Collin and I are wrapping up our Blended Realities grant proposal to produce four different species of sandpipers from one scan of a taxidermied bird. Today, he is painting the final touches on the last one, the White-rumped Sandpiper. When painting is completed, we will have our ornithology collections manager, Kristof Zyskowski, critique them, after which we will install them in the Connecticut Bird Hall alongside the previously approved, Baird’s Sandpiper. With four models produced from one digital scan of a taxidermied Baird’s Sandpiper, we had to print the models at varying percentages from the original. With each model that was reduced from the original, I made sure the wing and leg lengths were accurate for the specific bird. Each unique bill was cast in epoxy and attached to the models. All defining field marks were painted and the local color of the feathers was ascertained by matching it to a study skin from the collections. (see the previous blog post, “The First Digital Bird Lands”)
With the Blended Realities project well on its way, we are looking to other ways to use the SPROUT workstation. Recently, I sculpted a “gestural” model of a Merlin falcon in clay. I didn’t have a taxidermied mount to scan, so I am sculpting a clay model in the position I want for the Bird Hall. I have started with clay sculptures before and typically, I would make a 2 part plaster mold of the clay sculpture and cast a copy in wax. This would usually take eight to ten hours of my time.
In this case, Collin scanned the clay sculpture and it is now being printed out in plastic.
I will coat the 3D print with wax tomorrow and start work on the final model for installation.
Once the feather detail is carved into the wax, we will paint directly on the wax. The 3D plastic sculpture covered with a thin layer of wax, painted to look realistic, is robust enough to install directly without having to make another rubber mold and cast. This is another big time and money saver
Another experiment came about when I discovered that the Long-tailed Weasel in the Forest Margin diorama had received a serious case of insect damage. We removed it from the diorama and decided to try scanning and printing it as is. You can easily patch the areas decimated by bugs with wax and there were other areas where the model had to be sanded using the original taxidermy mount as a guide. I know how to sculpt bird feathers, but I don’t have a lot of experience sculpting mammal fur. I’m going to get a lesson with Dorcas MacClintock and see if I can get something good enough to install in the diorama.