Self-Support: Piecing It Together Final

Self-Support is a 3D printed sculpture of three aerialists. It’s my Piecing It Together final.


I’ve been practicing aerial and yoga for most of my adult life. Over the years, I’ve found that these physically challenging practices keep me happy in my daily life. Sometimes it’s difficult to juxtapose an active lifestyle with the sedentary lifestyle that comes with much of today’s screen-based technology. I’ve been excited this semester learning to do body scans and work with 3D models of bodies. It’s been a nice way for my two interests to overlap. For my final, I decided to continue using body scanning to explore how the body can be represented in digital space.


Self-Support is a 3D-printed sculpture of three aerialists linked together in a chain. They are in three different positions—ankle hang, frog and stag—and hang from a piece of aerial silk.


I started with a rough drawing of what I wanted to create. I then used Skanect to do aerial scans of myself in an aerial strap.


Although Skanect is easy to use, the scanning took an entire day because we needed complete high resolution scans. Skanect often had trouble getting pieces of the body that were away from the central mass of the body, like a leg or foot. There were some positions that we decided to abandon because we could not get a complete scan.



I then removed the apparatus and retouched the scans in Meshmixer, and arranged them in a chain. I ran into a problem with my graphics display along the way. The images were distorted while editing, which made editing pretty difficult.


I tried a few different variations before settling on the final design.


I then brought them to LaGuardia Studio for a final retouch and arrangement for 3D printing.


I had originally wanted to print on the sandstone printer, but they recommended I use the 3D Systems ProJet 7000 for higher resolution and stronger material.

Photos: Finished Piece





Reflections and Next Steps

This was a great first step into 3D printing. In the end, I don’t love the look and feel of the plastic—I am still more drawn to the stone—but the resolution of the print is really amazing.

If I decide to print this piece again, I think I’d also like for it to be a little bigger. It currently feels a bit too small.

There’s a hole in the back of one of the heads that didn’t get filled properly, and some other small touchups that I’d like to make.

I’ve also considered painting it.

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  • Beautiful work! The attention to detail, the explanation, and the future steps all make for a compelling project.

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