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Designer Spotlight: Megan Hornbecker

Happy Mini Week! This weeks designer is a miniature master. With the help of 3D printing, Megan takes the life-size pieces she wants for herself, and decorates 1:12 scale homes instead. Make sure to check out her shop, Modern Mini Houses, full of beautiful, tiny wonders!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
Hi, I’m Megan. I live outside San Francisco, CA. I work for a web design company, pretend to be a cook and wrangle two kids by day. By night I build modern miniature homes that resemble something I aspire to own some day.

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What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I’ve liked miniatures since I was young kid, but have been obsessed with modern miniatures for the last 8 years. I want all of the decor and furniture showcased at full-scale galleries like Design Within Reach, West Elm, CB2 but settle for the much more budget friendly option of making them for my 1:12 scale homes.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
A friend built me a 1:12 scale version of a West Elm chair I had been pining for. To return the favor I designed a bookcase in Adobe Illustrator based on one I’d seen. I learned that my woodworking skills suck; I can’t cut true square corners nor sand without unintentionally rounding edges. Measure twice, cut once wasn’t working for me, so I threw in the towel and googled 3D printing to turn my digital sketch into reality. I found Shapeways, learned how to create 3D models and printed my first bookcase.

Why do you think 3D printing is so appealing to the miniature community?
3D printing makes you less reliant on traditional techniques and enables you to create designs that are outside of the box. You don’t have to become a machinist, an expert woodworker, or invest in a ton of specialized tools or equipment to be able to make 3D printed miniatures.

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How do you finish your designs after they are 3D printed?
I design all of my models in Strong & Flexible Polished so they look great without finishing. I’m currently working on painting and sanding techniques to give the look of lacquered wood and distressed metals.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?
When I found Shapeways almost 3 years ago, I tested out all of the free 3D modeling software they recommended. At the time I found SketchUp to be the easiest to use so I taught myself by watching youtube videos. There was A LOT of trial and error; building supporting walls too thin, not using enough segments on rounded edges, and lots of other mistakes. After several months I found what worked and tweaked my designs to get the highest quality with the least amount of volume and to keep them small enough to fit in the polisher. I’m at the point now where I need to invest in more robust 3D software to really be able to design the miniature sculptures and accessories that are piling up in my head.

How do you promote your work?
The usual spots like my blog, website, Facebook, Flickr, and Pinterest. I have a mentor in the modern miniature world that is selling some of my work on his website at PRDMiniatures.com. I’m also in the process of building an e-commerce site to sell all of my finished pieces that I hope to launch next month and I’m applying for booth space to sell at miniature shows around the US this year.

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Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
Vijay, from Dotsan is amazing. I love his Wired Life collection. I reached out to him if he could redesign his stag head into a smaller 1:12 scale version and he was happy to oblige. Not only did he make it in the scale I wanted but we had several conversations about 3D printing which helped me become a better designer. All of Dotsan’s “Wired Life Small” animal heads are the perfect size for 1:12 scale dollhouses (I have them all, they are awesome). Jessica and Jesse from Nervous System are my heroes. I mean, who makes a 3D printed dress?!? These two are brilliant. Theo Jansen was the first designer that really made me believe that if you can think it, you can 3D print it.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I’d love to print in ceramic at 1mm or 1.5mm thick. I’m working on a new line of miniature art sculptures, but to be true to scale they would need to be 0.25mm thick, too thin for current printers. I’d also love larger 3D printers to be able to print some of my items in full-scale so I could actually use them in my real house not just my dollhouses.

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WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THIS SHOP:

  • Amazing product photography! Simple detail photographs, with a lot of context shots to make the product really come to life
  • Sections for easy shopping
  • Great shop details with a short shop summary and ways to contact Megan for more information

Thank you so much, Megan! What an amazing shop! The product photos are too good – keep up the amazing work. Don’t forget to follow Megan: on her  blogwebsiteFacebookFlickr, and Pinterest. To be featured, email aimee @ shapeways.com.

Do you make your own mini houses and displays using 3D printed furniture and accessories? Share your work by entering our 3D printed mini house contest by April 10 to win Shapeways credit and be featured on the Shapeways blog!

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