Artist Matt Mitros at I.U.S. Ceramic Department – 3D Printer Technology

It takes a lot of skill and attention to be both a focused artist and teacher. Brian Harper, ceramic teacher at I.U.S., made this evident by bringing Matt Mitros to campus to work with students.

Matt Mitros demonstrates 3D printing at I.U.S. Ceramic Department

If you read our previous blog you know about Matt’s innovative art. Let’s now take a look at his presentation about ceramic 3D printing.

Matt began by demonstrating Rhinoceros, a 3D graphics and computer-aided design (CAD) application. Using this software, Matt designs objects and molds for objects in his art practice. He uses Rhino to operate a CNC router to carve molds from solid blocks of plaster.

Aware that students learn best through hands-on involvement, Mitros facilitated group design of a ceramic vessel using Potter Draw software. Laughter ensued as students created a fanciful vessel on  screen.

Students create design for 3D printing using Potter Draw

Next, Matt shot the design to a program, called Slic3r, located on a computer attached to a 3D printer. Slicer programs put designs into layers;  create codes that determine scale and wall thickness; and can design inside and outside walls of a pot differently. These aspects of 3D printing alone distinguish this technology from wheel-throwing, even hand building, with clay.

Clay printer top
3D printer before attaching clay extruder

As Matt worked with the hand-made 3D printer that he brought to class, we were able to watch the pressure extruder, mounted on the printer, as it emitted clay through a nozzle to create a vessel and a honeycomb relief pattern that Matt uses in his sculpture.


Mitros working printer
Mitros operating the 3D printer


Students watching exruder in action

Mitros made the point that he works with printers in order to be innovative with the technology and to add to the conceptual framework of his sculpture. Furthermore, Matt loves textural qualities of clay that physically show the process of creation. For example, he casts clay into plaster molds and doesn’t remove the seam lines. He often produces objects on printers that show each layer produced by the nozzle.

Cup extruded from 3D printer


As a grand finale, Matt Mitros demonstrated a specific use of the printer that he uses extensively: one object, such as a clay-printed toy, can be attached directly on top of another, such as a clay-printed potato.

Bio Rad #13, 2017, mixed media, showing printed honeycomb pattern


It’s all about having fun with machines to create new ideas and new art objects.


Artist Matt Mitros – Presentation at I.U.S. Ceramic Department, April 18, 2018

There was a lot to learn from artist, Matt Mitros.


Matt uses his artwork to show us that ceramic art is about the process, not the product. And if we remember this, our products will astound us. Think about the pieces that we make that are important to our progress rather than being good products that we might exhibit or sell.

Pre-Columbian RAVE, 2013, ceramic, 12 x 12 x 7 inches

Matt’s work is all about ‘process frozen in time’. Assemblages give us a stop-action look into a time-based relationship between the mechanical and the organic.

Pronghorn, 2014, ceramic, aluminum, glass, 14 x 24 x12 inches



Objects made from: clay cast from items such as potatoes and toys; 3D-printed clay forms of cups and honeycomb patterns; plastic tubing; stacked plywood; aluminum; and cast urethane resins are captured by Mitros in engaging tableaus about life.

Bio Rad #9, 2017, mixed media


Let’s remember that Matt loves clay, began his career as a potter, has played extensively with raw clay. Over time his work has evolved into sculpture based on organic objects taken out of context, along with simulated built structures, such as walls and tubes.

Bio Rad #5, 2016, ceramic, wood, aluminum


Here’s a Mitros insight: clay is one medium that allows an artist to freeze a moment, like photography, because it dries and gets fired and this stops an action in time. Think of that every time you finish a piece of greenware and pop it in the kiln.

Matt Mitros, 2018


Another insight: “the future of ceramic art lies in young people who don’t feel that they have to pay dues to traditional techniques”. Many ceramic artists today know little about clay. He says further: “We can honor tradition by doing something that’s never been done before.”

Matt has chosen to honor and innovate with clay by producing pots on 3D printers. Check out the next blog to learn about his printing techniques.