NextFab Blog

"Conch Republic" Debuts at Sculpture Key West

Posted by Tracy McCarthy

Jan 3, 2014 10:52:00 AM

Contemporary visual artists Kate Kaman and Joel Erland are doing more in Key West this winter than looking for their lost shaker of salt.  They've managed to seamlessly blend art and technology into the serene Floridian landscape.


 A young art enthusiast finally gets to touch the art!

Sculpture Key West is in its 18th year of offering a platform for contemporary artists to create exhibits designed to inspire and educate the community of the Florida Keys and its visitors.  This year, they've asked sculptors to create outdoor works that respond and interact with the natural environment.

The creative team designed and built a series of conchs -- a Florida fighting conch, a horse conch, and lucky left-handed conch -- created to live on the beaches' shores as if they were washed up by the rolling tide.  However, creating them was no act of nature.  Nope, this was pure science.


Kaman and Erland's final product at Higgs Beach.

First, the shell form was captured using the design program Rhino.  Then, using the ShopBot at NextFab, the full-scale molds were made.  Erland and Kaman used a new nanomaterial created by Italian Chemists called TX Active®, a photocatalytic cement that actually self-cleans and de-pollutes the air.  They cast the sculptures in Key West just prior to the show.  The entire process took about 3.5 weeks.

Joel Erland


Erland and Kaman are cutting the foam with a hot knife


ShopBot CNC router


Sculpture Key West will be open to the public until March 23, 2014.  Check them out at the West Matello Tower on Higgs Beach!  Next for Erland and Kaman are sculptures for a high school in Vancouver, Washington, and a mobile for a hospital in DC.

Topics: sculpture, NextFab Members


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Welcome to the NextFab Blog, where we discuss the ideas changing the world as we know it. Step inside the revolutionary world of 3D Printing technology, traditional and Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machinery, innovation and imagination.



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