"It's a simple but effective perspective shift that can change how you think about your waking hours in a way that makes it seem like you've been magically handed more time." AIGA - Eye on Design
The design of the face tries to capture that feeling of wonder you get when you look out at the clouds passing by from 30,000 ft. My hope is that Today brings the limitless potential you feel up there, down here.
The bottom 4 rewards to your right contain ThePresent as a bundle option.
Bamboo Desk Clock: 5" in diameter and 1.5" deep.
Bamboo Wall Clock: 11" and 1.5" deep.
Steel and Glass Wall Clock: 11” in diameter and 2.25” deep.
Bamboo Desk Clock: 1.0 lbs.
Bamboo Wall Clock: 1.4 lbs.
Steel and Glass Wall Clock: 2.0 lbs.
Requires two AA batteries.
Designed to run for a minimum of 3 years.
I've stress tested the supply chain for Today with the same local team of highly skilled craftsmen and women locally in Brooklyn, USA that I worked with to produce thousands of editions of ThePresent.
Your pledge will fund the final stages of production:
Production of all Steel and Glass and Bamboo Clocks in the USA
Transporting all components to and from vendors to final assembly
Tooling costs for smaller hand to be used in the Desk Clock
Tooling costs for branding "Today" into steel battery backplate
Perfecting the highest quality print to last for decades
Post Kickstarter e-commerce site design and build
Engineering and assembly of the movement itself
Quality control, fulfillment, handling and shipping
Time and small staff to help bring Today to life
Packaging design, prototyping, and execution
Assembly of the clocks and quality control
Kickstarter and Stripe processing fees
MOQ for the custom domed glass cover
My Kickstarter goal is modest. The pricing is structured so that if we hit and go over the goal, we are equipped to deliver the clocks by December 2016. After running two successful campaigns, I am confident that your clocks will be delivered on time and on budget.
Backing this project will give you a front row seat to the finishing touches and full scale production of Today. I love making videos, and I'm excited to document and share the process with you.
Why make Today?
Today is primarily inspired by living with ThePresent. After raising the initial funding with the help of 837 backers with the first Kickstarter, I've produced and distributed over 3,000 editions of ThePresent. Owners in 48 countries now live with ThePresent.
I never imagined myself as someone who introduces new scales of time, but I can't imagine being involved in anything more urgent, meaningful, and rewarding. The way we measure time dictates our behavior and so we deserve access to scales that are more appropriate for the way we live our lives now and far into the future.
I see a world that is less anxious and more grateful about time. A world where time is not an enemy, or money, or something we find new ways to kill. I feel a pull to use technology to positively impact our collective quality of life.
The meditative simplicity of dawn, noon, dusk and midnight was the only way we related to time for tens of thousands of years before modern clocks were popularized during the industrial revolution.
We are well into the information revolution and yet we have not updated the way we measure time.
Nearly everything has changed, except how we measure time.
We have the chance to change that together, Today.
What people are saying about ThePresent
"It's a beautiful clock that I am proud to have on my wall."
"It helps me find some grounding, or a moment of reflection, a good thought, a deep breath..."
"A subtle reminder to be present throughout the day."
“This is seriously one of my favorite things. Besides the iPhone, I don't think I've ever been impacted this hard by anything I've ever owned...it's art.”
"It is a gentle reminder to breathe."
"ThePresent removed the borders, the constraints. It's a ballerina's pirouette, a swan's glide, a wind with no beginning or end."
"It grounds me and shows me where I am in time."
What the press is saying about ThePresent
"It’s all about encouraging us to experience time as a natural, contiguous slipstream, instead of something to stress out about having too little (or too much) of in arbitrary chunks." –– Fast Company
"Anti-Anxiety Object, ThePresent is a very special clock." –– ArtInfo
"One of the most Zen clocks we've seen." –– Coolhunting
"Have you ever felt like time is moving too fast? Do you have trouble being ‘in the moment’ for longer than a few seconds? New York based Scott Thrift is introducing a beautiful annual clock that tells time in seasons." ––Trendland
"ThePresent allows us to reorient our attention, freeing up time for contemplation and enjoyment." –– PSFK
Scott Thrift: That’s me. Switching to 3rd person...
