Winner of the Vase contest: “I really like the combination of traditional crafts and 3D modeling.”

First time VECTARY user, Sven Abrahamsson aka “Clockspring” has impressed us with all of his design contest submissions. He beautifully merged 3D printing techniques with traditional embroidery to create the original “Lace-Up Tiled Vase” which won the Vase category by unanimous decision.

Tell us a few things about yourself and what you do.

I do far too many things, and there aren’t enough hours in the day for all of them! I’m a professional UX/UI designer, with a software development and graphic design background. I try not to spend too much time in front of computers if I can help it, but that is sometimes easier said than done.

When and how did you get into 3D design?

I had past involvements in 3D design for artistic purposes, but it’s only since getting into 3D printing a year ago that I’ve really dived into designing more substantial, functional things. There’s a whole new perspective on design when the end result will actually be a physical object.

Laced-Up Tile Vase by Clockspring on VECTARY  1.0

Have you heard about VECTARY before the contest or was it your first VECTARY experience?

The contest was my first exposure to VECTARY, and it was a good motivator to dive in and learn how it all worked, and what its strengths were.

Tell us more about how you came to design the “Lace-up Tiled Vase”? How did you get this idea?

Initially, scalability was the inspiration. How do you create a large vase with a domestic 3D printer? By composing the overall shape with smaller components, it’s possible to aim for something bigger than might otherwise be possible. I wanted a degree of flexibility, too, rather than just a bunch of triangles that had to be placed in exactly the right spot, and that led to the concept of broadening and narrowing the bases of isosceles triangles in order to change the diameter of the vase at different heights.

The lace-up part came later, after the geometry of the vase was all worked out, and I was left contemplating how the tiles would actually fasten together. I’d already designed the Medical ID bracelets with a snap-together hinge, so I could have simply taken components from there, but I was determined to do something different. After experimenting with a few different approaches, I realized I was thinking far too much about what I could do with 3D printing alone, and not enough about the bigger picture. I redesigned the tiles with an inset channel along each side, so they’d sit nicely against each other, and added the holes.

I really like the combination of traditional crafts and 3D modeling. It’s easy to think that 3D printing needs to implement a complete solution to a problem, but it’s really just another tool we can bring to bear, in conjunction with many others.

What was the hardest part?

Without a doubt, the hardest part is always the concept, the core idea. With a solid concept in place, working towards an actual design is just “work”, and even if the progress is slow or problematic, you know you’ll get there eventually, with time and effort. But coming up with a concept that feels exciting and compelling in the first place is the tricky part.

Medical ID by Clockspring on VECTARY

Your other contest entries were great as well. Tell us more about your jewelry entry — Medical ID Bracelets.

One of the powerful aspects of domestic 3D printing is the ability to customize the things we produce, and that was an inspiration for the bracelets. Making the things we need when we need them, in a personalized way, is such a great way to approach production in general.

Interestingly enough, my early versions of the bracelet itself were not comprised of individual segments, but were one single piece with a thin, continuous connector running through the middle, hidden from sight. However, this design was obviously difficult to resize and customize, and office colleagues which tested my various designs found that the thin connector would eventually break when printed in PLA. I particularly like designs that make use of the characteristics of the materials, rather than relying on the assembly techniques for traditional manufacturing. However, the functional need for robustness and modularity was more important, and I ended up designing a snap-together hinge instead.

Your Smartphone Headlamp Mount seems to be very practical, did you have a chance to use it already?

It’s funny, the smartphone headlamp mount started as a completely ridiculous idea, but yes, I’ve actually used it! Not as a headlamp, though, but as a camera mount for recording videos hands-free.

Your strength are the very nice pictures and presentation of your creations. Do you have any recommendation how to take pictures of your 3D prints?

Background and lighting are the most important considerations when photographing prints, and keeping things simple is always a good idea. It’s hard to go wrong with a neutral background, like white or medium-grey. Basically, if you look at the photo, and don’t notice the background at all, you’re on the right track. In terms of lighting, a nice diffused light works well, and can be obtained by finding a spot where sunlight is coming through curtains, or bouncing off a neutrally-colored wall. Of course, if you have a camera with an adjustable or external flash, you can just bounce light off the ceiling.

Showing scale can be really useful, too. I always appreciate 3D prints that are shown with human hands to give a rough idea of the size.

What camera do you use? Do you post process the images?

I have a photographic past, and own a reasonable amount of camera and lighting equipment. However, I almost never use it for 3D print photography, because smartphones are just so good these days. The exception is where I want shallow depth-of-field, in which case a “real camera” still wins. Mostly, though, I shoot with my phone and available light. I try to get things as good as possible in-camera, to minimize the need for post-processing, but generally I’ll brighten whites, and possibly lighten shadows just a little.

Do you already have a favorite feature in VECTARY?

There are two things I really love about VECTARY.

First and foremost, I really like the “smoothing” approach to creating and manipulating high-poly designs by working with low-poly objects, which seems to be a fairly fundamental part of VECTARY. It doesn’t just make it simpler to create high-poly designs, it also makes it simpler to maintain them, especially when iterating through different versions. I’m a big fan of abstraction, and that approach to modeling pushes all the right buttons for me.

Secondly, and this shows my UI/UX bias, I really love the VECTARY user interface design in general, and the gizmo in particular. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and research has gone into making that tool intuitive and usable.

How does your creative process usually look like?

My process is always exploratory and iterative. I like to force myself to get something modeled quickly, even if the ideas are still half-formed, since that way I’m forced to confront the realities of whatever I’m designing. My first few design iterations will generally be throw-away models, since it’s entirely possible that fundamental things will change as ideas evolve. The hardest part is keeping an open mind, because it’s really easy to get invested in a test design, rather than pushing harder to come up with alternative approaches.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I like to pay attention to the things that get me motivated and enthusiastic. Sometimes that results in completely silly ideas, but it’s surprising how many of those silly ideas end up refined into something fun, yet practical and achievable.

What advice would you give to our young VECTARY creators to get where you are?

Get your hands dirty! Set yourself projects, and see them through to completion. Everything we try gains us insights and skills, especially when things go wrong.

What are you planning to do next? 3D design wise, of course…

I’m supposed to be designing 3D printer parts, but I’m currently distracted by board game pieces, because that was more fun!

Do you think 3D modeling is already a big thing or are people into it just because they’d like to try out something new?

I don’t think those options are mutually exclusive! There’s a definite novelty to 3D modeling, whether for 3D printing, games, or otherwise, but the practical applications are already huge, and will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Bonus question: How does your work desk look like?

Well, I’ll confess I do far too much work sitting on the couch with a laptop, but I can show a photo of where the printing actually happens. Let’s pretend it still looks this neat…

Thanks Sven for the interview! How about you, dear reader, would you like to give VECTARY a try as well ? Start here: