New use for Arrakis 2.0 sand table mechanism

I’ve been thinking about how to preserve patterns drawn by Arrakis 2.0. First thought was to draw in baking soda then mist with cyanoacrylate glue. Expensive, but might work. Then I considered plaster or similar stone misted with water. Cheaper, also might work. Then I thought, maybe paint is the way to go.

As a first test, I took the sand out of Arrakis 2.0, and laid down a plastic drop cloth with paper taped to it, threw down some blobs of acrylic paint, and ran the table with the ball rolling through the paint. Here’s the result:

I’m now working on some refinements to the process. The paper absorbs moisture from the paint and warps, so paper is not the stuff to use. I bought some canvas boards to try next. I put together a wood frame to which I have stapled the drop cloth so it just drops into the sand box. I’m working on indexing it so I can position different sized canvases centered in the table’s drawable area.


Definitely cool and interesting… looks like something we’ll see hanging in a modern art exhibit soon.

Was the blob placement relatively random to start? And what pattern was it following for this result?

Blob color and placement were mostly random, and I ran a few different patterns to see how the ball and paint would behave, so it’s a big mess. I plan future tests using simpler patterns and color selection, maybe with paint blob placement related to the specific pattern. Also may one one color at a time and let it dry between runs of the same pattern and add a different color blob with each run.

When this first painting was done I found a layer of paint about 2mm thick on the ball, so I’ll probably clean off the ball between runs.

I saw someone use concrete. That seemed pretty risky on a machine you care so much about. The paint is interesting. I am curious what you will find out with more experiments.

I have plotted a few patterns from sandify with the low rider. There is some pen down and pen up gcode in the wiki.

There was someone I followed a long time ago that would fill a piece with white and black paint (thick) and then use their plotter to swipe across the borders to make neat smeared patterns. The only texture was where the pen had mixed the black and white paint.

Canvas seems like it would be natural surface to try, as long as the frame fits in the machine. You’d need to paint on the “back” of a pre-stretched canvas, or rig up a frame it was easy to hold your own. I’m thinking something like a big needlework frame might work.

I’ve seen some interesting videos doing acrylic “pours”, “squeeges”, and even bottles dripping/flowing while swinging on a pendulum. They all seem to rely on there being a lot of paint on the canvas. I wonder if you could start with one of those, then put it in the “marble machine” while still wet and add another layer of image with the ball bearing being the stylus.

Second attempt, much better than the first, I think. Printed on 300 x 400 mm canvas panel (canvas glued to cardboard or masonite and primed with white acrylic paint.

I used the mask feature in Sandify to limit the pattern to the canvas size.