Canberra School of Art Open Day

Posted by jerry on August 28th, 2004 — Posted in Journal

It was quieter than usual for open day, but no less interesting. The metal wedge in the tree trunk sculpture was … er… enhanced by the addition of a giant cardboard hammer!

Canberra School of Art

First stop was Sharon Boggon’s button installation in the foyer… the upper shelf shows button necklaces by Valerie Kirk

sharonb buttons

sharonb buttons

sharonb buttons

sharonb buttons

Then it was on for a quick visit to the 3D printer, or rapid prototyper, which is a seriously impressive piece of equipment.

The machine works like an ink jet printer, but it lays down an extruded plastic polymer resin. Unlike a printer, however, once the first layer is done, the matrix base moves down by one thickness of the resin and the process starts again. Gradually a 3D shape takes form, whether a conch shell form or a plastic adjustable spanner his device can build it using information from a 3D design program.

The device was purchased jointly between the Canberra School of Art and the John Curtin School of Medical Science – the latter using it to model artificial knee joints and the like.

After buying a couple of raffle tickets for a beautiful woodwork bench, Sharon headed off to fulfill her responsibilities for the Day. I made a visit to the metalwork shop and encountered some lovely jewellery and small metal objects. But being seriously wierd, the thing that really caught my attention was a wire extruding machine!

Wire extruding machine

This device looked like something Leonardo da Vinci might have put together, at once simple, elegant and very functional. The principle is that you take a piece of metal, heated until soft and malleable, hammer it into a thinnish rod and then while it is hot, pass the end of the rod into the smallest hole on the extrusion plate that it will fit, then using a pair of pliers, draw the rod through the hole. When it is pulled through, insert the end you have been holding into the next tapered hole and draw it through that – each time you do it the wire gets progessively thinner and longer.

Wire extruding machine

Of course for anything other than silver or gold, or perhaps copper, you will need more strength than a normal weedy human like myself can provide. That’s where the machine comes in. Basically, it is a frame that holds the extrusion plate, and the pair of pliers has hooked legs which cn be attached to a ring – itself attached to a hook which can grab a chain driven by a geared hand crank, so the fore applied by the pliers is something like ten times what a mere human can apply. Simple concept, neatly executed.

Wire extruding machine

The glass blowing was similarly medieval in technology, but the outcome was exquisite – these are very skilled artisans, carefully shaping and adding coloured glass. The glass blowing was a very delicate part of the operation.
The ceramic kilns saw good use – as pizza ovens! And, despite the range of very attractive small dishes (you could buy a coffee and cake combo and keep the plate) what again took my fancy was the simple and inexpensive construction of a small kiln. The hinges were a couple of bolts through a lug welded onto the door frame, and the rest is just fire-bricks.

kiln

The hole at the rear is for the tuyere, or flame nozzle from a simple propane burner.

kiln

The door also has a hole, stoppered with a shaped fire brick through which you can look to see how the firing is going.

kiln

Anyhow, I had a great day as you can see

Cheers
Jerry

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