Before producing human centered timepieces, Thrift was the Co Founder and Creative Director at the award winning Brooklyn based entertainment company, m ss ng p eces. In 2013, m ss ng p eces was included in Creativity Magazine's "Creativity 50,' an annual list that honors the 50 most influential creative figures in entertainment, tech, advertising, publishing and more. In the same year, Thrift was recognized by Good Magazine as one of the GOOD100, an annual list of people on the cutting edge of creative impact. Thrift has spent the past few years building clocks and giving talks on the subjects of time and media at TED@NYC, TEDxStPeterPort, Applied Brilliance, PSFK.
Back to 1st person...On a personal note, I feel like I am in the right place at the right time most of the time. My work with ThePresent and now Today is the most profound and exciting thing I can imagine doing with my time.
RUX is a NYC-based design studio specializing in product innovation, design, and brand creation. Since its beginning in 2008 RUX has founded 2 companies, partnered with 4 startups, designed 1 mosque, filed over 20 patents, and worked with Unilever, Samsung, Mozilla Firefox, and Pernod Ricard, among others. Its founder Russell Greenberg was an early believer in ThePresent, and he and his team played a critical role in the design and fabrication of the original ThePresent clock. He is happy to continue this strategic partnership and friendship in the creation of Today.
Vann Alexandra: A Manhattan-based creative services agency that gets projects financed through crowdfunding. The company’s founder has been dubbed the “Crowdsourceress.” Clients include Neil Young, Oscar-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmakers, citizen investigative journalist Brown Moses, New York Times bestselling authors, Pentagram designers, and best-selling girl group of all time, TLC.
Photography: Kenneth Bachor Scott Thrift
Russell Greenberg Eric Epstein
Cody Ben Lewis
John Benis Marc Winn
Hudson + Broad
Steel Production // Brooklyn, NY
Custom Glass // Rochester, NY
Bamboo Production // Pawling, NY
Powder coat (Steel) // Brooklyn, NY
Prints // NYC, NY
Assembly and Fulfillment // Brooklyn, NY
I hope you'll back this project and join me on this creative adventure to change the way we see the day.
Stop living everyday like it's your last.
Start living everyday like it's your first.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
One clock at a time.
4 days ago
– Sun, May 21, 2017 at 07:48:06 PM
I've been making clocks non-stop since the last update.
I started with the desk clocks because I had so many to make.
I have a few hundred of the 5" desk clocks left to make, before moving on to the 11" bamboo wall clocks. On Friday, May 19th I did my last pick up of all the remaining bamboo parts in upstate New York. This coming Friday I will finally have all of the 11" prints completed by Duggal.
There were hundreds of prints with minor errors that I could not accept and had to have redone, so it has taken longer than expected.
On April 25th all of the packaging arrived and is now in my office so no waiting anymore on that. I'm thrilled with the level of quality and hope you will be too.
Russell from RUX filmed this as the container of packaging arrived. It is a silly and slightly boring video but hopefully it gives you a sense of the scale of the project.
TIMING (cool, so, when do we get our rewards?)
The bamboo clocks will be completed before the steel and glass is done. My broad estimate is that I will begin shipping the desk clocks by mid to late June but again, I will no longer stand by any exact dates. You will receive an address request from me and when you do, that guarantees that shipping will begin a week or two later.
Yes, I do have finished packaged clocks but I won't begin shipping until I can deliver all the bamboo inventory to my fulfillment partner at once. Otherwise I am setting myself up for intense confusion that may cause further delays.
I've tried to hire people to move the process along faster but so far, each time it has put me back a few days. So, to date, I've made every clock myself and intend on doing the same going forward. What I lose in time I gain in quality. I am taking my time to make time, so from my point of view it's all working out.
I am forever grateful for your patience and I'm highly aware every single day that the things you pledged for are long, long overdue. The only thing I can think of that would be worse than more waiting, would be to deliver something I'm not happy with.
The most important thing to me is not that you receive the clocks rapidly but that you receive the clock that you entrusted me to create. Every time I make and pack a clock I am deeply satisfied with what will be delivered.
