I was approached by the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in late 2014 with the question if I could design a 3D printed version of the famous “Amandelbloesem” (Almond Blossoms) that Vincent van Gogh painted in 1890.
I lept at the opportunity, and immediately began to work out the best technique to use to create this unique piece. I used Blender 3D open source software, and I literally “painted” in 3D using spheres to define the three dimensional branches that make up the painting. Vincent van Gogh painted three dimensional objects with a very clear representation of the roundness and volume that almost resembles a topographical map.
I then exported the detailed 3D model to the 3D printer where they printed the first version in 925 sterling silver. The sculpture was first printed in 3D using investment wax, then the wax model was placed in a plaster mold, left to set, then the wax was burned out of the interior of the mold. Once the wax was melted out the mold was heated, then molten sterling silver was poured into the cavity left by the wax mold. Once the molten silver had cooled, the mold was broken away, and the silver cleaned up…this left me with version 1.
Because 3D printing is a new medium there are many limitations in the minimum size, thickness and structure. Version one of the model was very fragile and difficult to handle in the wax phase because of the thinness of the design…the resulting print was slightly bent on the edges. This lead me to re-design the outer rim with thicker oval rings, and mounting rings for a pendant chain.
In subsequent versions I opted for a universal design that could be used as either a pendant or a broach. By further refining the broach version has the mount for the sterling silver pin built right into the 3D model on the back side. The design was so successful that I had only to pull the silver pin through the mounting holes, and it immediately clicked into place…this is the version for sale in two places on Earth. the van Gogh Museum shop in Amsterdam in The Netherlands, or right here in the Shop.