Category Archives: Art

Conversation with Designer and Artist HEIDILEE on Her Radical Approach to Making Hats Using 3D Printing

3D printed hats are no longer a future fantasy. Designer and Artist H E I D I L E E uses Shapeways 3D printing to create fashion and hats inspired by contemporary, avant-garde classical music. She spoke with us about her fascinating process that fuses a MacGyver approach and no boundaries mindset. Her work is so cutting edge that she’s featured in the upcoming NYC Makers: MAD Biennial exhibition here in NYC. Read on!

H E I D I L E E Cocktail Parasol Hat photo: Bryan Davis

How did you discover your passion for making hats?

I was challenged to create fashion inspired by contemporary, avant-garde classical music. I never intended to sell my pieces, but people began to notice my work and it grew from there, and over a span of time it has developed into a remarkable line.

What is your day-to-day work life like?

It varies from day to day, and depends on which pieces I’m focusing on to make. Each hat has a completely different workflow and process than the other, so I enjoy the variety of solutions each needs to enfold into being. I try to take a MacGyver-like approach to making my hats.

Where did you learn how to design and develop your incredible creations?

I apprenticed under milliner Victor Osborne. He recently moved to France to continue making haute-couture hats for runway shows such as Thom Browne (Recipient of the 2013 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award and 2012 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion) and Dior for Paris Fashion Week. My uncle also instructed me, having worked in the American millinery industry for over 30 years, producing hats for designers, whose lines are carried at Barneys New York and Saks 5th Avenue. They inspired me to forge my own path in making hats that are sensible, yet innovative in headwear.

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Daniela Bertol at MAD: Shapeways Designer in Residence

What is the geometry behind leaves, starfish, flowers, clouds, waves, honeycombs, seashells or the human body and movement?

This week Daniela Bertol, the Shapeways Designer in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, will explore the geometric laws behind natural forms to recreate them as parametric digital models, which will be fabricated using the formlabs 3D printers. Several of the digital models will be developed from the explorations of Daniela’s book Form Geometry Structure: from Nature to Design. Each day of the residency will be devoted to a different “bioform” developed from a parametric associated software and 3D printed. Several yoga postures performed by the designer will be 3D scanned and 3D printed, providing 3D digital/printed models of frozen movements.

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3D Print a Venus de Milo of Your Very Own

Ever wanted a historic work of art but did not have the ready cash to purchase the original?  3D printing to the rescue once again thanks to a recent 3D scanning project by Cosmo Wenman entitled ”Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle.”

3D Print a Venus de Milo of Your Very Own

“The Skulpturhalle Basel museum in Switzerland has an incredible collection of more than 2,000 high quality 19th and 20th century plaster casts of important ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. The Skulpturhalle has given me permission to 3D scan sculptures of my choosing…”

Now you can purchase 3D prints of Cosmo’s high quality scans from his Shapeways shop and own a little piece of history, made with lasers!


MYMO: The Beautiful Pendant Generator Built on the Shapeways API

Did you know Shapeways has an API? New companies are forming around it everyday!

MYMO is a great recent example of Shop Owners taking advantage of the API. I sat down with them at their office to discuss the launch of their jewelry app, MYMO, that lets users combine any two letters or numbers in an elegant form factor. Our Alan Hudson helped them set it up, has worked with them a lot. He even connected them to a geometry generator. Rex, their developer, built MYMO off the Shapeways API which let him leverage his existing coding database.

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Thank You, from All of Us Here at Shapeways

We are all so grateful for the brilliant, creative and inspiring community we get to engage and interact with every day. Regardless of what your plans are today, or who’s sitting at your 3D Printed table (this one by PrettySmallThings), we just wanted to take a moment to remind you how much we value having you as a Shapie. So, from all of us, Thanks :) .

The Shapeways crew took some time this week to capture our sentiments surrounding the Holiday Season. When asked “what are you most grateful for at Shapeways?” Here’s what we had to say:  

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Dinovember Feature: An Interview with 3D Printing Dinosaur Design Master David Krentz

Are you a fan of Dinosaurs? Or a recent #Dinovember bandwagoner? If you just answered yes, and should you like your Dinos in cinematic form, you’ve likely seen the work of David Krentz. Given his feature in our recent Bronze launch, the timely nature of viral heartwarming dinosaur stories, and in an effort to showcase some of the Shop Owners we’re so grateful for, I give you…

Interview with David Krentz: “I still pinch myself that someone pays me to make dinosaurs.”

