First things first.

Death Eaters Attack London (a reference video in case you have forgotten the scene)

I walked across the Millenium Bridge without being killed by Death Eaters! Boss.

So, as you can see, I recently went on a trip to London for 6 days. I had never been to England at all before, so it was a new experience! It was great to have people immediately speak English to you, and be able to overhear & understand conversations, because you never realize how fun that is until you’re living in another country and don’t speak the language. It’s much more entertaining when you can understand what’s happening around you 🙂

Overall impression of London is that it’s a huge, bustling city filled with a great mix of people. There were a lot of tourists and touristy things but it never felt excessive (like some parts of Amsterdam can feel way too touristy- London was not like this, for me).

Here are the highlights!

Day 1- arrive in London at 5pm, ride the tube (subway) for the first time, check into hotel and pass out from travel-induced exhaustion.

Day 2- Explore a bit. Have a look at Buckingham Palace and take plenty of photos. Take a bus to The Making of Harry Potter (also know as the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London) which is actually an hour outside of the city. This studio tour was, simply put, AMAZING. It also took all day.

Day 3- Go to the Tate Modern (an art museum with some great pieces, from folks like Picasso, Monet and Dali). Afterwards, more exploration which leads to us accidentally coming across Big Ben. Also had a great view of the London eye from here. Walk along the pier by the London Eye and come across an outdoor comedy/entertainment festival, where there are plenty of Londoners enjoying tasty beverages. Try Magners Irish cider and eat some dinner as well.

Day 4- Shopping in London! Finally hit up Topshop as I have always wanted to shop there. More museums, as we explore the V&A (Victoria & Albert) as well as the Natural History Museum (a little too geared towards kids). More shopping ensues, with a visit to Picadilly Circus, which is often described as the Times Square-like area of London. Find out that this is also where you go if you want to be consistently pestered to check out this club or that bar- seriously, watch out for these publicity guys because they are annoying and pop up EVERYWHERE…like pigeons.

Day 5- Have high tea/afternoon tea at a fancy shmancy hotel, which was possibly the most delicious and filling meal of my life. It had everything you’d ever want- English breakfast tea, tiny adorable sandwiches, delicious pastries/cakes. I felt like Marie Antoinette, except…English. Shop around a little more before heading back to the hotel to get dressed up. See Phantom of the Opera (my favorite musical, of all time) at Her Majesty’s Theater (the same theater Phantom opened in, 25 years ago). Tears were shed. Amazing.

Day 6- Last breakfast in London, so of course I opted for a traditional English breakfast- yum! Head straight to the Tower of London, which is so huge it takes several hours to go through. The Crown Jewels, however, takes about 10 minutes because you are forced to hop on one of those moving walkways; which while I understand is used to control the flow of traffic, it was kind of obnoxious because you can’t truly admire the detail of the jewels. Did a bit more Harry Potter sightseeing- found Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, as well as spotted the alleyway filmed for the Leaky Cauldron scenes. Got dinner and drinks and said goodbye to London 😦 headed to the airport at midnight because our bargain flight (oh, Ryanair) was at 6am.

So as you can tell, we packed a lot of things into those 6 days but it was still a relaxing trip! My favorite part of trips is the spontaneous moments, so it’s great that London has a nice transport system. You can easily hop on the tube (though it’s not cheap, I warn you…day tickets are essential) to explore a new part of the city!

Now that you’ve read all through that…it’s PICTURE TIME.

Yule Ball Ice Sculpture, from HP4.

Golden Egg from HP4

Potions Props from Harry Potter

Tom Riddle's Gravestone...looks much happier in this context, doesn't it?

Had to get one of these pictures...cheesy but necessary!

Finally found Fish & Chips!

The Tower of London

I found Platform 9 and 3/4!


Anyway, as you can see my trip to London was exciting (although I might mention, quite expensive). I’d love to go to England again if I ever have the chance!


Tilburg Textile Museum

So right now I am in the middle of SDL which stands for “self-directed learning,” a new thing that the Industrial Design department at TU/e has implemented. Students are given the freedom to pick their own learning activities. The faculty gives recommendations for things like lectures, workshops, museums. My coach recommended the nearby Textile Museum in Tilburg, which is only a train station stop away from Eindhoven so I made a day trip for what I thought would be an average day at a museum. The Textile Museum definitely proved me wrong. So much cooler than I thought it would be!

From historical textile machines to the modern technology found in the awesome textile lab, where people are actually working, even those without any remote interest in textiles would find this museum entertaining. I know this because my company for the day, Xander, seemed pretty excited about it even though he’s not even an Industrial Designer.

See what I mean?

The best part was the main exhibit on the first floor, which contained a large collection of objects that were organized by size, shape, and color and would probably make any industrial designer or product enthusiast drool. Unfortunately I found out after getting pictures of the first thing I saw (the wall of scissors), that photography wasn’t exactly allowed in this exhibit. Oops.

But you get to see these two pictures anyway!

Don’t you feel privileged?

These scissors, banned from being brought onto planes, were collected from checked baggage.

Another interesting piece, a room filled with wooden train tracks & toys. Looks like a tree!

Now, back to the Textile Lab.

As you can tell, I was particularly fascinated with the wall of colorful thread.

