In April 2019, volunteers from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) reached out to Professor Joe Hicks concerning their need to have kiln-fired ceramic ornaments included in an outreach program. The purpose of the ornaments was to communicate the organization’s personal support for new members through a gesture of kindness and empathy, with volunteers making the ceramic ornaments and painting each one by hand.
After meeting with the TAPS organizers, Hicks recognized that they needed a place to manufacture the ornaments and the materials themselves. He quickly volunteered the use of the ceramics studio at Marymount University, donated materials and offered his expertise to aid in the design and production of the ornaments.
In order to obtain enough material to create the ornaments, Hicks also organized a fundraiser during finals week in the School of Design, Arts and Humanities (DAH) faculty lounge. He sold his personal pottery made from classroom demonstrations, and 100 percent of the proceeds went to the TAPS material budget.
With a $100 donation from DAH and all total sales, $235 was raised and used to purchase 500 pounds of clay. Hicks also secured an additional 500-pound donation from Clayworks Supply, totaling enough clay to make 4,000 ornaments.
Using 3D printing design software and a 3D printer, Hicks designed and manufactured the custom tile cutters needed to produce the ornaments. Along with the tile cutter design, he also used the 3D printer to create stamps for the ornaments that included the TAPS logo and the phrase, “MU Cares.”
In addition to helping an area nonprofit, this opportunity to experiment and practice with the utilization of 3D printers and 3D printed objects provided important research for Marymount’s ceramics and 3D design program curricula, which will be implemented in the Fall 2019 semester.
Volunteers from TAPS worked with Hicks, as well as Marymount alumna J.S. Herbert, in the ceramic studio for five days. During this time, they completed about 2,500 ornaments. Hicks will deliver these to the TAPS organization, with the exception of several hundred pieces that will stay at Marymount to be used for a service project on Sept. 28 in connection to the Service Saturdays initiative. This new part of the project will allow students and other volunteers to individually paint the ornaments for the TAPS organization, and continue to contribute to this project.