Category Archives: Art

NASA’s Time Travel Machine and the Art It Inspired

“Exploration” by Ashley Zelinskie

Nowhere does the line between art and science blur more readily than when we look to the stars. NASA has long been known to recognize the artistic power of space exploration, famously releasing a series of Space Tourism Posters to eager space- and art-lovers last year. Now, the agency has tapped into the imaginations of a range of multimedia artists to celebrate the James Webb Space Telescope, the observatory that will let us glimpse the ancient origins of our universe.

Twenty-five artists were selected to preview the telescope (which launches in 2018), and create works inspired by it. With its sail-like, 21-foot, gold-plated mirror – and mission to peer back in time – inspiration came easily (see the full collection of works here). One of the chosen artists, Shapeways community member Ashley Zelinskie, conceived of a work, “Exploration,” that represents the symbolic and literal achievements of the telescope.

To create the piece, which was 3D printed with Shapeways, the artist 3D scanned the arms of John Cromwell Mather, astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate and Amber Straughn, astrophysicist and Deputy Project Scientist for JWST Science Communications. Then, Zelinskie added a scan of her own arm. She combined the three limbs with a representation of the telescope’s mirror, with its 18 golden, hexagonal segments.

The arms stretch from the surface of the mirror, reaching into the unknown in a symbolic representation of the search for knowledge. “Art asks people every day to think about abstract ideas and opens a doorway for creative thinking,” the artist explained. “My hope is to apply this open-mindedness to science and, in this way, be better equipped to take in the universe in all its vastness and mystery.”

The surfaces of Mather, Straughn, and Zeleskie’s outstretched arms are made up of a lace-like lattice of symbols. They represent the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker metric – the solution to Einstein’s field equations of general relativity. This metric, which describes the universe, is joined by the formula that describes a parabolic mirror. Dr. Mather summed up the symbolism of the pairing with, “One might say we build one (the telescope primary mirror) to test the other (Einstein’s equations).”

Dr. Amber Straughn framed “Exploration” in appropriately poetic terms: “Astronomy by its very nature drives us toward the unknown…there’s something uniquely human about wanting to find out about our surroundings, to explore our world, to discover new things. That’s what astronomy is all about.”


“Exploration” and the other works inspired by the JWST will be on display at the Goddard Visitor Center in Greenbelt, MD, from March 3 to April 16, 2017.

Designer Spotlight: Guy McCann – 3D Body Jewelry

Guy McCann's Brain Half Left-side Pendant

The hidden beauty of the brain, transformed into a pendant

What would you give to glimpse the invisible? Guy McCann has given his career to it — but he’s held on to his sense of humor. As a total sucker for puns, I fell in love with the intricate, gorgeous designs in his 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gift Products shop. Especially when he asks, “Have you ever wanted to give a colleague, friend, or loved one ‘a piece of your mind?’ Well, now you can! Choose your thought (and mood) with one of our Brain Mood Gifts.“

Guy is a tenured professor of the Physical Sciences and has always been fascinated by the hidden beauty of nature. For fifteen years, he was the director of an electron microscope imaging laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania — where every day they worked to glimpse the 3D structures of nature that were invisible and smaller than the wavelengths of light! He points to his pioneering work in the field of 3D electron imaging, capturing never-before-seen structures in nature, as what’s guided his life for the past twenty-five years.

What led you to make the leap from 3D electron imaging to designing jewelry? I love that you took a literal approach to giving someone a piece of your mind, by the way.
It was more of an organic artistic growth rather than a leap. The hidden beauty of nature within us has been a focus of my life for over forty years. In the 1960s, electron microscopes gave us our first chance to glimpse the invisible. In the 1980s, computers were linked and now we could create digital 3D CAD rendered screen images. With the advent of 3D printing, an entirely new medium opened to the teaching industry. Initially, I was designing special 3D models for teaching purposes on body parts that are hard to visualize without anatomy. Boring indeed, however, 3D printing rekindled my artistic love of human symmetry and a desire to create something new and unique. Hence a product line of 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gifts. My inspiration is our slogan “The invisible beauty of Nature made visible  and printable.”

A second principle in my design of pendants is that I seek to express the duality of our hidden nature by making creations that can be displayed and worn forward or reversed — revealing our yin and yang — whenever I see the possibility in the structure. The Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons is also shown in its two display positions, for example.


