News From The Field

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.

 

 

July 7, 2020

Warp Speed: How We Put Our Network to Work for Nike

We’re specialists in our field, but we know when to call in help. So when Nike reached out to us to conceptualize a set of eight custom female mannequins in just four weeks, we put our network to work.

Nike Mannequins

The mannequins, which were to be used in a display at Nike’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, were a big project as is—but with the addition of a super-tight deadline, it became even more challenging. Eyal Chernichovsky, process engineer and production program manager at Form 3D, knew the project would not only require partnering with other bureaus, but also using several scanning, sculpting, and engineering programs internally. “Having so much technology and so many skill sets in-house allows us to move really quickly,” says Eyal, who used programs like GOM, ZBrush, and Materialise Magics on the project. “When you’re not waiting on another company, [these processes] can sometimes happen in just a few hours.”

 

To start, we pulled images of real women athletes and categorized them based on bone structure and muscle tones. “We’re all used to this pear shape, or what we think a woman should be, and that’s pretty bad for humanity,” says Eyal. “Instead, we evoked all of these different muscle tones and body shapes. Our designers were very free in the way they were able to associate things.”

 

When it came time to produce the mannequins—which unlike traditional rotocast plastic, were created from acrylic printed powder and epoxy—we knew we’d have to get creative to achieve a final product in just four weeks. Thanks to a group of 3D printing bureaus we formed a couple of years ago, we were able to access several printing machines across the country. “We fired up about five machines nationwide and managed to print everything within a week,” says Eyal. “It was probably the biggest and fastest 3D printing project happening nationwide, in terms of capacity, speed, and multidisciplinary elements.” 

 

Eyal says it’s Form 3D’s position both with brands like Nike and with other printing bureaus that made this project possible. “Acting as the axis of this project is what allows us to pull something like this off,” he says. “It lets us pull the trigger, even on such a short timeline.”

June 7, 2020

A Delicate Balance: Creating Art That Levitates

When artist Saks Afridi approached our team to produce a collection of pieces for a gallery show—with a timeline of just a few weeks—we sprung into action. One of the pieces, “The Hovering Minaret,” required a concrete mass to quite literally float in space. Eyal Chernichovsky, process engineer and production program manager at Form 3D, knew he had to make quick decisions to make that happen. “What I wanted to do initially was embed magnets in the form,” he says.

The Hovering Minaret
The Hovering Minaret

But because the mass featured several intricate undercuts, it would be impossible to pull a rigid form from the mold. Eyal’s solution was to instead use a flexible polyurethane, which he cast around the magnets. “The key is that you can create complex geometries from the flexible urethane that can be released from the mold despite the undercuts,” says Eyal, who used a stone-like finish to give the final product the desired concrete appearance. 

 

“The project itself was small in size, but it really captures our workflow,” says Eyal. “When you know the process well, you can go from digital to physical and back, and do what ten years ago wasn’t possible.” Eyal says it’s this creative workflow that makes Form 3D an attractive choice for artists. 

 

“The goal is to generate confidence that you can capture their message well,” he says. “You have to be able to understand what the artist wants to do and translate it within time and budget constraints, but capture their aesthetic even better.” Eyal says these on-the-fly solutions—figuring out how to cast from a different material, moving surfaces, or changing finishes—are part of what makes working with a short timeline so rewarding. “We got a better result in three weeks than we would have gotten in months, all without sacrificing the aesthetic,” he says.

May 5, 2020

Embracing Technology to Pay Homage to an Old Friend

When the town of Bingen, Washington wanted to commemorate the life of resident Guillermo “Willie” Fisch, sculptor Doug Granum was up for the challenge. “He was a really good friend of mine,” Doug says of Willie, an Argentinian architect who moved to Bingen to work on drones. “He was a real outlier, and he really became a fixture in the town.”

 

Willie, who would walk the streets of Bingen in a beret with a cigar, instantly became a popular local. He’d host weekly “503 Club” wine nights—beginning at 5:03 p.m., of course—and was frequently found singing and dancing with friends. With this boisterous personality in mind, Doug knew he wanted to sculpt a lively, animated piece to pay homage to his friend, who passed away after battling pancreatic cancer. “We didn’t want it to be static because that’s not who he was,” he says.