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Shapeways Internship attn: NYC locals

Live in the NYC area? Love all things 3D printing? Want to work hands-on with designers and education groups to explain all the interesting facets of what Shapeways can do? Then we want to talk to you! 

Shapeways is looking for two candidates for a paid internship in the NYC metropolitan area. You will be working with our Design Evangelists Duann and Lauren on education and outreach around a special exhibition to be announced soon.

picture shapeways crew

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Artificial Intelligence Used to 3D Print Venus of Google (VIDEO)

What does a simple wooden box and a woman wearing a body wrap have in common?  Only Google, a ‘Hill Climbing Algorithm’ and Shapeways 3D Printer can show us.  Venus of Google is an experimental work by artist Matthew Plummer-Fernandez exploring emerging technology and culture.

Venus of Google 3D Print on Shapeways

The Venus of Google was ‘found’ via a Google search-by-image, googling a photograph taken of an object I had been handed over in a game of exquisite corpse. The Google search returned visually similar results, one of these being an image of a woman modeling a body-wrap garment. I then used a similar algorithmic image-comparison technique to drive the automated design of a 3D printable object. The ‘Hill-Climbing’ algorithm starts with a plain box shape and tries thousands of random transformations and comparisons between the shape and the image, eventually mutating towards a form resembling the found image in both shape and colour. I’m interested in this early era of artificial intelligence, computer vision and algorithmic artefacts, exemplifying the paradox of technology being both advanced and primitive at the same time. The Long Tail Multiplier series investigates the potential use of algorithms to create virtually infinite cultural artefacts, inspired by the stories of these algorithmic books and t-shirts.  

The Long Tail Multiplier system is based on a Hill Climbing Algorithm. The 3D Mesh render and distortion is done with Processing and the Hemesh library. The image comparison is managed with a Python script calling a command-line tool called ImageMagick.

The object was 3D printed in full color by Shapeways.

Matthew Plummer-Fernandez
is an artist exploring emerging technology and culture. He uses scanning, digital fabrication and computational approaches to making artefacts, both physical and digital, that blur the distinction between the two, referencing the digitisation of the everyday. Plummer-Fernandez received his MA from the Royal College of Art in 2009, after studies in Graphic Design and a BEng in Computer-Aided Mechanical Engineering at Kings College London. His work has been exhibited and published globally including relevant articles on Creative Applications, Rhizome, and Creators Project, and has received commissions from curators Arts Co, It’s Nice That, and Selfridges. He is currently based in South East London, working in research at Goldsmiths College.


Barbie’s 3D Printed Makeover

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first glance, the iconic Barbie Doll looks innocent enough in the hands of a
young child, but a side-by-side with Nickolay Lamm’s anatomically accurate doll
reveals the ludicrously distorted proportions of Mattel’s classic stand-by– if
she existed in real life. Lamm generated a 3D model from the average
measurements of a 19 year-old girl, send it to a 3D printer, and photoshopped the
resulting figure into the Barbie’s likeness. 

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The Emerging Topologies of 3D Printing Showing in Sydney, Australia

Emerging Topologies is an upcoming exhibition exploring how contemporary technologies are changing our relationship with the architectural space we inhabit.  The exhibition is the culmination of artist Josh Harle’s four year doctoral research, informed by degrees in Computer Science, Philosophy, and Sculpture, and completed between the School of Design, COFA, and the Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales.  The artist’s practice utilises exotic production techniques and bespoke software tools that map, scan, and visualise the city in contingent, poetic ways using 3D fabrication, laser etching, cloud processing, and structural reconstruction from images.  

The artist explores the shifting landscape of a city experienced through mobile mapping technology, sketching out his own improbable paths through the shadows.  The works tell tales: compiling esoteric maps of journeys through strange cities, and taking playful, winding trips across the smudged face of the GPS screen.