McCann's Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

McCann’s Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

Do you see a specific type of customer frequenting your shop? Do you see a trend of medical or psychology students buying these pendants, perhaps?
Yes, I see the academically inclined to be much more interested than “regular” jewelry buyers. If I continue to market correctly, I want to direct it towards women of all ages, with specializations in the Academic, Executive, and Professional worlds. I want to see a trend of medical, psychological, and every other academic field: they are my primary market. My view is that this “Academic, Executive, and Professional” field is an overlooked market. What do you give an egghead in medicine like an otolaryngologist for a birthday gift? (That would be Ear Nose and Throat doctors to the rest of us.) How about some nose bones together as an aesthetic desk paperweight gift? Ridiculous to ordinary people. But these people have spent at least eight years of their life studying these beautiful bones hidden inside our nose! What do you give to the tens of thousands of medical students who graduate every year as a graduation gifts?


McCann's Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

McCann’s Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

I would bet that some of your customers really relate to your products on a deeper level than simply buying it because they like the aesthetic. I could imagine someone buying the Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons as a reminder to conquer a fear, for example.
Yes, your example of emotions connected to the given product, as fear in Fear Monitor Lobe pendant, is exactly the type of consumer interplay I am receiving and seeking. I have a polished sterling silver pendant, “Emotion Control Center.” Some people have purchased it to say and show that they have control over their emotional center. The “Consciousness” pendant is endless in its emotional appeal and it possesses an elegance of design completely hidden from the ordinary world of objects, bringing forth new visions of natural beauty.

The Consciousness Pendant

The Consciousness Pendant

Check out Guy’s creations for yourself — his shop is perfect proof that beauty really is on the inside.

When 3D Printing Opens Up New Ways of Seeing

Henry Segerman’s new book Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing provides non-mathematicians with exciting new ways to understand complex mathematical shapes. Segerman’s easy-to-follow book and companion website show how we can use 3D prints to gain a tactile awareness of these objects and use our full stereoscopic vision to understand them better than we ever have. In this excerpt from the chapter on symmetry, Segerman explains what we learn when we look at Bathsheba Grossman’s beautiful and symmetric sculpture “Soliton” from dozens of angles — the only way to sufficiently capture the complexity (and artistry) of the form.


The picture above shows two photographs of Soliton, a sculpture by mathematical artist Bathsheba Grossman.

This is a difficult object to comprehend from a couple of photographs. Sinuous curves twist around each other in a complicated, but obviously symmetrical way. Rotation by half a turn is a symmetry for each of these views. But it isn’t so easy to see how these two views are related to each other, or even that they are photographs of the same object. With a few more viewpoints of the same sculpture however, we can see how they are connected. See the picture below. The first view shown in the picture above is at the far right, and the second is at both the top and the bottom.


25 unique views of “Soliton”

Let’s think of the sculpture sitting at the center of a sphere of possible directions to take a photograph from. We get a panel of possible views: a quarter of the entire sphere, like the panel of a four-panel beach ball. The picture below shows camera positions evenly spaced out over one of these panels  photographs from these positions make up the array of images above.


An illustration of the camera’s positions

Some of the photographs around the edges are repeats: they show the same view as each other. The pair of photographs above and below the rightmost photograph in the figure are the same as each other, as are the pair two above and two below, and so on. In fact the whole boundary edge from the rightmost point to the top is the same as the edge from the rightmost point to the bottom. The same is true of the two edges above and below the leftmost edge. This tells us how to cover the rest of the sphere of possible photographs: we can do this with a total of four copies of the panel, tiling the sphere so that the photographs we see along the edges match up.


The rest of this chapter goes on to investigate and catalogue the other ways in which things can be symmetrical, and show more beautiful symmetric sculptures by various artists.

In case you were wondering, I took the grid of photographs using a rig that allows me to (relatively) precisely control the angle that the camera sees the cube from. Then there was some surprisingly tricky math and programming to generate the array of photographs!


The camera rig Segerman devised

For more, pick up a copy of Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing. All of the models discussed in the book are available on Shapeways, many from Segerman’s shop, with the rest linked to from the book’s companion site. We’re in awe of the work that mathematicians and designers like Henry are contributing to the Shapeways community — and how that work is advancing our understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts. Are you working on a project you’d like us to share on the blog? Make sure to get in touch, whether in the comments below or at

A Visionary Artist Takes on the Smart Home

This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival is putting Dutch artist and Shapeways designer Anouk Wipprecht’s designs in the spotlight. Her Living Pods exhibit asks us to rethink the smart home as something more than purely functional, with interactive clothing and flower-inspired pods that welcome visitors “home” by reacting to their presence.

