(Photo courtesy of Doc Rico Designs)
Rich “Doc” Rico had been a traditional, hobbyist woodworker until Sandy hit and destroyed his woodshop, which was the basement of his home in Canarsie.
A native South Brooklynite, he took the destruction of his gear as an opportunity to explore a new way of working. Rico built a small computer numerical control (CNC) router to work on his wood clock projects, among other things, but it gave him the idea that he could do something bigger.
Routers are devices that can grind and shape wood and other softer materials. By connecting them to computers, they can execute very precise designs repeatedly.
“I had an idea for a robust, larger, more complicated machine capable of more elegant 3D work that used the same basic principles of the first,” Rico told us via email. “I used the first machine to build parts for the second, then cannibalized it for parts. The second machine is also a 3-axis CNC machine, but I use my own scripts and a bit of elegant math — in addition to standard software out there — to make fully three-dimensional carvings rather than just 2.5D reliefs that most people are accustomed to.” By 2.5D, he means relief sculptures.
A former medical doctor who wanted to do something else, Rico has now embarked on a new business, Doc Rico Designs. He’s taking the new field of 3D modeling and applying it to traditional materials, stuff that has more of the look of museum-quality art. It’s not additive manufacturing, but it does work from many of the software advances in that space to manipulate wood.
“What I offer is a more traditional medium mixed with advancing technology and greater focus on the art,” Rico said. “I can use reclaimed wood from 100 year old torn down churches and barns with modern, technology-driven art and engineering.”
In addition to busts, he can also make relief sculptures, suitable for wall hanging. Rico can either work from a 3D scan or from photographs to make his 3D models. 3D scanning is becoming more prevalent in 3D printing stores, he says. With photographs, there’s a bit more art involved. There is software to stitch photos into 3D models, but it’s not quite at the point where you can easily ask a consumer to give you the necessary images. So Rico has to work manually.
Rico is still working out his prices. Working from a 3D scan will be less expensive. He estimates pieces like that will begin around $750. Working from photos is more work, so those sculptures may land more in the $1,000 range, but his pricing structure still remains to be settled.
See the images that led to the sculpture above here.