There are few childhood toys that are more universal than the top. Who doesn’t remember playing with one as a child? You could get them for a quarter from those toy vending machines that seem to be outside every grocery store and some restaurants. I remember the frustration that came from spinning mine and seeing it constantly fall over and spin off tables, and also the sense of victory that came from finally getting it to spin for a good amount of time. Of course, I never had video games as a child, so my excitement about spinning tops may not have been shared by other members of my generation to quite the same extent, but everyone had them.
While most tops are cheap pieces of plastic, they can, like almost everything else, become art in the right pair of hands. Dalton Bissell is one of those artists. We wrote about his flute made from PVC pipe in August, and his incredible Crawly Ball in June. Bissell’s Shapeways shop, DesignbyDalton, is also full of beautiful, carefully designed 3D printed tops based on starfish, bee hives, and other elements of nature.
His latest design is the Tornado Top, based on one of nature’s most terrifying but fascinating elements. Printed in polished nickel steel, the Tornado Top is a silvery swirl that, when spinning, resembles its namesake in both look and movement. In fact, its design was based not only on the visual look of a tornado, but on the science behind its movement.
“This top generates quite a bit of momentum as it spins clockwise, forcing air down as it spins, making it a very stable top,” says Bissell. “I am amazed by how well it works. Sometimes I forget it’s spinning on the table until it starts to tip over reminding me it’s there.”
When still, the top of the top (sorry) looks somewhat like a satellite photo of a hurricane, so it is, essentially, two storms in one, putting the tops of my childhood, with their painted-on spirals, to shame.
Bissell is selling the polished nickel steel top for $23.99, with options for polished gold, matte gold, polished or matte bronze, polished grey steel, stainless steel, or matte black steel. He is so pleased with the way this top turned out that he intends to create more to add to the growing collection in his shop.
“I decided to design a spinning top because I’ve always found art in motion to be fascinating, so making a spinning piece of art was an enjoyable experience,” Bissell tells 3DPrint.com. “A top becomes something very visually different when it spins, allowing me to create something that is effectively two pieces of art: one static and the other dynamic. I had so much fun and success with the Tornado Top I will surely be designing more.”
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