Mechatronic “LIVING PODS” – Anouk Wipprecht x Somfy Home Automation from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Wipprecht is already well-established in the Fashion-Tech world, and her current exhibit expands on past work around reactive and wearable tech. The Pods are part of The Art of Motion, the artist’s ongoing collaboration with connected home company Somfy, Michael Sagan of Autodesk’s Fusion 360 team, and LA-based concept designer Igor Knezevic. The project envisions a time when all the objects in our homes become sensory and smart. While Wipprecht’s fashions focus on interaction with (and mediation between) the human body and the outside world, the Pods aim to bring humanity and soul to home electronics.

lightfestival klein-12

Visitors to the Amsterdam Light Festival take in Wipprecht’s work

To articulate the concept, she created an one-piece hanging mechanical gripper structure with hooks that allowed 3D printed leaves to be connected. The gripper mechanism was created in Fusion 360 by the designer during her residency at Pier 9 — Autodesk’s maker-workshop in San Francisco. The Pier 9 Artists in Residence program allows artists, makers, and fabricators to work with high-end tools and machinery in Autodesk’s digital fabrication workshop, bringing dream projects to life. The final pieces were printed at Shapeways, each in a single piece, using SLS for strength and rigidity. The Pods light up, and a linear motor moves their petals in response to a sensor, emulating a living flower’s reaction to the sun.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Amsterdam this week, check out Anouk’s exhibit at the Amsterdam Light Festival, now through January 8, and let us know in the comments what smart home tech you’d like to see in the future.


Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Bonus: Check out the video below to go behind the scenes of the Living Pods’ creation. Behind The Scenes // LIVING PODS [Mechanic Flower lamps in Fusion360] from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

These Gifts Are Unlike Anything They’ve Seen

By day, Joaquin Baldwin works in feature film animation. In his spare time, he creates an incredible array of inspired 3D printed objects. With the holidays just days away, his designs are ideal last-minute gifts for those hard-to-shop-for friends who seem to have everything.

Bulbophyllum Gracilis Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bulbophyllum Gracilis Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

From the witty to the wondrous, Joaquin’s pieces draw upon unusual sources, resulting in beautiful, unprecedented works of art. “I find a lot of inspiration in mathematical and biological shapes. I try to blend the two for a lot of my work. I usually start with a simple compound concept idea (say, origami + skeleton, or mobius + bacon) and go from there,” he told us.

Mobius Maximus by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Mobius Maximus by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

His explorations have included riffs on caffeine molecules, the skeletons of insects, the shape of orchids, and a stunning variety of mathematical objects.

Origami Crane Skeleton by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Origami Crane Skeleton by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Joaquin’s work is the result of personal creative explorations. His process begins with “a few mockups in Maya, and if I like the concept after that point, I create a final model.” He told us that his goal is “simply to make things I want for myself, and to challenge myself, and if the audience shows interest as well, to put in on my shop so I can have a self-sustaining hobby.”

Radiolaria Geodesica Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Radiolaria Geodesica Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Discover more of Joaquin’s work in his Shapeways Shop. If you order soon, one of his fantastical works of art can make it to you in time for Hanukkah and Christmas. You can view all of our materials ordering deadlines here, and make sure to explore our full Holiday Gift Guide for a last-minute dose of gifting inspiration.

Hacking Arts Conference 2016

Last week, Shapeways sponsored the Hacking Arts Conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hosted by the MIT Media Lab, the three-day conference brings together students and professionals from technology and the arts to discuss interdisciplinary creativity.

Shapeways’ Community team was there to greet panel goers and give them a chance to get their hands on some of the 3D printed materials and products available in the marketplace.


The conference also included a hackathon and some amazing performances. Below is a moment from audio/visual artists the Holladay Brothers during the opening ceremonies.


A video posted by Andrew Thomas (@andrew.s.thomas) on


The Hacking Arts Conference was also a great opportunity to see old friends. Artist and Shapeways Shop Owner Bathsheba Grossman came by to play with some of her math-inspired Klein Bottle openers, printed in a variety of materials.


