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 Post subject: How to build Dario DiBattista's Amorphous Cube [Oops!]
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:21 pm 
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Dario DiBattista built the Amorphous Cube by applying Bondo putty (body filler) to a conventional 3x3, carving it into a unique shape, and finishing it with a glossy blue lacquer. This thread explains how it was built.

For more glamorous pictures of the cube and non-puzzle-building discussion see this thread in the General forum.

Image

I don’t have pictures of the cube under construction, but DiBattista told me how he built it so I could share the details. He’s happy to share the details because he doesn’t currently plan to build another one. If anyone build another one he’d like them to be able to do it well! 8-)

Image

Dario started with an ordinary 3x3x3 cube with all stickers removed. He roughened the surface so the Bondo would adhere.

Then he filled all the seams between cubies with plastic-coated (“linen finish”) playing cards to keep the cubies separated. All cracks must be filled to keep the cubies separated, and the cards must be perfectly square so none of the cubies will overlap later. Otherwise the cubies would snag on each other.

Next he covered all sides with prepared Bondo, packing it tightly onto the cube. Some of the Bondo would be carved away later, so it wasn’t necessary to strictly preserve the cube’s shape. What’s important is to keep the cards/spacers absolutely straight.

After the Bondo had hardened, he sawed it roughly into a cube shape with some of the faces at cockeyed angles. (The saw even cut into the cube in a few places.) To impart even more variety, he sanded the faces and edges until each face was uniquely shaped, some edges were round and others square. One face is slightly cupped (concave). No two cubies are alike!

At this point he disassembled the cube, applied masking tape to the rubbing surfaces, and painted and finished all the Bondo surfaces. This included the sides of the Bondo extensions, which would be visible when the cube is scrambled but hidden when it’s solved. He sanded all the original rubbing surfaces so the cube would turn smoothly but not loosely.

When a face is partly turned, the original black cubies can be seen underneath the finished Bondo.

Image

Finally he reassembled the cube and applied some subtle variations in tint and texture, giving it some visual interest.

It should be possible to take a few shortcuts. The resulting mod wouldn’t be quite as refined-looking if you omitted the finish from the sides of the cubies or skipped the finishing touches, but it would probably work just as well.


Attachments:
File comment: Partial turn, showing original cube underneath the mod
Morpho05.JPG
Morpho05.JPG [ 17.8 KiB | Viewed 4256 times ]

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Last edited by VeryWetPaint on Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:05 pm 
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Do you think this same technique could be done with Magic Sculp?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:18 pm 
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Noah wrote:
Do you think this same technique could be done with Magic Sculp?


I've wondered that myself. I would guess it could be adapted to anything that could be molded, carved, and painted: Apoxie, Magic Sculp, etc.

But I don't have the expertise to say for sure. :?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:13 pm 
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VeryWetPaint wrote:
Noah wrote:
Do you think this same technique could be done with Magic Sculp?


I've wondered that myself. I would guess it could be adapted to anything that could be molded, carved, and painted: Apoxie, Magic Sculp, etc.

But I don't have the expertise to say for sure. :?
I think I'll give this a go.

I love how each one will be different and unique.

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Started cubing Oct 15 '05

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:25 am 
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I was considering trying a related project;

mix up a square-1 into a non-cube shape, then build-up / cut-down the excessive material to build it into a cube.

However, I decided against it owing to the shear volume of work it would involve were I to use ABS for each piece. This method, though, turns it into a very accessible project--all I need is some playing cards, and it could theoretically be roughed in in a day or so. I think I'll give it a try.

Thanks for the idea! :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:52 am 
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Oh yes, that reminds me of a possible issue of using other putty materials like Apoxie, Magic Sculp.

DiBattista used plastic-coated (linen finish) playing cards because it's well known that Bondo polyester putty doesn't stick to them.

If you use a different putty then you might want to make sure it doesn't adhere to playing cards, or substitute a different separator. Beware of dime store cards, which may be uncoated.


Last edited by VeryWetPaint on Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:56 am 
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the.drizzle wrote:
I was considering trying a related project;

mix up a square-1 into a non-cube shape, then build-up / cut-down the excessive material to build it into a cube.

However, I decided against it owing to the shear volume of work it would involve were I to use ABS for each piece. This method, though, turns it into a very accessible project--all I need is some playing cards, and it could theoretically be roughed in in a day or so. I think I'll give it a try.

Thanks for the idea! :)
I had the exact same idea. It would be an interesting thing to see.

viewtopic.php?t=5893&highlight=scrambled

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3x3 PB 22.63
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Started cubing Oct 15 '05

Out of the game, but not completely.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:38 am 
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I love the finish on that. Seems like a good way to get a consistent finish, without having to match an existing color or anything.

Did you invite the inventor to join us here?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 3:06 pm 
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Indeed a very good design and idea.
Also the finish is really stylish. I like puzzles, where it is not necessary do discuss the colour scheme. This is relevant for speed cubing, but not for special custom builds.

- Frank -


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 Post subject: Question about finish
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:36 pm 
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Dario DiBattista built the Amorphous Cube by applying Bondo putty (body filler) to a conventional 3x3, carving it into a unique shape, and finishing it with a glossy blue lacquer.

Sorry if this was posted somewhere but I couldn't find it. Are there any specific recommendations on what kind of "glossy blue lacquer" was used in this mod? It's very beautiful and I plan to give one a go this weekend and wanted to try as closely as possible to match his color/finish.

