Saturday, 6 June 2015

3D Printed Glass Mold - Research Project

After a bit of a break on this blog, I have some new stuff share. Back in the winter I received a Hexagram grant from Concordia to pursue research on a project experimenting with 3D print and hot glass. After some trial and error I was able to create a 3D printed Bronze mold in two parts which is designed for glassblowing. The trick is to keep the mold as thin as possible to limit expense (its not cheap) but also thick enough to not bend or warp when hot glass is blown into it. Details are in the images below. 



Shapeways sent my completed 3D print in the mail ( pictured below). Its kind of like Christmas to open up something like this, that I've never touched- only worked on for hours in 3D software. 


The 2 parts are held together with grip wrenches (cheaper than 3D printing hinges/ locks on the hold itself). You can actually see the layer-lines from the 3D printer which do show on the glass surface too (if you're curious how metal gets 3D printed, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6Px6RSL9Ac)


With help from Espace Verre here in Montreal, I was able to find a fantastic assistant, Armel (who you can see working with me below) to help with the creation of these pieces. You can see his work here: http://armel-desrues.wix.com/armeldesrues


Finished pieces in studio...






The background for this project was my interest in old Roman mold-blown glass which goes back to about 100 CE. One of the first brand-name artists, named Ennion was renown for making these mold blown pieces in super sharp detail (always with his name pressed into it) which allowed for pieces to be made very fast and repeatable. 


Last month I took a trip to New York to see an exhibition of this ancient glass at the Metropolitan Museum. It looks way bigger in the books, but these pieces are usually tiny, hand-held things that contained various precious liquids like perfumes. This scale makes it manageable to pull off with the shipping constraints, costs and machine limitations of my work. These pieces contain a lot of allegory and character, the ones I'm making speak more to computers, machines and tool marks to be more a product of this time in history. 


They also happen to be amazingly gaudy, but they represent an ancient link between handmade objects, mass production and technology. Ennion's molds were made in as many as four parts and were ceramic. The pieces I made are a kind of proof-of-concept which worked well enough, that I can now explore more complexity in future pieces. 





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