Paul Elia

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I recall the experience as if it were yesterday. It was during my first summer job as an apprentice welder. One of my duties was tossing metal scraps into a large recycling bin. One day as I was filling the bin I stopped for just a brief moment and saw the curious metal shapes scattered about.

Wouldn't it be great, I thought, to assemble these scraps into one new form.

Then it struck me. I had the skill and a new tool at my disposal - a welding machine!

I jumped into the bin, pulled random pieces out and welded them together and created my first sculpture.

That process – trusting my visual skills and using a tool to help me - has turned into a passion.

At university I continued that process, this time using a camera and enlarger, extensions of my hands and vision, to take and develop images.

Later I was accepted into the Ontario College of Art and Design and enrolled in a glass blowing class.

Then in 2002, the process I use to make art changed dramatically.

A new course was being offered at OCAD – Computer-Aided Design.

CAD, while difficult to master, brought my artistic imagination to life, free of the real-life concerns of gravity and scale.

Also in 2002, I was introduced to a new technology….3D printing.

With these two tools I now had a way to both design and to create my art. I joined friends and opened a new studio and began creating glass and bronze sculptures.

The process I use to make a sculpture begins with a pencil sketch of the work I want to create. I then translate that sketch line by line into a virtual sculpture using CAD.

To make that virtual art into a reality, I use a 3D printer for my small art and a CNC machine for my large art.

Process then takes a step backwards 5,000 years to early India and the use of the 'lost wax' method.

To make a glass sculpture, wax from a mold is encompassed in jewelry plaster and then steamed out. The hollow plaster is then placed in a kiln and crystal is loaded and melted to 1,750 degrees so that it flows slowly into the plaster. When cooled the plaster is removed and the crystal is polished to bring out its true colour and radiance.

For my metal art, the wax is pulled from the mold, cleaned and shaped and brought to a foundry where the same lost wax process is used to make bronze sculptures.

Recently I wanted to recreate the high-contrast Kodalith photographic images that I had made at university.

I worked on a process that involves using various programmes to transform photographs into laser-cut, black and white Plexiglas 'images'.

I am confident that in the future, new processes, tools and technologies will challenge and delight me in my quest to create art.