Evelyn Rosenberg

Technique: Detonographics

Det-o-no-graph-y (n)

A technique for creating metal sculpture by detonating a sheet of plastic explosive over a sandwich of a carved image and a metal plate, forcing the metal plate onto the carved image. The resulting bas relief is known as a detonograph.

To Create a Detonograph

Dec 21, 2007

Evelyn works with the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC), located at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico where, in 1986, with the support and cooperation of the Center, she developed the technique for creating the detonographs. The technique, which uses a sandwich of explosive material and metal sheets placed upon a clay mold, forms the basis for her art. The inclusion of natural objects, such as leaves, feathers, or pieces of fur placed between the sandwich and the mold add interest to the resulting sculpture and has given her the freedom to create art whick is unique and could be created in no other way.

Evelyn takes advantage of three characteristics which occur in the blast to create her images. First, the metal is formed over a plaster mold of three-dimensional design by the tremendous pressure of the explosive which is traveling at 27,000 ft/sec. Second, due to the force of the explosion, dissimilar metals are pressure welded together by the pressure of the blast. Third, real objects such as lace, leaves, or other textures placed between the explosive and the metal plate are impressed into the surface of the plate.

The process for a new Detonograph begins with the idea for the project. A sketch of the idea is drawn, a plate is prepared using foils and real objects which are transferred to the plate.

The final design is then transferred to a mold, which for many pieces is actually several molds. These molds are poured with high strench plaster. The resulting bas relief images are transported to the test range for forming.

The clay mold, with its bas relief image, is placed upon the ground. The mold is covered with the prepared metal plate. Then the plate and the mold is covered with the Data sheet explosive.

Once everything is in place, the explosive is detonated and the explosion forces the images of the objects, including the contours of the mold into the plate.

If all went as planned, the plate has recieved the exact image from the mold. Now it can be polished and treated with various chemicals to create colorful patinas in a variety of colors. The finishing of the piece becomes almost like painting as the details are drawn from the explosively created panel.

The artist has been featured on many TV Shows. These are excerpts from a few of them. This is a much longer version of the clip on the home page. Watching this film is the best way to understand how a "Detonograph" is made.

Article written by the artist for Leonardo Magazine explaining technique in detail




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