Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Charlotte Dann

Charlotte Dann

Designer, developer, maker

Posted in developer, designer, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, I'm Charlotte Dann. I'm a London-based "creative technologist and maker" or "web developer" or "jewellery designer", depending on who's asking. I spend half my time working as a front-end engineer for a death industry startup called Farewill, and the rest of the time playing with code and fun machines in my converted shipping container studio.

In 2017 I found my ultimate jewellery/coding hybrid project in Hexatope, a web app where you can design your own jewellery which I then fabricate. Currently I'm experimenting with generative art jigsaw puzzles at @abstractpuzzles on Instagram, and am working on a new business which crafts memorial jewellery out of ashes and glass (odd, but cool).

I also like to read a lot and I make book reviews and discussion videos on YouTube under the name Chareads.

What hardware do you use?

In an endlessly uphill battle, I am Windows gal through and through. My only computer is my darling maxed-out Microsoft Surface Book which is always paired with a Logitech MX Master 3 mouse, and in my studio it's hooked up to a Dell UltraSharp monitor.

For videos and photos I have a Nikon 5100 often accompanied by a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens and a Zoom H2n microphone, with softbox lights and a C-stand for overhead mounts.

Now in descending coolness, all of my other work friends:

  • A Formlabs Form 2 3D printer, mostly for printing wax jewellery pieces
  • An Axidraw V3/A3 pen plotter, mostly for fun, who am I kidding
  • 3 kilns; a tiny furnace for melting metal, a Skutt Firebox 8 for fused glasswork, and a chunky Paragon W13 for lost wax casting
  • A Gryphon wet belt sander for glass, maybe my messiest and most crude machine, but I have a such a soft spot for it
  • A vacuum investing and lost-wax casting machine with a huge bell jar which makes me look like an eccentric chemist
  • A Sievert Pro 86 torch and a tank of propane for soldering
  • A Dremel Fortiflex for drilling/sanding/polishing
  • A Spa Plating tank electroplating kit
  • A Crock-Pot full of acid (we call it 'pickle' but it's more dramatic if I say acid) which is used for cleaning metal
  • A barrelling machine for polishing metal
  • An ultrasonic cleaner
  • Endless pliers, hammers and files
  • A rather neglected sewing machine

I'm also a very amateur carpenter, and have accumulated a bunch of power tools including a drill, jigsaw, circular saw, mitre saw, and orbital sander, all from Bosch. Most of my studio furniture is made from plywood sheets and propped up with IKEA LERBERG trestles or HYLLIS shelves. I use metal tote pans for storage so the aesthetic is half industrial workshop and half high-tech chic.

And what software?

For web stuff I use VSCode, with ConEmu and Git BASH. Despite insisting I'm a CSS Developer I have reluctantly become a JavaScript developer, working mostly in ReactJS and sometimes with Gatsby. I live in Chrome, with Gmail for email, and Slack for team comms, all tediously conventional.

I use Todoist to plan my day and my life, Loop Habits to make sure I'm on track, Notion to document everything, and IFTTT to hook a bunch of things together.

Sometimes I use Figma for designing websites but do a lot of other design in the Adobe Suite, I get good mileage out of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Bridge, and I use Premiere Pro for video editing.

I use Rhino and its scripting interface Grasshopper for 3D design and prepping files for 3D printing.

What would be your dream setup?

I think we can agree I have enough stuff already, but if you twisted my arm I'd love a laser cutter (Epilog Fusion M2 40), a CNC router (a Shopbot?), an engraving machine (Gravograph M20), an upgraded Formlabs printer, and a Festool workbench with their whole array of power tools.

I would also like to migrate my studio to a big, airy, sky-lit space overlooking green fields and ambling cows. Oh, and a Surface Ergonomic Keyboard.

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