Paper Sculpture

Andre Grewe makes websites for the School of Art & Design.

Students in Matt Shlian's Winter 2011 advanced course, Paper Sculpture, ran the gamut from A&D freshmen to grad students in Dance and Architecture.  They explored the concept of collapsibility, investigating the physics behind accordion folds and telescoping instruments in a series of projects that included greeting cards, pop-up books, egg packaging, and wearable paper designs.  
Matt Shlian (left) and Papercraft class at Festifools parade, Ann Arbor.  Images by Melissa Squires.
Check out some of the amazing work they created in the video and images below - click the thumbnails to view larger versions.
Amber Kao - Folding/Unfolding: Paper Engineering & Dance


Stone Carving: Part Two

Start Chiseling!

Limestone blocks recycled from the Michigan Union have inspired a unique Art and Design class for the Winter 2011 semester. Under the guidance of Professor Michael Rodemer, the six students in this course are learning the stone carving process, from making clay models and forging their own tools to the techniques of carving and finishing limestone sculpture. The class, a unique opportunity for both philanthropy and learning, is intended to teach students more than just the techniques of stone carving: proceeds from the sale of the sculptures created will be used to give financial support to A&D students.

This post is by Courtney Harring, a student in the Stone Carving class.


Many of us are in the finishing stages or finished with our clay models and we are ready to start chiseling.


But before we can begin we needed to do a little mapping out on the stone with chalk and charcoal.

Strapping on our stylish safety glasses, we are ready to get dusty! The first blow of the chisel is both exhilarating and nerve wracking all at the same time, and boy does the dust fly.

After the first initial hit, we are able to experiment with each of our handmade tools. We are also able to get a better feel for the material.

I think it's safe to say that we all have a much better appreciation for Michelangelo now!


Rebel Spies Steal Plans


Zack Jacobson-Weaver is the Materials Fabrication Studio Coordinator at A&D.

Remember when R2-D2 was carrying secret plans for the Death Star and shot that cute little image of Princess Leia into Luke's garage? No. Well...shit. This is no further along than any holography I've seen yet. Basically you still need a material substrate to project on. However, as "projection mapping" picks up popularity, people are doing some sweet stuff with it. Among the best I've seen:

Do this one with full audio cause it's a jam. Etienne De Crecy

This one's insane too

This is much subtler, but elegant and effective. Pablo Valbuena

How is it done?.......
Kind of like this...our first in-studio attempt with help from Mat Schwartz.


Sightings: If you build it they will come

Fantasy Architecture from the Digital Studio

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

I finally found the source of the new miniature cityscape that sprouted up in the hallway over the weekend. It's not an Architecture class after all but a class called Digital Studio, a required course for all incoming A&D students. The class is an intro course in how to use digital tools within a creative art practice, so students get exposed to 2-D and 3-D computer programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut Express.

I caught Elona Van Gent taking pictures of the installation, otherwise know as "documentation." Aha! Elona indeed knew the origins of the alien landscape. She is one of eight faculty teaching the eight sections of Digital Studio. "We came up with this assignment because we didn't want students leaving the class without some experience in translating digital thinking into the material realm," she told me. (This portion of the class began, by the way, with a visit from Geoff Mann who creates ceramics in 3-D and then casts them in real clay.)

The assignment was called Fantasy Architecture.  Each student played real estate developer for a 12x12 square of the city which they were to occupy with fantasy buildings, created in a Google app called Sketch-Up and a paper modeling plug-in called Waybe. Turns out, without messy limitatons such as structural integrity, the laws of physics, building codes and livibility issues, we really would have more interesting places to live.

Here's how the plug-in works: design your dream building in Google Sketch-Up, then the program will help you translate your design into a flattened fold design which you can then print out and fold. (According to Elona, this was not as easy as it sounds. Many of the buildings required multiple parts and scaling techniques in order for them all to fit together.)

