You can have your baby’s shoes dipped in gold, your child’s milk teeth turned into jewellery, and even your foetus scanned and cast in resin.And now you can have your children’s scribbles immortalised in stone, thanks to a project by Spanish designer Bernat Cuni. Crayon Creatures is a new service that takes your child’s drawings, transforms them into a digital model, then provides you with a 3D-printed version – in full colour.
Cuni says the idea came from his children’s interest in seeing 3D printing in action. “We have a small DIY 3D-printer at home, so my kids are used to seeing ideas turned into objects quite easily,” he says. “Whenever I bring something home now, they ask if I made it or bought it. It’s interesting they have an idea that there is another source for things than just the shops.”
The first stage in the process is interpreting the drawing, to actually understand what it could be in three dimensions. “It can be quite difficult,” says Cuni. “My son had to explain that this yellow and blue blobby thing he had drawn was a hamster on a speed boat.”
Once the image is scanned, it is cut out and extruded using digital modelling software, “as if cut from a thick block of wood”. This rough shape is then softened by applying pressure to the 3D mesh, “like inflating a balloon”, and then sent off to be printed at Shapeways on a Z-Corp printer in its “sandstone” material – a gypsum-based powder, bound together with pigment and adhesive.
“There are some limitations, like very thin arms, which would break off easily,” says Cuni – and budding abstract expressionists might have difficulty with overly spiky shapes.
He also stresses that these are not toys, but objects for parents to cherish, “to have next to your office, to make you feel proud. For the kids, it’s just a picture – they don’t see the value in it. It’s the parents who say ‘Wow, look at this. It’s kind of creepy, but beautiful because it’s by my own kid.'”
The most unexpected development, since he started the business last week, has been receiving drawings made on an iPad. “The idea was to take drawings from the real world, made by hand, and turn them into something super-digital, then bring it back to reality,” he says. The first iPad prints are still at the printer, but the results sound promising.
“I’m sure soon there will be software that kids can use to 3D-model and print things themselves – and they won’t just be printing out their crayon scribbles.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk