate with one of the food safe ones. I made some ice cubes!


Week 6: Paper Toys

At first, I was thrilled to see the paper toy that bounces mentioned in class. I had seen videos of it beforehand, and it looked really fun to make! I usually like paper toys, and if I see an opportunity to make a small origami heart out of a dollar or smaller piece of paper, I will do it! I was paired with Alexis, who was practically a zombie that day. As we tried cutting through the thick paper, we quickly realized we were making mistakes everywhere. Key tabs that were very necessary for the functionality of the toy were being lost in the paper scraps, and we were confused with how to put the remaining pieces together. We kept trying to watch the video and align them with the Japanese instructions we found online, but our efforts were met with little success. The paper toy looked like it would have been a great toy to make, but the reality of the project was that it is very difficult to fold thick paper, and that box cutters are not meant for precision. With that said, I would definitely try again, but I would need clearer instructions.

Week4:Toy_design Objectified and Arvind Gupta

Objectified is a thought-provoking mini-documentary on the design of things and the impact they have.

The segment on IDEO, in particular, was extremely thought-provoking as the segment begins with the story of a toothbrush IDEO designs and eventually finds its way onto an island as trash.

From this, I learned that it is incredibly important to design items not only for their intended user(s) but also the time after the items have served its purpose.  Many times the item is simply thrown away and are never thought of again.

The video for Arvind Gupta’s INK segment: I thought that it was awesome that some seeming purposeless items have found the new life after being disposed of. Even the smallest item can make a significant impact.

Week 12: Mold Making

So for this class, we learned how to create mold to make a resin toy. Below are some pictures that I took during this session. I found this class to be really interesting because we actually get to learn how to make different mold that has different texture.

These two are the main liquid that is used to create the mold. Marcela told us if we mix these two together, it will react in 20 minutes. The important part is that we have to input the same amount of both liquids in order for it to react.

So after doing that, we just need to put the liquid inside this.

In order for the liquid to stay put inside, Marcela used the rubber band to make it more stable.

We also created this flower using the same technique.


Week 10: Toy for Duchamp – Bald-Tainer

This time, we have to make a toy for Duchamp using found objects. So in the beginning, I didn’t know what to make for Duchamp because there were too much found objects I could thought of.

However, the instruction requires us to make a “character” so I thought that I should create something that looks character alike and has its own personality. When I was home, I saw the mop and realised that it could be used as the hair of the character I wanted to make. So here comes the picture of the final look.

I actually forgot to take progress pictures because I was too into the questions: what I should make and why I think this is a toy for Duchamp.
So as in why I think this is a toy for Duchamp, it is because that the bottle container on the bottom can actually collect whatever Duchamp wants to put it. And the trick for this toy is that different objects that is put into the container actually creates a different look of the toy itself. Therefore, I think it is not only a toy but also an artwork that Duchamp would like.

When I was creating this toy, I also thought that I can put in different objects to tell others about my mood of the day. So for instance, I can put in red glass beads to represent I am excited or black glass beads to represent I am unhappy and etc.

A toy should not just be a toy but also a symbolic thing that can be used everyday.