So this is how all these buildings were made. The best part, I think, is that Sketch-Up allows you to dream up ANY surface texture/style you want, including hand drawn, custom-made designs.

Heck, I'd love to go with this look for MY house....

Or any of these would do, too.....



Mann on Board

Geoffrey Mann touches clay and likes it

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

Geoffrey Mann from Scotland was one of the many Witt Visitors to the school this week. He was brought in by fellow Scot, John Marshall, to talk about his work which, as he describes it, “challenges the existing divides between art, craft and design.”

If you’re not sure exactly what this means, this photo makes it more explicit:

That is, he’s going to take all your ideas about ‘craft’ and wreak havoc with them.

I found Geoff in the ceramics studios. He was having a little 2D time after having just played in the 3D studio across the street.

Geoff was working with John Leyland to create a mold for one of his dinnerware pieces from the Cross-fire Series, It took me awhile to understand why he needed to create a mold for these pieces.  Didn’t they exist already? Well, it turns out those incredible shiny ceramic teapots and plates in the photos aren’t real. They were all created in the digital realm and the only thing you could actually hold in your hand (or have some twisted tea in) is a rapid prototype output of the renderings.

So here’s the story behind this fancy dinner set. Geoff was invited to participate in a five year research project, Past, Present & Future Craft Practice (PPFCP), based at the University of Dundee in Scotland. He was the designated ‘future’ man. (“Just because I work in 3-D digital forms, I always get labeled as the ‘future’,” he says.)

And, the first thing Geoffery Mann thinks of when thinking about what to do for the craft practices project is sound. Sound? To me, this explains exactly why he was chosen for the ‘future’ portion of the craft exposition. He said he was particularly intrigued with the idea of ‘getting caught in the crossfire’ and the unseen effect of sound on objects. What kind of artifacts would sound, say for example, an argument leave on an object if it were made visible?

So in thinking about the project, he asks: where do arguments happen? Well, often at the dinner table they do.  So he had the idea to create a scene at a dinner table. It’s elegant and perfect, but there’s something wrong. The dinnerware gets caught in the crossfire of the dinner conversation. So he made this incredible dinnerware set. And though it is superbly real looking, it was entirely fabricated using 3-D animation.  Here is final video he made, using a table-side argument between Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening from American Beauty.

Turns out, the video was shortlisted for the Vimeo Awards in NYC (which take place this weekend) and now Geoff is receiving numerous requests for the dinner set from various museums and collectors.

So here Geoff Mann is, in the A&D ceramic studio, trying to figure out how to render his rapid prototype models into ‘real’ material. Not an easy task since the shape is so unusual. He adds “From the buyer’s point of view, it doesn’t have to be real ceramic but well, I’m a bit of a purist that way. “

P.S. Thanks to John Marshall for the photos.



Halloween going to the Dogs

Zack Jacobson-Weaver is the Materials Fabrication Studio Coordinator at A&D.


For three years my Halloweens have been going down hill.  Ironic considering I'm in the middle of a so called creative community.  Hmmm....what could I do about that?
Would the A&D community be willing to outfox these dogs and begin a new tradition?  Do you have the cajones to compete with your fellow dudes and chicks for the best bragging rights ever?  Should we have the city's best costume contest ever?
Give me some feedback.  I hear nothing, again I sit on my porch and hand out candy to the 3 kids that actually come to my house erstwhile devouring said candy and getting blocked arteries.  Don't block my arteries.  Who wansa potty?  RSVP...
We can beat this!



Notes from the Studio

Zack Jacobson-Weaver is the Materials Fabrication Studio Coordinator at A&D.

University, what does it mean to me?  It means having kick a%* neighbors, for starters.  Like Mick from Architecture.  Mick Kennedy asked me and good pal John Leyland to participate in a review of his UG2 (2nd year undergrads) students' new work.  The pieces were inspired by various architectural icons and their sites.  Students had to analyze the sites and redesign their use of the Mound, Hearth, Screen, and Roof into a functioning lamp.

