Imagine a car with an engine you don't have to service until its 500,000th mile, a pair of scissors that will never need sharpening or an airplane seat that protects fighter pilots from bullets--all made from the same basic material as an elegant vase.
Ceramics created by artists are displayed alongside ceramics manufactured by industry in an exhibit called "High Tech/Low Tech: The Science and Art of Ceramics" at the Palos Verdes Art Center.
Curator Jan Napolitan said she was surprised to learn how practical ceramics could be. Industrial ceramics, when fired at 5,000 degrees, can be much stronger than steel.
"The resulting pieces are just beautiful," said Napolitan. And there is little friction between parts and, over time, very little wear.
Among the items are auto engines that weigh 40% less than current motors and use 30% less fuel, a hammer that can chip concrete, knives and scissors that never need sharpening, ball bearings that do not require lubrication, implants to replace deteriorating joints, and a cone from a Patriot Missile that was used in the Gulf War.
Alongside these practical things are works by four artists. The pieces fetch up to $8,000 apiece, but a visit to the gallery is free.
Where: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes.
When: Monday through Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m., through Feb. 26.
Who: All ages welcome.
How much: Free.
More information: (310) 541-2479.