Rachel Goldsmith is a New York and Seattle based artist who paints with PLA plastic on canvas, using a 3Doodler Create+. She recently wrapped up with an incredible fiberglass resin grazing cow that was covered head-to-toe with colorful 3Doodler PLA filament.
Beyond (the name of her cow) was part of CowParade NYC 2021 – a public exhibit that was on display throughout New York City this month. Rachel has been a cornerstone of the 3Doodler community since the beginning, and it’s been a delight to watch her prolific work evolve over the years. We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to check in with Rachel learn more about the project, and to hear about what she has been up to with her art, her hula hooping, and her 3Doodler!
Can you please introduce yourself and talk a little about your artist’s process?
Seven years ago, 3Doodler wrote an Artist Profile on me that ended with this line, “Rachel’s mix of chaotic control reflects what Doodling is at its core: endless experimentation.” … And it’s funny to think back on that time in my creative history – because I could only ever be as good as the pen… The first 3Doodlers had unexpected blips in their extrusion every 7-11ish seconds the pen would pause, maybe… this was chaos that I constantly had to respond to and attempt to control… and I really liked having to respond to the technologies’ whims… but the 3Doodler got better and better (thank you Max and Peter!) and now… I no longer have to control the chaos… I know what to expect from the pen and I have developed and perfected techniques with which I can accurately express myself and with which I can use the medium as my visual language.
The endless experimenting is no longer needed…I’m finally back to creating meaningful fine artworks at a level on par with my previously honed drawing and painting skills. It was a very challenging leap to take…. A full deep dive into 3Doodler-land… and I have no regrets. It has added so much literal depth to the layered essence of my artistry.
We know you are currently working on a cow project, so where did that idea come from, and how is that project coming along?
For a moment, this past June, I found myself once again dipping my toe into potentially experimental waters. You see… the Official Cow Parade was coming back to New York City with a fully curated group of artists creating cows for God’s Love We Deliver. I read about it online after the launch party, and I reached out to Steven at God’s Love and said, “Please, I have spent 20 years dreaming of participating in this project – can I make a cow?”
And Steven said, “Sorry, we don’t have any extras.” So, I replied, “What if I create a cow that looks like it belongs in your parade but is actually see-through… and not ultimately attached to one of the fiberglass cows. YES! Steven was on board! It would be the world’s first Cow created with a 3 D printing pen for the 100th staging of the cow parade.
So… my plan for the cow threw me back into experimental land… I had an engineering feat to consider that had never impeded my work in the past. I had to create a weather-durable/public-durable free-standing cow. For engineering’s sake, I requested a grazing cow – in case I needed to put a flower below its head to hold it up when it was complete… I also considered making my cow into a bull – adding another “leg” to stand on. Initially, I had only a short amount of time to work on top of the fiberglass cow in the Clear sponsored Artist Studio at Industry City, that I was using as a mold. So not only did I have to hit the ground running, but I had to make sure not to damage the underlying fiberglass structure, prior to another artist painting it.
In my Brooklyn studio, I began extruding PLA in an effort to create a cowhide – basically, I made a ginormous piece of mesh – for days I ironed together layers of extruded PLA. Then I rolled up my ‘hide” and brought it to the life-sized cow, which I immediately covered in heave duty aluminum (both to protect the fiberglass structure and to ensure that in molding my PLA mesh to the form it would not permanently adhere to the fiberglass.
Using a heat gun and a lot of patience, I formed that PLA along the contours of the cow. The hide, though large, wasn’t large enough and I had a lot more PLA to extrude to cover the whole cow… After several days Steven and Leslie (who was running the studio for David Stark Design and God’s Love) and I all decided that given the cow was being created for a public art piece… and cow-hugging is encouraged – it would be best if I kept my final cow on the fiberglass structure (and now there was one available for me to use). So… cut the cowhide off and removed the foil. I then began adhering the PLA directly onto the fiberglass that I had been aiming to remove it from… The plans shifted quickly… The PLA was on its last legs for reheat and cool – remember it had been extruded, then ironed, then heat-gunned… then removed from the foil and fiberglass, and now I was again heating it to adhere and mold to the cow shape. Ay de mi! The whole project basically got three times longer… but this is when the cow really started to gain its own personality!
I was aiming to create a hairy cow – like a highland cow – mainly because with this medium I could make my cow hairy! Where other artists had only used paint to color their cows, I had the ability to extend my cow BEYOND the fiberglass.
My cow’s name, Beyond, stems from other reasons as well… PLA is a plant-based filament and I am a plant-based human… so we have an affinity to Beyond Meat (in a plant-based way). Also, God’s Love We Deliver goes above and BEYOND to help our community on a daily basis. And finally, there are plenty of people who might describe me and my cow as — “beyond”.
For the horns and the hoofs, I melted the PLA in the oven prior to adding it to the cow in order to create a different texture for those areas. I flipped the cow over and working on it upside-down to do the belly and the legs and to grow grass from its feet… (working with gravity for the grass). The grassy feet started out about 8 inches high… and I cut it down half an inch at a time until I was pleased with the height. The hair also got cut and styled a bunch of times… and I am sure, that before it goes to live auction on September 30th, it will need a “salon-day” – as the public is enjoying messing with his mop of hair – in a good way. It’s spreading joy! I love that!
That is the dream! Create art that spreads joy AND ultimately benefits charity. God’s Love We Deliver is an organization that cooks and delivers millions of medically tailored meals for over 10,000 New Yorkers per year, who are living with serious illnesses. It was easy for me to pour hours of my life into creating this cow – the better the cow, the higher the value it will sell for at auction… the more money it will bring into God’s Love. It’s a no-brainer, really. All of the cows are up for auction at Heritage Auctions starting September 7st the live auction ends October 7th.
When we met, Mr. Jerry Elbaum, the founder of the Cow Parade said that this was the most artistically impressive herd of cows he’s ever seen – and this is the 100th staging of this parade… He also said that to the NYTimes… so it wasn’t just to compliment an artist. I believe him.
Working in a studio alongside so many talented contemporary artists had me star-struck at times… I was able to get into my flow state, and ignore the others, thanks to music and my hula hoop… but I am still in awe of the work I saw unfurl over 8 weeks in the studio. There is so much talent in this world! I am honored and proud to be part of this particular herd. #cowparadenyc
Do you have any suggestions for people new to Doodling?
Buy more filament now! Lower your expectations… practice patience… and patiently practice. Oh… and don’t forget you can cut off or meltdown your mistakes.
In an effort to raise more even more money for God’s Love We Deliver Rachel will soon sell some Beyond merchandise on my online art shop – All proceeds will go directly to the charity!
Make sure to follow Rachel on Instagram. She’s always sharing fun art projects and plenty of Doodles.