watch: four bowls from start to finish

by Grace Bonney

One of the things I miss most about being in college is watching artwork come together from concept to finished product. I loved seeing some of the more gifted artists in class come up with really ambitious ideas and watching as they went through dozens of revisions and sketches to finally get the perfect plan. The moment when that finished painting or sculpture or clay bowl was dried and on display always seemed like such an achievement, but I was always sad that people weren’t able to see what went into designing and making the product, too. So when I saw this video from Syracuse University student Sam Thompson, it really struck a chord with me. Sam is studying Industrial and Interaction Design and is focusing his thesis on the overlap of analog and digital craft. He’s recently finished a series of maple bowls and decided to document the creation process from beginning to end. In the video above you can see his digital sketches and them watch as they’re created on a CNC mill (a mill that has been digitally automated via computer numerical control). As much as I love and value watching handmade work come together (it will always be my favorite method of production), there is something so amazing about watching technology like this in action. Getting to see Sam’s designs come to life like this is just plain cool and I hope you’ll enjoy the video above as much as I did. Click here to read more about Sam’s process on his blog, or here to purchase one of these limited edition bowls ($75 each) right here on Etsy. xo, grace

*Speaking of students, I’m finishing up the funding of the D*S Scholarship right now and applications for the 2010 scholarship should be up in the next week or two! Stay tuned for more info and details soon.

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  • maybe it was the pace, but I found this vaguely disturbing, but the finished product was ok . I guess I am more the wabi sabi type who likes hand made, imperfect things. At least he hand rubbed the bowls with oil.

  • That was fascinating, but you’re telling me MACHINES make these bowls? Here I thought people still carved them by hand. (I need to get out more.)

  • Great video, and nice design, Sam! Also, I think it’s worth noting that there’s still a significant amount of handwork involved in the production of the bowls – the wood has to be milled and prepared for the CNC router. And after the router has done it’s job, all the cleanup work and finishing is done by hand. It’s easy to overlook this because it passes by so quickly in the video, and watching the router is mesmerizing. To me it seems like a nice marriage of technology and craftsmanship.

  • How much real time is captured in this video? It was really fun to watch- reminds me of the sesame street videos of how stuff is made. I also don’t think the video was too reductionist of the project- i still found myself impatient during a few scenes to get on to the next step. Thanks for sharing!

  • loved this! and well said, julie. plus, before any of the manufacturing starts, i’m sure there’s a long design process. if these bowls were each carved by hand, they’d be WAY more than $75!