When Alex Goss, one of our shop managers here at TXRX, is not buzzing around making sure our members have access to safe and well-oiled tools, he makes time for his studio art practice and even takes on some special projects. He, along with a fellow Houston-Brooklyn based artist Oscar Cornejo, recently had the opportunity to work with the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston in developing their education and outreach program to further reach young Houstonians in art making. After considering various different techniques of physically producing art, Alex and Oscar decided printmaking would be an effective tool in providing a platform for K-12 students to actively expand their vocabulary of art and art making. The goal of the project focused on enabling a student's autonomy over devices and processes (often considered to be technically involved) to create their own artistic projects with little teacher intervention.
After much research, development, and prototyping, Alex and Oscar narrowed their design to be easy and intuitive to use, flexible for multiple printmaking techniques, and of course durable and kid safe. The design centers around silk-screening while its generous offering of internal storage and sturdy platform lends itself to many other methods of making images on paper through printing processes. Alex and Oscar considered how technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing could offer exciting results for printmaking by limiting the physical and deeply technical skills that are historically required in traditional relief-type printing. They even used our computer controlled 24" vinyl cutter to make one of the patterns for their screens. Printmaking has always been on the forefront of technology as a means to disperse information and images accurately and rapidly--we think TXRX is a perfect place to continue the evolution of the medium.
Alex jokes that he used just about every tool at TXRX in order to make this print kit the best it could be from start to finish and--he nearly did.
Taking a moment to get a drawing out of CAD and test its feel in the real world with one of our MakerBots.
After settling on the right proportions and features, the CAD model generated in Solidworks was then programed in HSMWorks starting with the body and interior compartments of the box. Alex found he could get two boxes worth of parts out of one sheet of ½” Marine Plywood by using our 4x8’ CNC router table. All edges were then broken or rounded over on the manual router table. From there Alex spent several nights sanding and applying a water based varnish to the wood in order to better protect it in its messy and colorful life to come.
Registration stops were made out of delrin on the laser cutter. These not only help the boxes stack together nicely, but also provide a reference to align paper to the screen when printing.
Not stopping there, Alex and Oscar found they needed a way to secure the screen as well as the lid of the box during transportation and printing. So on top of finding a wonderful 18” O-Ring pictured above, Alex machined eight sets of custom latches on our Supra CNC mill, again using toolpaths generated from HSMWorks within Solidworks. These required several operations each and used specially designed fixtures all made right in TXRX’s machine shop. Alex then used our KMG grinder to carefully blend marks left by machining followed by a blasting in our glass bead-blasting cabinet, and then tumbled the parts in our vibratory tumbler to a soft satin sheen.
No sharp edges here!
The Contemporary Arts Museum inaugurated these printmaking kits during one of their busiest days of the year this past Saturday during Museum Experience day.
Here’s to a long life of sharing art and making with Houston youth.