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Hacking the Process: Ceramic and Glass 3d Prints and Material Exploration

 Hacking the Process: Ceramic and Glass 3d Prints and Material Exploration

Preface: Hacking the Process

My project for the digital scholarship program will be utilizing 3d printing technology. Working with digital fabrication allows artists and crafts people to have a new tool as well as new means of approaching the process of making an object. As a craftsman I am interested in the language of form. Digital fabrication tools present a new way of making for artists as well as any individual with access to this technology. The concept of making a hackable 3d printer is to make a tool that is adaptive both to the user and the environment it is in. In making a tool that can be manipulated I believe there is an interesting possibility of discovering how machines can work in conjunction with traditional handmade processes. As a craftsman I find this space of digital fabrication lacking the ability to display authorship of the maker. These machines are designed to simply reproduce objects. Yet as we move into an ever increasing digital age and begin to converse about the era of artificial intelligence, I find it fascinating to play both with the machines mechanics and programing to discover the next phase of evolution. 

Ceramic and Glass 3d Prints: Material Exploration

Printing as a mechanical process dates back to the 1400s and in this long history of humans using machines to disseminate information to one another it is remarkable to find how the technology to print words has evolved to print objects. The world of digital fabrication presents another layer to the various processes of art and craft communities. This tool has thus far has been long used by industry for specific jobs and processes. In applying for the Digital Scholarship Program it is my intention to use the funds to build a 3d printer with various capabilities. The project will result in a “hackable” printer that can be manipulated to fit an assortment of different materials. This study is to coincide with my interest in the research of craft with in the space of the digital world. In attending Tyler School of Art, it has been part of my thesis to explore the space between traditional and modern approaches to making. Exploring the concept of authorship through tools like 3d printers has been the concept for this research. The greatest questions being asked of artists using these tools is, how does the handmade object coincided with the machine made one?

The materials I will specifically work with to build the printer ones I have itemized and listed in my own notes. All of the items are sourced through online vendors and shops in Philadelphia. However, the materials I will be exploring using the printer are ceramic and ceramic glazes, powdered glass combined with various binders, and finally polymers that will be made using a more conventional Makerbot 3d printer for creating custom parts. All of whichwill be acquiring from the different departments of Tyler as needed. These physical materials will be used in construction and fabrication, but the next part of the project is going to be using various computer aided design programs such as Rhino and Zbrush to work in a three- dimensional space. The programs I am specifying are ones I have been learning for the past year and are all currently on computers in the labs of the various craft departments I work in. Making an object designed in a space outside of the more traditional processes I am accustomed to has become a new avenue for my research on modern craft practices. When I arrived to begin my studies last fall my goal was to explore the many fabrication technologies that Temple has to offer. The first project that utilized the process of the 3d printer in commentary with the concepts I am developing started by using 3d scans of two individual hands holding one another. The title “Failure at Patience” commented on current ways humans engage socially. This project began my research into the subject of finding concepts of authorship through the digital space. This theme of exploring authorship through the digital space is a great deal of why I feel this scholarship will aid in further understanding of the mechanics of these machines.

The projects and research that I have been engaged in thus far are pieces that I have entitled Nests. These pieces are made using the ceramic 3d printer located in Ceramics. With the of the Technician John Williams I was able to create pieces that played with the parameters of the machine. By putting the Y axis .25 to .75 inches above 0 I was able to get results created nest like pieces which had a layered effect. By using more viscous clay I was able to achieve and interesting effect that resulted in various layers of the piece having different textures and forms.

The most current and exciting project undertaken by MIT’s Fab Lab in conjunction with the glass program known
as Glass Lab was to create a 3d glass printer. This project is known as Mediated Matter, it has caused much debate among the 3d fabrication and glass art communities as to how this technology can be used. The objects produced from this workshop are still in development and the printer itself has undergone several changes. After attending a pedagogy conference in New York City where I saw a talk given by the Mediated Matter team wherein they explained the fluid dynamics they encountered with the molten glass as its ability to move from solid to liquid rapidly caused problems figuring out the speed settings for the printer. As a trained glass maker I found this project fascinating because in a way a team of engineers was utilizing a vast amount of resources to attempt to replicate something a trained glassblower would have been able with make in a much shorter time. It is the play between the fabrication process and the craft based one where an interesting exploration of forms can take place.

The funds from the Digital Scholarship will all be put towards constructing a 3d printer with the ability to work with multiple materials. Technology and computer aided design for application in the arts are subjects that I wish to bring into my practice as an educator. Three dimensional fabrication as a tool of crafts should not reside only in the halls of institutions. As a graduate student at Temple I have found exceptional resources for my practice, all of which are aimed at my achieving my goals. Future artists and art educators need to have the same type of access outside of the institutional space. My desire to learn this technology comes from a point of pedagogy. In learning how to construct a 3d printer I hope to be able to pass along the type of knowledge gained from this experience into my teaching practice. I believe that the broader conversation of craft and technology occurs in the communities that have yet to learn about both subjects. Thank you for your time and consideration towards my project. 

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2 comments

It looks like you'll have a good deal of support from Tyler faculty, and I love your familiarity with the MIT Fab Lab and other work in the field. It's nice to have someone from creative arts involved this year. Welcome!

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I am so impressed with this project and your use of the technology!!!!

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