3D Printing prototype

I got back my first prototype from Shapeways.com today.  The plastic is light and has a powdery feel. 

I have to wrap my head around what something looks like in modeling software versus the physical object; this came out with a much more subtle bas relief than I was expecting. 

Next step is to work on a new model, playing around with maps extruded onto spheres - city worlds - and organic buildings. 


Return to sculpture (by way of 3D printing)

It's been more than a decade since I made sculpture.  The last big piece I did was The Shape of the Universe, which was a 7' wide donut shaped city.  


Making that required building a plaster form, making a latex mold and mother mold, then laying up fiberglass to make eight segments, then splicing them together, etc. etc.

Fabricating sculpture requires time, space and money, sometimes lots of each.  My studio space is pretty compact right now.  We actually have a fairly large studio building - the carriage house behind our row home - but we use the ground floor to run Mount Airy Contemporary, so to really set up shop for making sculpture again would probably involve shutting down MAC and taking over that space.

So anyway...I have a solo show coming up in January at Robert Henry Contemporary in NYC, and the gallery asks artists to make Artifacts alongside the main exhibition content.  I don't want to just do a print, so I decided to explore doing something with 3D printing.

Now, bear in mind: my day job is in computers (I work at IT Solutions Consulting as a project manager and one time application developer), but when in the studio I've always kept it old-school.  Traditional fabrication techniques, hand holding pen on paper.  Drafting tables with Maylines instead of CAD, when I was doing that sort of work.  My dad was an architect so I grew up around that stuff and associate making with tactility and physical manipulation.  Making is something the body does as much as the brain.

As a result I've never really picked up digital fabrication skills.  I barely know how to use Photoshop, couldn't fight my way out of a Sketchup box. 

So: 3D printing is going to be a challenge for me.  

The required output is modest - it just needs to be a small sculptural object in an edition of 30.

Each piece will sell for $100, so factoring in gallery commission, the fabrication costs need to be under $50 to not lose money.  Ideally fabrication cost will be under $10.

I decided that I needed to learn about the process at the same time as learning the tools, so I'm taking two paths here:

The first is to iterate through some very simple prototypes using Shapeways.com.

The second is to learn how to use Blender and SketchUp.

For Shapeways, I took advantage of their 2D to 3D tool, which just extrudes an image into three dimensions based on greyscale values - where darker=taller.  Here's the drawing I worked with, the inverted image I used in the tool, and the initial result as a 3D model, ordered through Shapeways.  I didn't bother cleaning any of the image up - my goal was quick and dirty to get a physical object in my hands so I can review it, play with it, think about it.

The Artifact is unlikely to be a flat extrusion, though.  I'm going to be playing with remapping these things onto geometric shapes, tugging and distending primitives.  I'm going to build some of these architectural structures from scratch too, and see how that goes.

This will never be something scaleable to large sculpture, obviously - these things get printed on trays that have maximum dimensions and are priced by amount of material used.  But it looks like a fun prototyping tool for someone who still depends on physical objects for it to "mean something".

The second path: learning 3D modeling tools!

Grizzly Grizzly: ‘Urban Environments’: Colin Keefe, Fabio J. Fernández, Tom Lauerman September 6 - 28, 2013

September-Card I’m pleased to be showing with SILWA (Sculpture in Love with Architecture, AKA Fabio Fernandez and Tom Lauerman) at Grizzly Grizzly this September 2013.

Heliotrope, 2013, 30” x 44"

Heliotrope, Detail


‘Urban Environments’: Colin Keefe, Fabio J. Fernández, Tom Lauerman September 6 - 28, 2013

This September, Grizzly Grizzly is pleased to present ‘Urban Environments’, featuring the work of Philadelphia based artist Colin Keefe and the collaborative work of Fabio Fernández and Tom Lauerman.  The exhibition, consisting of drawings and sculpture, explores systems of architecture, the built environment, and abstraction.

Colin Keefe will exhibit meticulously crafted drawings of fictitious environments that examine urban terrain through organic models.  Using ink on paper, Keefe begins with design principles gathered from diverse sources such as the reproductive processes of plants, the propulsion methods of microorganisms and architectural theory. Keefe states “the resulting images depict cities grown organically, without an “urban planner” as protagonist, based on environmental conditions.” Fabio J. Fernández and Tom Lauerman will present a collaborative body of work, Sculptures in Love with Architecture (SiLwA).  The works in this exhibition explore architecture from the perspective of two artists interested in “the reductive forms of early modernist constructions.”  They employ an array of techniques ranging from inked lines drawn on a moving train to laser cut wooden parts assembled atop folded paper geometry.  The artists state that “the works illustrate the development of ideas through conversationrepetitionexperimentation and practice.”

The artists will be in attendance during the September 6th opening reception from 6–10pm.   For further inquiries or to arrange an interview with the artists at another time, please contact jacquejliu@yahoo.com.

Grizzly Grizzly is a project space in Philadelphia, PA.  Since 2009, Grizzly Grizzly has programmed monthly exhibitions, screenings and performances.  The gallery is currently under the direction of artists Michael Konrad, Jacque Liu, Ruth Scott, Mary Smull, Cindy Stockton-Moore and Josh Weiss. 

BRIEF ARTIST BIOS Fabio J. Fernández (born Montevideo, Uruguay) received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a B.S. in Business from Seton Hall University.  He has exhibited in the United States and abroad, at such venues as the Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Ferndale, MI, the Poleeni Cultural Center, Pieksämäki, Finland, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, NY. Fabio’s studio practice is based in Boston, MA, where he is also curator at The Society of Arts and Crafts.

Colin Keefe (born Boston, MA) received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from Washington University.  Recent solo exhibitions include Robert Henry Contemporary, New York, NY, Abington Arts Center, Jenkintown, PA, and RHV Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY.  His work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Village Voice, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia City Paper, Toronto Globe and News, LA Times, Sculpture Magazine, and theartblog.  In addition to his studio practice, Keefe has been curating since 1995 – first, as co-director of 57 Hope in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY (1995-2001), and currently as co-director of Mount Airy Contemporary Artists Space (2009-present).

Tom Lauerman (born Chicago, IL) received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from SMU Meadows School of Art.  His work has been recently exhibited in Berlin, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He has taken part in a number of artist residencies including the ClayArch Gimhae Museum in South Korea, the Kohler Arts/Industry residency, and Pilchuck Glass School. He is a recipient of the Horizon Award from the American Craft Museum (now Museum of Arts and Design) and an Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Grant.  He is currently an Assistant Professor at Penn State University.

‘Urban Environments’: Colin Keefe, Fabio Fernández, Tom Lauerman Curated by Jacque Liu Exhibition Dates: September 6–28, 2013 Opening Reception: First Friday, September 6, 6–10PM Press contact: Jacque Liu, jacquejliu@yahoo.com

Grizzly Grizzly, 319 North 11th Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA Hours: Saturday and Sundays, 2-6PM www.grizzlygrizzly.com