STEEL AND GLASS
The thing that has held us up so much is that I was unable to work with the steel vendor I used in the past. Knowing I was going to use the same vendors when I launched the project gave me the confidence to set such an early delivery time.
There are many reasons why I could not move forward with the original vendor, most of which I would not be comfortable listing in an open forum like this - but the most basic reason is that they were unable to manufacture with Stainless Steel without recreating all new tooling.
The new manufacturer that we landed on thought it would be a simple job and we believed them, but they unfortunately underestimated both the complexity of the job and our dedication to quality. There is zero tolerance in these pieces as they are designed. That means there is no "play" in the way each part lines up. It's four pieces of steel that have to line up to within 0.25 mm and cannot be scratched in any way during the manufacturing process.
What you are about to see is a review of the samples from late April. They got a lot right, which I do not point out in the following images (e.g. the glass is perfect, the radial brushing is wonderful).
My job here was to show them what they were doing wrong. It's almost entirely cosmetic at this point which is a great sign (Even though it seems like a mess)
WARNING: This is not easy to look at but it gives you some insight into why the steel and glass is taking so long.
That said, this was sent over to the factory on May 4th and we had someone from RUX (the firm that is managing the steel and glass production) stay with the factory for a week to explain in person how to correct the mistakes. At the end of all these photos you can see the latest version.
Their excuse was that it was a "Sample" so they did not do the proper etching. The "Sample" we were expecting was a "Finished" version that we could approve at every level.
Here is the good news.
Last week we got this from the factory.
So here is the other thing that has taken forever.
There was a shortage in the grade of stainless steel I wanted. All of the prior samples were made with a form of stainless that had enough iron in it to rust without a significant amount of protection.
The reason the photo above looks so good is that it's using the grade of stainless I wanted. Most important perhaps is that the higher grade of stainless comes with a protective blue film layer that allows the manufacturer to work with the steel without a much more reduced risk for scratching. Furthermore, this grade of stainless is many more times resistant to oxidation than the sample version we were seeing.
In so many ways the delays we've experienced, while deeply frustrating (squeezing water from a stone, pulling teeth etc), the reality is that each delay has made a better timepiece.
I'm forming a relationship with this team and process and need to be able to count on them for many years to come to deliver the highest quality possible. What is happening now is setting the standard.
Tomorrow during a conference call with factory, I will find out when they expect to complete production. My fingers are crossed that it won't be too much longer.
If you don't hear from me, it's because I'm making clocks and I don't have anything new to say. I even went back and forth on revealing all this stuff as I don't want you to form a relationship with the clock where every time you see it you think - wow, that was tough to make - I would rather it have the intended effect of revealing a new perspective on time and now and life.
If you ever have any questions at all or want a personal update - email me
p.s. if this is all too much and you want to request a refund, I understand. You can always email me directly for that and I will issue a refund, no questions asked.
Assembly Process: Desk Clock
about 2 months ago
– Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 12:11:08 AM
Hello and thank you.
The best news is that the print was fully and finally approved, a week after my last update.
It looks extraordinary. I am so happy with it.
Every time I see the print and place it on the clock face I am reminded that "this is what it looks like when you spend ten months getting the print quality right." Every time I look at it I feel a great sense of relief. The relief being a mixture of finally getting it right and the fact that the image itself is soothing to the eye. It has the quality of defocusing sight, to look without "looking."
Duggal was thrilled to have me finally approve it of course. They provided an exceptional level of service. I've thanked them over and over for all the hard work and admitted that I've been asking them to print mist.
I had them print all 1000 5" prints first.
They are done and at the studio.
They moved onto the 2000 11" prints this past week.
The printing process only allows them to print 100 a day. It's actually four layers of UV prints. It's reverse printed with one layer, then a layer of white is added, then another layer of white. A final layer of the print itself seals in the richness and fog-like quality of the image. In addition to the time consumed with four prints in one, the printer has to be set at the slowest speed possible to make sure there are no distracting banding / lines.
With everything I need to complete the assembly of the first desk clock, I have begun to put them together with a great sense of joy.
