Billie Ruben, Maker


Cool Tools Show 261: Billie Ruben

Our guest this week is Billie Ruben. Billie is a maker of many kinds. She has a background in theatrical costume making, and has helped run some of the largest 3D printing communities around. She likes blending unexpected materials and techniques in her work, which she shares via her posters, workshops, and a shiny new YouTube channel. You can find Billie on Twitter @billierubenmake, and on Discord, as well as on her website: billieruben.info.

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Show notes:

A 3D printer
I think people should have a 3D printer. And purely because it supplements… Like if you make anything, it will supplement whatever you’re doing in some way. You can make tools with it, you can make little jigs, you can make full projects with it, mechanical keyboards, jewelry, tabletop gaming. I just think, it’s just such a wonderful technology for making anything, which sounds very broad. There’s two main styles of 3D printers — there’s the filament ones that work like a hot glue gun that moves around and they print in plastic. And then there’s the resin ones that work by curing resin using UV light. I actually think resin printers are the easier 3D printers to use, which maybe is a bit controversial. But there’s just so few things that can go wrong with them, and I came from a pretty non-mechanical background. There’s pretty much two things that can go wrong with them. You either haven’t leveled it well, or the environment’s too cold for the resin. Because it has to be about 20 degrees celsius or above. So, I really think they’re an easier way to get into it. I didn’t want to give a recommendation, it sort of depends on what you’d like to make, and your budget, and a bunch of other things. So, I guess what I’d probably say the best bet would be, is to jump into a community like Discord. Or, just find a few people who 3D print and talk about what you like doing and ask for some recommendations.

Forest App
This is a gamified pomodoro helper. And pomodoro, I feel like needs a little bit of an explanation for anyone who hasn’t heard it before. It’s a system of getting things done. And basically you set a timer, usually for about 25 minutes, and then you just work solely concentrating on one thing for that 25 minutes. And when the 25 minutes is over you take a five minute break and relax for a bit, have a drink, thumb around on social media, and then you start another timer for 25 minutes. And you continue that for three rounds and then have a longer break, or four rounds. This tool really has helped me many times in my life to stay focused at work, which I think comes back to me having ADHD. It just helps me stay concentrated on what I need to be concentrated on. This app is really cute, because it shows a little tree growing. So you set the timer and hit go, and it has this little tree that slowly grows throughout the course of the timer. And if you navigate away from the app, like to social media, or to a different web page, it will kill the tree. And it sounds so silly, but it’s just enough to keep me going. The little reminder when I open it’s like, oh, you shouldn’t be doing that, and the tree might die. It’s just enough to keep me on task.

One of my favorite tools is my psychologist, because he has just helped me so much. I understand myself so much better, and I get so many tools for dealing with life, and not just when I’m depressed or anxious, which I have had a history of. But just when I’m struggling. It just helps to have someone who can kind of lead you through a conversation with yourself almost, to work out what you’re doing. So, I’ve just had so much benefit from my psychologists, and I think everyone should have one, even if they’re not really unhappy or anything, because it can help you grow so much. I talk stuff through with friends all the time, but it really helps to have someone who can guide a conversation with yourself I suppose, to help you get to where you need to be.

Gouache Paint — recommended brand: Winsor and Newton
I’ve recently rediscovered Gouache paint. It’s a kind of paint that is made out of pigment and gum arabic, so it’s essentially watercolor, except that it’s much more pigmented than watercolor. It’s opaque. And I think it’s really, really cool, because it kind of combines all the good things about watercolor, and acrylic, and oil into one paint. One of the primary things I really love is that you can re-wet it, meaning you can paint something and then days, weeks later, you can come back into it, and just wet the paint, and then continue blending into it, or changing it. You can even lift that paint off if you don’t like it anymore. So, it’s very impermanent, in the sense that you can come back in and change it, which is great. And if you’re anyone who uses acrylic for the opacity that acrylic can bring, will probably understand how frustrating it is that you only have a really limited amount of time to blend that color in with the surrounding colors or change that color, otherwise you have to basically paint over it, which can be really, really frustrating. I also really love that it’s very thin. So you can cover something and preserve any detail that’s below it. So, if you’re like painting miniature figures or something, you get full coverage, but you’re not losing all the little eyeballs and armor details and all that sort of stuff on a tiny little figure. I also like that it’s washable. And you can use really cheap brushes with it, it actually is better with synthetic brushes. With watercolor, you really need sable hair, which is very expensive, it’s from a little gorgeous little ferret type creature. But with Gouache, you only need acrylic brushes. And it actually is better, because Gouache is so pigmented that you generally want less of it on your brush. So yeah, it’s very cool as a paint, and I think anyone who likes painting anything to give Gouache a go.

About Billie’s YouTube Channel:
People have been begging me to do YouTube for a really long time, because I’ve been in the 3D printing community — on Reddit and Discord — and pretty active for a long time. So I’m finally doing it. And I put up videos of little projects and techniques and stuff that I work out, and I want to share with the world. And I also, every week interview a maker of some kind, they’re a really diverse bunch of makers, and we have a sort of chat about what they like to make and how they do it, and all that sort of stuff. Which is really fun. It feels like hanging out with friends, so I’m really, really enjoying that series.


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