Breakthrough: ‘playing around’ leads to intriguing visual development

Detail of 3D printed sculpture Looking In - Kevin CaronI learn by doing. Yes, I also research, read, watch videos and gain knowledge in other ways, but mostly I play and push beyond what I already know to learn more.

A lot of my sculptures, such as Knot Me and subsequent artworks based on what I learned from tipping a trefoil knot on one corner, are a result of “I wonder what will happen if I do this ….”

That very sort of “following my curiosity,” as author Elizabeth Gilbert calls it, is what has led to one of the most exciting developments I’ve encountered yet in 3D printing.

As you know, if you’ve read this blog or watched my site, Instagram or Facebook for any time, I’ve been using 3D printing to create sculptures for about 5 years. I’ve enjoyed developing my own style of flowing, sometimes twisting and even angular forms, some of which are near to if not impossible to make in metal.

But this latest development, the result of playing with settings, is creating an entirely new look for my sculptures ….

Rainbow He is a 3D printed fine art sculpture by Phoenix artist Kevin Caron.Between CAD, the slicer and the host program, there must be a million settings to adjust (OK, maybe not a million, but it sure seems that way sometimes). I’ve learned what most of them do by trial and error as well as through Steve Graber’s patient tutelage. I’m always learning about new settings, though – some of the screens are rabbit holes leading to yet more options.

The result of my latest adjustment of settings is the opposite of the smooth, flowing look you see in most of my sculptures. The finish of these artworks is rough and wild, a deconstructed take on what 3D printing can do.

People  are saying it looks like ice, a fish skeleton, lace and even jellyfish.

What excites me is how the layering of the filament affects the interaction of light with the materials. Part of what makes this work, BTW, is using translucent filaments. Other than some specialty filaments such as Silky Rainbow, which I used for my new sculpture Rainbow He (right), which also sports this new appearance, I am playing – I mean printing – almost exclusively with translucent filaments. They dance with light in ways that really excites me.

So far I’ve only used natural filament, but I’m looking forward to trying colored translucents, too.

I’m still playing with getting this look just the way I want it, but right now I’m truly enjoying an entirely different result from my 3D printers. So are others – Rainbow He sold within hours ….

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