· By The Lone Penman
Expanding the Canvas
It is no surprise that when it comes to making artisan keycaps, the devil is in the details. We have to navigate such a small surface area, and try our best to make things work because every single millimeter matters (tongue twisting eh?). Sometimes, however, it's simply impossible to encapsulate a design idea within the traditional 1U form factor. Sometimes, bigger ideas call for a bigger canvas.
We started working on a 4U artisan cap three years ago, thanks to a suggestion from our good friend at Mechlovin'. Though there were technical difficulties to tackle, the test sculpting process was surprisingly straightforward, or dare we say, liberating. There is of course so much more room for creativity, and with the allowed extra space, we are in general able to realize design elements that would otherwise be very challenging on 1U. The stems, in contrast, presented many hurdles because it took so much time for alignment and calibration.
The casting experience is, well, new and interesting. After working with a quarter of a canvas for so long, we get used to certain things, and so needed to make changes to our workflow in order to adapt to the bigger playing field. Two things: 4U caps take so much longer to cast, and the margin of error is also significantly larger.
It should probably have taken us much less time to reach the finish line of this challenging project, but as many other things in life, progress takes time. The most important thing is we're extremely happy about the final result, so much so we're confident to share it with you. Without further ado, please welcome Xeno, (probably) the world's first 4U hand-cast artisan keycap!