Archive for sculpture artist Kevin Caron

Switch cuts out 3D printing problem

3D printed table base - Kevin CaronAbout a week ago I decided to tackle a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. I have a beautiful glass tabletop and thought it would be fun to 3D print a base for it.

Fun?! I like to go into a project thinking positively, but maybe that just set me up ….

Anyway, the first day of what would be a 5-day print went fine. It was when I had to change out the 5-pound spool of PLA filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer that things went terribly wrong.

The print paused normally, then I switched out the spool of natural filament and loaded up the new spool. When I tried to resume the print, though, everything went haywire. The printhead swung wildly out of position, and the print was lost.

I was ready to pull my hair out! A whole $100 spool of filament and a day of 3D printing had been lost. Not to mention the frayed nerves.

Then Steve Graber, the man who built the Gigante, told me about the switch ….

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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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The mystery of the 3D print fail

Overheat screen for 3D printer - Kevin CaronIt starts out so innocently …. Doesn’t it always, especially with 3D printing!

I wanted to print something using NGen_FLEX (usually called “Ninjaflex”) rubber filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante printer when I got a “Runaway temperature warning” (right), and the printer shut down.

I checked the graph in Simplify 3D, the combination host and slicer program I was using, and saw the temperature spiking instead of its usual gradual climb.

I shut off the 3D printer, let it cool, and tried it again. Same problem.

I printed the same file with regular PLA and had no problem.

There was only one thing to do …

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Tinker time for all ages: event turns on young and old

3D printing at Arts & Technology event in Surprise, AZ - Kevin CaronWhen you’ve done something for a while, you start to take it for granted.

There’s nothing like talking to others about 3D printing – and, best of all, showing it to them – to remind me how remarkable this technology is for many people.

Recently, my wife spoke with a woman who had never even heard of 3D printing. That’s pretty mind-blowing.

Most of the people who attended the inaugural “Technology & Art: A Tinker Time For All Ages” on Saturday, October 21 had heard of it but never seen a 3D printer in action.

They have now….

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Tripping Across 3D Printing in Australia

Artist Kevin Caron at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne, AustraliaSometimes you just have to get away. (Well, I do.) When I’m at home, I tend to work a lot, and that can lead to burn out. Getting away helps me clear my head, and often brings me new, fresh ideas I would never have had otherwise.

That’s one reason my lovely assistant (AKA The Voice, to those of you who watch my videos on YouTube, and wife of 25 years) headed to Australia recently.

We started out in Sydney, then drove the Princes Highway, which runs along the southern coast of Australia, to Melbourne.

We saw a lot of interesting things, including wild kangaroos and termite “castles,” as well as lots of beautiful seascapes and rolling fields of canola. We also enjoyed visiting the amazing Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne (photo at right).

The last thing I was looking for was 3D printing ….

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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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‘You have to do what?!’ – Barriers to 3D printing

Using CAD to design - Kevin CaronAlthough the buzz about 3D printing isn’t as red hot as it was, people are understandably still jazzed about this transformational process.

I see the reactions all the time, whether it’s at a gathering focused on how the process works, how I use it in my practice as a sculptor, or just a bunch of people who are fascinated by 3D printing. What I almost also invariably see is disappointment.

The dirty little secret about 3D printing is that you must have a file that you can print.

That’s easy enough if you are satisfied printing other people’s files, such as ones downloaded from Thingiverse. But what if you want to create something yourself?

Well, at this point in the evolution of 3D printing, you’d better know CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, or know someone who does. That’s what most people don’t realize: 3D printing itself is the culmination of a longer process ….

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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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Try, try again with 3D printing

I just can’t help myself.

3D printed Farkle board - Kevin CaronSometimes I just get an idea in my head, and I have to follow it through. Fortunately, 3D printing makes that easy. (Well, easier.)

In this case, it’s that Farkle board that I have come up with yet another design for. The one at the right was my first attempt, which came out pretty well. The black field you see, though, is cloth I added later. That means having to cut it exactly right to fit and gluing it in without dripping glue on the PLA board itself.

Being around or using something always helps me understand it better, or see a better way to design or use it. (That’s why I like to bring home my sculptures – living with them helps give me a new perspective and, I hope, appreciation for them.)

My buddy from the service and his wife were in town recently, so we had a rousing couple of games of the dice game Farkle, whereupon a new design popped into my mind ….

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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!