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Hello everyone. I have been hard at work on a couple projects and this wonderful set of pocket sized sculptures is the first to make it across the finish line. 

In keeping with my recent forays into new materials, I decided it was high time I bring an exotic material into the mix that I have long appreciated. This material is colloquially known as "superconductor". 

Niobium–titanium superconductor art

I know some of you are familiar, but others are likely wondering what is superconductor? 

Well, there are actually many materials classed as having superconducting qualities, but in this case what I am referring to is Niobium-titanium filaments encased in a copper matrix

Niobium–titanium superconductor is a material that comes in many shapes and sizes. It is an industrial product primarily used in science engineering, but it has (unsurprisingly) acquired quite a cult following in the metal working and maker communities. 

Characterized by thin rods of what is essentially titanium, arranged within a larger body of solid copper, it is a metal that presents a sort of abstract grain structure. When machined into compound forms, it produces very predictable and pleasing patterns. The copper, which is susceptible to most acids, can then be etched or almost entirely dissolved, leaving the more resistant titanium rods intact to accentuate the grain pattern. 

There are machinist makers using this material for all sorts of fascinating decorative work. Knives, rings, and spinning tops to name the more prominent examples. This is of course exciting to me as a sculptor. I love it when artist co-opt tools and technology for their own special kind of cultural production. 

superconductor Niobium–titanium alloy

Superconductor is a difficult material to shape however, as the copper is pure, which makes it very soft and gummy, while the titanium sections are tough and prone to work hardening. This makes it hard to optimize for either scenario. 

Not to mention that titanium is flammable. If you chip a cutter and catch a spark wrong, you could be in for a small fireworks show. A little extra care to keep the work space clean and free of turnings is more than a good idea. 

But, if you are careful, you can pull it off without too much trouble. The results are very striking and quite worth the effort.

machined metal sculpture

Now enough about superconductor, because this all-stainless steel piece is also bursting with charm. I think it is an important part of the pair, as I wouldn't really have known the best way to approach the superconductor without it. 

Chris Bathgate Superconductor art

I actually designed this steel version as a sort of contrast piece, as a creative check for myself. I wanted to be able to compare the two and make sure my design was not solely dependent on the novelty of the superconductor to make the composition work.

Maybe that seems weird to some of you, but I reasoned that if the design didn't work in stainless, then perhaps I am relying too much on my exotic material to improve what is otherwise a mediocre composition.

machining metal art

As you can see, that just isn't the case. It's gorgeous. 

CNC sculptor Chris Bathgate

Another thing I hoped to achieve with this design is that I have been thinking a lot about the challenges of creating interesting interior spaces within my work. This was a sketch to help me with some larger work I have on the drawing board. 

I love using little pieces as test beds for bigger work. 

In the video above,  I explain some of the technical constraints that guided the design. Sometimes a video goes a long way in demonstrating what the heck I am talking about. 

Other times it just highlights how often I say "ummmm"!!!  (Oh well)

At just 1.3" tall or 33mm, these works are some of the smallest I have made.

Niobium–titanium and Stainless steel art

Note for collectors: As has become customary, I will be offering these works up as a one time limited edition.

superconductor fine art

You will be able to acquire them as a pair, or individually in all stainless steel or superconductor. Pricing and all relevant details of the sale will be posted at the time of sign up.  (please note that superconductor is a considerably more expensive material and this will reflect in pricing) 

The sign up will go live on Wednesday March 2nd at 11 AM EST. It will run for just a few days, or until I determine my books are too full. 

I will post the sign up link to my email newsletter, here on the blog, as well as on my instagram page. It should be a fun project!

Digital fabrication fine art

As always, questions and comments welcome.