ORIGAMI BOWL – Reality
March 31, 2011: Well, the 3D printing process went ok. There is definitely a texture (and a couple flaws) to the object which may or may not become part of the finished product. Rather than sand the plastic form, I decided to postpone any textural decisions until the finishing stage.
I did hit a few problems at the plaster-casting stage, which are most likely due to my limited experience with ceramics in general. I made some educated guesses, process-wise, and decided to fill the plastic form with clay. This was the right thing to do, because light objects do have a tendency to float up through the curing plaster! (The making of the mold itself is quite time sensitive and messy, and standard process, so pictures were not taken.)
Trying to get the plastic out of the plaster proved difficult, as I did not apply ‘mold soap’ to to the plastic before pouring ~5lbs of plaster on it. Oops! I did however, instinctively wipe on a fair amount of wax, which is routinely applied to the plastic coddle and melamine board. After shaving a bit of the dried plaster away from the rim, and 20m of nervously delicate prying, I did succeed.
After the mold dried for a day or two I was able to clean it out. I decided to leave any flaws from the printed bowl and/or casting process to potentially highlight any irregularities. (Note: From here on in, there is no difference in production methods between using a digital prototype and a hand-made form.)
I managed to find someone with cone 6 porcelain slip to spare, so I did not need to purchase a whole bucket at the end of the term. The slip-casting process is a standard procedure and looks the same as the Project 2 post. I decided to make 4 bowls of different thicknesses, because thin = more delicate and less likely to make it though the kiln. After a day or two of drying, I sponged smooth the rough rim and left some of the printing texture on 2 of the four bowls, as this might be a interesting contrast with the gold glaze I plan on using.
All four bowls are now waiting to be bisque fired. I do hope they all survive.
April 3, 2011: All four bowls survived the first firing. The ‘saturation gold’ glaze that I purchased has been brushed on using 2-3 coats. My bowls are thin, so I have to hope that they don’t crack under the weight of the glaze. I put less than the recommended amount on the thinnest ones to experiment. The glaze colour will change in the kiln, but the whole thing could be a splotchy and awful mess. (I have never used this glaze before, nor has anyone else in the ceramic studio!) It won’t be the mirror shine I would like, as apparently real gold luster over-glaze releases some terrible fumes, is not food-safe, and requires a comparatively super low firing temperature that might not be available to me. Perhaps what the commercially produced dishes with gold filigrees and rims are electro-plated or leafed (or ??) This is something I need to look into…
April 9, 2011: All 4 bowls survived the second firing, which is good news, but the glaze result is really not what I expected. As I had predicted, surfaces left unglazed revealed the 3D printing texture, and glazed surfaces were as smooth as non-CAM’d objects. I will need to experiment more with other glazes and application techniques, I think. It would be interesting to find out if a clear glaze would offer hints of the printed texture.
* these pics are not showing much texture… I will go back and photograph them in daylight.
Through this class, I have found that incorporating CAD/CAM technologies into my process can provide a level off accuracy and speed not available when sculpting by hand. There is no waiting for clay to firm, and I will never run out of pixels/data to play around with. If I make a mistake, I can just undo and not have to re-build by hand. I also do not need to spend any amount of time cleaning up clay debris, washing my tools/tables, or brushing dust off my clothes.
The disadvantage of using CAD/CAM is a delay, and sometimes costly, transition from the virtual to real. There is certainly more immediacy to sculpting by hand, and I am not engaging with my final materials. Also, sometimes unexpected mistakes can produce great ideas. I have not experienced any randomness or surprises using Rhino, only frustration when those NURBS pinch or pull wildly out of control.
But back to the advantages: I don’t even require access to the studio! I can work from almost anywhere… I can model several versions of one object in the virtual realm for comparison, scale up/down, add/remove detailing, etc, and choose the best form for prototyping. Repeated elements can be arrayed or copy/pasted quickly and easily. Doing that in clay would obviously take much, much longer. I can imagine modifying one shape into bowls, cups, plates or whatever into a comprehensive family of tabletop pieces.
In terms of my interiors and architectural design process, I have so far managed to bring one simple Rhino-made form into Revit for another class project. Both AutoCAD and Revit rely heavily on ready-loaded or downloadable elements from industry manufacturers to specify or detail windows, doors, casework, furniture, etc., so using a program like Rhino allows me to design and incorporate project-specific parts into other software platforms – good news for designers looking to move beyond a kit-of-parts process in digital architecture.