Custom Glass Castings from Digital Designs

This post is a follow up to a previous one about techniques that I have been exploring to transfer digital designs into cast glass objects. This began last year at a fellowship at  Wheaton Arts’ Creative Glass Center of America and was expanded upon this year while teaching at Pilchuck Glass School and in a workshop at Detroit’s College of Creative Studies. In particular, I have  focused on one particular technique; using a low cost desktop CNC machine to carve reusable graphite molds for glass casting multiples. There’s a few design limitations to this approach, but it is an amazingly cost effective approach to creating small to medium scale runs of custom designed glass tiles. The molds hold up for hundreds of castings, and possibly even more, so this is an exciting way of creating custom glass design objects and custom tiles for architectural applications. This will be a big focus for much of my work in 2017.

With a clean and simple design, these new geometric tiles channel the 1980’s era video game Qbert, Islamic mosaics, and leverage the material’s clarity and sparkle. I love the simplicity and the illusory way we see through the smooth top surface to see the relief texture on the backside. I am thinking this will become a set of tabletop design objects, with 6″,9″ and 11″ sizes that interlock. However, I am almost more excited to think of them as architectural tile. How cool would it be to have a wall made of these, or have them as accents embedded in concrete?

Below you will see some of this new carved graphite mold work, as well as some student work from teaching at Pilchuck this summer.  Design constraints of this method center around the fact that this process does not support forms with undercuts. Likewise, the machine can only mill material up to ~2.5″ thick and can only do straight plunge cuts as long as the longest router bit you can find. For most 1/8″ bits this means you cannot do any straight cuts more than 1.5″ deep. However, because graphite is a lubricant and it pretty impervious to heat, once the moisture leaves the material after the first few casts, these molds can be used over and over again, with beautiful results. For any schools or glass studios who are looking to create such a setup, I have created a bill of materials for creating such a setup, totalling under $2500. (BTW, I am available to teach workshops! )

The top of the casting is flat, perfectly magnifying the relief texture of the underside.

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CNC milling the graphite mold

Completed rough pass on CNC, ready for finishing pass

Ladling molten glass into the finished mold

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The tile on the left is upside down, showing the relief on the backside. The relief side is as nice as the front and they would make a beautiful glass brick wall.

I’ll end with some images from the TaDDDaa!!! class at The Pilchuck Glass School this summer. It was a three week deep dive into 3D modeling, scanning, printing and CNC carving. Here’s some of the class’ work with graphite for glassmaking:

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This was my first test with this technique at Wheaton Arts and the process used by students for the class at Pilchuck. Here we see rough and smooth CNC carving of the graphite mold, hot glass in the mold, and final product at room temperature.

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The TaDDDaa!!! class at Pilchuck was a three week deep dive into 3D modeling, scanning, printing and CNC carving.

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My TA Christian with Phirak and Rebecca, who will be teaching a 3D printing clay class at Pilchuck next summer

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Rebecca’s mold based on a victorian pattern

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Jameszie made a Ouija planchette

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Brent supervising his first carve

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John, Lee, Phirak and Nikki trying out their molds

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My student John was a master mold maker so he undertook making a two part blow mold and spent quite some time finishing the graphite to a polish

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Blowing glass into the mold

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Michael’s two part blow mold

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A pile of hot casting molds cooling down at the end of the class casting session

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A fishscale tile design I was playing with

Scan-A-Rama 3D Portrait Studio at Theatre Bizarre 2015!

Its been a whirlwind year and I have completely neglected documenting all the things I’ve been up to, so I’m going to make a push in the next month to write up everything, starting with this year’s pilgrimage to Theatre Bizarre, Detroit’s amazing masquerade ball held in the world’s largest Masonic temple. Last year, I brought the Scan-A-Rama 3D Portrait Studio out to capture some of the party’s most outrageous visitors and this year I succeeded in getting some even better portraits. Here’s some favorites!

JohnDawnDunivant-printPattyChrisSchorfhaar-print NicoletteAndrewWarczak-print london-print LauraRichardKimmel-print JohnKellySiegel-print JimJaniceLeach-print GaryBasemanJoane-print DanHawley-print CaseyAlisonGies-print AndreaRainer-print VedaRamonGrobbel-print TomCapizzi-print ShannonPeshkopia-Michelle SchphinktieKristen-print SamanthaWaldenmeyer-print RodKammer-print NicoleDerickCasier-print MattLavere-print LouisCharlotteDevaney-print KrystalLehl KarenJohnEnglish-PRINT JosueMaldonado-print JasonLajudice-02-print HeidiCraig-print GoatMan-print GinaEricAckerman-print ErinSanders-print DownAClown-print DanaMccoms-print CoreyMichaelBauser-print ClarkAimeeEagling-print Chainsaw-print BrettCarson-RubberChickenMan2 AngelaCharlieThurman-print AngelaBrendonDoran-print AlexLeal-print AlexandraominicReisner-print

And some physical 3D prints:
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Detroit : Theatre Bizarre 2015

Detroit fascinates me. Even more than LA, this city seems to exist to showcase the glory of the car. Multi layered highways twist and wind like a giant Hot Wheels set with exits to both the left and right. There’s an energy and vibrancy to the urban decay that’s inspiring. It’s no wonder Detroit is such a hotbed of art and creativity.

