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The word “ceramic” derives from the Greek word for pottery, and the earliest known ceramics are 27,000 years old and made from clay. But when you think of ceramics, you may have in mind something you made in a pottery class or your mom’s collection of soup bowls from the 1970s — when hand-crafted pottery objects became very popular. When we think of modern ceramics, we may also think of earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and bone china.  All of these materials fall under that general category “ceramics.” We associate ceramics less with 3D printing, but artist Jade Crompton’s work shows how 3D printing can be used to create unique pieces of ceramic tableware.

Underglazing-Jade-Cromptons-digital-ceramicsCombining 3D design and printing with casting and molding techniques, Crompton does not 3D print her finished pieces. Instead, she chooses to design her tableware in SOLIDWORKS, and then i.materialise prints her models in polyamide. Then she uses molding and coating techniques. She applies lacquer coating and sanding to create the best surface quality for the mold. The coating prevents water absorption, and it makes it easier to remove the model after pouring semi-porcelain into the mold.

Crompton’s aesthetic looks situated squarely in the modern. However, at closer inspection you can see that she draws inspiration from natural formations such as ice, lava, and rocks. Conveniently, these kinds of natural formations give her ceramic pieces a practical function since the objects, especially the coffee cups, can be easier to grip.

Crompton’s latest project is a Coffee Tableware Collection, which she describes on her blog:

“The latte, coffee and espresso cup are all designed to be double insulated, whereas the beaker can be used for cold drinks or as a milk pourer. Saucers will be made for each cup and will feature an extruded feature keeping the cup secure. The collection also features two meal serving pieces, a medium bowl and a dinner plate. Below are a few renderings of my collection. The collection is an extension of my bubble and crater collection in that it also has shapes cut away from a vessel form, but I have steered away from the layering to keep the collection clean and simple.”

Jade-Crompton-Ceramics-featuredRegarding a layered bubble vase that Crompton described on blog a few years ago, Jade’s Design Journal, she explains the research into natural formations she undertook to create her unique designs. At this time, she was not using 3D printing for her molds, but you can see how the idea of using the bubble and crater formations evolved into her most recent work:

“I researched into other natural formations such as lava and ice. When lava hits ice it reacts by creating bubbles in the lava…I also looked at the reaction caused when a volcano erupts under a frozen sea, it causes ice bubbles to form on the surface, the layering of the ice bubbles inspired me to use bubble shapes in my designs.”

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Crompton attends Liverpool Hope University in England as a masters student in Ceramics and Digital Design. Now that she has embraced 3D printing technology and incorporated it into her work, we are sure to be seeing more in the future from this talented digital ceramics artist. She is certainly planning on using 3D printing in her work, as she reports she has discovered its usefulness:

“The process of using digital software to design, analyze, prototype, model, print and mold successfully has helped me to speed up production time, maintain accuracy, allowed me to produce multiple molds from single models and also to prototype and test out designs before producing final pieces, saving me time and money.”

Discuss this work in the Jade Crompton forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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[All images: Jade Crompton]
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