A Cool Contraption Generates Earthenware Using a Catenary Arch

The craft of making ceramics is often thought of as a hands-on affair (thanks Demi and Patrick). But this device puts a new spin—or pour, really—on the process.

A Cool Contraption Generates Earthenware Using a Catenary Arch

Great Things to People, a Santiago, Chile-based creative studio, developed the Catenary Pottery Printer (CPP) to produce earthenware using an organic process. Its wooden frame supports a swath of fabric attached to a selection of hooks from above, forming a catenary arch—the same basic method used by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí to create his soaring archways.

The fabric is then slowly filled with slurry—using either porcelain, ceramic, or gres. As that dries from the outside in, the liquid excess is syringed from the middle, leaving just a thin layer of clay on the fabric. Then, it's left to dry—forming the rough shape of a bowl.

Depending on the arrangement of the anchor points, type of textile, and kind of mixture used, a near infinite variety of unique forms can be made. The whole concept is a prime example of parametric (or generative) design—establishing predetermined factors, then allowing for real-time interactions and disruptions to dictate the final outcome, rather than working to realize a singular result.

While digital software is usually used to set the standard when it comes to generative design, CPP shows that there’s still a lot of potential for a more analog approach. [Yatzer]

All photos by Victor Imperiale