3D Astronomical Images Plaques
Images coming in from the James Webb Space Telescope are amazing people all over the world, just as the images from Hubble are still doing. These new images are showing us further into the spectrum, and further in time, than we have ever seen.
Starting with high-resolution NASA images, I translate visual features to a height map. Through several steps, I turn the new images into cast sculptures. The tactile nature of the cast images allows anyone to appreciate some of the new knowledge from the JWST. Doubling the number of senses we use to explore the world more than doubles our understanding.
These sculptures can also be back-lit for a traditional reverse-image Lithophane of each target. Photographic negatives were used for decades in astronomy, for example the famous Harvard Plate Stacks.
Turning these images into 3D representations involves several steps:
– Download the highest resolution images available
– Edit in Affinity Photo to de-emphasize the backgrounds
– Additional photo editing to resize and prepare for import
– Import as a Model in Vectric Aspire to generate the height map
– Edit Model for correct height and dimensions
– Generate toolpaths for CNC machining of the templates
– Run the CNC for several hours for each sculpture to machine with sufficient detail
– Protect each master article with 3 coats of EcoPoxy epoxy
Then it’s a “simple” matter of making rubber moulds, then casting epoxy into the moulds. This epoxy requires 3 days for a hard cure, after which the flash can be removed, and any other casting artifacts polished away. The sculpture is then ready for packaging and shipping.
I make the frames in the time that the epoxy is curing. In my fully equipped woodworking shop, I flatten and plane high-quality maple boards. I then cut each board into sticks of the right width for the frames. I cut a rabbet in the back, apply a base coat of Rubio finishing oil, and mitre the stick to form a grain-matched frame. I clamp and glue the pieces in an assembly frame to ensure they are square. Finally, I glue the cast sculpture into the back rabbet, and glue in corner splines to both reinforce the frame and support the epoxy casting. The assembled frame then gets a final application of finishing oil.
Shipping will be in pizza boxes. They are robust and readily available. Padding and packaging ensures that the sculpture and frame are well protected.
PLEASE NOTE: although the resin casts all come form the same moulds, the colouring is applied by hand. Therefore, no 2 items are identical. There will be variations in overall tint and detailed colours.
Additional note: I am currently offering 2 images: Jupiter, and Pillars of Creation, each as imaged by the James Webb Space Telescope. You have the additional option of framed or unframed.
Copyright notice: NASA/ESA/CSA/JWST images used as source material are published under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)