July 28, 2020

Using Technology to Elevate Indigenous Culture & Design at the Burke Museum


       When pacific Northwest artist, Adam McIsaac, was commissioned by the University of Washington to create a unique entryway installation for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, he called on us for help.


Through a customized workflow, Adam was able speed up his carving process significantly while also minimizing the amount of native white pine needed for the project.  Rather than carving each paddle’s front and back in wood at the final scale, he chose a smaller scale and carved just one version of the design that would be repeated onto the backsides of each paddle. In the cases of symmetrical imagery, he saved time by carving just one half of the design.


       After using high-res, blue light scanning technology to capture the chisel marks and wood grain of his one-sided paddles, we digitally mirrored the symmetrical designs and applied the separately carved elements to the backsides of each paddle.  


       3D Printing in our investable acrylic material allowed the project to go straight to the foundry for direct casting, without the need for molds.  The 11 paddles that had been carved from uniform lengths of white pine were printed at 6’, 9’, and 12’ long, ready for casting. 



       A representative for the Burke Museum described Adam’s work as “Monumental Columbia River art to recognize the strength and importance of that region to the whole coast.”  She went on to say the installation will “open the doors to more sharing, knowledge, and understanding of Columbia River art and culture at UW and to all the public that visits.”  These sculptures are a testament to Adam’s true passion:  To recreate accurately the artwork of the Northwest Coast as a means of bringing recognition to their culture and elaborate art form.