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.
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.