Cx5 is a sculpting material that handles like clay when warm, but is hard as plastic when cool. Though neither a clay nor a wax it exhibits the best properties of both. The results are truly staggering with Beane producing life-like models of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Matt Damon, and even Luke Skywalker. In order to get to the bottom of exactly how CX5 is created, Humans Invent sat down with Beane to find out the secrets to his new invention.
Cx5 is a revolutionary sculpting material that is ideal for modeling, machining, tooling, and casting. It’s the most versatile material I can think of for making things, because while it behaves like a clay, a wax, and a plastic, it eliminates many of the disadvantages of working in each of those materials. Cx5 is a thermosensitive medium. In its warm state it handles like clay. At room temperature it can be machined like plastic, and detailed and polished like wax. It can even be brushed on like paint to virtually any surface when it is melted.
Exactly how is it made?
The Cx5 formula is a trade secret, but I can say it is non-toxic, all-natural and made of raw materials from environmentally sound sources. When I set out to manufacture the material, two of my guiding principles were that it be produced in the United States and that the manufacturing be environmentally sound. I believe that we used to know how to make things in this country, and a grassroots movement towards manufacturing our own goods is the new economic engine we should be concentrating on. I also believe in responsible sourcing; a great product can be made from raw materials that have a low impact on the environment. I invented Cx5 to help people create things. I don’t want it to be simultaneously destroying something.
I invented Cx5 because I was dissatisfied with currently available sculpting and prototyping materials. When I was working in prototype development I had to use many different materials to create a single piece. There were different materials for machining, sculpting, casting and polishing. I wanted one material that could do it all, including coating large foam structures. As I advanced in my career as a professional sculptor I needed a material that I could use from start to finish, instead of having to switch materials mid-sculpture to get the level of detail I desired in the finished piece. The limitations of clays, waxes and plastics led me to begin experimenting with formulations for a material with the properties I could envision. Eventually my hard work came to fruition, with Cx5.
Why is it better than say, clay or wax? Do you think it will come to replace these materials in the future?
Almost all sculpture is an iterative process. Typically one begins a sculpture in clay, makes an impression of it, in a process called waste molding, and then casts it in wax for the final detailing. This is true in fine art, commercial art, and in some areas of prototyping. Cx5 streamlines that process by taking out all the intermediate steps. Because it handles like clay, wax, and plastic at different temperatures, Cx5 allows a sculptor to do every stage of the sculpting process in one material. Will it replace clay and wax? Certainly, for the professional sculptor.
It confers so many advantages – it is durable, reusable, eternally reworkable, and it eliminates the need for waste molds and multiple materials. That said, I think there’s a place for all sculpting materials; for example Cx5 would never replace clay in ceramics – if you put Cx5 in a kiln, it just melts – and there’s nothing like the instant gratification of baking a small piece of jewelry made of Sculpey. However, for anyone who wants to get rid of the waste mold process and achieve very high levels of detail in their work, Cx5 will replace their current materials, as it did for me.
How much does it cost?
Until we launch Cx5 I can’t disclose exact prices, but I can tell you that sculptors who use Cx5 will find that in the course of the sculpting process they save both money and significant amounts of time.
Have you always been known as a sculptor first and foremost?
Though I am known for my sculpting, I would say I am an even split between artist and inventor. I grew up in a family that was equal parts science and art. Both of my parents were artists who went into science and medicine, and until a chance encounter led me into sculpting I was pursuing a career in science. Regardless of what fields I have been in, I have always thought as an inventor. I am always interested in how things can be done cleaner and more efficiently. In my experience, the best solutions are the most graceful ones. Either having the fewest steps, or the least number of parts.
How long does each model take to make?
The length of time depends on the scope of the project. Some seemingly simple projects can turn out to be very involved. For instance, the Steve Jobs portrait was very difficult, as I had to portray a man who was sick, but not sickly. And then sometimes a portrait will unexpectedly come together in a matter of hours. It varies greatly.
Honestly, a lot of it has to do with working in Cx5. The level of detail I achieve is a combination of being able to work in a material that allows me to cut, scrape and polish as though it were plastic, as well as implement traditional sculpting techniques without losing any detail as I move around the piece. Also, the techniques I’ve developed as a self taught sculptor are unique to me and this material. I’m beginning to share these in my sculpting tutorial video series, because they’re very different from anything I’ve seen other sculptors do.
Watch Adam Beane build a model of Matt Damon: