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A Gnarly Visitor

January 12, 2011
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This past week David Celento of Pennsylvania State University’s Architecture program visited Portland and gave a workshop on his technique for creating ceramic tiles shaped in digitally fabricated plaster molds.  The workshop was hosted jointly by Nancy Cheng of the University of Oregon and Jennifer Wall at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Although unable to attend the actual workshop, I enjoyed re-meeting David (we’d met previously at the annual ACADIA conference a year ago in Chicago) and had a wonderful time learning about his work.

These extruded Penrose "tubes" were created jointly with Del Harrow. The digital fabrication part here were the steel templates created and used in the extruder.

The tiles stem from a joint artist-in-residence program David did with ceramicist Del Harrow at the European Ceramic Workcentre in the Netherlands. David raved about the experience there, it sounds like an incredibly innovative and supportive environment.

After completing some initial projects together, including the extruded Penrose tubes shown here, David created the series of glazed tile patterns show here on his own, by constructing 3d computer models of the shapes and then carving out molds using a computer controlled router.  The ceramic clay was pressed into the molds, then fired and glazed to create the tiles.  I’ve pulled some images together from various sources of his work to give you an idea of it.

Detail of the tile pattern.

Carved plaster, foam and silicon mold parts used at EKWC. The multiple steps avoided milling the plaster directly and the potential damage to the mill from the plaster dust. At the workshop here they kept the plaster wet and milled it directly.

A second pattern created using the same tile shapes in a different ordering.

I understand that the workshop here was completely successful, and that there are some great projects still to come out of the kilns.  I’ll try to acquire photos to post. We all enjoyed David’s visit, and learned a lot from it, but I think his favorite part may have been the last two days when he took a side trip and discovered Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood.  No digital fabrication here!  But still an architectural highlight of the United States 75 years after the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed it. Now we’ll just hope he made it home through this week’s east coast snowstorm!

– Brian –

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Peter Stubbs permalink
    January 12, 2011 10:48 pm

    THAT sounds/looks AWESOME.

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