If you are able to tear yourself away from the raging Starbucks holiday to-go cup debate for even a moment (are we still talking about that?), you might be reminded that this holiday season is about more than just working up a ridiculous controversy in order to feel self-righteous. It is also about finding more fun excuses to 3D print things that aren’t life-saving or life-changing, but just really enjoyable. And before you freak out about (or vow to support) the presence of a Christmas tree in the Governor’s Mansion in Virginia, let’s just all take a deep breath.
The Governor’s tree has been decorated to express the theme ‘Virginia’s Localities’ and, as such, a number of localities across the state were asked to produce representative ornaments. One of the localities selected is the town of Occoquan, located in Prince William County, Virginia with a population of just under 1,000 (only five people short, according to the 2013 census). For the creation of their ornament, the Occoquan Business Guild turned to local artist Vicky Somma to design an ornament that would be representative of the town.
This isn’t the first time Somma has undertaken a project like this. In 2014, she designed an ornament depicting the Library of Congress that became part of the decorations adorning the Christmas Tree in the East Wing of the White House. For this latest ornament commission, she created a miniature Mill House Museum, an icon in the Occoquan landscape. The Mill House was built in 1759 and in the 1790s earned its place in history with the installation of an invention that made it the first automated gristmill in the United States.
The ornament that represents this historic building was created with another machine that represents the latest in advanced technology: a 3D printer. Somma took a series of photographs and sketches of the Mill House, then created her 3D model using Blender. She then printed the piece on her MakerGear M2 printer–“And for fun,” Somma noted, “I also did a version for myself in ColorFabb bronzeFill.”
“I did some sketches and settled on a pretty literal translation of the Mill House,” said Somma. “Since the Mill House is a stone structure, I recommended the final print be in Shapeways’ Full Color Sandstone. I felt its stone-like finish would be perfect for the ornament.”
For a detailed, step-by-step description of Somma’s modeling and printing process, you can check out a diary she kept to document her work. She reports that the ‘customer’ was thrilled with the final piece, which embodies the spirit of history and the future that has always been a part of the flavor of Occoquan. Despite being located only 11 miles south of the Capital Beltway and just minutes away from the Amtrak train stop in Lorton, VA, the town has maintained its own identity and, despite growth, its still-small town size.
The Mayor, Liz Quist, described the unique taste of Occoquan:
“Yes, it is said that Occoquan is an oasis and a little-known gem in the otherwise excess of fast-paced suburbs in the D.C. metro area. But, Occoquan is also a town with nearly 300 years of history that is constantly reinventing itself. Whether you visit for the semi-annual Arts and Crafts Show, to walk the boardwalk along the Occoquan River, visit the charming shops and restaurants, or relax in one of the two new town parks coming online in 2015, we know you’ll come to love this small town as much as we do. You just may decide to stay!”
Discuss yet another interesting use for 3D Printing in the 3D Printed Ornament forum thread on 3DPB.com.