Intricate Sugar Skull Ring 3D Printed in Sterling Silver

As we introduce more 3D printing materials suitable for jewelry we are seeing the Shapeways marketplace evolve to include more amazing designs such as this Sugarskull Ring  by lougon.

3D Print Silver Skull RIng

Showing the intricate detail possible in our Sterling Silver 3D printing, Lougon post processed his 3D print by oxidizing to blacken the Silver, then polishing to return the raised sections to high polish, giving a rich contrast.

You can try this process yourself using egg yolks to blacken your Silver 3D prints to give the same affect.


  1. Lisa

    Wow! So you guys are now promoting work that directly rips off another artist (Tomas Wittelsbach)? A very well known artist at that. A very well known artist who’s very well known work is OH…well LOOK AT THAT!…..A sugar skull ring!! And my oh my…it is a sugar skull ring that is…..wait for it………3D printed. …..and Tomas has made this ring and has publicly posted about and sold this ring for ages…meaning 2007! ….Oh…..that’s right… already knew that. Being in the business you are in, how on earth could you not?

    Well done you. Now go hang your heads in shame and yank this sad copy/ripoff of Tom’s work down from your site. Really? WTF? A public apology wouldn’t be amiss.

  2. Ellen

    Shame shame on you. Stealing someone else’s work is illegal. I certainly hope I read soon that you have been sued into oblivion.

  3. Terry Thayer

    This is a blatant knockoff even of the name sugar skull, of a Tomas Wittelsbach design. Someone who has rights to this design, you shouldn’t post plagarism, notcool.

  4. Natalia

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for pointing that out. Everyone that uploads a design to Shapeways ticks a box that says “This is my own original work” so we take that at face value.

    While we want to enable people to 3D print whatever they can imagine, this does unfortunately occasionally includes things that already exist and may be covered by copyright. We ask that our community respects the rights of other designers and only upload their own original work or work that is freely available through a Creative Commons license. While we do what we can to ensure the content on Shapeways is appropriate, we cannot realistically review every model uploaded for a possible copyright infringement. We are also unable to determine whether the user has obtained a license for copyrighted content.

    Seeing this beautiful design, Duann chose to promote it on our blog. Your comments led us to do a bit of digging it does indeed appear to be a copy of Tomas Wittelsbach design. It seems the designer has removed his posting from our site.

    We will update this blog post later today as well, just wanted to publicly acknowledge our mistake here first.

    Shapeways Community Manager

    edit: Since Duann’s reply below, I wanted to edit my post. Thanks guys!

  5. Duann

    Hi All,
    I am glad you all have a passionate interest in artists retaining and protecting IP, but before making accusations it is important to be sure the at item is violating copyright, and to take the proper measures under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (DMCA).

    Under the terms of the DMCA, the holder of the copyright must contact us directly to inform us a model violates their IP, at which point we will take the model down and notify the uploader of the model. If the uploader states it is an original work, we will make the model public, and it is up to the two parties to get involved.

    Now the legal process is out of the way, let’s look at the design, while it is similar to a pre-existing work (that I had not seen before), it is not the same, the pattern on the chin, forehead and back are all different. Now if we do a quick google search of ‘sugar skull ring’ we get many results that are very similar, and/or have very similar motif’s and properties.

    If we are to search Sugar Skull 3D Print we get a load more designs in a similar style, including Joshua Harker’s skull, and many variants of that and the rings.

    Now, was T.S Whittelsbach’s the first ever filagree/sugar skull ring? I think there is a long tradition of this kind of design in Mexican culture, even Disney is selling one…

    Is it the first ever 3D printed ‘Sugar Skull Ring’? Maybe, but that does not preclude others from using the same technology to explore an existing cultural theme.

    I am glad you are all quick to defend a fellow artist, and I enjoy this conversation and hope it helps us to explore and better understand how to deal with IP, there is plenty of precedence, both good and bad in the digital world that we are now experiencing in the physical thanks to 3D printing. Let’s learn from that to make sites like Shapeways and the Zbrush forums a safe place to share and/or sell original works.


  6. lou

    I made this ring and i understand some the of the comments made against it. It does look similar, but not a ripoff, If you search the web I’m sure you will find exact copies of Tomas’s ring. All the design elements in my accused ring are different as well as the skull shape. And the term Sugar Skull is used to describe an ornate decorated skull that derives from Mexican culture which includes flowers accompanied with other ornate elements. With that said Tomas did contact me and told me to change the shape of the forehead design, which i will do.. it does look similar and it stands out in comparison to Tomas’s iconic design motif and for that I apologize..


