The term "face jug" refers to an African-American pottery type created in the second half of the 19th century, in the midst of slavery, in the Edgefield District of South Carolina. The small vessel is turned stoneware with facial features—wide eyes and bared teeth—made of kaolin, a locally sourced clay.
The face vessels told big stories — stories of cultural movement, human survival, spiritualism and technological prowess, according to Jon Prown, director for the Chipstone Foundation. Chipstone has created Face Jugs: Art and Ritual in 19th-Century South Carolina, an exhibition that opens at the Birmingham (Alabama) Museum of Art on January 13, 2013.
One exhibit, a big silvery face jug has a modern story to tell: using 3D scanning and 3D printing technology researchers has recreated the 19th-Century face jugs for preserving culture for future generations.
It's a contemporary artwork by artist Brian Gillis, titled Of Ghosts and Speculation. Gillis was fascinated by the fact that the face jug story has been lost over time and proposed to create an artwork to serve as a kind of time capsule and archive. He collected all of the material that had ever been published on face jugs, and worked with a bookmaker to create a small archival book containing all of the information he found.
Another portion of the project for Brian was to team up the Milwaukee School of Engineering to have one Chipstone's face jug 3D-scanned.
For reducing the reflectivity of the ceramic finish, Vince Anewenter, RPC manager of operations for the Milwaukee School of Engineering, covered the face jug with what looked like a black net with little dots that the 3D scanner uses as reference points. He then used a Creaform RevScan hand-held scanner to capture the 3D shape data. With Geomagic Studio software Anewenter was able to process the scan data, such as filling in holes, patching together the different scan files and outputs files for 3D printing. Next, Nora Huang, a biomedical engineering student at MSOE, manipulated the image using a Geomagic Sensable Phantom haptic device to add the sensation of touch to the 3D modeling work and made it bigger, adapting it for its new purpose.
The Rapid Prototyping Center at MSOE 3D-printed the new time capsule in nylon on a 3D Systems Sinterstation 2500+ selective laser sintering system. This nylon model was shipped to Repliform in Maryland, where it was coated with .005 nickel to add strength and durability.
(Photos courtesy of the Chipstone Foundation)
Of Ghosts and Speculation functions as both a time capsule and archive. It has been accessioned into Chipstone's Collection. The entire project was coordinated by researchers in Oregon, Wisconsin and Maryland. It is the product of the best technologies that eliminates geographical and time barriers. It will become an active repository that scholars hundreds of years from now can open and access.
"I think that this technology is still in its infancy," says Gillis. "I look forward to a time when it will function as a way to archive time and memories through the capture of the likenesses of things from real life, akin to what photography does, but with significantly more information."
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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