Alice In Wonderland Gets Bigger and Smaller digitally Instead of With Mushrooms.
In Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland gets bigger and smaller by eating a mushroom, cake and elixirs of sorts. In sculptor Bridgette Mongeon’s Wonderland, the characters are changing size—digitally.
The Evelyn Rubenstein Park of Bellaire, Texas has commissioned the artist to make eight-foot tall characters placed within the scene of the Mad Hatter Tea Party. Estimated date of delivery of this bronze is just over a year away in fall of 2016. “That short time frame is a monumental task at best, but the digital tools make my job easier and faster,” states Mongeon. The name of the sculpture- Move One Place on is what the Mad Hatter beckons before everyone changes places in the story. The artist hopes visitors to the sculpture will be prompted to do the same.
The artist had worked on the creating and selling of the design for three years before she and the park finalized the paperwork. This happened on July 3, 2015, the day before the 150th anniversary of the beloved story of Alice in Wonderland. She explains that her process of creating the digital models for the pitch to the client needed to be quick, as she still had not secured the commission. Mongeon first used Daz, Poser, ZBrush, Mudbox and Photoshop to create the virtual digital scene that won her this commission. Once the idea was sold to the client, the artist moves to traditional clay to finalize the designs and make them her own. The Mad Hatter, Alice, and March Hare are then 3D scanned using the NextEngine 3D Laser Scanner. “I love my NextEngine Scanner. It is a bit of work to get good scans, but it saves me time and money to have a dependable, affordable, scanner that I can use right in my studio.” The digital files are once again changed and modified by the artist using MeshLab, Meshmixer andZBrush.
One would think it would be senseless to have a 3D print of the figures if you already have a clay version at the same size. But Mongeon says that having the 3D print created by 3D RP in California was very valuable in her creative process. “The clay is fragile and hard to handle. Also, creating things like a tiny cup and saucer and a pocket watch were much easier to create digitally than trying to sculpt a half inch cup with soft clay. The digital model helps me to refine the design further, and the 3D print puts all of these elements together and gives me something to refer to when the large sculpture comes to the studio.” Mongeon claims that in her workflow she goes back and forth between digitally and traditional sculpting as much as Alice goes between big and small in the Lewis Carroll stories.
The NextEngine scanner was not the only scanner used in translating the art into a digital world. Mongeon was elated when Evan Lee of Super Solid 3D offered to come in and scan some items using an Artec Structured Light Scanner. “I’m hiding 150 small elements in the scene of The Mad Hatter Tea party. Yes, the project in itself is a huge undertaking and I must be mad as a hatter to decide to create and hide these elements. But is fun to create them and it will be even more fun to find them,” states Mongeon.Super Solid 3D used the Artec scanner to scan a portrait that the artist created and that she will use as one of the hidden elements. (The crying baby in Alice In Wonderland turns into a pig.) Super Solid 3D also scanned Mongeon’s mother’s chair that she will use as the Mad Hatter’s chair in the scene. She is working with Zbrush artist Johannes Huber to work in Zbrush, modify the chair and hide even more elements of the story.” I loved the results of the Artec Scan. One day I might like to try it on my own, however I fear the Artec scanner is over my studio budget at this time, though I am elated to see the results.”
Mongeon uses more tricks in her wonderland of creating to make Alice and her Friends grow to eight-foot tall. She turns the digital files are into Gcode and Computer Numerically Controlled or CNC Mills out the foam at Synappsys Digital Services in Oklahoma and Across the Board Creations in Canada. The pieces then travel back to the artist’s studio. Mongeon documents the carving of the characters and the “hare-raising” event in a recent YouTube video as she reassembles the monumental foam hare.
Once again, Mongeon will use traditional processes in her workflow. She now is carving the foam and adding detail to the sculpture with a fine layer of clay before the scene goes through the lost wax method of bronze casting at Shidoni Foundry in New Mexico. She will continue to document her process of creating the sculpture titled “Move one Place On” sharing it online through her blog and the Finding Alice Sculpture page on Facebook. Once the project is complete she will write about it in a new book.
Mongeon enjoys sharing her process with others. She hopes it will inspire artists to combine the processes and go beyond what the technology is presently doing and what other artist have done. She has written about the processes of incorporating digital techniques in her own studio and the studio of many artists around the world in a new book titled 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling. The book is coming out in Sept and has been called a number one new release on Amazon. She also shares information through podcasts at the book’s website at www.digitalsculpting.net. She has created a forum on both Linked in and on Facebook, where artists can share their work and pose any questions they might have on using the technology in their own studios.
Bridgette Mongeon has much more to do and share with the creating of the sculpture “Move One Place On.” Stay tuned, she will be sharing her process along the way as she goes further down the rabbit hole.