Full-size museum replicas from a MakerBot

These pieces were printed on a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, by artist Cosmo Wenman, who printed them in several pieces and then assembled them. MakerBot is justifiably proud of these extraordinary achievements, which have really pushed the limits on 3D printing using low-cost, home-model printers. Here's some of Wenman's description of his thoughts behind Head of a Horse of Selene (a replica of a piece in the British Museum), on Thingiverse:

I find David Hockney's theories on the precocious use of lenses in Renaissance art very compelling. But living with this damned horse on my screen, and then in my house, for the last two months, it's hard to imagine how the original could have been designed two millenia ago without photography, let alone lenses. Its expression is so exacting, just an instant in time, I can't see how it could be modeled by eye from a live horse, or even a dead one. Maybe a contour gauge on a carcass with rigor mortis, but I don't see that either, not with this expressiveness and movement.

I imagine a Greek guy walking around 2,000 years ago with a camera obscura with some kind of light sensitive papyrus inside, trying to raise funds to get his light enscribing machine into mass production. Alas, there was no Kickstarter back then.

Or, maybe the artist and horse in bright sunlight, the artist covering his eyes. The horse's handler startles it into motion, and the artist opens his eyes for an instant, closes them again, then draws quickly with his eyes shut while the image fades in his retinas - the lens, film, and darkroom being his eyes... I dunno - either that or weeks of careful study, scores of sketches of impressions of a horse in motion, composited into this exacting model. But that doesn't sound like as much fun.

Cosmo Wenman’s Mind-Blowing Sculpture Made On A MakerBot


  1. The mind boggles at the wonder of this piece! *giggles like an insane old man*

    But really, I can think of so many wonderful uses for doing things like this. Imagine if the entire Iranian museum was uploaded into digital archives! Or or or or! Everything! We are so close to being post scarcity we can touch it.

    1.  Post scarcity? We can’t have that? We can’t have these little shits running around living in abundance and prosperity? What do you think they are They are human scum!

      I say Do ANYTHING you can to fuck this technology.

      1. Or God forbid, pursuing anything but their own survival. Necessity? Bah! LAZINESS is the mother of invention.

        Ironically though, it is. Because necessity is more often the mother of crime.

  2. http://thingiverse-production.s3.amazonaws.com/renders/36/29/0e/10/4c/progress_display_medium.jpg
    The actual print (image on thingiverse made up of several blocks) is a little disappointing in terms of definition. Replicatior 2 uses the exact same extruder as the Replicator 1 according to Bre Pettis at the Open Hardware Summit. http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25749316 starting 1:20:41

    I would like to see a fair review and comparison of all 3D printers on the market, tables comparing stats, features, cost, resolution, material cost, speed etc. makerbot models, reprap / pro, form 1, utilimaker, cube, and so on. as there is so much marketing talk and misinformation floating about about the capabilities of these machines. Would be nice to see some compared benchmark test prints of stuff with overhangs and enclosed free moving parts to help make an informed decision.

  3. “…it’s hard to imagine how the original could have been designed two millenia ago without photography, let alone lenses.” As an artist, sculptor and maker, this comment makes me feel crazy inside. Yes, how could artists possibly recreate things from their imagination or knowledge of anatomy and form?!

    1. As someone who isn’t a sculptor, I still thought this.  We’ve been so conditioned to our technological prosthetics that people seem to be forgetting the uncanny levels of skill and craft that the human mind-body is capable of being trained to.

    2. I have heard this David Hockney quote before. I think it really speaks to a lack of understanding of processes involved in art making. Especially those employed in the renaissance. And as an artist it pisses me off. It took them years and years of study and practice of drawing, anatomy, form, perspective, color and materials to be able to do what they did. They had had their eyes and brain, No damn camera required.

    3. It’s the same reason why the pyramids had to be built by aliens. People have always been spineless, myopic couch potatoes incapable of innovation or extensive effort. It’s lucky the Aliens also gave us all that other stuff, like the steam engine and the Internets, otherwise we would’ve spent all of history sitting in the dirt and scratching our asses.

      You know, the other thing that always gets me is the old saw about how there’s no point anymore in an artist trying to create lifelike images, since cameras can do it better. Every time I hear it I die a little bit inside.

      I love technology but saying that people can’t do without it, or that it does things so much better that it’s not worth trying, implies that it comes from nowhere. It amounts to taking it for granted, and I hate that.

    4. Yes – my first thought!

      I’m not a sculptor, but I’ve seen friends of mine who do very detailed creations from memory, or from sketches. Heck, even when I sit down with a block of grey plasticine clay to unwind, let my mind wander, I will reliably approximate shapes, contours and whatnot from things inside my head. 

      People nowadays rely on things such as photographs, but because they rely on this tech, there’s no real motivation to exercise and develop the mental structures, virtual and otherwise, that are necessary without possessing the advantage of photography. 

      People no longer need to memorize long narratives like the Iliad, the Talmud or long inventory lists like was necessary before writing and data storage devices such as scrolls and books either (unless it gives them pleasure.)  

      Then there are the extremely gifted, a relevant example being   Stephen Wiltshire MBE, a British architectural artist of indescribable talent. Even as a young child he could be taken on a helicopter ride, see a view from a high place, even for an instant, then do an exact drawing of what he saw. He does this with buildings, even very large ones. 

      However, his talent is not one of mere cold, robotic reproduction. His architectural renderings give the subjects a life-force and a personality. He also, if it suits the situation, do an improvisation, an interpretation, analogous to a what musician does when improvising or playing with an already written piece. 

      So, it’s neat to think about a Hellenist walking around 2000 years ago with a camera, but yeah, I had your same reaction. I think sometimes we techies can waaay over-think things, which in the extreme can lead to, ah….things…such as Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods.

      BTW — small sample of links relevant to Stephen W. :




      Viewed Pictures, Mind Blown

    5. “It’s hard to imagine how…”

      I’ve read that when people in the Renaissance started rediscovering ancient sculpture they were quite gobsmacked by how much more lifelike it was than the stiff statues they had been making themselves.

      Perhaps every age imagines it is the best and brightest and in reality we’ve not moved much in 3000 years.

    1. Depends on the process, there are many different types of printers and materials. Some of them use polymers extruded from a nozzle, or some solidify a liquid out of a bath using a laser, and some use a powder that’s fused together with adhesive. MakerBot site doesn’t seem very descriptive but it talks about ABS or PLA filament, so I’m guessing it’s one of the extruding nozzle types.

      So the short answer is plastic. Extruded from a nozzle that builds up the object in layers as it “prints.”

    2. I had the pleasure of seeing these replicas in person yesterday at the 3D Printshow in London. 
      They’re printed from PLA, which is a corn-derived biodegradable plastic. The raw state is semi-transparent and feels pretty much like any plastic object you’d have around the house. I’m not sure what density the horse is printed at (you can choose how much plastic to put on the inside, normally it’s done as a honeycomb type structure to save material) but it’s probably pretty light.The Makerbot replicator 2 can print a volume of 11″x6″x6″ so the horse was printed in blocks and fused together, then painted afterwards for the bronze effect.

  4. I recognize the horse’s heard from the cover of Wire’s “A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck”. Too bad it wasn’t “The Ideal Copy”.

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