COFA PhD candidate Hamish Dunlop and I have been sharing an enthusiasm for facets. His research involves building a 6-axis mill, with the target of cutting his own component parts for faceted 3D models.

Here’s a work he produced for his final MFA installation, with construction detail:

Wolfie on the left side of the image is made up of 432 unique 8-sided polygons. To convert him from polygon mesh to solid polygons, I wrote a plug-in for Rhino. A CNC company in NZ cut him out.

Hamish Dunlop

I’ve really fallen in love with the aesthetic and tactile qualities of faceted objects. I created a beautifully faceted object accidentally when I sent a 3D reconstruction to be printed, and discovered the backside of the model:

Detail from the Victoria and Albert Museum Cherub Reconstruction, Josh Harle 2010

From here, I was inspired to explore ways of achieving larger scale, cheap, faceted 3D models. An obvious avenue to investigate was papercraft; unwrapping 3D models into a 2D, foldable net/mesh and then folding it together into the final model:

Harry Portrait, Bert Simons

I made a number of experiments using papercraft meshes as molds for cast plaster objects. At the time, I was mainly interested in the possibility of producing the models with photorealitic colour. I used colour transfer paper, with an inverted mesh (the detail printed on the inside and folded with the tabs outside), painted the finished model in latex, and filled with plaster. This gave varying degrees of success in terms of colour transfer, but always gave great results as interesting objects. The intersection between planes in these papercraft models are emphasised by the folds in the paper, so they look and feel great:

Concept exploration, Josh Harle


I’m also interested in using the papercraft unwrapping software to take large-scale 3D reconstructions of environments, built using photogrammetry, and cut them into 5mm MDF, to create spaces. I’m keen on looking at something like this wonderful work, but as en enveloping space:

Fragments of memory, Twana Sivan

Finally, here’s a look at other forms of interesting reduced/simplified geometry. These are taken from an exemplary student of course I am tutoring called Experimental Modelling. The final stage of the course is the processes of fabrication either with 3D printing or laser cutting – Good Fun!

Project renderings, Matt O’Brien 2011