Cosmo Wenman’s Mind-Blowing Sculpture Made On A MakerBot

Posted by on Saturday, October 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

MYTH: MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers can only make things up to a certain size. BUSTED

MYTH: MakerBot PLA Filament is harder to finish than ABS filament. BUSTED

MYTH: The quality of pieces made on a MakerBot are great, but they’re not, like, museum-quality great. BUSTED

Cosmo Wenman is a (slightly elusive) artist in California who has just reminded us not to limit our imaginations when it comes to what can be made. The horse head and human bust you see above were made entirely of MakerBot PLA Filament (White) on the original MakerBot Replicator. We believe so strongly in the potential of the renewable bioplastic PLA that we optimized the new MakerBot Replicator 2 for that material.

These pieces were in-house at MakerBot HQ for a couple days before they were swept off to London to be displayed in our booth at the 3D Printshow, and the reactions by staff ranged from “whoa,” to “no, really, how was this made?” The simplicity of the answer may be the most impressive part.

Cosmo captured the original ancient sculptures, the marble “Head of a horse of Selene from the east pediment of the Parthenon” (Acropolis, Athens, 438-432 BC) and “Portrait of Alexander the Great” (Hellenistic Greek, 2nd-1st century BC), using digital photography and Autodesk 123D Catch (free). You may remember his work at the Getty Museum using the same process that got him some buzz back in June. These scans were cleaned up and turned into 3D-printable models using the programs Blender (free) and Netfabb Studio Basic (also free).

Since Cosmo aimed to make the pieces true-to-life and not scaled down, he had to slice them up into multiple pieces. This awesome photo shows the 29 unfinished blocks of the horse head before Cosmo went to work fusing them and adding the incredible bronze patina finish seen above.

Here’s a shot of Bre holding the sculpture in our office to give you an idea of just how large “life-size” really is.

The next picture shows a similar blank of the Alexander the Great portrait, followed by a gallery shot of three different finishes Cosmo tried out on this piece. I can speak for MakerBot staff in saying that these sculptures are incredibly authentic looking and feeling, which caused several people in the office to wonder why we had them. “Are we going to scan these and make them on a MakerBot?” No, no, we explained. These were already made on a MakerBot.


Take a minute to read the descriptions of each of these pieces over at Thingiverse. Cosmo takes great time to explain the motivations for his uploads and his appreciation for the sculptures themselves. Here’s an excerpt.

I imagine a Greek guy walking around 2,000 years ago with acamera obscura with some kind of light sensitive papyrus inside, trying to raise funds to get his light enscribing machine into mass production. Alas, there was no Kickstarter back then.

Or, maybe the artist and horse in bright sunlight, the artist covering his eyes. The horse’s handler startles it into motion, and the artist opens his eyes for an instant, closes them again, then draws quickly with his eyes shut while the image fades in his retinas – the lens, film, and darkroom being his eyes… I dunno – either that or weeks of careful study, scores of sketches of impressions of a horse in motion, composited into this exacting model. But that doesn’t sound like as much fun.

What’s funny here is that Cosmo is trying to figure out what great ingenuity and creativity must have led to the stunning original sculpture thousands of years ago, and all of us are doing the same thing for Cosmo’s work in 2012. MakerBot is proud to display work from this forward-thinking artist and creative explorer.

You can follow Cosmo on twitter, Thingiverse, and at

Tagged with , , 15 comments

15 Comments so far

  • Erik J. Durwood II
    October 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Have I seen a more impressive and convincing faux-bronze horse head?


  • Andrew Harmon
    October 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I saw those (and a Bre) today at the 3D print show! I can’t wait to get our Replicator 2. Great area you had setup Makerbot! Who was that music man that played on your stage?

  • Scott
    October 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Very cool, but its a facsimilie not a sculpture.

  • Baron
    October 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Hey I would like to print out copies of myself with a full on how much would that cost to get a 1:1 front copy 6’5″ 42 waist

  • mlvl
    October 21, 2012 at 9:42 am

    These MakerBotters are making an offer one cannot refuse!

  • Brad
    October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

    @Scott – right, this is a test of the hardware, not the artist. If the hardware can produce something this nice, it doesn’t matter if the source is a photographed or laser-scanned facsimile, or an original 3D sculpture created digitally from the ground up. The hardware can support either.

  • dee
    October 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

    As a sculptor, i have to say it is entirely possible to observe from life and easily make things from observing, remembering the feel of the form, experience and of course using imagination to exaggerate expression to bring such a piece alive.
    I can imagine that when these ancient sculptors were working, horses were as common as smartphones and as such would have been an easily remembered shape. The attachment that a person has for a horse or dog or cat etc, these things would make the challenge of such a sculptural endevour much easier than just trying to make a horse in clay/wax/stone without careful observation and no emotional attachment to the subject.
    still 3d printing! i love it!

  • David
    October 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I see horizontal (scan?) features on the horse in the first photo that makes me think that if I were to have gone to this trouble I would have cleaned up the model a bit to make the result more believable rather than just testing the fidelity of a series of tools and methods.

  • seg
    October 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Still suddenly closed source?

  • MakajazMonkee
    October 22, 2012 at 2:37 am

    @ David actually that would be a feature of the printer not the scanner. They call it stairstepping

  • Bill
    October 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

    They probably had some great substances to enhance reality and no laws to ban them…

  • Andy
    October 31, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I’m curious, how were the pieced “fused”? I’ve got a Replicator 2 on the way and will be trying to make some bigger composite models and just looking for some tips on how to weld or glue multiple pieces together.

  • Peter K
    November 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Hey Kids,

    You better play along with Makerbot, or you might wake up with a horse head in your bed.

    Funny thing, I was held over in London due to Hurricaine Sandy and walked into the British Museum and boom there it was, 6 days after this posted. Needless to say I was no longer as impressed.

  • Davide
    September 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    That’s amazing…..I’m based in Italy and I really would like to bring these new ideas in Italy..3D printing waw!!! that’s the future…

    any proposal? any idea how we can do business together? please let me know I’m really open and exited about this new technlogy.

    At the moment I?m in IT business but I could easy swucth to 3D printing 🙂

  • Amie Ziner
    March 27, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I am an artist, with a Digitizer, and a MakerBot mini on order. I just scanned an original sculpture knicknack, and uploaded it (Horsie on Thingiverse).

    I grew up in a family of artists and metal sculptors, and I know what I’m seeing – a relatively inexpensive way to reproduce original art, and to create totally original 3D work from nothing but a pure idea. And yes, to make copies of existing art.

    Very inspiring work, Cosmo! Thank you for bringing the process further along, and helping all the 3D pioneers along the way.


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