To show you what I'm doing every day, all day, I cut the process down into a video.
Desk Clock Assembly
1. Lock front piece into position.
2. Scoring the face for maximum adhesion.
3. Wiping off sawdust with wet cloth.
4. Drying off dampness.
5. Popping out center hole of print.
6. Wiping down print.
7. Removing adhesion backing.
8. Aligning print.
9. Keeping alignment as print connects.
10. Pressure activated adhesive bond.*
11. Remove front piece.
12. Place front piece face down.
13. Prep new razor.
14. Cut into film on adhesive side.
15. Push down and turn to cut against edge.
16. Remove excess print.
17. Inspect edge quality.
18. Lock front piece back into position.
19. Use brass pin at angle to crush edge.
20. Inspect edge quality / consistency
21. Grab custom 24 Hour German movement.
22. Grab and inspect straightness of small hand.
23. Insert hand through back of front piece.
24. Place movement into hand / front piece keyhole.
25. Test movement with battery.
26. Check for silent stepping movement of blue wheel.
27. Place branded back piece into place.
28. Insert brass screws into place.
29. Tighten screws to create seamless connection point.
30. Inspect full assembly.
31. Insert brass pins.
32. Confirm balance.
33. Move to Packaging Process
Can't do this yet as a semi-truck full of packaging is on its way across the US to NY.
*The adhesive quality of the print is pressure activated industrial grade 3M 467MP. It's rated to hold its bond without degradation between -40 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit!
Please forgive the brevity, gotta wrap this up and get back to the studio.
A smattering of finished clocks as I evolved the assembly process.
Building services are installing a window in my studio this week! Right on the other side of the stacks of clocks above. I'm so excited to have some natural light as I assemble going forward.
Thank you for your support and patience.
Zen and the Art of Timing
2 months ago
– Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 11:37:37 PM
On Friday, March 10th, I left NYC early to drive up to Pawling, NY to grab the next 500 bamboo clock units. It was snowing the entire time and it was mesmerizing. On my way back I stopped by Duggal on 23rd st to pick up what I hope will be the print, that I can finally approve.
Come along, listen to what I'm listening to during the drive and watch me unwrap and react to the print.
These are pictures of the prints that I see for the first time, in the video above.
Compression through Kickstarter may compromise image quality.... trust me when I say that in person, it looks sensational. And it only took 10 months to get here!
The week before, they got so close but ultimately it was too pink. Here is a reference for that version.
In this video, nothing happens.
If you've been following along, you'll notice it is the Winter Version of a video I posted back when this was all green and sunny.
The 11" print is approved!
The glass has finally been approved!
The boxes (4000 boxes) have been made and are on their way here.
The steel rim finish and hole alignments have been approved.
The inner steel cup that fits each movement has been approved.
The steel battery back plate with embossed branding has been approved.
The cut out of each steel back has been approved.
The screw holes on the back of the steel are not aligned properly...
These are still samples, the full production will only happen when we have the final piece that will be replicated 2000 times.
There is a small team of people working on this project and they are all well aware of the fact that the project is overdue. It's incredibly frustrating to specify something and see them not follow the instruction.
We have solved dozens of problems and the screw hole misalignment will hopefully be the last. I bring this up because the first instinct is always to just fire the vendor and find someone else. However, that will be counterproductive as we would have to start all over again. So we have no choice but to stay the course, solve the problems and win.
All the bamboo clocks are moving along nicely and fitting together perfectly. One of the reasons I created the bamboo is to have a more elegant production and assembly process as compared to the steel and glass which has 17 parts.
With the bamboo, I'm waiting on the prints to begin assembly, everything else I have.
As I state in the video, shipping, is the last thing on my mind right now. There are simply too many things left to concentrate on before I can entertain the joy that will be shipping.
I've set aside capital to cover all shipping costs but beyond that, the team and I are totally focused on making the clock fit together perfectly, look great and be able to stand the test of time. Shipping is the easy part. I have a fulfillment agency here in NY already lined up, who is just waiting on the delivery of inventory.
"Cool, so, when do I get my clock?"