Any help appreciated...thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:15 pm 
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deathrisingup wrote:
Dario DiBattista built the Amorphous Cube by applying Bondo putty (body filler) to a conventional 3x3, carving it into a unique shape, and finishing it with a glossy blue lacquer.

Sorry if this was posted somewhere but I couldn't find it. Are there any specific recommendations on what kind of "glossy blue lacquer" was used in this mod? It's very beautiful and I plan to give one a go this weekend and wanted to try as closely as possible to match his color/finish.

Any help appreciated...thanks


I think it was some variety of Rust-Oleum which adhered really well to the Bondo putty. I'm not sure which kind he used, but it's got a strong hard finish and subtle variations in color, so it was probably one of their specialty types.

I'll ask if he remembers the exact variety. But also consider trying a different color or finish, as it's an opportunity to express yourself uniquely.

[EDIT] Dario says it was called Hammered but he isn't sure it was Rust-Oleum so he will check for me over the weekend.

It might be this paint I found by searching for "Rust-Oleum hammered metal finish blue" on Google. That looks like an exact match to me.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:44 pm 
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Thanks so much...yeah looks like that's the right shade. I ended up going with a darker midnight metallic blue. As soon as I can figure out the optimal way to separate the cubies before applying the Bondo and finish this thing I'll post a pic or two.

Thanks again for the help


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:46 pm 
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deathrisingup wrote:
As soon as I can figure out the optimal way to separate the cubies before applying the Bondo and finish this thing I'll post a pic or two.


If you're using real Bondo then get some Bicycle playing cards and jam them into the cracks. Bondo doesn't stick to them, so they're good for making "Bondo crafts."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:11 pm 
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Oops!

AFAIK no one has successfully duplicated this puzzle yet, but some users have PM'd me with issues. So I've been quizzing Dario DiBattista about it and apparently it isn't quite so simple as I made it sound.

Dario continually builds crazy stuff, and he's gotten so experienced that he inadvertently omitted lots of steps he just did instinctively. And he didn't think to take pictures because it seemed as natural to him as making a sandwich would seem to me.

- He applied the Bondo putty to one side at a time, not all at once.

- He built a single playing-card "grid" that he re-used for each side after the previous one had cured.

- With all the incremental steps, he mixed over a dozen batches of Bondo.

- To eliminate burrs, he sanded the inner surfaces of every single cubie against a flat piece of sandpaper.

- To get the silky-smooth motion he inserted super fine sandpaper into the assembled (but unfinished) cube and turned it. He did this for every slice, one at a time.

- There's a tiny, tiny gap between the Bondo extensions so they don't rub against each other.

There are probably still more missing steps.

Each of these minor details contributed to the build quality of the finished puzzle. Although it would probably be possible to build without them, it would be more difficult and the quality might be compromised. For example, if the extensions rubbed against each other it would damage the finish and the puzzle wouldn't look as pretty when scrambled.

Dario usually doesn't repeat himself, but if it would help other puzzle builders he'll consider building another one so we can document the whole process with pictures and a much better how-to guide.

He doesn't want you guys to struggle or turn out crap just because he forgot to write good instructions!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:21 pm 
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Can you post pictures of his other works? I tried a quick google, but nothing stood out.

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 Post subject: AHA!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:33 pm 
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Thats so funny cause several of those things are exactly what I have decided that I would have to do. I've been so busy getting ready to move (I'll actually be in Florida in a week even though my location lists states I'm there now) that I haven't actually sat down to start working it other than roughing up a blank cube and gathering supplies. But after tearing through nearly 2 packs of Bicycle cards trying every possible engineering configuration to jam up every single slot I finally came to the conclusion that the thing would have to be done in stages with a grid that would just be individually applied each time followed by rough and coarse sanding of all intervening spaces.

Thanks for posting this added info. I was starting to wonder what I was doing so wrong and what a dolt I must be not to even get past the card placing stage LMAO :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:35 pm 
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joey wrote:
Can you post pictures of his other works? I tried a quick google, but nothing stood out.


Ah! I hope I didn't mislead you!

His "other works" aren't puzzles. He likes to build all sorts of zany, random stuff and he's good at it. The Amorphous Cube was just a crazy idea that came to him, like out of nowhere.

As far as I know, his only other puzzle-related creation is the 2x2x2 Dice cube shown below. It's based on a totally-refinished Rubik's Cube Jr with the pips drilled and the edges sanded to resemble dice.


Attachments:
File comment: 2x2x2 Dice Cube
Dice123.JPG
Dice123.JPG [ 18.9 KiB | Viewed 3448 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:22 am 
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Ok, that sounds wierd!

So how do you know him? And how did you buy this cube from him?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:53 am 
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joey wrote:
Ok, that sounds wierd!

So how do you know him? And how did you buy this cube from him?


Dario is a friend at the office where I work. He's not into puzzles, but he has a knack for solving my brainteaser puzzles, even the hardest Oskar van Deventer and Nob Yoshigahara models.

I originally announced the Amorphous Cube in this thread in the General Topics forum. It has more pictures and other non-building details.

He built both puzzles as gifts, so I didn't actually buy them. In return I gave him a crummy combo laser-pointer / flashlight that quickly broke. Oh, and an inflatable cat / beach-ball like the one in my puzzle auction. :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:56 am 
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VeryWetPaint wrote:
Dario is a friend at the office where I work.


Me and you are friends? So techincally, me and him are friends through networking, right?

Basically, can I have one please :)



ps. Thanks for the info!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:44 am 
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joey wrote:
Basically, can I have one please :)


Well...if you really want an inflatable cat / beach-ball so much, I guess I can arrange it. :P


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