Holiday Hippo

I have been trying to do more off-screen arts and crafts. So far, my favorite piece is a carved wooden hippopotamus that I made as a holiday gift for my girlfriend.

The process started with modeling the shape using some Clojure tools I had previously built with the geom library to help me create low-poly sculptural forms:

After which I took the STL file to my friends at StudioNAND to seek their help with milling the hippo from an oak plank. They have a Roland MDX-50 milling machine, which is a remarkable tool for subtractive fabrication.

We needed to order a pair of custom tool heads to work with hardwood, and I'm happy to report that they performed well and did not catch fire even once. Also, because the machine is currently configured only to drill down from above, we divided the mesh into two halves and milled them separately.

The process looked like this, but much slower:

▲ Courtesy of Stephan Thiel.

In order to produce a relatively fine surface finish two passes were required; first using a 3mm bit to rough the shape, then a 1mm one. The first half of the hippo emerged after around two hours:

▲ Half, before sanding and oiling.

A few hours of additional filing, sanding and oiling resulted in this little lady:

Hippo, Jack Rusher, 2018.

Her new owner seems quite pleased.

This entry is part of my journal, published December 30, 2018, in Berlin.