It’s here that fifteen years ago John Dunivant began to realize a vision that began in his paintings; a dark world of a haunted carnival and its twisted god, Zombo the Clown. He named it Theatre Bizarre. This once a year party that I like to describe as the “Mermaid Parade of Halloween” began on an abandoned lot in Detroit but has now grown to over 5,000 attendees and takes place in the World’s largest Masonic temple, an impressive sixteen story neo Gothic structure that has never been completed. The building itself is worth the price of admission, just to see the elaborate throne rooms, chapels, drill rooms, ballrooms and theaters that hide within the labyrinthine passages of its walls. The building is a testament to the Masons mastery of construction, architecture and engineering and has to be seen to be believed.

Every year John and the Theatre Bizarre crew transform 8 floors of the space into an elaborate haunted harvest festival. It’s the world of his art come to life. The opulence and intention to detail in the installation is astounding and the building is the perfect backdrop. I had the occasion to meet and get to know John and some of the crew over the last few years, and this past weekend was my second year bringing the Scan-A-Rama 3D Portrait Studio there. Here’s some images from this year.

Detroit Masonic Temple is home to Theatre Bizarre

Every year, 5,000 costumed revelers converge upon Detroit to participate in the spectacle

No bones about it, the decor is lavish!

There are Hundreds of Jack-O-Lanterns everywhere

Tables of taxidermied animals, Jack-o-lanterns, candles, flowers and mountains of candy abound

The Masonic Hall’s barber shop

there are scores of entertainers throughout the space

ornate details on the elevator grills

I ran into Gary Baseman who flew in from LA to check it out

Here I am chilling out with Zombo the Clown

Since no one can enter without a costume, the guests are often the most entertaining part of the night

Here’s John Dunivant enjoying thr fruits of his labor with Burlesque starlet Roxi D’lite

Just one of the many thrones within the Masonic temple

A New Orleans brass band lead the crowd through the building

This year was the “Year of the Goat”

Prints of John Dunivant’s paintings adorn the walls

Elaborate dioramas bring John’s paintings to life

Table setttings in the Fountain Ballroom

The Crowd in the Crystal Ballroom

The insignia of Theatre Bizarre’s secret society hangs on the wall, its all seeing eye looking over the festivities

The heart of the building contains this three story chapel. it is said that the cross marks the actual center if the building and that theres a hidden throne room behind the altar. When someone sits in the thone the cross perfectly aligns with a grate on the wall so that the light of the cross falls upon the person in the throne.

Dioramas in the lobby created by Dante bring the world of John’s paintings to life

A darkened theatre for suspension performances

A red light in the labyrinth of the temple’s hallways

Behind the scenes we saw a museum of Masonic imagery

Elaborate ceiling details

Are these the Knights of Templar guarding the staircase?

Backstage, an army of makeup artists prep Zombo and his minions for the night

So there it is.. Theatre Bizarre n a nutshell. You missed it this year but next year it will run two weekends in October so start making your travel plans now to attend the greatest masquerade on earth!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN From Theatre Bizarre… in 3D!

I recently travelled to Detroit to set up the Scan-A-Rama 3D Portrait Studio at Theatre Bizarre, a massive haunted masquerade ball that takes place in the largest Masonic Hall in the universe! It was the first time I have scanned in full color, and though I’m not quite up to printing in full color yet, the portraits were great! They really capture the costumes and the subject’s relationships. Please enjoy some highlights of Theatre Bizarre 2014 captured in the Scan-A-Rama 3D Portrait Studio!
BRENNA trace DavidJan spence tess NatalieBen English Maddock Allan DOXIE Francisco TheMillers Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.32.35 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.29.16 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.12.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.09.21 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.06.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.56.17 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.51.33 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 6.52.31 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 6.28.20 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 6.24.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 6.04.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 6.02.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.58.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.56.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.51.35 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.49.55 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.48.41 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.47.06 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.23.51 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.20.40 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.13.28 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 2.44.22 PM