Melt | Remelt

In-House Fabrication During COVID
Academic | MIT, instructor Zain Karsan, Catie Newell, Virginia San Fratello, 2021

As COVID hit, our access to campus, studio space, fabrication tools and shop facilities were completely eliminated. This project started with reimagining the potential of small-scale domestic fabrication and spatial installation. Material waste, fabrication noise, rental apartment regulations… Constraints can be transcended and turned into inspiration for opportunities.

A desktop CNC machine, “Tiny Z”, was assembled from scratch. I chose to experiment with wax as it is easily acquired and almost infinitely reusable therefore will not produce waste. It is light, soft, amorphous, and easily transformable by heat, which is the inspiration for hacking the CNC machine. With an off-the-shelf pyrography pen, customised 3D printed hardwares, and G-code programming, Tiny Z is hacked into a wax sculptor that takes advantage of the accuracy of this petite machinery to conduct intricate 3D carving and surface patterning. A workflow of “melt-remelt” is developed to fabricate tiny doubly-curved wax bricks with unique texture, which eventually form a home intervention that transforms the experience of passing by a spatial threshold in domestic space.

Design Disdovery
I. Milling

sculpting wax block, surface patterning with Tiny Z milling 

different reading depending on angles and light

II. Melting

hack Tiny Z with off-the-shelf pyrography pen and tools 

sculpting wax with heat

III. Re-Melting

reuse wax waste 

sculpting unique surface pattern on doubly-curved wax bricks through heat

IV. Spatial Intervention

© 2022 Daisy Ziyan Zhang