Artist Q & A: 5 Axis Machined Sculpture

10th October 2017 - Fine Cut
Artist Q & A: 5 Axis Machined Sculpture

What is the inspiration behind the piece?

I wanted to design a piece that used engineering processes, CAD techniques and manufacturing technology, one that took organic shapes and to then create those shapes with precision engineering. 

A sculpture that I have always admired is "Horse at water" by Nic Fiddian-Green.

Once I began sculpting shapes in the ZBrush software, the horses head was the perfect place to start. The piece developed from there.

The horse head is also a well studied, classic subject of painting and sculpture so there was a challenge there for me to do it justice. It's also a very strong form and having that strength in the piece was important.

What made you decide to choose the metal & wood combination?

I wanted the warmth of the wood, the natural grain and beauty to be combined with the cold man-made metal. It was very much part of the design to leave all of the machining marks on the aluminium parts and sit them next to the smooth glossy wood. A seamless blend of opposing materials.

Did you know how it would be made before asking Fine Cut, or did Fine Cut advise you on the best process?

As an Automotive Design Engineer, with many years experience working on prototype and production vehicles, I know exactly how the machining processes work and how the assembly would work. What was new to me and how the Fine Cut team helped develop the project was to advise on how to prepare the organic shapes so that they could be machined. We had a couple of meetings where I brought in my CAD models and we discussed changes I could make to the design.

An example is the mane. I designed this originally as one piece. The advice from Fine Cut was to split the item in half creating a flat surface on which to fix the part down for machining. It would have been possible to make a one piece mane, but would have needed fixtures which would have added to costs.

What other pieces have you created using 5 Axis Machining?

This is my first sculpture! The first "non-functional" piece! There have been many tools I have designed for vehicle body panels, and many components I've designed that have been machined. For me though, every part that comes back from machining is a work of art. The aesthetics of the finish and the generation of a machined object has always interested me.

Are you happy with the results?

Yes, completely! It's stunning. Exactly as I had imaged and hoped the piece would be.

What made you choose Fine Cut?

Their enthusiasm for the project, obvious skill, experience and knowledge of how best to produce the individual pieces of what is a very complex 5-axis machining exercise. Right from our first meeting, I knew the Fine Cut team where the right people for the job.

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