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Joe Aimetti

Corian?

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Hello all-

 

I was wondering if anyone here has ever used a man made material called “corian”?

It is used in counter tops, in fact my kitchen and bathrooms sink and counter tops were formed from this material.

It is a lot like stone, but acts like a very hard plastic. The installer was kind enough to allow me to have several boxes of his samples in all colors and appearances. Some of the samples actually look like certain stones, marble, sand stone, granite and such.

I have had a bit of experience carving Tagua nuts, and the Corian acts just like it except that it is more stable. I still like the natural materials but this corian seems like pretty good stuff.

 

Take care all.

 

Joe Aimetti

Kingsport, TN

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Hi Joe,

 

Bradford Blakely just posted and mentioned Corian, and that it is carveable. I wonder if it is colorable?

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Hi Joe,

 

Bradford Blakely just posted and mentioned Corian, and that it is carveable. I wonder if it is colorable?

 

 

Hello again Janel-

 

I believe one of the features of Corian that makes it so useful as a counter top material in Kitchens and Bathrooms is that it does not stain or absorb spills. Well...at least it has not at my house so far.

 

I guess that would be a drawback if trying to color it

 

The good news is that it comes in so many color and pattern combinations which are consistent throughout the material. I suppose it is possible to glue or attach together 2 different colored types to create some nice inlay effects. In fact, I know it is possible because my “matrix sand” colored bathroom countertop has the sink basin molded in as part of it and is a bone white color, so it had to be fused together some how.

 

If you are interested in trying it out, I will be more than happy to send you some pieces of the samples I was given. It is the least I can do for your help and guidance. Let me know. You already have my e-mail address.

 

The samples are small, only an inch or two square, and some only ½ to ¾ inches thick, but from seeing your work, that is probably large enough to do 4 or 5 carvings from each piece. (LOL)

 

Take care

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Interesting material. Is it completely opaque, or translucent? Or are there choices for either or both, commercially, along with the range of colors and visually textural choices? I'll have to stray to the countertop section of a big box home/hardware store and check out the varieties. It could be an interesting sidetrip. :)

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Corian = plastic.

 

When you consider the amount of work we go through to create a nice carving, why on earth would you waste that on plastic? If it's plastic you want, carve your model out of a nice material, be it wood, metal, ivory, antler, nuts, whatever. Send it off to one of the companies who make molds and commission as many cast plastic copies of your original as you want. You'll have lots of identical plastic versions and still have your nice original.

 

Seems to me that noble art needs noble materials. If you must use plastic/Corian/acrylics for inlays or carvings, I question the longevity of the materials. When you think about the problems of plastic outgassing, plastic's short term stability when compared with the seasonal movement of wood and other natural materials, it seems to me you're simply setting yourself (and your clients) up for eventual failure.

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Corian = plastic.

 

When you consider the amount of work we go through to create a nice carving, why on earth would you waste that on plastic? If it's plastic you want, carve your model out of a nice material, be it wood, metal, ivory, antler, nuts, whatever. Send it off to one of the companies who make molds and commission as many cast plastic copies of your original as you want. You'll have lots of identical plastic versions and still have your nice original.

 

Seems to me that noble art needs noble materials. If you must use plastic/Corian/acrylics for inlays or carvings, I question the longevity of the materials. When you think about the problems of plastic outgassing, plastic's short term stability when compared with the seasonal movement of wood and other natural materials, it seems to me you're simply setting yourself (and your clients) up for eventual failure.

 

Hello Tom-

 

You present some very good points. I apologize if I offended your Artistic ethics, which I did not intend to do so. My original post arose from curiousity if anyone had ever used this material as I have limited use in working with it and acquired some for free. I was interested in the pros and cons of its use as a carving material for informational purposes. I happen to like the natural materials for carving anyway.

 

That being said, I would like to play Devil’s advocate and present to you that I have read about some man made “Plastics” that will look and behave nicely for carvings. Let’s ignore the composition of the material, since, as you said, any art piece can be sent off and duplicated in plastic. I do not feel I am wrong in thinking that this could be done without degrading the aesthetic value of the original. Now, if a skilled Artist like Janel takes a block of corian and carves a one of a kind piece in it, does that make it any less noteworthy or valuable to a collector of her work than if she did the same thing with a rock or a piece of wood? What if a machine copied her corian sculpture many times in stone and wood? In that case, the copies then become more valuable to this collector and decrease the value of the original “Plastic” piece? I think not. If the copy was made out of a valuable type of mineral or gemstone, perhaps. But only as far as the cost of the material it is made out of, not the evidence of the skill that went into making the original.