The full-size statue of Willie Fisch

Doug, who we’ve worked with on several other projects, came to Form 3D Foundry to work on the project from start to finish. We started by creating a bronze maquette (a rough scaled sculpture), then scanned it into the computer to make minor changes before printing the full-size model. Doug says that although many traditional artists are afraid of using technology to enhance their work, he views it as a way to only enhance the process. “Artists have seized on new technology,” he says. “But once you get it into the computer, you’ve got all the latitude in the world to do what you want to do.”

 

Once the design was completed to Doug’s liking, it was time to create a larger model. Doug says that printing the large model—instead of sculpting himself—allows for far more precise construction. “Traditionally, lost wax casting was what everyone, myself included, used,” he says. “But it’s hard to get all of the walls the same thickness. With 3D technology, the wall thickness is absolutely uniform, and all of the pieces go together like a Swiss watch. It’s a magnificent way to create really unique sculptures.”

 

For Doug, working with Form 3D just makes sense. “For years and years, I did it all myself,” he says. “But when you’re working with a team, you can get a lot done. They’re a really talented group of individuals.”

 

The original bronze maquette used to create a full-size model

 

March 20, 2020

Space Matters: Paying Homage to Neil Armstrong’s Historic Mission

 

Last year, we were approached by the Smithsonian’s Apollo at the Park, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, to create a replica of Neil Armstrong’s famed Apollo 11 spacesuit.

 

A replica suit on display during the Smithsonian's Apollo in the Park program

 

It’s no secret that spacesuits aren’t particularly small, nor are their features simple. Armstrong’s Apollo 11 suit, which is on display at the Smithsonian, is no different—intricate stitching, complicated valves, and creased fabric meant reproduction wasn’t going to be a simple job.

 

But thanks to our proprietary printing method, which involves special pre- and post-processing techniques, Form 3D was the best choice globally to achieve a detailed project at this scale. “Other companies have the same printer, but they don’t use it the way we do,” says Libby Carruth, lead sculptor. “We’ve worked really hard over the past several years to fine-tune our process and come up with new, proprietary ways to do things.”

 

Our master model of Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit

 

After receiving the high-res scan of the spacesuit, our team cut the file into a grid of printable pieces that could be 3D printed (see below). The spacesuit’s helmet, gloves, and boots were all printed separately from the grid to allow for optimal assembly, and interior ribbed support was added digitally to offer strength and stability. “This is what sets us apart,” says Libby. “We’re always doing what we can to make sure the reproductions we make don’t compromise the original work.”

 

We cut the spacesuit into several pieces to print and assemble it effectively.

 

Because our master model was molded to make copies, we infused it with epoxy resin for strength and durability. Once assembled, we patched all of the seams, primed the suit, and gave it a few final touches. “We wanted to make sure there wasn’t any evidence of our process in the final product,” says Libby.  “We didn’t want anyone to be distracted or even think about the process involved.”

 

 

After completing the master model, we shipped it off to be rotocast into 15 replica spacesuits, which would go on to be painted and sent off to different baseball stadiums for the Apollo in the Park program. The replicas remained throughout the 2019 season before being sent to various museums across the country.

 

 

A spacesuit replica made from our master model on display at Nationals Park.

February 20, 2019

FORM in Santa Fe, NM Technology and Art Workshop FEB 23RD

This Saturday February 23rd: Rob Arps and Steve and Barbara Christman of FORM will be on the ground in Sante Fe, NM with artist Star Liana York to host this workshop – Using Technology to Scale your Sculptures – at Sorrel Sky Gallery. The workshop will be focused on how technology has evolved to help artists scale their reproductions in a streamlined and timely way. Workshop includes a talk and 3d scanning demonstrations. Bring a sculpture in finished clay or bronze to be scanned. Additional fees may apply. If you are unable to attend, get in touch with us and we may be able to schedule a scan of your work in the following days. For more information, visit the events page at sorrelsky.com or email Steve directly at Steve@form.xyz with any questions you may have about the event.