We had a great time talking to hackers, artists, and lifelong learners at the Hacking Arts Conference. Are you a student combining design and technology? You can sign up for our education program here.


The Surprising Menorah That Remixes Tradition

While exploring the beautiful Judaica in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I was struck by the modernist geometric menorahs, yarmulkes, and kippahs in Craig Kaplan’s Mathematical Art Shapeways shop. Hanukkah is often associated with traditional Judaica, but Kaplan takes it to a new place altogether.

Craig Kaplan's Framework Menorah

Craig Kaplan’s Framework Menorah

When I asked Craig about the inspiration behind his modernist menorahs, he echoed what many of our designers have shared: that their designs are as much about experimenting with new forms as they are about bringing a vision to life. “I love menorahs as designed objects. It’s an interesting space in which to explore, because there are many beautiful and unusual forms that can fulfill the basic functional needs of a menorah. Of course, I also turned to these objects because I have a certain nostalgia for them from my childhood,” he shared.


Kaplan’s Yarmulke One

Fusing ritual objects, graphical exploration (Craig is a computer science professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada), and the warmth of the holiday, Craig Kaplan’s Mathematical Art can help you celebrate The Festival of Lights in a way that fits your family’s unique tastes and traditions.

For more holiday décor and inspiration, be sure to visit our Holiday Gift Guide. And, in the comments, let us know how your family puts their own spin on Hanukkah.

Shaping Dutch Design: Eva Poulopoulou

In celebration of Dutch Design Week 2016, our Shaping Dutch Design series will take a closer look at a few of the dozens of Dutch designers who are part of the Shapeways EXPO this year and, of course, our global maker community all year round. Make sure to visit us in person if you’re in Eindhoven this week, and follow us here, on InstagramTwitter, and on Facebook for live updates from #DDW16.

Architect Eva Poulopoulou, the designer behind PULU, began her career in digital arts and 3D animation. With a background that includes building both real-life structures and virtual worlds, it only makes sense that her designs display the influence of digital design on functional objects.

The best expression of her design ethos may be her striking Pineapple Lamp, a hit at this year’s Shapeways EXPO at Dutch Design Week. Digital modeling allows her to create a shape that appears delicate, almost paper-like — but has surprising strength. Tiny cutout petals, evoking a pineapple’s skin, rise from the surface of the lampshade, casting an intricate pattern of light.

PULU designs at Dutch Design Week's Shapeways EXPO

PULU designs at Dutch Design Week’s Shapeways EXPO

Other PULU pieces that borrow from natural forms include the Urchin Bracelet and Pendant. These pieces manage to be at once soft and spiky, like the sea creatures that inspired them.

Stop by Shapeways EXPO at Dutch Design Week to see Poulopoulou’s designs, or visit her Shapeways shop any time. And make sure to follow PULU to keep up to speed on the future fruits of her creativity.

Shaping Dutch Design: MathArt Koos Verhoeff

In celebration of Dutch Design Week 2016, our Shaping Dutch Design series will take a closer look at a few of the dozens of Dutch designers who are part of the Shapeways EXPO this year and, of course, our global maker community all year round. Make sure to visit us in person if you’re in Eindhoven this week, and follow us here, on InstagramTwitter, and on Facebook for live updates from #DDW16.

mathart header

Mathematician Jacobus “Koos” Verhoeff of MathArt Koos Verhoeff may be best known for his work in coding theory, but he’s also a prolific artist, creating gorgeous sculptures based on mathematical concepts. Luckily for us, Koos, along the Foundation MathArt Koos Verhoeff, has chosen to make models of his pieces available on Shapeways. Pieces like his Mobius Clover  and Trefoil Knot inside Equilateral Triangle make for beautiful jewelry, while a model of his Bi-colored Torus Path is a museum-worthy work of art — perfect for anyone who loves geometric design.

You can take a look at Koos Verhoeff’s pieces in person this week at Shapeways EXPO at Dutch Design Week, and visit his Shapeways shop any time to customize your own work of mathematical art. Don’t miss the chance to own a piece by a great living artist who’s found a beautiful way to work at the intersection of science and art.

4 Gadget Gift Making Trends For Holiday 2016!!

With the holidays quickly approaching, we’re excited to be positioning Shapeways as the go-to for unique, customizable gifts– and our designers are crucial to growing that marketplace. We’ve identified some of the hottest tech hobbyist trends of this year to inspire our makers to stretch their imaginations and consider creating accessories for each, making them on-demand stocking stuffers.

