3D Printed / Plastic Canvas Heron

This year for my fifth Maker Faire Nova, I wanted to combine crafting and 3D Printing. I decided to make a giant 3 foot wide Great Blue Heron. The blank panels are 12 3D Printed pieces and all the colors were comprised of 130 hand-stitched Plastic Canvas panels. I am so in love with the final result and look forward to sharing it in June!

The 3D Modeling was done in Blender. I’m still working in Blender 2.78. I really do need to check out the beta version.

Most of the design work was done with Bezier Curves. Bezier curves are discussed in detail in the second chapter of “Blender 3D Printed by Example”*. I also did a talk on this topic at Northern Virginia Community College. The slides with step by step screenshots are at: https://www.slideshare.net/VickyTGAW/…

*If you do want to buy my book, please consider supporting another member of our 3D Printing community by using their Amazon Affiliate Link.

I translated my Heron design to 3D Printed outlines by using Blender’s Inset feature. Heads up– when you type in specific dimensions for Inset, those dimensions are for your object when it is at the 1:1:1 scale. The best practice is to first go to Object-Apply-Scale to tell Blender your object’s current dimensions are that 1:1:1 scale and THEN do your insets. For my outlines, I went with a thickness of 2mm. However, if you are hoping your piece supports itself, you’ll want to go thicker.

For printing, I split my outlines into 12 pieces with a maximum dimension of 280mm x 280mm. I believe We The Builders uses NetFabb to break up their community builds. In my case, I used the Boolean Intersection modifier in Blender.

The 3D Printed pieces also served as my templates for cutting the plastic canvas.

Tip– use colored Sharpies to help identify the pieces. Corollary tip – Invest in a white Sharpie for white pieces. When I used pink, it bleed all over my beautiful heron white.

Stitching was a THREE generation effort. Thank you to my Mom, my oldest son (and his classmate Gio!), and my husband for each tackling a panel.

Assembly was made MUCH easier thanks to a purchase of a custom frame from American Frame. I went with a frame with a 3/4″ rabbet height to accomodate the thickness of the 3D print, the plastic canvas, and the stitching. The outlines were attached by a Gorilla Super Glue Gel and black electrical tape. The needlework panels were attached with a glue gun. I spent a lot of time on the floor with this project. 🙂

I hope to see some of you at Maker Faire Nova. If not, perhaps the East Coast Rep Rap Festival which is October 12th-13th, 2019 in Bel Air, Maryland. Thanks for watching!

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