I know I have more to share about the technology side of 3D printing, but please enjoy this interruption to talk about art.

Crimson Singularity, a contemporary art sculpture by Kevin CaronYes, I like the aspect of using these tools to do my work – the tools I have used over the years have had a huge influence on how my art looks – but 3D printing is not the point, it’s the path.

That’s what’s driven me to take a moment to talk about a recent project for which I used my CubeX 3D printer.

I’d developed a form in CAD, a variation on the umbilic torus shape I’ve used in three different sculptures – Torrent, Crimson Singularity (right) and Wherever You Go, There You Are – and wanted to see what it would actually look like. I wanted to be able to hold it in my hand, rotate it, see how the piece fits together.

You’d think you could do that in CAD, and you can, in a way, but there is still something much more illuminating about a physical form.

I fired up my CubeX and got out some ABS filament. I also got out some lamps – filament doesn’t seem to like cold, and ABS in particular gets cranky about it.  I also grabbed some florescent green filament – whose idea was it to buy this color, anyway?

Printing Copper Cuff, a 3D printed contemporary sculpture by Kevin Caron

The form printed fine, but despite the use of the lamps, it split in a couple of places (the printer is in a corner where it was hard to get any heat).

Initially, I thought, “Oh well. I really just wanted to see how it would look.” But the form was so awesome, I decided to use a little JB Weld to fill in the cracks (I’ve tried other fillers, but JB Weld seems to work the best).

After a little sanding to get the surface uniform, I got out some patinas from Sculpt Nouveau. I use these patinas on my metal sculptures, but I knew they’d work on filament, too.

Boy, did they!

I then printed another, larger version in a pink as equally ugly as the green (again, who bought these colors?! Oh yeah, that’d be me). Because it also had cracks, I again used the JB Weld and sanded the surface to make it smooth.

On this sculpture, I used a bronze patina, which has real bronze in it, as the underlayment, much like a painter does. I put it on a sculpture that I’ve now named Oculum, then put a blue green over the top. It looks like it’s 100 years old and was dug up out of the ground!

Oculum, a 3D printed contemporary art sculpture by Kevin CaronOn the green sculpture, which became Copper Cuff, I used, yes, a copper patina.

In both cases – more so in Oculum (right) – the underlying color shows through, making the look far more complex. The pink actually looks awesome where it “bleeds” through.

It isn’t until you pick up the sculptures, though, that you realize they aren’t made of metal. Initial responses to them have been out of this world.

It was nice to create something fresh and new that looks ancient and honorable, and even cooler to do it with a 3D printer.