Computational Ceramics

For the past few months, I've been experimenting with computational ceramics. It's a fascinating emerging discipline. Much of the focus has been on 3d-printed ceramics. See for example, this lovely work by Nervous System and Ronald Rael.

I've been taking a different approach, using a laser cutter to make templates for slab-based clay constructions. I use the laser to cut computationally designed patterns out of silicone. I press these patterns into a flat sheet of clay (a slab), and then fold the clay into three-dimensional shapes. 

 A laser-cut silicone template.

A laser-cut silicone template.

 
 Pressing templates into a slab of clay with a slab roller. 

Pressing templates into a slab of clay with a slab roller. 

 
 Peeling off a template.

Peeling off a template.

 
 Cups in wet clay.

Cups in wet clay.

 

I've been inspired by beautiful work by Cait Reas, Bryan HopkinsErin Riley, and Josh Burker

Clay is a marvelous and completely new medium for me. It's both forgiving - endlessly malleable - and exacting - it retains a remarkable memory of what you've done to it. The number of variables is bracing: the computational pattern, the craft of slab building, the choice of clay, the firing processes, and the seemingly limitless universe of glazes. Here are some of my failures:  

 I couldn't get this finicky porcelain clay to stop cracking.

I couldn't get this finicky porcelain clay to stop cracking.

 

I'm fascinated by the way that ceramics can become part of everyday life. It's great fun to drink morning coffee out of these.

 Glazed & fired cups.

Glazed & fired cups.

 
Leah Buechley