  7. tomas wittelsbach

    Duann, the forehead design is a completely unique element that you will never find on an actual sugar skull. it is a lotus pattern, my skull has the cross cultural symbols Indian/Tibetan with Mexican. the ring in question was inspired by my work, he said it was and was very nice about taking it down until he redesigns. his details were not even close but the shapes and rhythm were.
    i can sit down and break down pattern and rhythm that is unique to my piece where it is impossible to say you haven’t seen it.
    the laws are about intention not design. that is how i can have other pieces removed.

    I also have many many iterations of every piece i design. i can prove a dated history of development of every piece i make. when someone comes up with a piece and has only one file….. i will win that fight every time. the copyright laws are actually on the artist’s side after all the recent rewrites.

    I understand your opinion but no one hits that close by accident and in turn I can and will ask them to stop.
    I think his design was nice and he has the talent to create unique pieces.

    copyright is a very tricky things these days but people must remember it’s not about exact copies its about intention to copy, that comes down to history of development and bodies of work. I don’t think he set out to COPY my ring, but the shapes and rhythm on the forehead are something i will defend because it isn’t something you will ever find in a sugar skull reference and clearly separates my design from others.

  8. Tomas Wittelsbach

    Here is a link of what i have to put up with daily,

    you will see why i am diligent about trying to keep a cap on the even the perceived copy of my work.

    This is why I need to make it clear that close is often too close and why it is important for even writers like yourself to understand the real issues of copyright.

    you seem to speak with authority here but your missing the real legal issue.
    “Now the legal process is out of the way, let’s look at the design, while it is similar to a pre-existing work (that I had not seen before), it is not the same, the pattern on the chin, forehead and back are all different. Now if we do a quick google search of ‘sugar skull ring’ we get many results that are very similar, and/or have very similar motif’s and properties.

    “Substantially similar” means that an average person viewing the two works would recognize that the “artistic expression” in one was copied from the other. The focus on “artistic expression” is meant to distinguish between illegal copying, which is infringement, and being inspired by someone else’s work, which is not illegal. “Artistic expression” means the specific artistic choices and details that go into a work, such as composition, rendering and colors, but not general concepts such as subject matter or similar artistic style. However, courts often describe infringing works as having the same “look and feel” as the originals. Sometimes work depicting similar content in the same unique artistic style are held infringing, even if specific details are different.
    With the Bi-Cultural references created with the lotus pattern on the forehead I created a specific and very defend-able design motif, as I said before i can post or provide a very clear layout of pattern and rhythm that will show the derivation.

    I don’t believe he set out to COPY my ring but was INSPIRED by my work he just fell a little too close to “Substantially similar”. Close is too close sometimes. he was very kind, understanding and was willing to continue to work on his design to make it unique to his vision.
    I have no issues with him or how he handled this.
    But i think this is a very important issue that should be dealt with cautiously.

    btw I did this
    “Under the terms of the DMCA, the holder of the copyright must contact us directly to inform us a model violates their IP, at which point we will take the model down and notify the uploader of the model. “

    1. Duann Post author

      Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for taking the time to write in and comment on the blog post, the more we discuss matters such as this, the more we bring the law to light, both strengths and weaknesses. I am also glad that the issue was resolved between you and the other artist, that your originality and creativity was respected and all are happy with the outcome.

      I am interested to know if you found the design via keywords, google image search or were you referred to it by your fans and peers, if it was the latter, this is a good example of a self policing community, standing up for agreed social norms. While this can sometimes turn into zealous trolling (see 4chan meets youtube comment), with honest communication directly between the artists it can usually be resolved very quickly, without the need for lawyers.

      Thanks again for all of your contributions in this discussion.

      Duann Scott

  9. Tomas Wittelsbach

    I have a strong and supportive fan base.
    Having been a part of the jewelry and zbrush communities from 2006 when people see things that remind them of my work, especially the sugarskull i hear about it rather quickly. It seems to have hit a chord and lots of people are selling direct knockoffs of the piece.

    its funny we are thinking about doing a kickstarter for a project and we were just about to look into seeing if shapeways could produce the sugarskull in glow in the dark plastic for entry level support.
    I feel much better about approaching shapeways now i know they take the IP issues seriously.

    I agree this is a very important dialog to have, most people don’t realize how easy it is to fall short of the fair usage and inspiration clauses of the new laws. the whole change it 20% idea is a thing of the past. As a creator its is a very very very fine line between being inspired and infringement.

    we all do it, we all walk back and forth over the line and a lot of it comes down to how we deal with it if we are called out on it. I know i have created a few objects that i consider humor or satirical but are really close and if they came to me and said i steeped over the line i wouldn’t fight it but apologies and move on.
    all i can say is embrace the emotional response you get from your favorite artists, bring there energy and ideas into your work but define your own vocabulary and tune those inspirations your own voice.

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