Makers from Totally different Cultures Create a One-of-a-Form Droid

In Flagstaff, situated on the foot of the San Francisco peaks in northern Arizona, nestled within the ponderosa pines, lives a big, various inhabitants. The folks of the close by Navajo and Hopi reservations, college students and lecturers of Northern Arizona College, and the just about year-long inflow of vacationers as Flagstaff lies on the crossroads of a large number of cultural and geological websites in northern Arizona together with Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and plenty of others.

Duane and Joe with Hopi-R2 on the Museum of Northern Arizona

As a dude who was born and raised in Flagstaff, I wish to hold an ear to the bottom about what’s occurring close to my hometown. A pal from Flagstaff shared an occasion that was going to occur on the Museum of Northern Arizona, and I used to be launched to Duane Koyawena and Joe Mastroianni from their social media posts a couple of distinctive venture they had been collaborating on; a one-of-a-kind R2 unit named Hopi-R2. A cultural amalgamation of artistry and engineering pulled from the nerdiest corners of each Star Wars fan’s thoughts. Because the Museum of Northern Arizona web site states, “Hopi-R2 is a mixing of conventional pottery motifs and up to date know-how, a steadiness of historic cultures and futuristic concepts, a collaboration between a Hopi artist and {an electrical} engineer from New Jersey.” The museum exhibit, titled “The Drive is With Our Folks”, runs via March 2020 and highlights the merging of Native American artwork and the mythos of Star Wars; two tales that share many issues, particularly the that means of steadiness on the earth.

Earlier than we get to Hopi-R2, let’s look at the worlds that Duane and Joe got here from to hitch collectively to create this wonderful artifact.

As a youth, Duane grew up with artwork in his household. His father was an artist who created many items that mirrored their tradition and heritage. Sadly, his father misplaced a protracted battle with alcoholism and handed in his 60’s. At the moment, Duane began to observe in his father’s footsteps considerably – he had a tough go of his late teenagers and early twenties, particularly with alcohol. He explains that this time in his life was his “Darkish Facet” – he manipulated, stole and lied to get what he wanted to get the subsequent bottle of booze. His troubles finally landed him in jail, the place he was in a position to sober up and regain his footing, however he emerged from incarceration with little hope for being profitable. Fortunately, the assistance that Duane obtained post-release helped him understand that success was one thing that was achievable, one thing that was private, and one thing price pursuing, even when there have been failures alongside the way in which.

As soon as he was launched, Duane used his pure, self-taught creative talents to create artwork for customized attire, primarily footwear, to kickstart his repute. After getting some momentum and notoriety, Duane began giving talks on restoration with artwork in shows referred to as ‘Parallels’. He discusses the parallels in shifting out of habit and into sobriety in a lot the identical manner he pursues artwork; you must begin someplace, and you must follow each every day. The Parallels shows are a type of expression via artwork with teams of people that need to study Duane’s path to sobriety. Referred to as a ‘Coping to Resiliency’ speak, Duane shares his life journey of artwork and restoration with a particular portray session.

Duane has additionally created a second, creative useful resource for the neighborhood; a touring artwork exhibit referred to as PIVOT: Skateboard Deck Artwork along with his pal, and native Navajo tattoo artist, Landis Bahe. Because the Museum of Northern Arizona web site explains, “This exhibition displays our lives – distinctive but common. PIVOT refers back to the fast transitions we make between our conventional and day-to-day lives. We frequently work in cities whereas persevering with to contribute to our ancestral communities and homelands.” The exhibit has simply accomplished a run on the Museum of Northern Arizona and consisted of almost 100 skateboard decks painted by artists from completely different cultures and backgrounds from dozens of walks of life, together with Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, Comanche, O’odham, and Latinx artists. Whereas the exhibit itself has ended on the museum, Landis and Duane nonetheless maintain PIVOT workshops with at-risk children, who get to take the skateboard decks house on the finish of the venture.

This system helps children who’re in-between their native tradition and the extra ‘fashionable’ society of immediately, surrounded on all sides by screens and distractions. This system helps them ‘pivot’ backwards and forwards between cultural and household custom and the calls for of a technology-heavy, fast-paced world. These final eleven years for Duane, shifting ahead in a great way, getting sober and staying that manner, he sees as his balanced “Mild Facet” and is aware of the perils of how shut all of us are to shifting again throughout that line to the opposite aspect. Giving again to children, freely expressing himself via his artwork, and giving a voice to others which might be experiencing what he went via is his manner to assist himself and others restore steadiness to their lives.

