(continued from The making of a ChefBot)
From the work in progress report of ChefBot, I had just attached his arms and was describing his hands. As I mentioned I had been experimenting with copper tubing, rivets, and washers to come up with some hands. In the picture you can see the result.
After assembling two hands, I dipped the fingertips in Plasti Dip by Performix. It’s mainly used for making rubber handle grips for pliers and other hand tools. I taped off each finger about a quarter-inch from the end and dipped. Once dry, I cut around the edge of the tape to get a clean line and removed the tape and excess plastic.
A note on the holder in the photo: I needed the hands to dry in a specific position so the liquid plastic wouldn’t run down the fingers. I didn’t have anything that would hold them inverted so I made something. It was simple, yet very effective. All I did for this was to loop a length (about two feet) of Romex 12/2 wire in a circle (which becomes the base) then bring the ends up and bend them 90 degrees. This is just some wire I already had. I stripped the outer shielding off to reveal the three wires. This worked great and cost me nothing! Even after this build I’ve used the wire to hold pieces for painting, gluing, etc. I’ve used the Third-Hand type of mechanical holders before, but the wire allows me exact positioning without having to loosen or tighten wing nuts. Any semi-stiff wire you have around could probably work just as well. The Romex works great with the multi-wires serving as fingers.
While waiting for the hands to dry, I primed and painted the mixer-body and assembled all the hands/tools. I used hot glue to fix the utensils in place. I popped the arms together and got ready for the more challenging part, the uniform. I put that off in a master stroke of procrastination by concentrating on ChefBot’s eyeball. While I zoned out on the painting details, I let my brain work its imagination engine on a solution for the clothes.
That kinda-sorta worked. A definite well-formed solution had not come to fruition, however I did have a quasi-plan for making the outfit. I first researched chef wear online. So I knew I wanted the checked pants and plain white shirt or jacket and white toque hat (had to stay away from the cliche poofy chef hat). All the fabric stores I visited didn’t carry a suitable hounds-tooth pattern that was small enough for ChefBot’s scale. Once again, when I can’t find something I’m after, I make it. Going back to our pal, the Internet, I downloaded a hounds-tooth swatch. I scaled it down, duplicated, and patched it together in Photoshop then printed it on T-shirt transfer paper. That got ironed on to an old shirt and cut out to wrap around the lower portion of the robot. While not super easy, it was fairly simple. The jacket, not so much.
A bit of nostalgia floated around as I drew and cut patterns for the little chef jacket. It took me back to my puppet making days when I was much younger. Mom had taught me how to use her sewing machine and that’s when my monster making really took off. The Muppet Show was a huge influence. I made all sorts of people and creatures. So the actual pattern making and sewing were no problems. It was a teeny bit tedious making eight tiny sleeves with cuffs. So as not to stray too far off the robot-path, I decided on rivets instead of buttons for the sleeves and front panel. After the intricacies of the jacket, the hat wasn’t so complicated after all, just a pleated strip with two cuffs.
My chef friend, Matt, and I have always joked about the corporate world and their superfluous use of fancy-pants terms that don’t particularly fit their products or services. The main trend we saw was the use of the word Systems. Any time you want to sound like a big shot, just tack on the word systems. Instead of a garden hose, you can now sell a Landscaping Watering System! Voila! We saw it in movies too: Cyberdyne Systems Corporation from the Terminator series, for example. Another gem from corporate America is Synergy. After further joking and bantering we came up with SynerMuffin Heavy Industries, which, I am sure, offers a complete line of Industrial Culinary Cybernetic Systems! So I made a logo and printed out a tiny shirt transfer.
I finished off ChefBot with a TransBeam ThermoScanner (old indicator light which happened to fit perfectly), a headband, an egg, some trim around the bottom of the pants, and finally a signature.
Matt, thank you for a great and challenging assignment. ChefBot was a lot of fun to work on and spurred some more great ideas (and impromptu tools) during his assembly. ChefBot is my biggest robot sculpture to date.