 

Again, I did not mean to offend anyone.

 

Take care.

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Hi Joe,

 

No offense taken, nor were any artistic sensibilities ruffled. That's the beauty of The Carving Path - opinions freely exchanged.

 

Consider this - a nicely carved ivory or boxwood work, versus the exact same thing done in plastic (one off). Which has true and long lasting value? If the aim is to provide a model for a mass produced run, then the original should perhaps be made of a material that is more forgiving, perhaps wax or clay. In the case of mass production or an eventual bronze casting, the original is simply a step in the process and not the end goal.

 

I suppose there is also the “fake” aspects to consider here as well. If it’s done in ivory, wood, antler, or other natural material, a collector can be pretty sure the work was at least done by a human. If it is plastic, there is no way of knowing. It may be a handmade original, or it may be one of 50,000. Which has the better value?

 

I've looked at a lot of sculpture lately and seen both "real" cast bronzes and the "cold cast" works that are metal powders in a plastic binder. Personally, I'll take the cast metal any day. I don't perceive the same value in the plastic as the metal, even though I noticed a lot of them were selling for the same price scales. While the prices are the same, I don’t know if they sell as well. Maybe one of the metal artists who do bronzes can weigh in here and tell us about the relative sales capacity of bronze vs. the cold cast stuff. I suspect bronze foundry work is far costlier than the plastic (production wise, not retail sales).

 

A well known netsuke carver, Guy Shaw, (unfortunately who has now departed this world) once experimented with a clear acrylic carving of a small dragon's paw. I'll see if I can find a picture of it. He carved it, then even managed to dye the plastic using noxious solvents and heat. An interesting experiment, but I noticed he only did one. Afterwards he went back to woods and ivories. I suspect a large part of the reason was the inherent "value" of the materials. I'm betting the feedback he got from collectors was something along that line - interesting as an experimental departure from the usual, but less than desirable as a continuing practice. Shame we can no longer ask him.

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Tom, Joe,

 

It's good to read an interesting and amicable exchange of divergent views. It does seem to me though that at least one of the positions is based partly on an emotional bias. Not that that devalues the preference at all, we are, after all, talking about personal creative projects. Ultimately, I suspect all our aesthetic choices are made on the basis of an emotional bias.

 

A very pertinant aspect that was'nt really discussed, although the longevity of materials touched ever so slightly on, is the way in which more organic or natural materials are known to change over time. This encompasses of course, the development of patinae on wood and ivory netsuke. I have a sneaky feeling that it is precicely this gentle aging, which is so much appreciated ( in certain refined circles B) ), that informs the choice of materials for many of us.

 

I must agree with Tom when he expresses his disdain for so called "cold cast" bronzes. They are not bronze at all but a resin casting with a bit of metal powder added to simulate real metal. They do not patinate like the real thing, I think they look cheap and I doubt that they will survive like the genuine article. I don't know why they bother, why not just cast in resin and paint the things.

 

Tom also mentioned Guy Shaw's use of acrylic to carve a claw. Guy actually did utilise one very useful quality of the material that most organic materials don't have. He carved the claw in an open position and then warmed it in very hot water, placed the bead within and closed the talons around it. You'd struggle to do that with amber or ivory! :D

 

To be fair though, modern man-made or synthetics may also develop their own characteristic patinae over time. Funny enough, I particularly like carving one of the most common materials, steel, and the suggestion that somehow it's abundance and relative cheapness may devalue my work has never been made.( at least not to my face :) ) In fact the general impression of the material ( steel), that it is hard and cold, works in my favour. I try to work it in a way that is more organic, gentle and warm. I think that this inversion of perceptions can be very effective in any work of art. In the final analysis I think that it all rests, quite literally, in the artist's hands. If you are skilled and sensitive enough you may breathe life into any material you choose to work with.

 

right, I'm off, Sunday dinner to fix for my starving brood.