I've already put my foot in my mouth regarding a delivery date twice on this project. I still get half a dozen emails a day from people asking when it will ship. I've resorted to saying, "soon" and the slightly more frustrated, "when they are done."
I am making a work of art. I am making that work of art 4000 times over and each one must meet my demand for quality.
The fact is, I do not know exactly when they will ship and I cannot promise a date.
That's the truth.
All I can do is continue to update you on the progress and you will know as soon as I do when they are done and ready to ship. There is absolutely nothing I can do to make things go faster or more smoothly.
I have very little control over the steel and glass clocks and I have to have to have faith that the vendor will pull through. We've been incredibly demanding and they've fixed everything that we've honed in on so far. But yeah, it's embarrassing that they've made this misalignment mistake.
Yet, in a way, the fact that it is a mistake means that we've been able to throw a total fit about it. This makes them pay close attention to that detail as well as all the others we've hit the ceiling over. So in a very real way, the mistake is actually a veiled form of progress.
We will get it right.
Thank you for your support.
Thank you for your patience.
I know the main video is 11 minutes long but I address a lot of what's happening in the car. Also, I did not know that the frame was cutting off the top of my face. I really wish I had a camera person to help chronicle all the things that are happening every day. It's been all consuming and no one is more anxious and ready to get this project finished and shipped than I am.
The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation.
3 months ago
– Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 11:12:06 PM
The following update is made for anyone who is curious about the iterative process of design as it relates to the creation of these timepieces.
Remember this glass test?
Here is the new Glass
With a new problem to solve!
One might take a look at the pictures above and think,
"You fix one problem and create another."
While that is true, this is, in fact, incremental progress. The newest version of the glass will arrive this week and I'm 92% certain it will be the one we need. The beauty is that once the mold is approved, there will be little to no variation in the thousands of pieces of custom glass we are manufacturing.
"Why are you making new glass? I thought you had this all figured out already?"
A lot of the decisions over the past months have been made from the long-term perspective of future-proofing these objects.
As you may recall, I've stated that it's important to have safety glass as opposed to standard "shatter-prone" glass. Safety glass makes the clock safer in the home and much less likely to shatter in transit; an issue that happened on a large number of international orders. Having the opportunity to make so many clocks, again, made it possible to rethink a lot of the things that I was unhappy with in the first 3000 clocks.
Tempered "safety" Glass is great but it's also, on average, slightly thicker than the basic glass I used the first time around.
So fixing the problem of shatter-prone glass has provoked an old problem. In a significant number of the clocks I made in the past, the hand would "catch" itself during the auto-set process. After popping the batteries in, the hand would get stuck every few seconds and then chug along.
It was inelegant and something that always bothered me.
The major factor creating this dragging effect is:
The hand is too close to the face.
SOLUTION: We have now designed in a 2mm clearance between the face and the entire length of the hand.
Which creates another problem:
The tip of the hand was now touching the glass.
SOLUTION:We are closing in on perfecting the glass to make room for the hand.
If you're following me here, we've instituted a 2mm clearance and introduced a thicker glass... the result is that the hand has been causing friction during trial runs.
This friction, between the tip of the hand and the inside of the glass, is why we have had to expand and stretch the glass in such subtle degrees. To completely make way for the tip of the hand, the center needs to be raised. However, we have to keep in mind that the convex shape must match the angle of the stainless steel rim perfectly.
The last round of 1000 clocks I produced in 2015, had the near fatal flaw of the rim and the glass not lining up. It was a batch that was riddled with tolerance issues and complications from several vendors who underperformed.
The result was that each clock had to be fitted with pieces of sticky foam, hidden under the rim, during assembly, so that the glass would stay in place and not knock around in transit, in customers hands or on the wall.
Putting eight tiny pieces of square foam to hold the glass together on every clock build, was agonizing and is absolutely not sustainable. Don't worry, I'm not making the clocks in my apartment anymore!
I'm explaining this so you see how crucial it is that the glass is able to clear the raised hand, while at the same time fitting into the angle of the "capture rim" perfectly.
Without these things lining up, the clock will not feel "solid" and "complete".