Duane works extensively with others that want a approach to reconnect with their native tradition and cope with the on a regular basis pressures and stress that the trendy world can place upon them – particularly children. Talking to children and dealing with them on artwork – like portray skateboard decks – provides them a window on a world they might in any other case not have seemed via to see what is feasible. Duane believes getting that likelihood, that view right into a tradition that in any other case might have been misplaced, after which inspiring them to take that essential first step, is price all the hassle to stop what he needed to undergo. To this finish, he’s additionally a devoted psychological well being technician on the Behavioral Companies of Flagstaff Medical.

On the engineering aspect, Joe Mastroianni comes from the east coast, New Jersey. He and his spouse, Kris Hutchison, director of selling on the Museum of Northern Arizona, met in probably the most unlikely of locations – Antarctica. Joe and Kris had been each working for the Nationwide Science Basis – Joe on a venture, and Kris because the lead on the McMurdo Station newspaper. Joe and Kris then moved to the bay space and had been long-time volunteers-turned-employees of the Bay Space Maker Faire in San Mateo. The native Astromech membership that attended MFBA was their first introduction to droids and droid constructing – which began with simply R2 models however grew to incorporate nearly each droid possible at one of many largest Maker Faires on the earth. Joe and Kris are each passionate Makers from manner again within the day – from wearables to “Musical Excessive Voltage Tesla Coils” to robotic toys for teenagers.

Joe and Kris moved to Flagstaff as a compromise – it’s not snowy tundra on a regular basis, it’s not a scorching desert – however the climate is reasonable, and the warmth (the place Joe has all the time needed to reside) is just a fast hour-drive away.

The impetus for the start of the R2 venture got here from Kris when the museum licensed a Star Wars exhibit and he or she got here house with a request “Are you able to construct me an R2 unit?” Not an odd request in a home of Makers! Drawing on his relationships from Maker Faire, he tried to get models for the present from associates in Calfornia and even Phoenix. However with the burden of the R2 models in query, there wasn’t a possible approach to transport them with out severe danger of injury. So, Joe set to work making his personal R2 unit – from scratch.

Joe determined that since this construct was going to be for the museum, he needed the R2 to be all metallic – aluminum. He needed to resist no matter most of the people may do to it. Joe explains, “Going all-metal meant that many elements would require precision machining – which I don’t have the potential for. I do have full-sized guide lathes and mills in my storage – however no CNC (although, belief me, after this I’m available in the market for a full-blown metallic CNC).  And thru the membership, I used to be capable of finding different builders and get suggestions and thus I used to be in a position to purchase my aluminum water-jet minimize dome.”

After receiving the dome, Joe shortly realized that the R2 unit would must be painted – and since he wasn’t an artist, nor native to the Colorado Plateau, he would want assist.

“So I contacted my buddy, Duane Koyawena, and requested him if he thought he could be excited about portray R2. And if he was to do it – then all bets had been off. I’d work strictly on mechanics and electronics and he would have free reign to do no matter he needed for look’s sake. After a number of conferences, earlier than I began any severe development, however whereas I used to be gathering elements with the assistance of my mentors at Astromech, Duane determined the motif can be “Hopi Pottery”. Then, after a number of visits the place we tried to determine powder coating vs conventional priming, paint supplies, and many others., we had a plan.”

Development of Hopi R2 took about seven months to get it to the purpose the place Duane may begin engaged on items that weren’t connected to Hopi R2. Within the ultimate month, Duane was relegated to the ground subsequent to Hopi R2, because it was too heavy to raise onto a platform.

Joe credit the enter from his associates within the Astromech world, who provided not solely recommendation however droid elements that they machined and frequently present to different astromech builders. The overarching piece of recommendation that Joe would cross on to different potential R2 builders – tolerances differ.

“Whereas there are “grasp drawings” someplace, not everybody follows them with the identical rigor, and nearly no person agrees on element. I purchased my CNC-billeted legs from one man, my welded “ankles” from one other man, and the metal ft from a 3rd man. Getting all this to work collectively took many hours on the milling machine drilling and t-tapping holes that had been particular to my construct due to the way in which I selected to amass elements; milling out slots, and attempting to get items to work the way in which the supplier supposed.”

The top results of Hopi R2 is a testomony to the facility of friendship and artwork, craftsmanship and tenacity. With out numerous hours of engineering, planning, and hands-on electrical work by Joe, and Duane’s willingness to try to convey the tradition of a folks on a technologically superior canvas, the collaboration wouldn’t be the success that it’s. The eagerness that each Duane and Joe put into this wonderful venture actually impressed us right here at MatterHackers, and it was an extremely rewarding job to have the ability to write a narrative about some unbelievable folks from the writer’s hometown. (Go ‘Jacks!)

If you wish to see extra of Duane’s artwork or contact him for a fee, or extra data on his Pivot artwork exhibit or his Parallels Presentation, you possibly can go to his Fb web page right here:

For extra data on the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the present “The Drive is With Our Folks” exhibit, which runs till March of 2020, go to their web site right here: