F. Scott Fitzgerald

My bottle opener pulls inspiration from American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I struggled severely with the design portion of this project. At first, I found it hard to motivate myself to spend time thinking about it. I focused on goals: I was planning to make this a gift for my sister’s new apartment so I wanted to follow an author who brings us together, match her aesthetic sensibilities, and to include features that would be appealing to her (wine corkscrew). I threw together a few sketches and called it good. I thought that since they weren’t explicitly depicting objects, but rather playing off of Fitzgerald’s themes and cultural legacy, I had been successful in thinking laterally. With my low position on the Dunning-Kruger curve, I was attempting to create the results of a lateral thinking-based process, without understanding what I was missing. My first meeting with Craig dispelled that illusion.

My next design tactic was a little better. I pushed myself to create volume, to sketch ideas then move onto others. However, I was still very procedural. I committed myself to making three sketches for each entry on a list of topics and ideas that might inspire my bottle opener. Rather than using my notes and sketches as reminders, I let formalism constrain me.

Speaking with TAs and other design role models, I grew into a somewhat more developed view of lateral thinking. I also reconsidered what it means to make a design decision, when to keep pushing sideways and when to step forward. On future projects, I aim to speak with more people, earlier.

A thread that tied together F Scott Fitzgerald’s life works was a dynamic that I termed ”Flirting with high society” and the interrelated pattern of elevation leading to extravagance. The idea of flirting conveys the sort of playful longing belying covert intensity that characterized Fitzgerald’s life. I chose to convey this with contrasting materials and finishes. Through the gritty sandblasted exterior of my opener peak hints of luxury. It is to these polished dimples that the user will reach, just as Fitzgerald and Gatsby reached for status. Brass stands in for gold, representing the pretentiousness of Fitzgerald’s and Gatsby’s ostentation. Just as the social and economic elevation of women led to the excessiveness of flapper fashions, Fitzgerald’s success led him to live above his means. So too, anyone who picks up my (seemingly) aluminum bottle opener will find it extravagantly heavy.

To achieve this, I embedded a slug of brass in the heart of my aluminum stock. After squaring with a shell mill, I located, drilled, and reamed (undersized) a hole to depth based on my CAD (made with master modeling and surface modeling, two new techniques for me). I turned the brass rod to an oversized diameter, and turned a matching aluminum “plug” to cover the brass end. Presses made neat work of joining the three.

Running my program was a little leap of faith. I wasn’t sure if the brass was in deep enough, too deep, crooked, etc. All these added to the hundreds of things that might go wrong in CNC machining. When the coolant finally shut off and I saw four even dimples of brass, I jumped up and down.

I used wax to hold my piece for the part flip. All went well, except for a slight misalignment at the end of my part farthest from my work-coordinate zero. I am not sure what caused this uneven misalignment, possibly the vice was out of tram.

A little file work and I was ready to mask the machine-finished dimples and sandblast the rest.


  • 5” x 7” x 1” 6061 Aluminum
  • 5” of ¾” diameter brass round stock
  • 2” of ¾” diameter aluminum round stock


  • ½” end mill
  • ¼” end mill
  • ½” ball end mill