February 5, 2019

INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE CONFERENCE COMES TO PDX

FORM is looking forward with much anticipation to the 29th International Sculpture Conference (ISC), which will be held in our hometown of Portland, Oregon this year. The Call for Panels is now open! For submission details visit:  https://www.sculpture.org/portland19/call or contact the event department at: events@sculpture.org or (609) 689-1051 x302.

 

The International Sculpture Center is seeking a diverse and comprehensive program, covering topics relevant to sculpture today, at the 29th International Sculpture Conference on October 12-15, 2019.

 

All panel proposals must be submitted electronically via the form on the ISC website. No faxed, mailed, or emailed abstracts will be accepted.

 

The deadline for submissions is March 14, 2019. All late proposals will automatically be placed on a waiting list.

 

This year’s conference will focus on topics in contemporary sculpture and proposals submitted should fall into the below categories. We are looking for panels which explore the following topics and ideas:

 

  • Redefining Sculpture in the Digital Age
  • Asian Influences in Contemporary Sculpture
  • Muddy Waters: Bridging the Classic and Contemporary Gap
  • Collecting and Collections
  • Makers in the Margins
  • The Life of Public Art
  • The Art of Learning and Teaching Sculpture
  • Green Only: The Impact Art Has on the Environment
  • Technical Talks/Workshops
  • Wildcard

January 15, 2019

Space Mosque

Saks Afridi’s mystical world of “Sci-Fi Sufism” on display in NYC.

For the past couple of weeks FORM has been working closely with New York artist Saks Afridi on several pieces for his show Space Mosque, up January 17 – February 23rd at NYC’s Aicon Gallery. Saks was previously a recipient for Form’s 2017-2018 R&D Fellowship. The show comprises fabricated artifacts/objects and depictions of futuristic “spiritual machines” that are part of a complex para-fictional history of sorts meant, in Saks’ words, to “show that Islamic folklore and mythology can also have a contemporary and imaginative voice. Let’s expand old perceptions. This project uses science fiction and Islamic mysticism to create a new thought provoking experience aiming to promote cultural understanding and challenge stigmas in an engaging and current way.”

Check it out if you can, or view his previous works at Saksafridi.com. Sneak peak of his pieces coming together:

November 15, 2018

MONUMENTS at the Portland Art Museum

Don’t miss your opportunity to check out this amazing show: MONUMENTS – The Earth Expedition of Sun Ra at the Portland Art Museum. The show – which Form had the opportunity to contribute this 3d printed bust of the legendary jazz composer Sun Ra to – is up until January 27th. Put on by art director Libby Werbel and the local group DUG (Deep Under Ground), this show asks us: in this era, what new monuments do we wish to build?

In addition to the art, the Sun Ra Arkestra will also be performing at the museum’s Kridel Grand Ballroom on January 2nd, 2019. Not to be missed!

We are humbled to have been able to be a part of this amazing Project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 14, 2018

An interview with 2017-2018 Form R&D Fellowship recipient, Saks Afridi.

Q: Seeing this translate from digital to print, what and how has your process been in creating the “We the People” piece?

Saks: Forming new collaborations and partnerships can be a tricky proposition for many artists but I personally find the experience quite exciting. I came into art from the world of advertising, where working with teams of specialists is common and the results, when done right, can be powerful.

The artwork is a sculpture called, ‘We the people’. It is a celebration of the immigration rigor and spirit that lives within the negative spaces in the fabric of our nation. I’m originally from Pakistan and the piece features Urdu calligraphy forming the negative space around the famous opening lines of our constitution. The calligraphy is a transliteration of the US constitution.

What has touched me most about Form is their approach with artists. They truly understand my needs and Form Research & Development Fellowship program has been a Godsend. This fellowship matches every dollar I spend with the sponsorship of a dollar. The myth of the starving artist is very real, and while I do make a living, it’s very difficult to financially support the production of some of my projects. Thank you Form for making ideas come to life. We are already working on our second project and I look forward to continuing to build our relationship and amazing art as a result. (Image: Saks Afridi’s We the People through R&D 3D Print process.)