Walter Dill of Washington State is an artist with many outlets of expression. Aside from designing and working in wood for many years, he has enjoyed a long career as an instructor of non-competitive ballroom dance.
First inspired by the Moorish art and architecture he discovered while in art school, Walter has been focusing much of his time designing and making intricately detailed home furnishings that reflect this time period and style. You can see his work at his website.
Here’s a detailed view of the piece…
I caught up with Walter by phone recently to learn more about his life and his work. Walter is originally from Barstow, California; as he says, “the middle of the Mojave Desert. I studied art and design at UC Berkeley, San Jose State, and CalArts, in the 1970s.”
Walter moved to Washington after college, where he’s spent years exploring his own artistic ideas including the Cordoba theme featured in recent furniture pieces…
“While in art school, I discovered the Moorish art and architecture and it captured my interest immediately. The intricate detail, the mathematics of it was enthralling. The aesthetics are so rich and detailed compared to the minimalist style that has became so common in the West, starting in the early 20th century. I’ve become interested in bringing this rich, design back into the everyday, with objects that have usefulness in the home today.”
Walter compares the richness of this design with the other art form he loves, partner dancing. “There is a sensuousness to the Moorish architecture that reminds me of dance, the fluid relationship between two partners in an effortless manner. It reminds me of the architecture, and I wanted to bring it forward in a series of home furnishing pieces.”
Kickstarter Campaign to launch his production efforts.
The idea for a line of home furnishings has led Walter to launch a Kickstarter to fund the production and distribution of his designs. Here’s the link to the month-long campaign that launched on October 15, 2014: 7th Century-Inspired Home Accessories.
Here are a couple of the pieces featured in the campaign. A serving tray…
Another really cool project that Walter has in the works, and talks about on the same Kickstarter page, is his restoration of a 1956 Airfloat Land Yacht in the Cordoba-influenced style.
CNC technology was an important tool in bringing together this Kickstarter. When I asked Walter if he had background using the technology, he reported, “I’ve actually been programming and using CNC since the early 1980’s. I was living in Port Townsend, and there I milled the small checkered inlay parts that have found their way into these new pieces. I like the notion of people being open to embrace incorporating their history into their present activities.”
Turning to 100kGarages.com for services.
Walter said, “I needed to find a fabber who was in my region so I could work in person with them. I found Gene Buckle through the search function of the site; he is a hobbyist who owns a ShopBot 4 X 8 PRT, 3D printers and a laser cutter.”
How did it go? “Well there were some hurdles, including the need to drive a couple of hours to get to work. We struggled a bit figuring out the ‘how’ of our workflow, but eventually got the job done.”
“My sort of ‘big picture vision’ is to design a lot of content that could be shared across 100kGarages and other outlets that bring designers and fabbers together.” says Walter. “I think one area of development that would help 100kGarages become more useful to people — to help bridge the gap that often exists between artists and engineers — would be some layer of infrastructure, access to resources like jigs and fixtures that will aid in peoples’ success working together to make items.”
Gene Buckle is the hobbyist designer and fabber who was contacted by Walter to help CNC pieces for his products. Gene says, “I’ve owned the ShopBot for several years now, but don’t use it all that often; I’ve run it maybe a total of 150 hours since I purchased the tool back in 2007. I bought the tool coinciding with a family move; I had been thinking of buying lots of ‘fancy gadgets’ with some of our new-found dollars after moving — but then thought, I’d rather buy a tool that I could use to help me MAKE lots of fancy gadgets…”
One such kind of gadgetry are the flight simulators that Gene has been designing and building. “These are the real thing: full flight simulators, that are known as collimated cross-cockpit displays. What’s a collimated cross-cockpit display, you ask? Gene suggested I hit up Wikipedia for the quick layman’s answer, and here it is:
Above you see a diagram of a cross-cockpit collimated display system, and a real flight simulator.
According to Wikipedia: “The display system that shows imagery of the out-the-window (OTW) world to the pilots, is generally designed so that the imagery appears at a distant focus. This is called a collimated display, a word derived from “co-linear.” The reason is so that each of two pilots, sitting side by side, can see essentially the same OTW imagery without angular errors or distortions. If a simple projection screen were used instead of a collimated display, each pilot would see the OTW at different angles.”
Essentially, it’s a display that enables depth perception for both pilots, the exact same view shown from the same angle. Gene says “Common wisdom is that building one of these simulators requires an investment into the millions of dollars, that you can’t do it for less. So of course that inspired me to prove ’em wrong! This one that I’ve built has cost me about $200 in parts.”
You can learn more about Gene’s flight simulator projects, with links to videos, at his website.
Gene also works quite a bit with 3D printers. “I’d been investigating them for about 3 years, and felt that the development of them wasn’t far along enough for me to invest in making one with a kit or buying one. I met up with Angus Hines at the 2012 Maker Faire NYC. A company called SeeMeCNC out of Goshen, Indiana, was showing their Delta 3D printer and I was impressed and bought the kit.”
“I did feel that their video instructions and Wiki weren’t really complete and in-depth enough to be fully useful. So I decided I’d jump in and write the assembly manual myself; it’s around 250 pages,” notes Gene. Well the company appreciated this effort and now when they come out with new models, Gene writes assembly manuals for them.
Gene enjoys making a variety of small objects with the 3D printer, including bases for his wife’s jewelry projects. “I’m also glad I got to meet Walter. The furnishing pieces are really quite beautiful.”