Those are two words that are hard to describe but have everything to do with your reaction as you hold the clock in your hands. If things are shaky and ill-fitting, then your response is likely to be one that dismisses the object as having a lower value. The reality behind that response is that the design was rushed and not well thought out and I'm not letting that happen.
When the hands come out of the injection mold, they are shiny to a degree of distraction.
So I make sure that I remove this glinting distraction in favor of a more subtle texture.
First: I shuffle through all of them one at a time, tossing any that have irreversible bending issues. One out of 22 is the latest count of defective pieces.
Second: I lay them into boards that allow me to coat the long part of the hand with a matte finish that adheres to the plastic, removing the shine and protecting them from any chance of long-term yellowing.
Why are you making the hand out of plastic in the first place? Was that your first choice?
Actually, my first choice for the material of the hand was a shard of crystal.
I wanted crystal because I imagined how cool it would look to have light scatter in a prism effect across the face of the clock.
I went through the process of finding someone who could make the thin hand out of crystal and the lowest quote I found was $1,320.00 for each hand. A glass hand was my second choice and that was approx $850.00 per piece. With both of these versions, there was a very long wait time to get them made and an extremely high potential for breakage. Besides, of course, the fact that the clock would have to be around $4,800.00 retail.
We then looked into metal, but the way the hand is designed (where the hub of the hand sits beneath the clock face) presented a series of challenges with tolerances. We were told it by a handful of vendors that the tolerances and thinness of the hand design were not conducive to metal. I also decided on white and white metal would have to be steel that was powder coated. Powder coating anything leaves a layer of buildup that is unpredictable and would potentially cause friction during operation and or "chipping" during assembly.
So we went with plastic made here in the USA. Plastic is able to hold so many forms but one of the few drawbacks is that it comes out shiny from the injection mold. When I spray the matte finish on the hand, I have to make sure to not hit the hub of the hand.
Any residue from the matte, may build up and again, cause friction over time between the back of the clock face (which is metal) and the hub of the clock hand.
When it's not sprayed with matte finish, plastic is super smooth and almost guarantees no issues from long-term friction, between the hub and the back of the clock face.
Yesterday, I drove upstate to grab the first delivery of bamboo!
Last night I moved the first stage of product into the assembly chamber!
After I organized the place last night, I put up TODAY.
In conclusion, like anything worthwhile, designing something special takes time, patience and persistence. Thank you so much for hanging in there with me.
Unfortunately, I've lost a large number of backers by offering that refund and I still get three or four emails a day from backers who want to know where their clock is. I'm really doing everything I can, besides simply delivering something that isn't finished.
However, if you ordered the clock for a special occasion and would like me to make a personalized video for someone, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get to it.
So far I've made over 50 different video gift cards and I am happy to make more, just let me know who it is for and give me some lead time to make it happen.
A screen shot of some of the videos: I introduce myself, explain why they are watching the video, what the clock is and why it takes time before it can give you time.
Thanks for being such a critical part of this journey.
4 months ago
– Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 10:43:23 PM
Hello, thank you for your patience and suport.
In this update, I would like to illuminate the printing journey for the art for TODAY. It's a bit of a large update, but compared to what?
A little perspective.
This is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field photograph.
Let's take a look at how this compares to the night sky we see.
Here we have the horizons of Venus - Earth - The Moon - Mars - Titan
A closer look at the one second from the left, reveals the fundamental inspiration for TODAY.
The first time I began working on the design for TODAY was back in the spring of 2015.
For about a half a day I wanted to make it more literal (I don't know why) so I mocked up this cringeworthy design.
I liked it enough, at the time, to print it out.
Thankfully I slept on it, woke up and realized it looked pretty bad. I still lived with it for a few days, though. In my defense, I think I was trying to create my own version of the Yin-Yang symbol - a graphic-philosophy that has always fascinated me.
Something about the second take below felt strange after living with it. There was too much focus on the 6am/6pm factor. It felt too slim and had the affect of increasing anxiety around those times. The cloud line was too thin.
So I mocked up a new one...
and printed it out.
Notice the dramatic difference in the screen quality and the print!
I am inspired by the work of Hiroshi Senju, a Japanese artist with a particular talent for illustrating timelessness.
