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Atang Tshikare leverages 3D printing to produce bronze sculpture

Created in collaboration with Crayon Artel and Form Farm, the 1.5m-tall ‘SEBABATSO' is part of the artist's ‘Pula e ya na’ solo show, at Everard Read Cape Town

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Atang Tshikare, the artist who installed a 3m-long 3D printed sculpture at the Time Out Market, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, has once again leveraged the technology to produce his latest ‘SEBABATSO’ sculpture. Created in collaboration with Crayon Artel, a fine art production company, and Form Farm, a 3D printing service provider serving the South African market, the 1.5m-tall bronze sculpture is currently being exhibited as part of Atang’s ‘Pula e ya na’ solo show, at Everard Read Cape Town.

Over the past many months, Atang has increasingly been exploring the use of digital manufacturing techniques to elevate his practice. “3D printing has elevated my design process and thinking, and has expanded my creative capacity. I’ve worked in materials ranging from wood, to glass, to bronze, but now I am able to expand on that by using 3D printing as a starting point to bring these all together. It is really fantastic, and the technology is definitely the future,” said Atang Tshikare.

SEBABATSO started out as a clay model, after which Atang and his team attempted to produce a large-scale version. However, the previously used polystyrene, foam, and clay materials proved unsuitable for the desired forms of the wings – frequently breaking due to the weight distribution. After many weeks worth of work, he decided that 3D printing was the only practical way to bring the piece to life.

Working closely with Crayon Artel and Yael Matute, an independent digital artist from Mexico City, the team 3D scanned the original clay model and reworked the design – lightweighting the wings using the Voronoi pattern as a reference. This decision was not only aesthetically-driven, but also reduced the amount of bronze needed to cast the sculpture, and increased the overall structural integrity.

The entire digital sculpture was designed over WhatsApp, through hundreds of messages between the involved parties, including the team at Form Farm and the bronze foundry. Thanks to the flexibility enabled by creating the piece digitally first, the teams were able to align in terms of sizing of the final piece, as well as where it needed to be sliced, and how it needed to be delivered to the foundry for the most optimal casting.

After the deliverable forms were determined, Yael Matute sliced them into pieces (20cm x 20cm x 20cm) that would fit on the build plates of Form Farm’s 3D printing fleet – which consists mostly of desktop systems from Creality, and ELEGOO.

“The South African art market is largely limited to 2D art works, especially in comparison to the markets of larger economies. Through 3D printing, we aim to give local artists access to a relatively affordable sculptural medium,” said Dante Lutz, Co-founder of Form Farm.

Atang Tshikare, Crayon Artel, Yael Matute, and Form Farm leverage 3D printing to produce bronze sculpture for ‘Pula e ya na’ solo show at Everard Read.
Photo credit: Slater Studio.

3D printing is rapidly being adopted by artists around the world as a tool for prototyping, visual communication, mold-making, casting, and as the end medium itself. Artists including Misha Kahn, Daniel Arsham, Jeff Koons, Salventius, and many others heavily rely on the technology to enable the production of previously impractical or impossible to produce sculptures.

*The author of this article has a stake in both Crayon Artel and Form Farm.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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