The research thesis will also serve as the catalogue for the exhibition, and the artist is selling printed and DRM-free ebook versions to help with the cost of the exhibition.

Opening: Tues, May 21, 5-7pm

Where: Kudos Gallery 6 Napier St, Paddington, NSW

Hours: Wed to Fri, 11am – 6pm, Sat, 11am – 4pm  


Collective Conscious: Lasers saving the rainforest

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The Collective Conscious is a self-assembling group of artists and scientists, based in Whistler, Canada, who believe that one brain is never enough and that the cross-pollination of ideas is where the heart of innovation and creativity lies. They are painters, illustrators, 3D modellers, interior designers, motion graphics designers and software developers but, as they say, “most of all we are just big nerds”.

Illustrator Victoria Farrand and 3D modeller Thomas Wood collaborated to create ‘The Unexpected’, a series of drawings and 3D printed models.

“The project was inspired when we heard of the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal that is set to run straight through the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada. This area is the largest region of coastal temperate rainforest left on the planet and home less than 400 enchanting Spirit Bears. We chose the low polygon style because it depicts the form in the simplest way, a representation of how our memories of the bears, wolves and orca of this region will fade over time, until we cannot see them as more than a shape in our mind.”
The Collective Conscious is proud to be representing at the State Of The Art exhibition during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler, Canada. Through their exhibition they aim to raise the profile of the Art For An Oil Free Coast initiative as well as increasing public knowledge of the dangers facing the beautiful west coast environment.
If you would like to support them, you can visit them in Whistler from April 12-21 or you can buy bears and wolves from their Shapeways Shop.


The Incredible Nautilus Project

After an overwhelming response to the Nautilus project we featured last week, including a re-tweet by Wired’s Chris Anderson, we asked Alexander to share the whole story of how that incredible project came to be. This is an amazing example of a project that combines traditional hand craft and 3D printing to create something that couldn’t be made any other way…


The story of the Nautilus begins thusly: I was driving my 6 year old daughter to school one morning, about two or three months before her birthday, and I asked her what kind of toy she might like for her birthday. I usually start to ask her this question well in advance of her birthday because she very rarely says she wants anything. We had been previously watching the 1954 film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” based on Jules Vern’s book, and my daughter had fallen in love with the main characters. I should say that she fell in love with some of the characters, because she absolutely loved Captain Nemo and hated Ned Land like poison. So when I asked her what she might want or her birthday, I was not completely surprised to hear her say, “I would like the Nautilus,” but nor did I take the request too seriously. After all there wasn’t really a toy Nautilus that would be very appropriate for a six year old, excepting some terrible small plastic models made by slave labor in China. So I told my daughter that although she might like a Nautilus submarine, there wasn’t one to own. She did not appreciate that answer.

But her request got me thinking. I have almost three decades of modeling experience (building tanks, aircraft, ships, and dioramas) as well as miniature painting experience, strictly as a hobby. And over the last eight years or so, that skill set developed further when I renovated our house. In particular I developed extensive wood working skills. And since my daughter’s birth I have also dabbled in making toys for her. So it occurred to me that I might be able to actually design and build a Nautilus from scratch. That is what I decided to do.

Nautilus front

After telling my daughter that I intended to build the Nautilus for her as her birthday present I got to work. Without going into detail here about all the various stages of the project and the endless challenges I faced – the challenges were many and multifaceted, and would easily require thirty pages to lay out – I brought the Nautilus to its first stage of conclusion on 17 December 2012, after six months and more than 500 hours of work. I gave up counting the actual monetary cost at a certain point since doing so was causing me, mentally, to avoid working on the project. I am sure the current cost – excluding all labor – is over $3000.00, but I would not be surprised if it were a lot more than that by the time it is finished. The second stage of work, in which I am currently involved, is the further decoration/renovation of the ship, which I fully expect will drastically change the look and feel of the dollhouse for the better. I see this stage as lasting another two years.

