How Artist Metrov Creates His 3D Printed Bronze Sculpture: Reincarnation of Pax

This week, we congratulated Santa Barbara, California artist Metrov on the sale of one of his 3D printed sculptures here. We are very pleased to be able to also share this article, sent to us by Metrov, containing full details on how he created his limited edition sculpture series using the latest 3D printing technology.

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The Reincarnation of PAX by Metrov (www.metrov.org)

The introduction of new casting technologies led me on quite an adventure this last year. Basically, it was supposed to go something like this: 1) Use a 3D modeling program to create a digital sculpture. 2) Email the digital file to a foundry. 3) Foundry makes a 3D print. 4) From the 3D print, they make a mold. 5) From the mold, they cast the sculpture in bronze. 6) Add patinas to bronze. 7) The bronze is mounted on a marble stand. 8) Foundry ships finished piece to my studio in U.S. The real adventure, however, happened between the lines.

STEP ONE: CREATE 3D MODEL

Below: image of PAX: BEAR GODDESS (with foundry notes), rendered from Blender, an open source, 3D modeling and animation program. It took me a few years to master Blender… the basics, anyway. It’s a fully comprehensive program which includes all the myriad controls of the high-end paid versions.

STEP TWO: EMAIL DIGITAL FILE TO FOUNDRY

Sounds simple, but first I had to hire a professional 3D modeller to prepare my digital file for 3D printing. Besides modeling the figure, it has to be specially configured to enable 3D printing—technical stuff I’ve yet to learn (read: don’t want to learn… ugh). Also, the file had to go to a foundry in China as their prices are a fraction of what the cost would be in the U.S. Some places in China are not email friendly, and so emails have to be sent through special servers, otherwise they may be intercepted by secret police… or spies… or something. Anyway, the email finally arrived at the foundry.

STEP THREE: FOUNDRY MAKES 3D PRINT

This step was happily straightforward. My well-prepared file printed without issues. Below: image of the 3D print.

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STEP FOUR: FOUNDRY MAKES MOLD

Again, this step was pretty straightforward. Or at least, I didn’t hear of any issues.

STEP FIVE: CAST SCULPTURE IN BRONZE

Casting went well… after all, this is what foundries, do, right?

STEP SIX: ADD PATINAS TO BRONZE

This is where the headaches began. This particular sculpture requires a two-tone patina as seen in the first rendering above. Most of the patina is the traditional bronze color that covers the body and ears, but the head and ear holes must be black. After numerous attempts (and photos back and forth showing wear corrections must be made, etc), the artisans at the foundry were simply unable to create the patina as indicated. When they tried to fix it, they only made things worse. Exasperated, I finally instructed them to remove the patina completely and send it without a finish. (see 3rd shot below).

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STEP SEVEN: MOUNT BRONZE ON MARBLE STAND

The first marble base made by the foundry was nothing like the one I designed in my rendering. When I pointed this out to them (based on the photo they sent), they readily had another one made. Second time they got it right.

STEP EIGHT: SHIP FINISHED PIECE

The work in the image above is what arrived from China. I was pretty excited to receive my sculpture at last… it took almost eight months from the time I’d emailed the 3D digital file to get the final statue. It wouldn’t normally take this long, of course, but the patina phase became a nightmare that no one anticipated. It was my fault, actually, as I failed, in the beginning, to ask the foundry to show me a similar two-tone patina sculpture they’d done in the past.

So, I now had to have the patina applied. Since this part of the operation requires a welding torch, and because I’d never applied patina before, I went to a local foundry to have it done.

The local foundry is well established: Artisan Bronze in Oxnard, California. Because of the headaches working with China, I decided to have a mold made from the bronze so I could have Artisan Bronze make copies in the future. Because the 3D print is not required to make bronze copies, the cost is considerably reduced. Robert, the owner, agreed, but the marble base had to be removed to make the mold. Robert warned me it could break when trying to remove it…. which, in fact, it summarily did.

Robert added both colors of the patina, but the blacks did not turn out nearly black enough. I learned that it’s not possible to get a true black patina. The black would have to be painted on.

First, though, I had to replace the marble base. Robert recommended a place he works with in Los Angeles: Imported Onyx. He actually drove my base down to them, and left it for replication. When I called to pick the new base, there was no answer… for almost two weeks.

Meanwhile, I had posted the 3D rendering of the statue on Indiewalls, a website where artists can submit their work for various commercial and private needs, i.e. restaurants, hotels, homes, and so forth. A client actually purchased the statue based on the rendering, and needed it shipped to New York right away!

I found another base factory on the East Coast, and was about to place an order when, Victor, owner of Imported Onyx called and apologized as he’d been waylaid by surgery. At any rate, he turned out to be a great guy, and fabricated a new base in one day. I raced down from Santa Barbara to pick it up.

Having the mounted statue back in my studio, I had to apply the final black paint for the head and ear holes. I painstakingly masked off the bronze areas and applied the paint on Friday. Saturday was spent photographing and making video of the final work. Sunday, I prepared the packing crate. Monday, I ordered a plaque with title of piece and my name. Monday night, packed the work. Tues morning, drove the crate to FEDEX and had it shipped to NYC!

