Waterjet - Art Components

What distinguishes art from other work? Art components can be basic waterjet parts in stocked materials, as well as copper, brass, silver, Damascus steel, glass, stone, ceramics wood, plastic, rubber: anything flat, environmentally safe, and not too brittle. Some artists send us Solidworks 3D models, treated through our work process no different from any machine part.

Art projects are often less precisely specified, requiring additional considerations to get to the point of a programmed part and machine setup, and a finished part that meets expectations. Our shop distinguishes itself in our ability to understand and meet your needs, and make most effective use of the medium. We can trace sketches, photos and cardboard templates, and make any needed changes to go from a jaggy scan conversion to smooth art that realizes your intent.

The examples below show components and complete projects. See also Tile, Stone, Glass; Etching; Architectural Metal; Plaques and Pendants.

For Makers addresses material and design considerations.

On the one hand, raw watejet parts have sharp, perpendicular edges, with a cold, industrial look. In some situations it's perfectly appropriate, but more generally, how do you make rich, expressive art from these sharp, 2-dimensional building blocks? The examples below offer some suggestions. There's plenty of opportunity for imagination.

We've cut components for artists across a wide range of materials and scale, from sterling silver earring blanks, to 800 lb stone slabs. Over the 11 years Bob has been planning waterjet setups, we've pushed the envelope of what's possible to do with a waterjet. We're happy to discuss your needs, whatever they may be. Many of these projects have enabled artists to expand their work in new directions.

Back to Waterjet - Intro

Jonathan Brady's table is waterjet-cut 3/16" aluminum cut with interlocking slots like a cardboard box divider, secured only by gravity.

Jonathan used 3D CAD to model the structure and clearances, and generate ready-to-cut flat pattern DXFs for each component. All we did was nest and cut his CAD and ship raw parts.

Andy Tibbett's Clockship Tere, an exceptionally ambitious Burner project fabricated in his Portland front yard. Our modest contribution was the pinions, spur gears and rack for the steering control, waterjet cut in 3/4" steel, then further machined by Andy.

Click the image to the left for video. These are the first two of four setups for this 7" thick salvaged marble slab, on its way to a third life as art. The wood protects, levels and anchors it.


Andy Tibbetts fabricated Catherine Widgery's Passing Clouds from nearly a thousand waterjet-cut squiggles in 1/4" 5052 aluminum. (The installation crew are standing on scaffolding.)

Here, we worked from the artist's CAD, and added a unique identifying code etched on every piece to aid assembly.

Bob made this 96" diameter wheel of fortune for a local non-profit's fundraising events. Steffon Moody painted the face.

The wheel is a strong and light 4" deep ribbed box beam, made in two layers of 1/4" plywood, glued up with 288 waterjet-cut mortise-tenon joints.

Ela Lamblin's Fluctus Formarum musical and kinetic sculpture fabricated using waterjet-cut 16 gauge stainless steel components. The bend lines on the inside of the faceted cone were etched deep enough to facilitate forming the bends. Ela did much hand forming and finishing, and a great deal of TIG welding. Waterjet was a helpful starting point, but only a small fraction of the work to create this interactive art piece.

Artist Matthew Dockrey won the 2015 Hugo Award design competition with his "rocket blast" design and ultimately made 32 of these bases. (The chromed rocket ships were provided by WSFS.)

The rocket blast is waterjet cut 14 gauge hot rolled steel, which has been etched to 90% of the sheet thickness to enable the sharp bends.

We've cut stone up to 7" thick - it's straightforward so long as the top surface is flat and can be shimmed reasonably level. This is 6" marble with quartz inclusions, here with the rough shapes waterjet cut, and the artist finishing with hand work.

Here, the artist provided us with a full-size cardboard template, which we hung on the wall, photographed from a distance, and traced over in CAD. Here the stone is shimmed and blocked on wood sheet.

Read more about stone Here.

Bob made this heart from 1/4" brass, glass mirror, and stainless screws.

The bronze is a simple waterjet cut, with the edges hand smoothed and polished after the cutout upper piece and solid lower piece were joined. The mirror was waterjet cut, then epoxied in place.

Bob is told the heart fastened using socket head cap screws precisely captures his left-brain/right-brain balance.

The Rotary International 24-tooth gear wheel was waterjet-cut in several layers of 1/2" MDO plywood, then glued together.

We created the CAD from Rotary's graphic.

Clay extruders waterjet cut in 3/8" aluminum.

A clay tile "cookie cutter" fabricated in our shop.

Two more of Bob's projects: 24" ceremonial (and functional) scissors, and a moon face, both made in 10 gauge stainless steel. Our signature was waterjet-etched in the scissors.