Raspberry Pi: With this little computer giving you a lot of power to program and create, what better companion for it than 3D printed accessories? We’d suggest our designers tap into Shapeways customizable product feature to create Raspberry Pi cases or stands– because while it’s what’s on the inside that matters, it doesn’t hurt to have a neat exterior for your favorite gadget.Apple III Raspberry Pi Case 3d printed

Raspberry Pi Apple III case by RetroConnector

iPhone 7: With Apple’s latest release being on (most) people’s wishlists and being significantly different than previous models, it’s a great opportunity to tap into creative cases and accessories.The Vibe iPhone Case - 40033196:7.67 3d printed

The Vibe iPhone Case by Cacai

GoPro Hero 5 (Black and Session): GoPro’s latest cameras come in two sizes, meaning double the accessory options! Because both work on voice-command, there should be some fun potential for newly designed cases and accessories. We also hear that while the Hero 4 Black is waterproof, it won’t float so some aquatic accessories could be useful.Boonie Hat Mount for GoPro Cameras (Slim Case) 3d printed

Boonie Hat Mount for GoPro Cameras by BrainExploder Creations

Apple Watch Series 2: The new Apple Watch model is about the same size and shape as its predecessor but slightly thicker. We’ve been seeing some great watch docks and charging stations, and there’s limitless room for variations.Apple Watch Metal Bumper 42mm 3d printed


Apple Watch Metal Bumper by Amznfx

Remember, one of the most important parts of leveraging the products you create is showing vs. telling shoppers what your product does. Quality photos tell a thousand (or more) words and super nifty videos are even better.

Shop More Gadget and Tech Trends Here!

3D Print to Desert Chariot: The Story of The Stag Head

Posted by in Art

Community member Vijay Paul tells his story of evolving his popular home-decor 3D print into a mobilized work of art, exhibited at what may be considered the worlds largest art gallery: Burning Man.

At the close of every summer, thousands of people head to the desert carting along with them works of art that are so complex and unique they are often only comparable to a sci-fi universe. Second only to the fascinating works themselves, are the stories of how they got there.

Vijay Paul, long time Shapeways community member and shop owner of Dot San, has always pushed the limits of possibility. In 2012 he designed the first wire-frame stag head, an item so delicate and intricate it challenged the limits of our distribution center, resulting in enhanced capabilities for Shapeways and a beautiful 3D print for Vijay (unboxing video here).

No one could have predicted that what started in a 3D printer in 2012 would have landed itself hyper-enlarged and on a set of wheels carting over 100 people across a desert.

Stagg Head 3D print

Vijay Paul’s 3D Printed Stag Head as a Wall hanging

Stagg Head copy

The evolved Stag Head as an art cart for Maxa Camp, cousin of popular Burning Man camp Mayan Warrior

Vijay, how did you get started on this project? 

“The Mayan warrior organizers, were looking for a style for the Maxa camp and luckily found my designs. They asked my permission to use it and adapt it for the cart and create pendants. I was lucky to be invited to this years festival and meet the Maxa team and experience Burning Man for myself and how everything worked and how people engaged with it.

The response from other burners was amazing it definitely stood out from the other carts. The team had installed a DJ booth, with sound system, lounge areas and the whole cart was lit up with multi colored light sequence.

Stag head vehicle lit up at night

Can you tell us more about “Maxa” and what your hopes are for the future of the Stag head Vehicle?

The Maxa Camp are the cousins of Mayan Warrior. The Mayan has been going for 8 years and is one of the best and most iconic sound/art carts at the Burning Man. This year was the first time for the Maxa Camp and the deer (Kauyumari) art cart. The talk is to continually develop the cart and camp over the years to become an iconic part of Burning Man festival.

Of course I have to ask, did you bring any 3D prints of your stag head to the event?

I was asked to create pendants that were gifted to burners and given out to camp members as recognition for their work. This was a huge order, over 1200 units in multi-colored polished plastics and a range of metals. Shapeways did a fantastic job in creating these in a short time frame.

3D Printed Pendants 3D Printed Pendants

The stag/deer head, has become iconic because of the designs versatility from 1:12 scale version for miniature houses to 2D stickers and now, a 9 meter high art cart. Having a shop on Shapeways which requires regular gallery updates, constant promotion and designs that tell a story that capture the imagination definitely helped my designs to be discovered, this experience is the lucky break people talk about.”