The atmosphere was so swanky, I suggested Kenny G.  But serious work deserves a serious review....and junk food.  Here's what we saw:

Nate Krueger (Stephen Holl office building)      


Brittany Roy (San Fran Federal Building)

Kevin Swanson (Yokohama Terminal)                 

Ed Burkhead (Holl office)

Jungmin Yoo (Holl office)                                        

Gian Tanamal and Anthony Soave (Beijing Water Cube)

Tae Kim (Statue of Liberty)                                     

Brian Surguine (Statue of Liberty)

...and last but not least

Nathan Smalligan (Yokohama Terminal)    


Nice Work, Gang.  Check out Mick and Co. here


Update from Germany

Michael Rodemer is spending much of the Summer of 2011 doing a collaborative art project in Berlin with Berlin artist (and former A&D Witt Resident) Franz John as part of Über-Lebenskunst, a symposium devoted to exploring sustainability, sponsored by the House of World Cultures and the Federal Cultural Foundation.

My present coordinates are:
Latitude 50.703237°
Longitude 7.111069°

If you put these numbers into Google Earth, you should see the top of the little urbanized village of ‘Dottendorf’ (engulfed long ago by the city of Bonn) in which we’ve found an apartment for the year that I’m here with a Fulbright Fellowship.

Rodemer: Studio

A fellowship like this means that multiple people and institutions are trusting you an enormous amount to do something productive. Alas, one can’t google an answer to the question of what to do. Consequently, I’ve been spending time in my attic studio thinking and trying things out; some of the first experiments are materializing.  I’ve been painting a good bit (no, I’m not really a painter, but it feels so good, and I LOVE the colors! )

Rodemer: Painting

And I’ve been tearing apart motorized model cars to give them behaviors using microcontrollers and a motor control chip. I’m working on getting this model car to sense when it has reached the edge of the abyss (or table), and reverse direction.



This month, I’ve undertaken an exhibition project in nearby Aachen, working with a fellow artist to make a number of bridge-like sculptures every weekend in January. When they’re done, we’ll have an opening/closing. In this blog, I’ll document something of this experience to share it with you.

Michael Rodemer in gallery

This photo was taken last Saturday in the gallery in Aachen. It’s a “Produzentengalerie”, which means that a group of artists run it as a co-op. My friend Peter Schneider is one of the members of the gallery, and he’s also making bridges for the show. One of these – not finished – can be seen in the background; it’s made of soy noodles, a lovely material.
I’m wearing my hat and sweatshirt because it was FREEZING in that place! Europe is under a winter storm that just won’t go away, so temps are lower than usual, and there is as much snow as in the U.P.! (Well, in some places. Aachen had about as much as during a mild Ann Arbor storm, but it caused mass consternation.)
The name of the gallery is “Artikel 5.” Anyone care to guess to what that refers?
Answer next time....


Behold!  Sculpture!

more like...Dick Grayson

Zack Jacobson-Weaver is the Materials Fabrication Studio Coordinator at A&D.

There’s a lot going on here, so try to keep up.  What I do is take a bunch of young excited artists behind the scenes of creating pretty much anything they can imagine in the third dimension.  Metal casting…check.  Metal fabrication…check.  Wood carving, carpentry, construction…check.  Rapid prototyping, CNC…check.  Figure modeling, kinetic, electronic…yup…cheeeyeck!

Oh and, you don’t just swing hammers, you learn about WHAT and WHY Art and Design is along the way.  Technique, history, theory…check.

We are here to have a conversation about that with anyone interested.  We can even disagree!  Type in all caps if you REALLY MEAN IT!  At least believe in what you say, because playing “artist”, faking “designer”, won’t cut it here.  This is the Sculpture Studio of A&D, The University of Michigan.  I am not Bruce Wayne, (crap!).  But sculpture Ninja?  Perhaps.  Zack, will suffice.