What I love about his work, in particular, is the impossible nature of the mist.
The technique he has mastered makes it extremely difficult to discern where the mist ends and the dark space behind it begins.
I wanted to have the same dissolve quality in TODAY.
Not only because it's beautiful but it speaks to the nature of how a day moves through time. Additionally and perhaps more philosophically, I believe it's healthy to have reference points in your life that reinforce your ability to detect and appreciate subtlety.
And finally, to accept the full spectrum of life's experiences - to escape from the narrow-minded torment of seeing things, in black or white.
You can get a normal clock on Amazon for 11.99 that will help reinforce your perception that life is a matter of black and white. It will also make you believe that the present is a hairline fracture between the past and the future.
So I began to fuss with the gradient and spread out the cloud line to illustrate the grace of movement as dawn lifts into day and dusk, sinks into night.
After several dozen versions, I landed, more or less, here.
The image above is 1/60 of the quality I use to print, but it hardly matters as the difficulty in achieving the perfect gradient print, has at times, seemed impossible.
Take for instance the print, as it was a few weeks before launching the Kickstater.
I will now do my best to show you the evolution of the print.
At this point, I had to change the company that was printing it as they gave up, saying this was the best they could do. They thanked me for testing their limits but refused to print it again.
So I found two new printers.
The first one basically gave me the same thing.
The second one - a legendary NYC based firm, gave me a handful of prints on different surfaces. The print on Sintra is what was used for the main image below, on Kickstarter.
This looked good enough to post as the lead on the project page, so why not just use this?
Well, in this case, looks are a bit deceiving. Sure, this works great for an image but the quality of the print in person needed work. It had a shiny quality that made it look cheap at arms-length and the print lines are very clear in person.
Why not use the method you used when you printed ThePresent?
Great question ghost of self-consciousness!
Okay, so the original prints on the first 2000 clocks were laid down on a matte paper using a Heidelberg 6 color ink printer the size of a semi-truck. The quality was nice but the question was, how do we attach it to the face in a way that doesn't color-drain or get damaged over time?
To make a long story short - a lot of the original clocks have drained in color, becasue of the paper and over the past few years an unfortunate few, have had the paper peel up on them in especially humid environments.
Taking on another round of clock making has given me the chance to fix all the things I always wanted to improve, e.g. safety glass, longevity of print color, remove the possibility of print peeling, steel that is impervious to rust and a few other things that are too detailed to itemize here.
So what we need is a printing process and material that lasts as long as possible and can be permanently attached to a metal face. In the case of the bamboo, the print also has to last well, forever and be impervious to scratching damage. Fingerprints also need to be able to be wiped off without affecting the print quality.
The solution was to use the same material I had been experimenting with, on the early bamboo prototypes of ThePresent.
How does the color go all the way to the edge?
The graphic is reverse printed to the back of a proprietary photo-film made by a US company that was founded in 1913. Because the print is UV printed on the back, the front of the film protects the graphic with a "Velvet Matte" layer that resists UV damage and scratching.
It's a little tough to photograph but the tactile quality of these Velvet Matte prints are wonderful. I sourced this specific material after feeling my way through hundreds of potential substrate samples. I actually got the point where I closed my eyes for the final 10 samples and chose the one that felt right.
So, just print the TODAY graphic on that same material and call it a day genius.
Right. Unfortunately, all of the prints (with the exceptoin of the Sintra) I've already shown you above were printed on this same velvet matte and it's why the printer finally said they can't do it. However, they refused to give me the specs on the material. (trade secret?!)
The NYC firm agreed to keep at and find the right material but admitted that it will take time to source the material and get the print right. In the meantime, they suggested printing directly to the bamboo.
First: I did not know this was possible.
Second: I was skeptical.
Third: They didn't charge me, so I said go for it!
The following is a brief look at a few moments during the evolution of printing directly to the bamboo. We were going through these motions while I continued to disapprove of Velvet Matte replicas and unreliable results.
Since the graphic of ThePresent prints beautifully on the Velvet Matte, I ordered and have all those prints already.