If you want to bring home the experience of Burning Man, be sure to check out Vijay’s shop here on Shapeways. You’ll be able to find the stag head in as many sizes as you can imagine, as well as a ton of other animals he’s transformed into wireframe beauties.

Hacking Your Home With 3D Printing

Why should your house look the same as the one next door? Home is where the heart is, right? And creativity comes from the heart. So a home that breathes your creativity is what makes it your home.

With 3D Printing, it becomes easier than ever to hack existing items you have in your house to create a dynamic space, a place that changes, grows and is really you. Last week we got an email from Evan Gant, who has his own shop on Shapeways called Olivebird and created a range of products that show how easy it becomes to manipulate your own environment.

Take these brilliant small components called “Links” that you can attach to your wall and create a whole new dimension for using building blocks. While it provides a fun way for your kid to decorate the wall their bedrooms (obviously preferred above using crayons on the wall), you can also create fun looking and yet functional storage spaces with these Links.

What never fails to liven up your home is.. Life! With this clever Bell Vase hack you can reuse the jars from your favorite food by simply adding a 3D printed lid to transform them into vases. Designer izign believes in sustainable design, so I’m curious to see what other life extending hacks he comes up with.

With summer drawing near, I can imagine you’re ready to start using your ceiling fan any time soon. But don’t you just hate the moment pulling on the wrong cord and having the light go on in stead? Noé and Pedro Ruiz (design duo Pixil 3D) decided they needed a simple solution, which resulted in the Typography Fan Pull Handles.

Last example I want to give really turned the world of Home Deco upside down. This Radiolaria Vertebralia Planter is a cool design by Joaquin Baldwin that shows plants from a whole new dimension in your home.

Need even more cool ideas to hack your house with 3D Printing? Browse this list of products and get inspired!

Behind the Product with Corinne Whitaker

Today we are showcasing, Corinne Whitaker, a pioneer in the digital arts. Whitaker got her start in the digital arts in the early 80’s processing irrational equations through various programs to see what forms would appear. After more than 3 decades, her work has grown to include massive 3D printed sculptures, catalogs of digital designs, and paintings. Whitaker has exhibited her work at galleries and museums around the world.


Could you tell us a little about yourself? 

I am based in Foster City, CA., in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the
epicenter of the “Can Do” ethos, surrounded by innovation and optimism. I
started working/playing with computers in 1981, when I became fascinated
with the patterns and colors they offered, realizing that they could see
millions more colors than the human eye. I was also intrigued by the idea
that I was entering unknown territory, where few had ventured before me.
There were lots of questions, few answers, and no rules (my kind of
place). That’s why my recent solo show at the Peninsula Museum of Art in
Burlingame, CA was titled “NoRules”! This meant that I didn’t have the
ghosts of Ansel Adams on one shoulder and of Picasso on the other. It was
both exhilarating and scary.


Where does your experience in 3D modeling originate?

Initially there were almost no art programs, let alone 3D, so I began by
entering irrational equations into science programs to see what would
happen. I love accidents, and I still work that way. At the start, desktop
computers had neither parallel processing nor multi-tasking, so creating
in 3D was more than challenging. (ie, 48 hours of down time, ending in a
frozen screen and no image!). Eventually I worked with a Canadian company
(Alias Sketch) whose software offered organic possibilities combined with
excellent customer support; unfortunately they were bought out and


What is your preference in modeling software and why?

Computers at that time were essentially edge-based and geometric, whereas
I have always been drawn to the organic. This continues to influence my
choice of programs today.


What are your designs inspired by? Could you please share the story behind your sculptures?

My designs are influenced by my conviction that the human species is due to expire, either by self-destruction, exhaustion of natural resources, or cosmic intervention (are we the dinosaurs, after all?) so I create as though I were out in the cosmos somewhere, free of gravity, and speculating on what the next creatures might look like.I am also convinced that a new visual language is necessary to reflect the change in viewpoint that NASA gave to us with its explorations in space. Basically they freed us from Renaissance perspective and introduced a cosmically-based view of living matter. The next group of creatures will almost certainly be based on something other than carbon: what happens if they view us with dismay, if they do not want to acknowledge us as their forebears, if they cannot even figure out what humans were used for? Being unseen in history is a terrifying thought (although one familiar to women artists, but that’s another story).