With respect to Glenn and 3D objects, the story is quite interesting. One of the first design challenges I had in building the Nautilus was what to do about the iconographic Bullaugen (large portholes) in the salon of the ship, the diving ring and the diving helmets. With regard to the former, at first I tried to find large size O rings from a variety of machine manufactures to serve as the Bullaugen, but I was unable to find anything suitable, since the size, the type of material and weight were factors: I needed something that was 6-8″ in diameter, light weight (so that it could be mounted and would not put too much stress on either the bonds holding it, or the deck of the ship under it), and capable of being decorated. But during my failed search for O rings, I came upon a site,, that introduced people working on projects to people that could help them with those projects. It was here that I met Glenn, who is also an active Shapeways community member.

I owe Glenn a great debt of thanks for his kind generosity, beautiful work and patience. Glenn agreed to design the two Bullaguen, which we would then send to Shapeways to be printed in 3D. He also agreed to design the diving ring in the dive room, and the helmets for the crew. With respect to these latter two projects, I decided in favor of 3d printing because there was simply no other objects that could be suitably modified or pressed into service that would provide the proper look and feel. No one is making dollhouse scale (1/12 scale) diving helmets, as you can imagine (“Tea anyone in the parlor? Don’t forget your certified to 1000 feet brass and copper diving helm!”) I did find, at one point, keychains with brass diving helm decorations, but the helms were too small for the dolls’ heads, and I wanted the dolls to be able to “get dressed” for diving and going through the diving ring.

For the 3D projects to work, I had to go through the film multiple times taking photos of the objects from various angles. Glenn then worked up the initial take and we went back and forth discussing the design as it developed. This process worked very smoothly with respect to the two Bullaugen and the diving ring. And I had to be very prudent in this process due to cost, since the objects themselves were not inexpensive to manufacture and Glenn had his costs for design.

Nautilus detail

Things almost came to a screeching halt, however, in the design and manufacturing of the helmets. Here we had a variety of issues that caused us many problems and drove the unit cost far beyond what either of us had envisioned. To make a long story short, in creating the helmets we experienced design snafus (things crept into the design that neither of us actually visually caught), miscommunication (especially visualizing differing measurements and proportions), and uncertainty (how would things really fit and look on one of the dolls). The result was that the first 3D helm we printed was expensive and unusable. It was, in fact, three times too large for the dolls, and would not fit through the diving ring. The second attempt at the same helm was stopped in production by Shapeways because of unworkable geometry (a sincere and heartfelt “thank you” to the team! Ed note: You’re welcome!), and had to be redesigned again. Only the third time did we finally get a product that we could use, and, by then, costs had exceeded the budget by a wide margin. Even then I had to modify Captain Nemo to be able to wear the helmet, though for the rest of the crew the helmet was a perfect fit. As a consequence of the costs I am still buying helmets one at a time!

Nautilus people

The ship itself is entirely handmade, handpainted and hand decorated by myself. So, for example, there are somewhere between 3000 and 4000 brass 1/8″ brads in the ship serving as “rivets,” all of which were put in by me by hand, and which constituted THE most repulsive decorating project in the Nautilus by a wide margin. The contents of the ship are either handmade by myself or handmade by someone else, and sometimes they are joinly made. For example, the bookshelves in the ship are partly made by me out of teakwood. I then enlisted a coppersmith I found on etsy and had him manufacture the copper “spirals” that mimic the style of the shelves in the movie. After receiving those, I glued the teak shelves together, stained them by hand, glued on the copper spirals and sprayed the entire shelving with lacquer. These were installed into one bedroom and the salon.

The map cabinet in the Navigation room, as yet another example, was made entirely my myself out of mahogany that I carefully cut, shaped, drilled, stained and painted. I then bought 7mm copper o rings and glued them onto the front of each map hole in the cabient. Finally, I manufactured fifteen sea charts for it. The strange clocklike mechanisms in the Nautilus are also made by myself by hand – they were a huge and physically painful project (bending copper on a micro scale bites into the fingertips terribly). But most of the furniture and some decoration pieces are made either by individual craftspersons (books, looking glass, porcelain, rugs by L DeLaney and evminatures, to name but two of my favorites), or high end dollhouse miniature companies (especially Bespaq, and Reutters porcelain).

