Archive for sculptor

Seeing in 3D – Using 3D printing for prototyping

3D printed stem of Schubertii sculpture - Kevin CaronWhen 3D printing first became popular for more general use – it’d already been around 20 years in industrial and scientific settings – “rapid prototyping” was the buzzword you heard everywhere. (After I started working with 3D printing and especially my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer, I found this hilarious – there wasn’t much rapid about it.)

While I do create sculptures using 3D printing, I also use it for protyping. It’s really important when I’m creating a sculpture in CAD and then actually building it in metal to be able to see all aspects of the form.

A great example is a sculpture I’m just beginning, Schubertii. Based on the plant by the same name, this sculpture will be 12 feet tall. Seven feet of that will be the sculpture’s “stem.”

The stem is fairly simply to look at, but creating it in metal is going to be, well, challenging. Its round edges and flowing form will require me to use a combination of tools – air shaper, English wheel, maybe even the slapper (yeah, there really is a tool called a slapper) – to get the rounded form that is the opposite of how metal comes, in flat sheets.

To get the form right, I printed the stem maquette, or model, on my Cerberus 3D 250 desktop 3D printer ….

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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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Taking a tumble: burnishing 3D-printed bronze

The Point, a 3D printed bronze sculpture - Kevin CaronMany 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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Art show puts spotlight on my 3D printed sculpture

Endless Line art show of 3D printed sculpture by Kevin CaronI’ve had my 3D printed sculpture in a number of shows, but thus far it’s either been in an exhibit with other people’s 3D printed work, like the Shemer Art Center 2014 show “Materialize,” or as just pieces in an art show, like last year’s  show at MonOrchid, “Ten Modern Abstract.”

Finally, it was time for a show dedicated to my 3D printed sculpture.

I’m deeply fortunate that I was approached by Robrt Pela, the highly talented curator, writer and critic to do a show – well, actually two shows, but that’s another story altogether.

This one, called “Endless Line,” would feature the largest single exhibition of my large and small format 3D printed sculpture, really putting my work out there for comment and criticism ….

 

For the 3D printed sculpture show, Robrt chose the Walter Art Gallery, which is part of Walter Productions, a maker space that features, among other things, a brewery, artist studios and the gallery. Most famously, it’s the home of Walter the Bus, which many people know from the Burning Man festival.

Displaying and lighting these sculptures was a real challenge. First, most of them are in a single, saturated color. That meant they had to be placed carefully so that each sculpture complemented the others. Fortunately, they had enough space to place each sculpture so it could be circumnavigated. That is invaluable with any sculpture. Lighting was tricky because some of the sculptures are printed in translucent filament, like the luminous Sunscraper, which had actually sold before the show even began.

Copper Cuff, a 3D printed sculpture by Kevin CaronSome of the sculptures, including Glance and Copper Cuff (right), have patinas on them, but the majority have the shiny surface of filament, which made it challenging to not just reflect a glare from them. Lighting master Todd Grossman finally settled on making the light work best at night when the opening and closing receptions were held.

I brought my Cerberus 3D 250 deltabot 3D printer and set it up to print a small sculpture. We had my jewelry set up for sale, too.

Everything was ready by the time of the opening on Friday, February 5. Our hosts were even nice enough to bring Walter the Bus out and turn on his undulating neon lights to welcome visitors.

And come they did.

It was fascinating to watch people, listen to their comments and answer their questions. Many of them didn’t yet understand how 3D printing even works when they came in the door. After explaining the process to hundreds of people over the last few years, I think I was able to explain it to them in such a way that most of them got it before they left.

Others were fascinated by the filament. I overheard someone flicking Sunscraper with her nails. I only cringed a little.

Some preferred the patinated pieces. No one, at least that I heard, was turned off by what they saw or denied this was art. In fact, most of them were blown away, which felt great. I also overhead conversations about 3D printing in general – what people are already doing and what the future may bring.

I think I gained some new fans with this show, and I know we educated a lot of people. I came away more confident than ever that people understand that 3D printing may be new and, for now, novel, but that it’s simply another tool in artists’ quivers.

The closing reception for the show is Friday, February 26 at 6 p.m. at the Walter Art Gallery, 6425 E. Thomas Rd. in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Metal or resin? 3D printing multiplies options

She, a 3D printed sculpture by Kevin CaronI’m a sculptor by trade.  For years, I’ve been making sculptures in metal, mostly steel, but also occasionally aluminum, copper or brass.

For the last half-dozen years, I’ve used CAD (Computer Aided Design) to create designs, especially commissions, which I would – and still do – drop into location images so people can see what a sculpture will look like in place. So when I learned about 3D printing, it was an easier leap for me than for people who didn’t already know CAD.

I still work in metal – in fact, that’s pretty much still my day job – and usually work on 3D printing at night and on weekends. Sometimes, though, it’s an interesting challenge whether to make a sculpture in metal or in resin, or both …..

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Now THAT’S a sculpture – 3-foot-sculpture printed on 3D printer

With just days left to submit sculptures for the Shemer Art Center‘s 3D art show “Materialize,” I started printing my first sculpture – and my first piece at all – on Cereberus 3D’s Gigante printer.

This monster is 8 feet tall. It can print an item 5 feet tall and 34″ in diameter, but time was an issue.

I scaled up and queued up my sculpture Simple Planes to 40 inches tall. As soon as Steve Graber and his chief scientist, Hugh, were satisfied that everything was running well, I hit the “print” button.

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A Sculptor Takes on 3D Printing ….

As a sculptor, I’ve been using CAD (Computer Aided Design) software for many years to create designs for new and commissioned sculptures. CAD is a major source of the .STL files that are fed into 3D printers to create three-dimensional objects.

 

So when 3D printing became available, I was immediately interested. I started reading about and researching the printers and how they work.

 

The first 3D printer I actually saw was at the FabTech trade show in Las Vegas in November 2012. It was $10,000. That was still out of reach, but the prices had come down dramatically from the $100,000 and up price tags I had been seeing.

 

The following year, I purchased his first 3D printer, a Cubify Cubex printer. It can print in three colors and produce something the size of a regulation basketball.

Kevin Caron's Cubex 3D printer

Kevin Caron’s Cubex 3D printer

 

I didn’t print any basketballs, but I immediately began printing some of my CAD designs in ABS and PLA plastic.

 

I created maquettes (small models) for my own amusement as well as for commissions. Now people could literally see what their sculpture would look like, and hold it in their hands.

 

I did a 5-part video series on a sculpture called The Runner, which went on to be featured in his one-man show at the Chandler Center for the Arts in October 2013. You can see it here.

 

I also created some original sculptures, including one called Holy Cannoli.

 

Now I’ve ordered a new printer, one that will print a sculpture (or maquette) 5 feet tall and 34″ in diameter.

 

I’ll be sharing my adventures with 3D printing here, so please join me ….