What was your first interaction with 3D printing & Shapeways?

Shapeways has played a large role in my success. It is a leader and
ground-breaker in the industry, enabling me to experiment with life-sized
3D printed figures where other were afraid to try. Its professionalism is
admirable and its customer service a joy. 3D printing allows me to bring
to life the swirl of designs that populate my visual realm. As an industry
it will definitely revolutionize many fields of endeavor.

gr_jive2    gr_finian

Could you describe your process for creating your sculptures?

My thought process is one of letting go and traveling through ideas. It
involves the challenge of putting your ego aside and letting yourself go
crazy to some degree. As artists we have the luxury of knowing that
although we share the wild territory of the insane, we have a round-trip
ticket back to what is commonly called sanity. I like to say that we are
willing to touch the thorn barehanded in order to know the rose.

gr_blackswans              gr_dervishgold

At the moment, the biggest difficulty in creating 3D printed sculpture
remains the software. It presents a steep uphill learning curve.
Familiarity with standard 2D software does not translate easily into 3D,
and each 3D program tends to have its own vocabulary. Eventually we will
do away with the software entirely.

But if you love challenge, if you love exploring the new and unfamiliar,
if you love experimenting and want to taste tomorrow, this is the place to


For more with Whitaker:

You can find all of Whitaker’s work on her website,

To learn more about her history,

Current Exhibitions:

On view at Vargas Gallery, Mission College 3000 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054 December 1st – December 19th

“Virtually Solid: Digital Fabrication as Sculpture” at Wilson Center of the Arts, Florida State College 11901 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL January 2016

On view at Paul Mahder Gallery 222 Healdsburg Avenue Healdsburg, CA 95448 (


Four catalogs of CAD models and poetry, all titled “If We Are Erased”

“It’s like putting a microscope inside my brain to illuminate the origins of my new species.”

Collectible Frank Stella 3D Printed Ornaments

Posted by in Art, Partner News

This week we’re highlighting some of our favorite home and holiday decor items. Whether you are looking to spruce up your own home for the holidays, or need some new gift ideas our gift guide has you covered.

In addition to the products in our marketplace, there are other places you can find incredible 3D printed pieces and today we’re excited to tell you about one project we’ve had a hand in.

The Whitney Museum of American Art’s  “Frank Stella: A Retrospective” is now open and runs until February 7th. The exhibit features the most comprehensive presentation of Stella’s career to date, and showcases his work from the 1950s to present day. Paintings, reliefs, sculptures and more will all be on display in the 18,000 square foot gallery.


So what do we have to do with this? The Whitney Museum is now selling collectible ornaments based on Stella’s work that are all 3D printed by Shapeways!


The items are all printed in our Strong & Flexible Plastic and allow those who love Stella’s work the opportunity to own one of his designs. You can pick just one or even buy the full set of 7.


It’s always incredible to see these projects where 3D printing is used to honor amazing art. We’re thrilled to be a part of this history and help people own the art they love.

Click here for more information on the exhibit.

Incredible Artwork at SIGGRAPH by Shapeways Designer Brian Chan

The annual SIGGRAPH exhibition brings together the best minds in 3D graphics and design for a week of sharing acacemic papers, emerging technology and remarkable creative ideas. This year’s art exhibition, Hybrid Craft presented artists who merge high tech and traditional processes to create vibrant art objects that speak both to history and technology.


Shapeways designer Brian Chan was included in the group show, presenting a collection of hand painted invertebrates. Fully articulated and highly detailed, these 3D printed creatures are created in the ‘jizai okimono’ Japanese tradition of making lifelike sculptures of small animals.

While beautiful in their own right when freshly printed in White Strong and Flexible, Chan then carefully hand paints each model with water color paints. Chan notes the laser sintered nylon has similar qualities to fine textured water color paper and soaks up the paint well, allowing for multiple layers of pigment with delicate precision.


The show also included examples of Chan’s foldable instruments, created from a variety of materials and using parts printed at Shapeways and CNC milled components. These fully working instruments are based on historically accurate designs, but are more than meets the eye because they can be deconstructed and turned into a box like a Transformer.

As the art exhibition was curated to investigate, Brian Chan’s work combines high tech (but accessible) technology and old fashion craft to achieve incredible results. As a dedicated tinkerer and teacher, Chan constantly pushes the boundaries of technology and creativity while paying tribute to traditional or forgotten crafts.