The teapot was 3D modeled in a CAD program called Rhino and then 3D printed in ABS plastic on a Fuse Deposition Modeling 3D printer. I then made a plaster and silica traditional investment mold around the plastic print and then burned out the plastic (just like a lost wax process except with a 3D print) in a kiln. This process takes two days as I have to make sure all plastic residue and carbon are out of the mold cavity before pouring molten bronze into it. I poured bronze into the mold and then once cool, I removed all sprues and vents that funnel metal into the mold and then did finishing via filing and sanding in an attempt to preserve the artifacts from both the printing and casting processes.
The Utah teapot or Newell teapot was originally created in 1975 as a primitive virtual 3d test model in the pioneering graphics program at the University of Utah by researcher Martin Newell. It was based on a Melitta teapot that Martin Newell drew on graph paper and then hand edited bezier control points on a Tektronix storage tube (an early computer graphics machine). The rendered teapot scale was squashed due to the manner in which the teapot was "keyed stroked" into the computer thus creating a non existing form (other than digitally). Since this teapot has lived as a rendering only, I thought it apt to create a physical representation or physical rendering of the teapot utilizing current technology combined with traditional craft processes. Until this time this particular teapot has only been rendered as a virtual object. The iconic teapot is now realized through combining traditional craft practice with current 3d printed technology to investigate the idea of “digital craft”. I hope to better understand the effects of material and process knowledge through this merger. In addition I hope to pay homage to the the rich history of Tetsubin (cast iron kettle) and the rich surfaces generated through the casting process of these historic vessel forms. I draw inspiration from my early experiences of learning how to render this same teapot in my first computer graphics course at the University of Illinois in 2001 (at a time when these computer models could only be imagined as “image” rather than “object”). The Utah teapot becomes a tangible metal object with rich physically rendered surfaces due to the print layer artifact and metal casting process in my latest work.
Can you describe how your works fit into the "theme" or title of this show?
The title, I Dwell in Possibility, and the exhibition's theme, "to dispense with the rules for the sake of revelation" is evident in my most recent metalsmithing work, a cast bronze teapot, through my combining of traditional craft practices with current 3D printing technology. This hybrid practice describes a term I refer to as Digital Craft. The original teapot was 3D modeled in a CAD program called Rhino and then 3D printed in ABS plastic on a Fuse Deposition Modeling 3D printer. The mold for casting the teapot was created from the 3D printed form via the traditional process of "lost wax casting", but in this case it might be more appropriate to call the process "lost 3D print casting". I was interested to see the surface results of mixing the 3D printed texture and the investment mold "flashing" texture that is sometimes a byproduct of the casting process.
As I mention in my artist statement, I blend traditional hand crafted artistry with cutting edge technology using methods from: industry, the tech lab, metalsmiths, machinists, computer programmers, and inventors. I seek to use this blending of technology with traditional craft as a way to make new discoveries in my work and reinvigorate the processes of the past. With this work I hope to fuse the history of object making with the future of craft and technology; leading art, craft, and design into new areas that allow the artist to use his/her potential to make an impact upon society through the objects I make. I am interested in creating new and innovative one of a kind objects and I believe every artist in this exhibition is also seeking to do this same thing by letting go of the restraints but holding true to their history in order to see what the result might be.
What do you hope the audience will walk away with after seeing this exhibit and your work?
After seeing this exhibition and my work, I hope the audience will realize that craft provides a rich landscape for experimentation, discovery, and innovation. Taking chances and exploring new territory and tangential areas of research lead to new discoveries that can change the trajectory of an artist's work or influence a field of study for future generations. The ability and freedom to ask myself "what if" stimulates my mind and creativity and creates a deep sense of urgency to conduct these experiments with material and process in order to see, and sense the result. I have a feeling after seeing the show that every artist in the exhibition has this same intent and drive. I hope the audience walks away with that same sensation.
In terms of my work specifically, I hope that the audience sees the marriage of digital and analog processes and realizes the potential for technology and the machine to work in tandem with traditional craft hand skills. The field of craft has always been a place for individuals to explore the possibilities of material, process, function, and form. Many of the processes that teach in my metalsmithing courses were at one time some form of new technology and now I am seeking to discover new ways of creating. I am excited about discovering how working with technology might impact new work or allow for new discoveries in the objects I create. In viewing my work, I hope the audience sees the potential for innovation and discovery to influence the field of craft the way that I do.
What does this show mean to you personally as an artist?
This exhibition means a great deal to me personally as an artist as I have always held Penland in such high regard as a teaching institution but more importantly as a place where craft connects with community. I believe in the power and meaning of objects and education to shape culture and make an impact on society. Penland has had this impact from the very beginning and it continues to invent new ways to do this. I volunteer each year at Penland's Community Open House and there is no better place to witness the way in which "making" can engage a local community. To see the awe on a child's face as they get to be a part of the magic of casting molten metal, making a print, or shaping clay and glass is priceless; both in terms of witnessing the moment and the impact this will have on their life and how they see the world. Seeing how Penland also connects with a global community as it brings together artists from all over the world to teach classes and to show work is humbling. Showing my work and teaching a workshop at Penland this summer allows me to engage with a larger community that is interested in discussing the ways in which a creative practice can enrich our lives and lead to new discoveries. For these reasons, it is particularly meaningful to be a part of this exhibition.