My Process: A Marriage of Art & Technology

My passion as a sculptor is to capture the tension of motion – and my favorite subject is the grace and athleticism of the female dancer. I use variations in form, scale, and material to explore how we perceive the motion. I usually start sculpting a figure in wax. Sometimes the original figure is cast directly in bronze or glass. Often, though, I use modern 3D technology to explore how variations of the original figure affect our sense of the figure and motion. Here is a brief explanation of the process.

Step 1: Sculpt Figure in Wax

I start my work sculpting a figure in wax. With the wax original I’m interested in capturing the essential muscle tension and attitude that creates the dynamism of the movement. The image, below, shows 2 examples of original wax figures. In the foreground figure you see the raw wax. In the rear figure, the wax has been coated with a matte finish and with some color to make it easier to use photogrammetry to create a 3D scan of the figure.

Female Nude Torso

The torso in the forground is a wax figure in process

The figure in the rear is also wax but has a colored, matte coating to facilitate photogrammetry — using photos to create a 3D scan.

 
 

Step 2: Scan Figure to Create 3D Mesh: The next step is to take 100 or more images of the figure from all angles and feed those images into software to create a 3D mesh that I can manipulate digitally. Below are 12 of 180 photos taken of this figure for the photogrammetry process.

 

Step 3: Digital Manipulations: To the left is the 3D digital mesh. To the right shows the mesh manipulated. In this case, I’ve simply added a skirt. The image shoes the mesh with a solid “skin”.

Blythe - Example of Different Type of 3D Manipulation: Blythe — a different figure also started with a wax model of the figure. The renderings, below, show a life-size variation that will be fabricated in either corten steel or wood. In this case, the mesh was manipulated with CAD/CAM technology. The layers will be cut with either a water-jet cutter or CNC router (depending on the material) and then assembled in the studio.

Step 4: Fabrication of Finished Pieces: The Irma Series used 3 completely different fabrication techniques to create 3 separate artworks — all beginning with the same wax model.

Irma-Rose used traditional lost-wax bronze casting. Where the figure was printed with a 3D printer and then a mold was made. Then a wax positive was made for use in traditional lost-wax casting.

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Irma-Rose

Bronze 27” H x 10” x 8”

This is the most realistic and least digitally modified of the series

Irma-Louise: Used a similar technique described, above, for Blythe — where the mesh was enlarged and then sliced and then connected, in this case with dowels. DXF files were sent to a water-jet cutter to cut out the slices in corten steel. We then fabricated the pieces in the studio.

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Irma-Louise

Corten Steel - 8ft tall

This sculpture is a deconstruction of the Irma figure using slats and hollows to give the figure a very different type of feel and message. The use of multiples types of technology were important in allowing me to create this deconstruction.

Irma-Glynn: Irma-Glynn was directed printed with a 3D printer after mesh manipulations.

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Irma-Glynn

3D Printed Resin - 9” Tall

This version of the Irma figure takes full advantage of the digital technology to create tessellated motion lines using a voronoi technique that would be very hard, if not impossible, to do manually.