The rest of the museum went a bit over my head, because the upstairs portion was filled with movies/exhibits that only had Dutch commentaries. Xander explained that the commentaries were just explaining the industrial revolution in the Netherlands and how it affected the textile industry here.

I mostly found entertainment in this little guy. Very realistic looking, don’t you think?

Funky goat.

Phew! That museum was exhausting. Time for a rest in the giant textile chair/bench?

I will close the post with some awesome street art dedicated to Amy Winehouse, which we found while exploring a bit more of Tilburg. Until next time!

New Prototyping Skills: Casting

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates! It’s been a busy few weeks to say the least, with final presentations, midterm exhibitions, and the inevitable travel I needed for a recovery afterwards! But the exciting news is, I have lots of juicy posts to update you.

This post is mostly for my Industrial Design/Architecture/Artist friends and anyone else who is interested in metal casting. I had the great opportunity to cast some pieces out of bronze for one of my classes here at TU/e. I had never cast before (and neither had the other 7 people that were present at the casting) so it was quite a new experience. The casting was done at Beeldenstorm, which in Dutch roughly means “statue form.” It is a metal/casting shop (and they also do plastic) on the Technical University campus. It is a resource for many more people than just students, though!

I’m going to describe the steps and also include some cool photos. Nothing like recounting the process of fiery, extremely hot, molten metal being poured into sand molds…am I right?

Steps To Casting via Green Sand Mold

  1. Make an initial model impression. First off, you must set your models into a section of reddish sand to make the first half of the mold. This step is pretty simple. You press your models in and pack in some sand around the sides so that all of your details are included in the mold.ImageImage
  2. Mix sand with chemicals to pour onto impression and make side 1 of your mold. After packing in your red sand, the group (it takes several people for this because the process must be quick) mixes a bucket of sand with two different chemicals. You must mix one chemical at a time, and you also have to flip the sand in the bucket so that each chemical mixes evenly. As soon as the mixing is complete, you have to pour the sand onto your model impression, because the sand sets quickly. The sand quickly begins to turn green, and hardens, which is essential to making your mold correctly. Also, we had to mix 2 buckets of sand for each side (for the bigger molds) which meant that we had to quickly mix 2 buckets in a row, because the layers couldn’t harden at different times. If they did, the mold would be an incorrect consistency. After patting down the poured sand, you place some sort of object on top (we used a piece of scrap wood) so you can check the color of the sand to see whether the mold is ready to flip over and repeat this process.ImageImageImage
  3. When side 1 of the sand mold has hardened, it’s time to flip it over and repeat step 2. The hardening process takes about an hour to an hour and a half, so we just took a break outdoors during the process. Before flipping, you must check whether the green color is deep enough and thus the sand is hard enough to withstand being flipped to the other side. After flipping & carefully removing the side supports for the model, you must remove the excess red sand so that you can make an impression of that side of the models. This is a delicate process. You need to remove as much of the red sand as you can, so that the sand covers all of your models’ details.ImageImage
  4. Repeat step 2 and wait for the entire mold to harden. Once the new side of the mold has hardened, you must carefully pry the two sides apart so that you can remove the models (ours were made of MDF wood) from the inside as well as draw the channels for the metal to run through. The prying apart was also a delicate process, because the sand mold could easily break apart and hours of work could be ruined, so one of the professionals performed this part for us. He also drew the channels for our mold, which seems simple enough but there is an important infrastructure to it. Image
  5. Once the channels are carved properly, it’s time to spray the mold down to make it firesafe! (This part is fun.) The spray smells awful but the fireproofing part is awesome. After you take your two sides outside and spray the mold-side thoroughly, one of the Beeldenstorm employees took each side of the mold over to the oven, and lit it on fire. You then wait for the sprayed part’s fire to go out. Then it’s time to clamp the two sides together, and pour the metal through the channels!ImageImage
  6. Clamp the mold and watch the professional pour molten metal (bronze or aluminum) through it! This part is pretty simple and makes for some great pictures. Unless of course you want to actually be one of the guys that gets paid to pour this extremely hot stuff- I imagine that process is a bit more difficult.ImageImage
  7. Wait for the metal to cool (about 20 minutes) and take apart your mold to remove your new casted object! This process was much shorter than I thought it’d be. Turns out, metal cools pretty quickly! As soon as the metal is removed, you put it in water to speed up the cooling process so that it is touchable. The metal piece looks a bit less-than-attractive because of the metal channels attached to it, but once this piece is fully cooled you can start cutting and shaping it! We waited to finish the next step after the weekend because of the metal shop’s hours.ImageImageImageImageImage
  8. Shape using tools- cutters/polishers, etc. This step is the most artistic and hand-crafted part of the process. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos due to time constraints we were under, but the process was very similar to wood-shaping (just more time intensive). We also had to wear more protective material, because it turns out that when you’re removing metal, the hot shavings that fly out everywhere really sting when they hit your skin. Who knew? We had to wear faceguards, ear protection, thick gloves, and clothes that cover your entire arms/legs/chest areas. The final result? Two pieces of bronze cutlery, designed to fit the terms repulsive + inappropriate. One piece of the set was required to be “sufficient” while the other was deemed “excessive.” Check out the final product!Image