 

regards, Ford

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Hello again Tom-

 

You and Ford brought up points and personal philosophies that reflect deep feelings and understanding in this medium that I respect. I agree that there is something, I guess for lack of a better word, almost mystical about the change in a work of art over the years. As it ages, it takes on a character of its own, and even rust or tarnish on metal sculptures (to some degree) can add to this effect. And as Ford pointed out, emotion can play a big part of what makes this medium a craft or and art.

 

I guess the question you raised in working with a man made material is basically “is it live, or Memorex?” Good point. Perhaps a small imbedded item that looks like a “Hon”, (which I have seen on another Artist’s work here) could be attached to the original?

This, of course, is speculation and one possible Idea. What about combining the corian with other materials? I have seen wood and stone used together. The corian could be added in as part of the overall sculpture. I have seen metal and wood together, why not Corian and metal, or wood?

 

You are a professional artist. After seeing some of your pieces, I feel that you are an exceptional one. I am, for most of my life, a “dabbler” in art. I have experimented is many mediums, from simple pencil drawings to stone carving, clay to paints and wood to metal. I enjoy sculpture as one way of “de-stressing” myself from my daily job and routine. I like to experiment and learn new information about almost anything. As I mentioned before, in about 14 months, I can retire with the financial means to keep a roof over my head and food in my body so that I may spend more time to pursue my hobbies. I feel that all my “dabbling” and experimenting has finally led me to this point in my life. I tell you this because I want you to know how much I appreciate the opportunity to bounce ideas and thoughts about something I care about and receive the excellent feedback I have seen so far. It will assist me when I try to put my own thoughts and emotions into something I created myself.

 

Talk to you later. I have to continue reading an excellent on line book about carving that some one was kind enough to offer for free…. :)

 

Take care

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Hi Joe,

 

Watch out for the retirement issue! I found that when I retired I no longer got my weekends off, and now that I'm self employed, my boss is a complete bastard...

 

Ford, I don't think of steel anything like I think of plastic. I guess when I really concentrate hard on the subject, what I appreciate from the craftsmanship aspect of the kind of work we do is that it must be done by human hands, not simply reproduced by industrial process. I can't see a method, at least a cost-effective method, to reproduce your work in steel multiples and come up with a quality copy of the original. Now if you were to consider carving in pewter...

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I use African Blackwood, and I like using the sap and heart woods together, to create different and contrasting elements in compositions.

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I use African Blackwood, and I like using the sap and heart woods together, to create different and contrasting elements in compositions.

 

I saw that wood in my local Woodcraft store. It came as dark as Ebony or had very bold patterns in it. I might have to experiment on some of that when I return from my trip. I guess in leiu of finding any boxwood, I could try Cherry wood for now.

 

Take care all

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Hello all-

 

I was wondering if anyone here has ever used a man made material called “corian”?

It is used in counter tops, in fact my kitchen and bathrooms sink and counter tops were formed from this material.

It is a lot like stone, but acts like a very hard plastic. The installer was kind enough to allow me to have several boxes of his samples in all colors and appearances. Some of the samples actually look like certain stones, marble, sand stone, granite and such.

I have had a bit of experience carving Tagua nuts, and the Corian acts just like it except that it is more stable. I still like the natural materials but this corian seems like pretty good stuff.

 

Take care all.

 

Joe Aimetti

Kingsport, TN

Hi Joe, I use Corian and just about anything that works, including a host of natural materials. Corian carves like ivory without the grain problems. Corian has no tensile strength, so if you do fine work from it and drop the piece on the floor, kiss it goodbye. Keep your forms compact and Corian will work. You can use Corian to carve master models for mold mailing if you want to do a run of small bronzes or silver castings. No one says you have to just make one thing all the time...limited edition metal castings have appeal as well. I do both, unique pieces and limited edition metal, including gold ojime which I have sold alot of lately. Corian comes in many colors. Go to the Dupont website and then to Colors2U.com and you can find anything you want in Corian It comes in different thickness and you can laminate it by using a color matching two part bonding agent which works so well that you can't discern the joining. O keep about twenty colors on hand for inlay work. I also use acrylics such as plexiglas and Acrilex. We live in the 21st century so why not use 21st century materials? If the Japanese had had access to plastics I am quite certain they would have used them in place of lacquer or hard to find natural materials. I use up to 30 materials or more in a single piece sometimes and I list all the materials used. So far no has balked at the use of manmade materials in my work. On the contrary, my work is being featured in the American Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in the netsuke exhibiton coming up in January and running to May in New York City. The pieces the curator chose have several manmade materials in the compositions which are abstract and nontraditional for netsuke. You can see my work at Takaraasianart.com under the contemporary netuske pages, the work shown is from wood, so I go back and forth from carvings to assembled collage pieces. There are no rules.