Yes, I love the printing directly to bamboo. I also love that I was able to get to the bottom of it with no cost to the project. The NYC firm really wants to work with me and that makes all the difference in the world.
Printing to Bamboo vs. Printing to Velvet Matte
This has been an ongoing flip-flop trip since we figured out how to print to bamboo beautifully. I change my mind on it completely at least twice a day.
ThePresent actually does not print to the bamboo as nicely as the TODAY graphic does.
No matter how much white you lay down first, you still get a sense of the horizontal bamboo lines which throw off the alignment of the circular spectrum. TODAY, on the other hand, works effectively on the bamboo as any visible bamboo lines add to the dissolve effect of the day.
See how that works? That's industrial design for you! One thing works perfectly in one way, while the other doesn't work and vice-versa.
A lot of backers purchased ThePresent and TODAY and intend on having them side by side and a Velvet Matte Present next to a Direct to Bamboo TODAY will be slightly different.
If the NYC firm was able to source the Velvet Matte material and get the print right, I think I would hold off on the direct to substrate printing for now and possibly offer it in the near future. Actually, there is a good chance, though, that this will be the only time I make the clocks out of bamboo. The cost of making this clock in bamboo is more expensive than making it with steel and glass and yet I have a lower price point for them.
Last week the NYC firm presented the Velvet Matte to me after sourcing the same material finally and giving a shot. This sample is one of 5.
This is a crummy picture in bad lighting but in person, this looks very strong. I am confident with one more round of tests I will be able to order several thousand of the prints that will bring unity to the Steel and Glass clock, the 11" bamboo and the 5" bamboo clocks for TODAY.
I'm certain, at this point, that I am challenging your patience with the length of this update. So I will try to wrap it up but I need to at least mention another major factor at play here in Velvet Matte vs. Direct to Bamboo.
Those major factors are how it is applied. The direct to bamboo prints perfectly align graphics on a 4'x8' board - but then they have to be cut out one by one with a CNC machine, introducing an unknown number of throw-aways from chipped edges. In the samples we ran 3 out of 7 were already damaged, so it is fairly unreliable. Sure that number would drop as we move away from tiny batches of prototypes but it's still an issue to consider.
After the CNC cuts them they need to be handled and sanded prior to coating, again, introducing a lot of danger in each step of the process, as the print has to be made first. The worst case scenario is chipping the print itself and having to toss the entire piece of bamboo.
But the Velvet Matte also has its own nut to crack, because the film has to be applied extremely carefully to each piece of bamboo. I have some TODAY stickers that I've been putting around New York and trying to get it lined up evenly is well, nearly impossible. Just one mistake as I'm applying the graphic, and I'll have to toss it. At $6.91 per-print, those mistakes get expensive fast.
So we are developing a process with the help of the NYC firm, to make sure that it's as easy as possible to fix the print to the bamboo face without issue. In addition, after the face is on the bamboo, the edges need to be cut with a razor as no matter what, there is always a little bit of an overhang somewhere along the circle.
Again, make a mistake and I'll have to peel the graphic off and start over. harm the actual edge of the wood in the process and I'll have to try to salvage it by sanding it down or lose the piece completely. At a cost of $32 for that piece of machined, sanded and coated bamboo, those mistakes will also add up fast.
I'd like to end by making it clear that the main culprit of the delay actually doesn't have much to with anything above - the Steel and Glass have a whole other solar system of issues that forced me to delay the shipment.
Over the past few days, I've been more comfortable believing that I'm going to go for the Velvet Matte on TODAY than direct to bamboo, but I'm open to hearing opinions one way or the other. I'm almost certain that if I took a poll, it would be 50/50, so you'll have to trust my final decision on this.
I know this update is long but really, I've left out a ton of details.
The most time-consuming thing so far is the back and forth between vendors. A few thousand clocks (I'm making 4,500) seems like a lot, but it's still small potatoes to the firms I'm working with. They are doing their best but I'm always on the gradient between being patient and bugging them like crazy. It's a large coordination effort that would not be possible without the help of Russell Greenberg, Minchul Hong and their industrial design firm RUX.
Last week we sent the final approved files for the packaging!