Archive for contemporary art

Worlds Collide: 3D Printing Experience Informs Metal Sculpting

Dynatorch Super B 4x4 CNC Plasma TableSince I became a full-time artist in 2006, I’ve purchased and used a lot of tools. A lot of tools. If you took the recent video tour of my studio, you see many of them, and yes, I use them all. Using the right tool for the job can mean the difference between a job well done and one that turns out just OK, and the difference between spending hours and committing days to a single task.

Recently, I “moved up” in the world of metal working with a purchase of a Dynatorch Super B 4×4 Plasma CNC table (right). This tool allows me do jobs in an hour that would have taken me days, and does them better. It cuts out the metal accurately and cleanly – no more cutting close, then trimming or grinding to size!

The CNC table is a game changer for me, much like my 3D printers have been.

Interestingly enough, my experience with 3D printing helped me get up to speed on the Super B a lot faster than I would have otherwise ….

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Art takes 3D printing seriously at ASU

3D Systems ProJet 660 3D printerOne of the strongest intersections of art and 3D printing is taking place right here in Phoenix at Arizona State University.

I first encountered Dan Collins, who is a professor of Intermedia in the School of Art as ASU and a co-director of the PRISM lab, an interdisciplinary 3D modeling and rapid prototyping facility.

Dan has been involved in 3D printing for a long time. He was involved with TeleSculpture, which was held in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007, in which artists would simply send in their designs, which would be printed remotely for the show, an incredibly innovative idea, one certainly ahead of its time.

(You can read more about Dan’s activities and involvement by clicking on his name above.)

What Dan and his team have done is amazing ….
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Sharing 3D-printing possibilities

Some artists hold their processes close to their vests (where did that expression come from? Who wears a vest anymore? Sorry – mind wandering ….).

I’m not one of them.Arizona Artists Guild logo

I have a large and active YouTube channel with more than 450 videos in which I share metal fabrication and 3D-printing tips. I also have held many events for other artists at my studio and at my home, where I have my 3D printers (the studio is just too dirty – I make dirt there!). I’ve even held events for other artists at my art shows.

So when the Arizona Artists Guild asked me if I’d do a program for the organization’s sculpture group, of which I’m a member, I was glad to do it.

But this time, I decided to do it a little differently ….

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3D Printing Contributes to Evolution of Form

Limoncello Prima, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin Caron

Sometimes I just start creating, as I am doing with a metal sculpture in my studio right now.

Sometimes I design in CAD (which is how I got into 3D printing in the first place!) and then create the form in metal or resin.

And sometimes a sculpture evolves as it is created. That’s exactly what happened with a recent artwork, 50 Years of Limoncello.

Well, it really began with a call for an art show in New York. The show, “The HeART of Italy,” celebrates the spirit, history, people and places of that romantic land, where I spent time a couple of years ago.

Thinking about my time in Italy, I decided to use some of that luscious translucent yellow PLA filament to create a sculpture to submit to the show.

What I didn’t anticipate – but surely embraced – was how the artwork evolved. But then, that’s part of the beauty of creating art ….

 

I first printed a form that, as many of my sculptures do, celebrates the female form. After looking at it, I decided to use the same filament to create a more, shall we say, lusty sculpture.

But when I placed the two forms together, I began to see something else, an artwork composed of three forms. I decided to 3D print yet another sculpture, using the same beautiful yellow filament and the same basic design, but making it noticeably more slender than the other two.

The result is something that some in the art world might question (but what else is new about my work!), but that came together beautifully, simply because I followed my eye, my heart and my intuition.50 Years of Limoncello, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin Caron

The sculpture, 50 Years of Limoncello – that drink is one of my warm memories from my trip to Italy! – features three sculptures that, together, share the evolution of many of us who indulge in the pleasures of life. Each sculpture – Limoncello Prima, Limoncello Mezza and Limoncello Troppa – can stand on its own, yet together they create a story.

Now let’s just hope that the judges in that New York show love this piece as much as I do!

 

Surprises selling 3D-printed sculpture

Three of my large format 3D-printed sculptures at Vision Gallery - Kevin CaronI got great news this week when a check arrived from one of my retailers, Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona.

Vision has been carrying my work for a while, and for the past many months they have displayed the largest collection of my 3D-printed sculpture outside of a special show I did this past February. With glass walls on three exposures, the gallery is the perfect place for 3D-printed sculpture, especially light-hungry translucent pieces.

I wasn’t surprised that the sculpture they sold this month was Lemon Drop (shown on next page), a particularly luscious piece printed in translucent yellow PLA filament. Of all the translucents I’ve used thus far, the yellow is by far the most beautiful. It seems to capture and reflect the light.

