Many sculptors work in bronze, but in my more than 10 years as a professional artist, I have worked in everything but. I have mostly fabricated in mild steel, but have also worked with stainless steel, Cor-ten (weathering) steel, aluminum, brass and copper.
Finally, with 3D printing, I have my first bronze! Well, it’s 80% bronze and 20% PLA resin, but the resulting print is clearly a different breed than the ABS and PLA resins I usually print in.
For one thing, it’s noticeably heavier. Seeing as I’m printed just two or three layers thick, it’s amazing how much heavier these bronzes are than if they’d been printed in the resin I usually use.
(Of course, that gets my mind going … if I could print a solid bronze, how much would it weigh? How would it compare to the weight of a traditional poured bronze? And we’re off and running through the grassy fields of my mind ….)
One of the big differences is that the sculpture isn’t done once the printhead rises ….
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Because of the size of its prints, running Cerberus 3D’s Gigante 3D printer makes filament handling a real challenge. I’m using 5 pound spools of 3 millimeter filament right now, but if I could find 10, 15 or even 20 pound spools I’d definitely use them.
Why? Well, when you’re running a multiday print, you go through a lot of filament. I’ve spent many a night waiting to change filament spools – well, that was until I figured out I could just switch a nearly finished spool for a fresh one before I went to bed.
I would never have done that, though, if I hadn’t already ordered the handy, dandy filament welder I got recently (yeah, I think it’s funny, too, that it’s called a filament “welder” – just one more welder in my toolshed!) ….
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When I got my first 3D printer, sculptures were definitely on my mind. I thought about how I could make things that metal just resists, despite the fact that many people think I’m a metal magician (blush, blush).
Pedestal, printing upside down
As I’ve gotten more familiar with the machines and their capabilities, though, I’ve begun to see other ways to use them.
For instance, this week I started printing a custom pedestal for a sculpture I sold at a recent art show ….
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This 5-part series shows how I created a maquette, or small model of my sculpture The Runner.
The video was featured in my one-man show at the Chandler Center for the Arts in October 2013, as was a metal maquette and the actual sculpture itself.
The sculpture sold shortly after the show closed. I don’t think the video or maquettes had anything to do with it, but it was great for me to have proof-of-concept to make sure it would stand up!