Reborn: The Process

The Reborn project draws inspiration from the past to create fantastical visions of the future: mighty robots, flying contraptions and mystical beings. The process starts with an object, color or shape Kumkum finds intriguing.  “I’m drawn to designs from Asian tribes and indigenous peoples: jewelry, rugs, masks, ornate doors and windows from ancient temples.” These traditional objects – such as window patterns from ancient temples found in Tibet and Southeast Asia – are transformed and given new life as cosmic monoliths.

Planning & Design


The sculptures are illustrated in a 2D form, with patterns inspired by cultures and objects from around the world.


The hues are chosen for their vibrancy and inspired by their traditional context.


Each illustration is printed to actual size to check the size and proportion.


The drawing is recreated using 3D software to model all sides of the sculpture

Component Construction


Each block is represented on a blueprint to organize the complex design. A specialized machine cuts the blocks with exacting precision, and these will be placed together to create the figure. After all the blocks of the sculpture arrive, they are categorized and organized. It is a time consuming and labor-intensive process. 


All of the colors are custom made, usually from a photograph or a color combination of nature, bugs, flowers or sunsets that inspire the artist.  For this series, 70 unique colors were tested, with around 5 shades each to pick the perfect tone. Many of the blocks are hand silk screened. In all, roughly 300 colors samples were created in glossy swatches.


The blocks are pasted together, and fillers are added, to make the final shape. Each block needs to be perfect, with no holes or imperfections. If a piece is missing a block, it cannot be made. If a block cannot be made, the sculpture cannot be made. The first rough sanding is done in the artist’s studio and then sent to lacquering artisans.


Vietnam and other parts of southeast Asia are famous for their hi-gloss lacquering and the artisans that perform this task take their traditions seriously. This whole process is quite secretive; Kumkum has been working with them for years, and they have never completely revealed their techniques.
However, Kumkum is familiar with the basic process.  He describes, “After they receive our blocks, each piece is sanded so it is perfectly flat and smooth. A coating is applied to make them waterproof. The last stage of the sanding happens under water. They prime, dry and sand until the high gloss coating feels almost like glass.”

Final Assembly

However, it is not over (it never is…). The blocks are subjected to additional sanding and painting until they are perfect. Finally, the brass parts are added to the figure.

It takes months to produce each intergalactic figure, from inception to creation.