Since this version of PAX is a limited edition of 25, I only have to go through this 24 more times! Just kidding. Now that I’ve been through the process… and learned the potholes to avoid… it should be a snap making the other editions. At any rate, keep your fingers crossed for me.

 

MYTH OF PAX: BEAR GODDESS

In this epic, narrative installation series, Pax, the ancient Roman goddess of peace, Spring, and re-birth, returns to us as the spirit of a Mother Bear. The Pax project signals the arrival of a new global consciousness; a harmonious shift between the balance of patriarchal and matriarchal forces governing our planet. 

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LEARN MORE ABOUT “PAX: BEAR GODDESS LIMITED EDITION SCULPTURE

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Artists Building Relationships With Art Collectors

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The idiom or aphorism “God is in the details” expresses the idea that whatever you do you should do it thoroughly and completely. I like to think of such thoroughness as “leaving no stone unturned,” that is, let no detail –no matter how small — go unexamined. And, yes, for any artist “it’s the little things that count” when it comes to establishing relationships with collectors. Those are some of the things that I took away from my conversations with the art collector and entrepreneur Dean Cameron and artist Rush Cole. Yet, surprisingly enough, neither could seem to recall specific moments or words, just that they began to talk, kept the conversation going and art entered into private art collections.

“Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgement difficult.” Hippocrates

Dean Cameron says, “I love it when an artist shares their truth about their artwork and even what it means to be an artist (the struggle is real). I enjoy getting to know them personally and not just their pedigree. There is a lot of very beautiful artwork out there and visual attraction can sure get the conversation started, but what usually prompts me to purchase is when I have developed a relationship with that artist. Nearly every painting we own has a story of some type.”

Dean recalls a relationship with an artist that started as a chance meeting at a printer. “The Artists name was d l’Aigle. He was having printing done as well and he and I struck up a conversation. In a very similar fashion he and I became friends, as well as me becoming his publisher. I helped him sell numerous prints and originals. Sadly we lost d’lAigle a couple of years ago. Pam and I own 3 originals. If there is a single key…say hi and strike up a conversation. Even just say hello!”

New Mexico artist Rush Cole

Artist Rush Cole (photo: Herschel Mair, Santa Fé, NM)

Rush Cole recalls that, “Dean and I met on Facebook several years ago through a mutual friend, Marcella Rose…I’m thinking it must have been somewhere around 2005-2007…it’s all a little vague. At any rate, Dean and I communicate occasionally online. Recently, I posted a flurry of artwork from my website rushcolefineart.com and he purchased a small painting.
"YOUNG PUEBLO MAIDEN", 18" x 26", Oil on canvas, Gallery-wrapped: $5500.

YOUNG PUEBLO MAIDEN, 18 x 26 inches, oil painting on canvas, $5500.

 

Rush Cole’s words remind me of the importance of starting the conversation. No need to wait until you have the perfect elevator speech or business card. (Don’t make excuses, or justify not taking action). We are all human. Others may not remember the exact words or moment you first spoke, but they will remember that you connected with them. Get the conversation started and keep it natural. Have lots of conversation too!

Dean Cameron also values his friendship with Marcella Rose, saying, “If I remember correctly, she called me on the phone to ask me about my business at the time American Fine Art Company. We met and it developed from there. I saw her work and got to know her as a person and we hit it off from there. After meeting her and getting to know her, we developed a relationship of me being a publisher for her as well as placing her works in a local gallery.   The first business deal developed when a bank president I know was buying a new condo and the designer asked me if I could show her a collection of some of our artists. She loved an abstract series of Marcella’s and asked for prices of canvas giclees and originals. She chose the giclees…. (I now own the originals…). Marcella has developed an outstanding art career for herself in Minnesota and her works are selling like hotcakes. She is a Flootie artist as well. Pam and I own 10 of her original paintings and 4 of her prints. We talk often and help each other when we can. What inspires me is when someone else is inspired. My advice to artists is to be “engaged” with people. Not everyone will buy your art but friendships and networking lead to opportunities. I can’t tell you how many business deals have developed between friends of friends and a good word.”
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 Last year, an Artist Marketing Resources article (read it here ) featured some of the many art projects of Dean Cameron, including mention of his private art collection of over 200 paintings and numerous prints. In a more recent conversation, Dean said–“I am privileged to have made many artist friends (some I have had professional relationships with as well). In many cases I have tried to help artists build relationships through networking without contractual binds as well. Funny thing I have always believed in the cheesy “what goes around comes around” philosophy. Of the over 200 paintings Pam and I own a good 50% are from artist friends. I tell many, that most successful artists sell a lot of work BECAUSE of the Internet. It’s about building relationships and trust in your brand. People buy online when they trust the quality of work or the merchant that is selling it.”

Even Dean Cameron’s online gallery, Flootie, is set up to make connections with each of the artists there. Rush Cole is a Flootie artist member and you can review her portfolio here.

Dean Cameron invites both artists and collectors to connect with him via email (info@flootie.com) and join in the discussions on his Facebook gallery page here.