So here we are. They Nautilus is now in phase two, decoration and renovation. I am adding additional shelving, rugs, furniture, curiosities, books, maps, fishing nets and more over the next two years. The bottom level of the Nautilus will come in for special attention in terms of its redecoration. In my view it much be much more spectacular, given how difficult it is to see. There will be hidden treasure (ballast, as Nemo tells Ned Land), an entirely redesigned and decorated kitchen and more. And more 3D helmets are coming as well; I eventually want to have four or five for the entire crew!

Nautilus port side

I will now spend the next two years or so adding additional levels of detail…


What an incredible project! Congratulations Alexander, and I’m sure your daughter feels like the luckiest girl in the world!


Designer Spotlight: Seedling Design

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Chris and Megan of Seedling Design. The pair is interested in mixing 3D printing with traditional materials like wood, ceramics, magnets and textiles, to create playful designs that invite wonder. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

Chris Schmidt and Megan Ender are Seedling Design. We have created jewelry and art for over 10 years and currently work out of our home studio in Oakland, CA. By day Chris is an industrial designer and invents toys for companies such as Mattel, Hasbro, Fisher-Price, MGA and LeapFrog. Megan has a career in non-profit work and art education. We design bold and unique pieces that attract attention and our wish is that you enjoy, get complimented and feel especially delightful wearing our products! 

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you? 

Seedling Design stems from the concept of taking a seed of an idea and seeing how we can transform it into something magical. Some concepts we’ve started off with are: Imaginary rock collections, magnetic sculptures, food as jewelry, cool geometry, tensegrity, planet inspired jewelry, self-defense rings, what would our favorite artist’s jewelry look like, textiles with 3D printing, and other mixed media pieces. Inspiration comes from our everyday lives, our childhoods, nature and our interest in geometry, science and technology. We have a list of 200 ideas that keeps growing, including ideas such as how to bring back pop-beads for kids in a modern form.  

shapeways seedling design 3d printed art

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

In working in the design field for 15 years, Chris has seen the growth of 3D printing and was excited to use the technology. At work Chris uses an FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer all the time, but the output is less than attractive. Any other technology was always too expensive up until we discovered Shapeways. Now we can experiment all we want at a minimal cost.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

When Chris was 15, he downloaded a copy of 3D studio and began to tinker. He went through several other 3D programs such as Animation Master, Truespace, Alias and finally discovered Rhino 3D, which he’s been using for the past 15 years.   

shapeways seedling design 3d Printed mesh

How do you promote your work?

Since we are just starting out as a part-time, just for fun company, we’re only in the beginning phases of promoting our work. We started on Etsy and we are experimenting selling our work in several local Oakland shops. Since we both have fulltime jobs, getting ourselves out there has been a slow but informative process and we hope to keep expanding our audience.  

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you? 

Our favorite artists and designers include: Tara Donovan, Gaudi, Anish Kapoor, Alexander Calder, Buckminster Fuller, Herbert Bayer, Louise Nevelson, Olafur Eliasson, Barbara Hepworth, Gabriel Orozco, Ai Weiwei, Shepard Fairey, Eva Hess and probably 50 more. As far as 3D printing artists, we’ve always liked the work of Nervous System and Bathsheba.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Everything! Clothing, architecture, toys, but probably not food since we love our California produce ;-)

Check out their colorful designs on their Shapeways shop or their website.

Want to be our next featured designer? Send me an email at


3D Printed Memories of a Mountain

In my youth, when I was backpacking around the world I spent a few months in Seattle but I never got to see the peak of the Mt. Rainier until the day that I flew out of Tacoma airport, and there above the clouds was the peak of the mountain.  It is an image burnt into my memory, of a time in my life of freedom and wonder.

3D Printed Mountain on Shapeways

Of course as time passes, memory fades and one forgets or exaggerates the past, so it is always nice to have a little something to hold the memory fast in one’s mind.  A postcard may act as a trigger, but it is so one dimensional, and could never capture ‘that view’.  Now TinyMtn comes to the rescue with, tiny 3D printed mountains.  Now I can have Mt. Ranier 3D printed on my desktop, and when I want to reminisce, I can drop some dry ice in a glass of water for an impromptu cloud, pull out my iPhone with an Olloclip attachment and fly it around the mountain, peering into the screen just like I peered out of the window in awe of the mountain peak, so many years ago. Thank you TinyMtn…