Flabella, involves the use of clay parts, at the scale of furniture and involved the fabrication and joining of multiple, hollow structural shapes using a ceramic press molding technique. This was achieved through the use of rubber molds and the seaming together of the wet clay components. Flabella is designed to emphasize the weight of the material, its deformation as a body and the anatomy of the surface. The design of the piece is the result of buckling or forcing a plastic surface into strange curvatures. It is through this relationship with the materials that traditional ideas of mass production can be extended using ceramic. With the aid of the 3D scanner we are able to refine our physical models and further develop the surface in relation to the constraints of the fabrication process.
There are four primary aspects of this work, 1. The adoption of the ceramic process as a means to develop intricacy, in particular, techniques that have been developed by artisans, and metal-smiths that can be intensified with digital tools. 2. The deployment of a plastic membrane as a computational mechanism for generating nuanced form and the production of feedback that operates independently from the digital environment, 3. The use of digital tools for formal refinement and optimization, 4. The development of a design process ‘From Technique to Product’ that involves the orchestration of disparate tools, often from separate industries into new workflows and new products.
Mold making: Foekje Fleur van Duin, Aniek Meeldijk.
Special thanks to the Sundaymorning@EKWC for their expertise.
- A computer rendering of Flabella design showing the desired gradients of the glaze. EKWC 2010.
- The digital model file in preparation for half-scale positive model. EKWC 2010.
- The assembly of the plastic profiles for positive model. These were output in parts and scratch built by hand. The double curvature of the edging and the undercuts were achievable in plastic without 3d printing or CNC machining. This method allowed for the undercuts to be maintained and it eliminated the added work required to finish and seal the surface prior to molding. Additional details were added as the prototype was developed. EKWC 2010.
- Model profiles after addition of technical clay which is applied and leveled by hand. This positive requires no additional finishing prior to molding. Technical clay remains soft at higher temperature and can easily be reworked. At room temperature it has the consistency of soap, allowing it to be shaved, profiled, and polished. Individual components can be removed for molding. EKWC 2010.
- Rubber molds for the rear and front legs. These molds were made directly from the technical clay. The rubber portion of the mold is 3 mm thick. During the press molding process, the clay is rolled flat and laid into each part of the mold and leveled by hand to an even thickness of 5 mm. A plaster mother mold is required so that the clay can be pressed into the mold evenly. In this case the plaster is reinforced with hemp fibers to increase its tensile strength. After the clay is pressed, the open edges of the parts are roughened and wet mixture of deflocculant clay is added along the seams prior to joining the mold together. This allows the wet clay to more easily bond along the seams. After demolding any visible seams can be removed and hand finished. This technique can be used to produce large hollow pieces and it allows multiple molds to be joined together to produce seamless ceramic objects. EKWC 2010.
- Bisque firing of central body component. In order to prevent deformation the parts are fired in sand or on the clay supports shown here. EKWC 2010.
- Central body component after bisque firing. The central body component is 105 cm long and was press molded using a six part rubber mold. The top portion was molded separately and added to preserve the thinness of the exposed edges and the undercuts. Particular care was taken to insure that the individual parts had the same moisture content. Wet parts with slightly different moisture content do not bond well. The entire piece was supported on a three dimensional shrinkage plate during firing. Bisque fired stoneware clay. EKWC 2010.
- Three final press molded, hollow stoneware parts, with glazed legs. The opposite legs and rear seat are not present. EKWC 2010.
- Glaze tests on curved surfaces using sprayed on underglaze. EKWC, 2010
- Front leg support, 20 cm h. x 35 cm l. x 5 cm w. Left, stoneware fired in sand with a second firing for the white glaze. Right, Stoneware clay, with copper saturation, sprayed with yellow and green under¬glaze. The white glaze is applied by brush. A third fire was required for the copper saturation. EKWC, 2010.