I submitted a grant proposal in November to a project called Blended Realities spearheaded by the Yale School of Architecture in collaboration with Hewlett Packard to help Yale faculty and students incorporate 3D technologies into their ongoing research and project work. My proposal was to 3D scan a feathered taxidermy mount of a sandpiper from the CT Bird Hall and print four sandpiper models of varying sizes from 7.5″ to 6.25″ to fill in missing birds.
I received notice that I had won one of the grants in mid-November and by the first of December I had the workstation in my lab. My 20-something volunteer, Stefan Hurlburt helped me set it up. We decided to jump in with the sandpiper, so we opened the Bird hall case with the sandpipers and grabbed a non-breeding Baird’s sandpiper taxidermy mount (one of the four missing birds is a Baird’s Sandpiper breeding adult). We set it up for scanning and got our first data file.
The scanning part was quite user friendly and went without a hitch. The next step of getting it sent over to the Dremel tool so it could be printed, stumped several of us. Nicole Palffy-Muhoray did some troubleshooting and solved some of the problems-enough to print one of the stock images on the Dremel: a tyrannosaurus head. We still couldn’t find the right way to get the sandpiper going. That took another 20-something, Marcelle Nietlisbach, the son of Linda, my talented volunteer bird painter. In a matter of an hour or so, Marcelle had the sandpiper printing at half scale.
Having solved the problem, he was about to leave me to print it at full scale. I stopped him and asked him to set it up and get it printing while I watched. My plan was to take notes and use them for further printing, but he moved so fast and was making decisions that seemed obvious to him (opaque to me) that note taking was not useful. He started the printing at about 2pm and 9 hours later the print was done.
The topography of the scan (is that called 3D pixelization?) is visible so this print isn’t finished at a high enough level to just paint and put into the Bird Hall. I am planning to use a combination of sanding and skimming a thin layer of wax over the scan to be able to add fine detail to the wax. I will add glass eyes, add a cast beak and legs for final painting. The scan will serve as an armature and save me many steps in my usual bird carving method. Also, making four birds from one scan rather than carving all four will be a huge time savings.