Ceramic Techniques: 3D Printed Prototypes and Lithophanes

3D Printing & Imaging Craft & Design
Ceramic Techniques: 3D Printed Prototypes and Lithophanes
Porcelain casts from 3D-printed prototypes

In honor of Ceramics Month here at MAKE, I reached out to my friend Fonda Yoshimoto, an artist who enjoys working with clay. Here she talks about two different ways of creating ceramic art: one modern — 3D modeling and printing a prototype in order to make a mold; and one old — etching very thin porcelain to take advantage of the translucency once fired.

Exploring Technology, Finding Tradition

By Fonda Yoshimoto

I took a class called “Digital and Clay” when I was going to school at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the class we used 3D modeling software (Maya) and 3D printing to create prototypes. We then used our prototypes to create molds to cast in porcelain.

Plastic 3D-printed prototypes

I was fascinated by the process, and even more excited about the translucency of the porcelain material when back-lit. It was through this exploration that I came to discover the lithophane, a 19th century art form. I started making tiles out of porcelain slip with a simple, direct technique: pour slip onto a plaster slab, let it set (plaster absorbs moisture), carve/press/scratch the image, and use a stencil to cut it to size.

“Touch, Scratch, Bind” is a translucent porcelain shack. This piece is inspired by the preciousness and fragility of the porcelain tiles. The viewer approaches the dwelling, a motion sensor triggers the light within, revealing the touches/scratches on the back of the translucent porcelain tiles, revealing detailed prints and pores.

“Touch, Scratch, Bind,” with lithophane tiles

8 thoughts on “Ceramic Techniques: 3D Printed Prototypes and Lithophanes

  1. Joel says:

    Very cool! Lithophanes are pretty amazing. Nice post.

  2. barleyhollow says:

    Reblogged this on Barley Hollow Pottery and commented:
    Here’s a really interesting approach to porcelain I wasn’t aware of. The process is pretty cool since it includes a 3D printer, but the results are what really caught my imagination. Very nice!

  3. stevepoling (@stevepoling) says:

    It appears that to make lithopanes work you need a back light.

    I can imagine a frame of some rectangular dimension about an inch thick that would serve as a mount for them. Two thoughts spring from this: 1) such a frame could be useful for other media requiring backlighting. 2) such a frame could generate backlight of continuously changing colors and brightness.

    I can imagine an array of LEDs plus an optional diffuser could be employed in such a frame. With control circuitry and multi-color LEDs, this back light frame could have a broad spectrum of applications.

    (A quick and dirty see-if-this-works solution could start with a cheap flat-screen TV/monitor, a wooden frame, and video source/computer.)

    Has anyone smarter than me already come out with a product, or a DIY project like this?

  4. MAKE | Your Comments says:

    […] response to Ceramic Techniques: 3D Printed Prototypes and Lithophanes, stevepoling says: It appears that to make lithopanes work you need a back […]

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