vortex sculpture

Holy toledo! This was one of the hard ones. Trying to understand reality through investigations of natural phenomena continues to hold my attention. Therefore I got this great idea of placing an organic sculpture inside an artificial air vortex formation. It is now clear to me that one has to be either a complete retard or suffer from megalomania in order to convince one self to start such an elaborate project but apparently I keep doing it so which one am I? Well what you see below is the result of many months of trial and error consequently turning into a piece of art that I for once feel quite proud of. I wish that I could say something clever about the deeper layers of this project but honestly I think the piece speaks for itself.


This whole project was conceived from my experiments with the "sculpt" mode with the Fusion 360 CAD software. I was playing around and found out that The sculpt mode basically allows you to make extremely complicated and organic shapes relativly easily. Shapes that with traditional machining techniques will be very hard to reproduce physically. This is why I utilized to 3D printing. However, it is safe to way that the shape that I ended up making even challenged high end 3D printers.


Boy oh boy, where to begin? Well, in reality this project consists of two different project going very well together. First I started making the sculpture and then it turned out to fit very well into a man made air vortex concept that I had been exploring at the same time. Besides that, this project has touched on manufacturing techniques from 3D-printing to old fashioned metal spinning. And I must say that I really enjoy seeing what only exist in my mind getting to exist in reality. I mean its the little things, right?

CAD modeling

Before actually getting to the CAD part I experimented with some clay to see whether I would be able to achieve some of the organic shapes that I was looking for. I wouldn't say that I had huge success experimenting in clay but I did take some pictures of the features that I did like so that I could use these to draw from within Fusion 360.

When I had finished the 7th version of the sculpture I then sliced the model into smaller and more manageable pieces I was fiddling around with the mesh edit functionality in Fusion 360 in order to make indents in the STL where the 3D printed pieces would meet to ensure an easy and strong assembly process. It took a few tries and I was running my processor to the limit but most of the indents turned out great and allowed me to more or less just snap the individual pieces together to make the full sculpture.

When I had added all indents to the STL file and tried a few test 3D-prints I ran the CAD file through the renderer within Fusion 360. At this point I still wasn't sure if the surface should be reflective or some actual color. So I made a few renderings of the sculpture with different colors which confirmed to me that reflective chrome was the way to go.

3d printing & post processing

As I mentioned previously the only manufacturing technique that I know would stand a fighting chance making this complex a shape would be 3D printing. I made several mistakes and most of the prints didn't turn out sufficiently. But with a bit of luck and a lot of persistence I managed to get prints that, if combined, would make one whole sculpture. This of course meant that I had a lot of post-processing to do before the shape was sufficiently smooth for painting. Mainly this part of the process consists of a lot of sanding and some occasional acetone treatments. Well, they call 3d-printing a rapid prototyping technique but maybe that should be up for reconsideration.

After sanding, gluing and treating the surface with acetone I was finally ready for painting. First I gave the sculpture some primer made for the underside of cars which I thought was a good idea since that sculpture was going to be placed in an very humid environment. I then sprayed chrome paint also intended for use on a car on the sculpture. I waited for the paint to dry and repeated spraying chrome paint a few times. Luckily this turned out quite well if I may say so.

steam machine

Now, originally this project was intended to only consist of the organic sculpture. But when that was finished a new idea dawned on me. Since the sculpture has a spiral or vortex shape why not let it be a creature existing within its own vortex - vortex-ception some may even say. Coincidentally I had made several attemps to create artificial air vortex formation simultaneously with this sculpture project and therefore I thought it would be interessting to try to combine these two experiments. Initial attempts to combine these two projects was very promising and so I started working on a machine that would create stable air vortex formation for the sculpture to be placed in. There are too many things that I have learn from making such a machine to be discussed in a short format such as is but I can safely say that it was truly interesting.

If you are the kind of person who enjoys to study the finer details of things I have put the STL file for the sculpture into my STL browser viewer below. The color red is of course an artistic choice not becouse I´m too lazy to find the right shader inside Three.js.