Draw — a Mark-Making Play Kit

A concept object represented by one working wooden & rubber interaction model and one static foam model of its idealized form. An exploration of first, creating a simple interaction created by wood and rubber bands, and second, translating the interaction into a semantically appropriate form. I took the project a step further by developing a concept, story, and system around the interactive object.

Encourages re-framing of “wear-and-tear” as beautiful, poetic, and enriching, rather than problematic or undesirable.


3 Weeks, Fall 2021

Final form model hand-crafted with foam, styrofoam, gesso paint, and wire.

Final working model hand-crafted with balsa wood, wood glue, and rubber bands. 

Final Storyboard.

Drawings made with working model. 

Exploring Wood & Rubber Interactions

To begin, I created a few simple interactions using balsa wood and rubber bands:

Chosen Direction

While I played around with the materials, I serendipitously created these marks on a piece of wood using the end of a rounded wooden rod, and found it really beautiful. With it pinned up on my wall, I began to think about the idea of an object, or interactive “machine”, that reveals its usage, records its own history. This led to considerations about the idea of “wear and tear” from material use⁠— in an age when everyone wants the shiny and new, how might we reframe material wear as something beautiful, poetic, and enriching?

The right-most object is my first pass at such an interaction, where the snapping-back of the middle component into the “canvas” would leave marks— a history— of the object’s lifetime.

Developing the Interaction

This first iteration worked in theory, but it was uncomfortable and unintuitive. From here, I developed a different way of creating these marks, which made for a more pleasing and intuitive interaction, almost like the motion of drawing and releasing an arrow from a bow toward a target. This also allows the user more leverage for where the mark is made.

This also allowed for the possibility of inter-changeable canvases— the mark-making object was now a “drawing machine” of sorts:

Form Development

From here, the goal was to translate this working interaction into an idealized form: considering semantics, affordances, and aesthetics. Because this particular interaction performed such a specific task, I knew my idealized form would not deviate so radically; however, I worked to consider how I might afford the placement of hands, inserting and replacing the canvases, and what would make for a simple, intuitive, and pleasing final model.

With the foamcore models, I considered:

  • Curved touchpoints to afford hand placement around the object.
  • Borders around the object to keep the canvas in place and how far inward they should go.

With the foam post models, I thought about the semantics of certain visual qualities: rounded posts, skinny posts, curved posts, edge treatment, surface transitions, scale, and more.

Craft Process

For the final semantics model, I turned to laser cutting to create these thin, flat, angled components. I shaved down the edges of the border pieces, crafted the four posts by hand, and glued them all together. For the marker/ball component, I sanded and spackled a styrofoam ball. Finally, I painted it using white gesso paint and also crafted a more developed final wooden interaction model.

This was also when I used the working model to create the concept drawings.

Course Reel

Project content begins 4:41.