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Printed pots and computerized coils: The place of 3D printing in ceramic practice

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The emergence of innovations and new approaches in the field of 3D printing inspires and enables creative work that integrates the traditional languages of ceramics with digital aesthetics, processes and technologies. For makers, new tools to 3D print in clay present a range of ways to make, conceptualize and communicate ideas, and yet, for some, such methods of design and production signal a loss of traditional making skills and a loss of the ‘humanness’ in craft. This article presents a number of examples of practitioners who have found ways to reinsert the essence of human experiences into their work, not via metaphor or artistic interpretation, but through data. Instead of the maker’s touch, we find ‘spoken’ forms shaped through the digital data capture of voice and breath. Chris Gustin uses a CAD program to convert peaks and valleys of voice into bowl forms, whilst Jenny Filipetti captures the force of breath to shape her vessels, which are then 3D-printed in clay. In their work, we see evidence of the emergence of a new language of making that asks questions of the dialogues between traditional and digital craft skills, and between human and machine. The dialogic spaces that emerge from the coming together of data patterns and vessel forms, and of traditional and technological making processes, promote an understanding of 3D-printed ceramics as a series of structured conversations between forms of a diverse and eclectic nature. In terms of a 3D-printed ceramic language this means vessels that quote ceramic forms and processes that have been ‘said before’, and yet that also speak in anticipation of future vessel shapes and the syntax of process possibilities. This article suggests that 3D-printed ceramics should not be seen as a conflict or a compromise within crafts, but as a productive dialogue.
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Keywords: 3D printing; ceramics; clay; dialogue; digital data; human; machine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Law Society, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • The aim of Craft Research is to advocate and promote current and emerging craft research, including research into materials, processes, methods, concepts, aesthetic and style. This may be in any discipline area of the applied arts and crafts, including craft education.

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