I hope I have been helpful. Use Corian or anything that works...who cares what the curmudgeons say?

My e-mail is blakeart2@earthlink.net if yo care to respond directly and want to see my mixed media ojime and netsuke. I'll be glad to send some pics. Brad Blakely

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Hello Bradford-

 

Thank you for the information on Corian. when I get back from my trip (I am replying from the hotel Cyber Cafe' now) I will "look you up to see your work. Like I mentioned before I am still in the experimental stage with most of these new maiterials , bothe natural and man made. I have used Poplar and basswood in the past.

 

Take care.

 

(Please excuse spelling, there is no spell checker on this computer)

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The piece that I attached the scrimshawed piano key is corian. It can be polished to shine like glass and is impervious to almost everything. Makes great "using" knife handles. Artistically...ehhh. But very durable.

post-1558-1186253939.jpg

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I roughed up the face with sandpaper and used a 5 min epoxy. Then clamped on the piano key. Any epoxy that squished out, I used some laquer thinner on a paper towel and rubbed off the excess.

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Lacquer thinner, would fingernail polish remover be like that? Otherwise, I'd have to go shopping.

 

That sort of epoxy has a window of time when it can be trimmed and removed, sort of flexible, before it becomes stiff, hard, stuck. That is when I try to remove the overflow, after the tackiness is gone. It all comes off. One must be careful to not pull it out of the seam where you want it to do its job though.

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Lacquer thinner, would fingernail polish remover be like that? Otherwise, I'd have to go shopping.

 

That sort of epoxy has a window of time when it can be trimmed and removed, sort of flexible, before it becomes stiff, hard, stuck. That is when I try to remove the overflow, after the tackiness is gone. It all comes off. One must be careful to not pull it out of the seam where you want it to do its job though.

 

Janel and Mike,

 

Instead of lacquer thinner (which isn't particularly good for you) try white vinager and a paper towel to remove uncured epoxy.

 

I would also recommend a longer setting epoxy, and especially epoxy that is NOT in a bubble pack at the grocery store. A marine grade epoxy is going to be much better.

 

David

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Corian = plastic.

 

When you consider the amount of work we go through to create a nice carving, why on earth would you waste that on plastic? If it's plastic you want, carve your model out of a nice material, be it wood, metal, ivory, antler, nuts, whatever. Send it off to one of the companies who make molds and commission as many cast plastic copies of your original as you want. You'll have lots of identical plastic versions and still have your nice original.

 

Seems to me that noble art needs noble materials. If you must use plastic/Corian/acrylics for inlays or carvings, I question the longevity of the materials. When you think about the problems of plastic outgassing, plastic's short term stability when compared with the seasonal movement of wood and other natural materials, it seems to me you're simply setting yourself (and your clients) up for eventual failure.

 

Tom,

 

You make an interesting point about plastic, and in many cases I would agree. On my non-tactical knives I don't use plastics of any kind for handle materials. They would just be "cheesy"! However, sometimes plastics are more appropriate for some given applications. For instance, most wood is not a very good choice for one of my fountain pens. They move around with temperature and humidity, they can check and crack, and they absorb moisture. Since the pen is filled with a water based ink, it can be a problem! Even stabilized wood is not really that good. I know, thousands of people build kit pens from wood, but the pens are clunky and not what I would call a better quality instrument. And if wood can be a problem, bone, antler, horn and ivory are all worse. I use a variety of modern synthetics on my pens, celluloid (cellulose acetate), hard rubber, and acrylic. I also use some celluloid made in the early 1930s. On this page

http://www.david.broadwell.com/freeform.htm you'll see three pens. The top one uses a modern black acrylic and celluloid made for English Parker pens in the early 30s. The celluloid gassed out many years ago! The second pen is a modern acrylic that I carved, along with the mokume fittings. The last one has acrylic with damascus. The plastic is much more appropriate for this application. It won't stain or move around as much as a natural material will. It is also light in weight, making a better writing instrument.