The blue translucent is downright cold, although still beautiful, while the red tends to glow. The purple is more subtle, as evidenced in Josephine, a sculpture I recently completed that is on display at Vision Gallery. I love the emails I get from the gallery manager, who keeps snapping and sending photos of the sculptures as the light moves across the sky. She’ll write such reports as “Miss Josephine looks particularly sultry today.” That’s music to my ears: it means the art is as alive for her as it is for me.

What has surprised me, though, is who is buying my 3D-printed sculptures ….

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What I don’t need to do when 3D printing

Artist Kevin Caron standing beside his Gigante 3D printerDuring my recent art show when I had my Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer running, several visitors asked whether I just pushed “go” and walked away while printing.

After I finished laughing, I’d explain that running this printer is like having a 3-year-old. You can never entirely take your eye off of it, and sometimes it requires extra care, other times it needs discipline. (I haven’t spanked yet, but I’ve sure thought about it.)

All of that is to say there is plenty to think about when a print is under way.

A few months ago, my business manager asked me if it would make sense to keep a log of my prints. For instance, she thought maybe I could note when I started the print, when I changed spools, etc. I could even track when I turned on the fan, what speed I was running at for how long, and other such details.

“That’s probably the last thing I want to do!” I replied ….

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Aesthetic tweaking with 3D-printed designs

Daisy Mae, a 3D printed fine art sculpture by Kevin CaronWorking with my 3D-printed sculptures requires a balance of aesthetic and technical considerations. In the big picture, that’s not all that unlike working with metal, but the way I do it is definitely different in each medium.

Take my latest 3D-printed sculpture, Daisy Mae (right).

As usual, I began playing with forms in CAD, this time in Rhino. It took a couple of tries to get it to print properly – there were some hiccups with adherence to the print tray (I really need to clean it better before trying to print!) – but it was a pretty painless 3D print, and boy, do I love this yellow translucent filament!

With the print came a couple of surprises, as is so often true. One surprise was great, one less than great – more on both of these in a moment.

So clearly, I need to make some tweaks to the design…

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Double trouble: Is it original or a print?

Multiples of Sunscraper, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin Caron Most people who have wondered if 3D printed sculptures are art have now realized that 3D printers themselves are simply tools, like paintbrushes, potters’ wheels and cameras.

With 3D printing, however, some people continue to fear that once artists create their original CAD designs, they will then simply print popular sculptures over and over, creating the sort of “copies” 2D artists make with offset prints and giclees. Many in the art world are bothered when artists offer inexpensive (or sometimes not so inexpensive) copies of their work this way.

For me, although it is, of course, technically possible to print multiples, whether to do so is really a philosophical issue. I had to consciously consider and develop this philosophy as a lodestar for my 3D-printed creations.

Sure, once a design has proven popular, I could simply reprint multiples, but that isn’t something I choose to do any more than I do it when I create sculptures in metal. In metal, it is a little trickier to recreate a form exactly, which would be quite easy with 3D printing. Still, I think there are issues for patrons if they feel they are not really buying an original.

My philosophy is straightforward, but took a little time to think through ….

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String theory: removing strings from a 3D printed sculpture

Close up of 3D printed sculpture Love and Marriage - Kevin CaronPrinting big sculptures on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante printer is a balance of heat and cool.

As discussed in a previous post, I installed a heated bed on the printer, which helps keep the base of my large format 3D-printed sculptures adhered to the bed during the multiple days of many prints. (Some prints have taken four days. Keeping an eye on a print that long 24 hours a day, switching out spools of filament, adjusting speeds, etc., is definitely not for the faint of heart!)

As the sculptures print, though, I cool them down with fans. My fan of choice right now is a 4-foot-tall oscillating tower fan.

The cooling is especially important when the upper sections of a sculpture narrow, as many of mine do. When they narrow like that, I also turn down print speed to avoid burning on any edges.

The result is spiderweb like strings, or threads, that cool as the hotend moves. They sometimes run between sections almost like the warp, or horizontal threads, in a weaving ….

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Let there be light (with 3D printed translucent filament)

Sunscraper, a 3D printed contemporary art sculpture - Kevin CaronIn February during my one-person show devoted to my 3D-printed sculptures, I heard many interesting comments and questions.

One thing I was asked repeatedly is whether I’d ever put lights into a 3D printed sculpture.

This undoubtedly grew out of them seeing the luminous translucent filaments I’ve used, including ice blue (for the sculpture Easy In), red (several sculptures, including Redhead and Love and Marriage), purple (Twin Peaks and Love and Marriage) and – my favorite – yellow (SunScraper, right). The yellow just really lights up!

BTW, I’ve tried green “translucent” filament, too, which wasn’t really translucent and was, honestly, just pretty ugly.

The subject came up so often, in fact, that, of course, my mind got going ….

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