Vortex sculpture consists of a sculpture placed inside air vortex formation. The project aims to investigate the physical and artistic potential of the vortex phenomena. Both the vortex and the sculpture are visualized by water mist and a single LED spot.

The piece stands as one of several projects revolving around the exploration of a natural occuring phenomena as subject of artistic interesst.


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.