 

I have seen many old items made from wood and ivory, and they are usually cracked, warped, or otherwise deteriorated. I have several Parker Vacumatic fountain pens made with celluloid (cellulose nitrate, not acetate) from the 1940s, with my oldest a 1939 Vacumatic Oversize. They are in great shape. The oldest pen I have is a Sheaffer flat top student pen in jade green made in 1927. It also is in excellent shape. I've seen many pens older than that. Like anything else, if taken care of plastics will last.

 

David

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Hello,

 

The question of plastic as a suitable material is an interesting one. I think Ford is right about the emotional aspect. Much of the general distaste of plastic seems to come from it's gross misuse and overuse as a cheap packaging material and for squirting out mass reproductions of bad lawn chairs, etc. Misused in this way plastics are extremely bad for our health and environment and these practices should be stopped. But the same could be said about the mining processes that are being used to extract gold and other metals from the ground. I'm thinking that Bradford is using these man made materials in an appropriate manner, and if produced and used correctly even plastic has a legitimate place in noble art forms.

Namaste,

Magnus

P.S.

And of course, David's pens are another very suitable use.

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Aloha

 

Nearly all of my experience with Corian comes from kitchen and bath remodeling projects. Partly as a sales tool and a way to control product warranty and installation, what is called solid surface fabrication required training and registration. We were subjected to very expensive training sessions where certain "rules" were taught. In the early days (15-20 years ago), graduates enjoyed high pricing for their work and exclusive wholesale purchase rights.

A few things about Corian:

1) It's really brittle. The one knife handle that I made shattered when I dropped it.

2) When fabricating, you must avoid right angle joints. All fillets and inside corners must be rounded. Corian wants to find a stress point and crack.

3) It needs to breath. At least for counters, both sides need to be exposed.

4) The old stuff, what I call generation I, can discolor in the lighter shades. Especially white.

5) There are colored adhesives that match most patterns, or to contrast. Solid surface used to come in only thinner sizes (1/2" or less), so glue up to add thickness was expected. That probably has changed with regard to stock.

6) You can inlay relatively easily into it. Metals like brass (and wood) are perfect for this. We inlayed with slow set epoxy like T-88, then sanded flush... then took to polish. Stacks of contrasting colors look good too.

7) For non-glued, flex joints like backsplash to counter, silicone adhesive (pro grade) was used. Clean up with isopropyl alcohol.

 

Corian has become like Xerox and other products; a generic term. Gibralter, Pionite etc. are all similar, if not the same. Go to most home improvement centers that carry solid surface products, and they always have sample blocks for free. Better yet, stop by a fabricator's shop. Just act like a potential customer. :blink:

 

KC

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Interesting topic. I would like to see some work done in Corian. The brittle character of the material limits its application.

 

Another man made material that can be carved is PVC piping. Check out an article in the Fall 2007 (issue 40) of Woodcarving Illustrated page 60. Chuck Coker, the author, claims that it can be "shaped with a heat gun" and it will "take paint well". He suggests that dust mask and air cleaner are essential as the body cannot break down the dust. I have not done any work in this material.

 

Another interesting man made material is the center of a modern golf ball. Again, I have done any work in this material. The difficult part is removing the cover from the ball. There is a technic described in the Spring 2007 (issue 17) of Carving magazine for removal of the golf ball cover. The centers come in different colors. I have read that the material will dull edges quickly. I've seen in Chip Chats magazine a fair number of pieces made from this material.

 

What ever material you choose, have fun carving.

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When I was a kid, we used to strip off all of the outer coverings of a golf ball and the core was like a Super Ball. (Remember those? They took them off the market because they would bounce through your living room windows or in front of cars). Are they still like that?

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Guest ford hallam

Golf...a perfect way to spoil a walk in the country ;) , and I reckon carving golf balls is the most sensible thing to do with them :( and lets not even get into the clothing ;)

 

as always, Ford :)

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