3D-Printed Books of Sculpture, Architecture, Ogres


Chicago artist and 3D raconteur Tom Burtonwood is showing off his latest project — a 3D-printed book of six sculptural reliefs produced using 123D Catch, including an awesome colossal Olmec head from ancient Mexico, a medieval Chinese ogre and Bodhisattva, and a Roman emperor. It’s a great demo of how to capture priceless sculptures digitally for replication and teaching anywhere.

I met Tom when he joined the testing team at MAKE’s 3D Printer Shootout Weekend, and I asked him about the 3D book. Tom designed the book’s “accordion” panels and modular hinges, incorporated six scans from Thingiverse captured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and assembled it using Tony Buser’s handy 3D-printed pin connectors. “It’s posted to Thingiverse,” he says, “and I’m going to be exhibiting it at a number of locations in September including at World Maker Faire New York with the Metropolitan Museum of Art — Don Undeen is going to show it in their booth — which is awesome.” Check it out Sept. 21- 22 at the New York Hall of Science.


Tom is one of the so-called “Chicago 3D cowboys,” which sounds like a cheesy blockbuster starring Will Smith and Billy Crystal, but is actually a cool bunch of makers and hackers. You can visit them at The 3D Printer Experience, their hybrid retail store and makerspace on Chicago’s North Side, where he also teaches classes in 3D printing and scanning.


This fall Tom will produce a second book as part of a residency at the Innovation Lab, a makerspace at the Chicago Public Library. “The 3D-printed book concept definitely managed to capture people’s imagination — which is awesome.” (Tom, like me, thinks lots of things are awesome. He might like to try out The Awesome Button.) He told me his new book will feature scans of architectural ornaments from Chicago’s rich legacy. We imagined all the world’s architectural forms digitized in a giant catalog of tactile examples. I encouraged him to immortalize all the gargoyles he can find.

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I'm a writer, editor, dad, husband, cook, brewer, music fiend, space geek, map nerd, and surfer who delights in all manifestations of recreational hydrodynamics.

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