Form 3D Foundry is thrilled to announce that we attended this years 2023 National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices— NCCCIAP, located at the Historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama.
Form 3D associate Max Rawlings took his knowledge of iron casting and our pattern making processes to Birmingham to share possibilities with cohorts.
The vast majority of Forms 3D’s patterns get cast in bronze, so Iron casting was new territory for us. At the conference, it was a privilege to be able to connect with artists from around the globe, learn more about working with iron, and share our background in bronze sculpture and 3D printing with the iron community.
During our time in Alabama we were able to cast our first iron piece for a client! Our goal was to create a replica of an antique Tractor Toolbox Lid that we 3D scanned and printed at our shop for Erl Mclaughlin of Sunrise Iron. Before the conference, we wax infused the printed Toolbox Lid pattern, tooled the wax, had it dipped in a ceramic shell, and did a high temperature firing of the mold — or burnout, which hardened the ceramic shell and burned out the wax and acrylic print material. Max brought the hollow ceramic shell with him that was prepared for the molten iron to be poured into its cup and gates— connecting to the main form.
Take a look at the photos below to see the finished Iron Toolbox Lid created with the help of the NCCCIAP Community!
The National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices (NCCCIAP) is a Biennial convergence of typically over 400 attendees from around the globe. This year’s Conference, Shift Change, was conceptually based on where the future of cast iron is headed. The conference allowed the community an opportunity to connect with like minded artists and professionals in the field, learning more about what it means to use cast iron as an artistic medium.
The SLOSS Furnaces National Historic Landmark, which sponsors an active arts program focused on metal sculpture, has a rich industrial heritage. Its origin story revolves around a wealth of knowledge and experiences shared over the years that can help us to learn the technical skills it takes to work with Cast Iron. With new knowledge, and hands on Casting experience, we can offer technical advancement to the Ironworking community. We are excited to integrate what we learned about cast iron into our sculptural repertoire.
From 1882 to 1970 Sloss Furnaces made iron at their 32-acre blast furnace plant. The longest continually running blast furnace in Birmingham’s History. The plant became obsolete and was closed in 1971 and reopened in 1983 as a museum and National Historic
Landmark. It includes two 400-ton blast furnaces and forty other buildings. Since its inception, Birmingham has been a foundry town, an industrial center, and the world’s largest producer of cast iron pipe. It was once also the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world.
The Metal Arts Program was started in 1985, it has since offered workshops, exhibitions, and conferences to educate the community on forging, fabricating, and casting — all things related to metal working. Cast Iron remains at the forefront with emphasis on its versatility as a sculpture medium.
In 1988 and 1994, Sloss hosted the first and second International Conferences on Contemporary Cast Iron Art. The Biennial National Conference — NCCCIAP has been organized and hosted at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham since 1997. The furnaces remain just as they were in the late 19th century, regarded as a monument to the industrial revolution and they are used by the Metal Arts Program to keep tradition and history alive.
We are proud to share an exhibition currently showing at Robischon Gallery in Denver, CO. We worked with artist Amy Ellingson to help transform her digital sculptures into real world objects for her show Firmament. Please take a tour of her work at the links provided and see her work in person while it is on display through September 19th.
“It was so great working with FORM- everything turned out exactly as I’d hoped.” ~ Amy Ellingson.
Amy, on Firmament: “I am interested in the experience of translating digital imagery into substantive objects via traditional, hands-on media and processes. The various manifestations of the data, in a range of mediums, are meant to suggest the trickle-down and omnipresent effects of digital information, degrading, mutating and reiterating over time.
“The exhibition will include three bronze sculptures. Each is derived from my Photoshop and Illustrator files that relate to the diptych. The imagery is adapted for 3D modeling, and manifests as hybrid forms that appear organic and synthetic at the same time. I view these as “seeds” that contain all of the data for the other works; or, contrarily, as “meteoric” forms that represent the paintings as compressed, compacted objects.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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: email@example.com 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:
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: