How Artist Metrov Creates His 3D Printed Bronze Sculpture: Reincarnation of Pax

This week, we congratulated Santa Barbara, California artist Metrov on the sale of one of his 3D printed sculptures here. We are very pleased to be able to also share this article, sent to us by Metrov, containing full details on how he created his limited edition sculpture series using the latest 3D printing technology.


The Reincarnation of PAX by Metrov (

The introduction of new casting technologies led me on quite an adventure this last year. Basically, it was supposed to go something like this: 1) Use a 3D modeling program to create a digital sculpture. 2) Email the digital file to a foundry. 3) Foundry makes a 3D print. 4) From the 3D print, they make a mold. 5) From the mold, they cast the sculpture in bronze. 6) Add patinas to bronze. 7) The bronze is mounted on a marble stand. 8) Foundry ships finished piece to my studio in U.S. The real adventure, however, happened between the lines.


Below: image of PAX: BEAR GODDESS (with foundry notes), rendered from Blender, an open source, 3D modeling and animation program. It took me a few years to master Blender… the basics, anyway. It’s a fully comprehensive program which includes all the myriad controls of the high-end paid versions.


Sounds simple, but first I had to hire a professional 3D modeller to prepare my digital file for 3D printing. Besides modeling the figure, it has to be specially configured to enable 3D printing—technical stuff I’ve yet to learn (read: don’t want to learn… ugh). Also, the file had to go to a foundry in China as their prices are a fraction of what the cost would be in the U.S. Some places in China are not email friendly, and so emails have to be sent through special servers, otherwise they may be intercepted by secret police… or spies… or something. Anyway, the email finally arrived at the foundry.


This step was happily straightforward. My well-prepared file printed without issues. Below: image of the 3D print.



Again, this step was pretty straightforward. Or at least, I didn’t hear of any issues.


Casting went well… after all, this is what foundries, do, right?


This is where the headaches began. This particular sculpture requires a two-tone patina as seen in the first rendering above. Most of the patina is the traditional bronze color that covers the body and ears, but the head and ear holes must be black. After numerous attempts (and photos back and forth showing wear corrections must be made, etc), the artisans at the foundry were simply unable to create the patina as indicated. When they tried to fix it, they only made things worse. Exasperated, I finally instructed them to remove the patina completely and send it without a finish. (see 3rd shot below).





The first marble base made by the foundry was nothing like the one I designed in my rendering. When I pointed this out to them (based on the photo they sent), they readily had another one made. Second time they got it right.


The work in the image above is what arrived from China. I was pretty excited to receive my sculpture at last… it took almost eight months from the time I’d emailed the 3D digital file to get the final statue. It wouldn’t normally take this long, of course, but the patina phase became a nightmare that no one anticipated. It was my fault, actually, as I failed, in the beginning, to ask the foundry to show me a similar two-tone patina sculpture they’d done in the past.

So, I now had to have the patina applied. Since this part of the operation requires a welding torch, and because I’d never applied patina before, I went to a local foundry to have it done.

The local foundry is well established: Artisan Bronze in Oxnard, California. Because of the headaches working with China, I decided to have a mold made from the bronze so I could have Artisan Bronze make copies in the future. Because the 3D print is not required to make bronze copies, the cost is considerably reduced. Robert, the owner, agreed, but the marble base had to be removed to make the mold. Robert warned me it could break when trying to remove it…. which, in fact, it summarily did.

Robert added both colors of the patina, but the blacks did not turn out nearly black enough. I learned that it’s not possible to get a true black patina. The black would have to be painted on.

First, though, I had to replace the marble base. Robert recommended a place he works with in Los Angeles: Imported Onyx. He actually drove my base down to them, and left it for replication. When I called to pick the new base, there was no answer… for almost two weeks.

Meanwhile, I had posted the 3D rendering of the statue on Indiewalls, a website where artists can submit their work for various commercial and private needs, i.e. restaurants, hotels, homes, and so forth. A client actually purchased the statue based on the rendering, and needed it shipped to New York right away!

I found another base factory on the East Coast, and was about to place an order when, Victor, owner of Imported Onyx called and apologized as he’d been waylaid by surgery. At any rate, he turned out to be a great guy, and fabricated a new base in one day. I raced down from Santa Barbara to pick it up.

Having the mounted statue back in my studio, I had to apply the final black paint for the head and ear holes. I painstakingly masked off the bronze areas and applied the paint on Friday. Saturday was spent photographing and making video of the final work. Sunday, I prepared the packing crate. Monday, I ordered a plaque with title of piece and my name. Monday night, packed the work. Tues morning, drove the crate to FEDEX and had it shipped to NYC!

Since this version of PAX is a limited edition of 25, I only have to go through this 24 more times! Just kidding. Now that I’ve been through the process… and learned the potholes to avoid… it should be a snap making the other editions. At any rate, keep your fingers crossed for me.



In this epic, narrative installation series, Pax, the ancient Roman goddess of peace, Spring, and re-birth, returns to us as the spirit of a Mother Bear. The Pax project signals the arrival of a new global consciousness; a harmonious shift between the balance of patriarchal and matriarchal forces governing our planet. 



3 C’s of Creating Your Printed Art Design: Clarify, Communication, Cost

Large 3D Printed Sculpture, J F Rygo

Large 3D Printed Sculpture, J F Rygo

Last week, we published an article containing resources for getting your small Giclee art print editions and 3D printed items ready for holiday sales. Read our article Get Your Art Printed as Mini Giclee Prints or 3D Prints for Holiday Sales here.

Related to that preparation process are the  Three C’s : Clarity, Communication, Cost, discussed in the recent article published on the Shapeways blog of 3D News and Innovations. Their article contains practical advice on getting the most for your money when creating your 3D design for printing.

According to Shapeways, your ideas, sketches, photos, your Pinterest boards, magazine clippings and screenshots of elements you like are all really helpful in communicating what you want to the printer. (Another plus for using Pinterest!)

Cost, plus an understanding of the 3D printing process as it relates to your design, go hand-in-hand for creating the best work.  How much you are willing to spend will be effected by whether you provide the printer with a finished product or a 3D file that you will upload yourself, what materials you want your 3D printed item created with, and if you are creating an edition or a One-of-a-Kind art piece.


small 3D printed nendroid

small 3D printed nendroid


3D Printing: New Technology Quickly Accepted As Art Technique


It’s amazing how quickly 3D Printing has become accepted as an art technique, with 3D printed sculptural works appearing in exhibits in art galleries.

Shemer Art Center in Phoenix, Arizona (the USA’s sixth largest city!), is seeking work from any artist living anywhere in the United States who is working with 3D printing for their upcoming 3D art show. Details are available here.

And our newest Print Resources for Artists  not only contains sales sites for artist prints on paper, canvas and products, but also 20 resources for 3D prints, including 3D editions, 3D art toys, multiples commissions, and exhibition and sales sites. For example, one of the resources on our listSculpteo, has innovative tools allowing artists to work with Photoshop and the Creative Cloud to design 3D printables, plus artists can then open their own store in the Sculpteo 3D Printing online Marketplace.

If you are interested in getting started in designing and inventing your very first 3D print edition, our resources list contains details on creative shops that will help you develop, create, and print your 3D art objects.


Materialicious + Open Your Own Store on 3D Printing Site Sculpteo


Here are two interesting sites I found recently.

 Sculpteo 3D printing site where you can not only upload your design for printing, but also open your own online store in the 3D printing marketplace on Sculpteo.


Materialicious™ (“shelter, materials and objects”) is a user-submitted visual curation site featuring modern architecture and design, art, craftsmanship, materials and products.

Submit your art or your 3D Design items for feature articles.

Chances to Win 3D Printers + Art Gallery Call for Your Art Books, Chapbooks etc

3D printed object made with netfabb

3D printed object made with netfabb (Photo credit: Creative Tools)

Here is a fun one! You get to share your projects for a chance to win one of twelve 3D printers.

Make It Real Challenge Instructables.Com

Submit a project for your chance to win over $100k in 3D printers and 3D printing materials

Prizes:  a $50,000 Object Printer for the grand prize and 11 Up! 3D printers.

Submissions: submit a project that is at least partially designed using a computer: a sticker, a 3D printed object, laser-cut files, an electronics schematic, and even an inkjet printer template. So long as something in your project involved computer design (a digital sketch, 2D files, schematics, or a 3d model) before you built the physical object and your project is eligible!

More Info:
Anyone who shares the digital files that they create (using any software) in the 123D Gallery ( and posts a link to it in their project will receive a free thank you gift from 123D (see details here: and then be eligible to win the special 123D Judges Prize.

Deadline: Mon Jun 4th, 2012


Artists, do you have self-published books of your art? Here is a chance to place your books in a art gallery library.

Open Call: Art Book Submissions For Third Party Gallery Library

Third Party Gallery is requesting submissions for art books, monographs, zines, chapbooks, and any other printed material for their gallery library.  Artists of all media are encouraged to submit. 

For questions or concerns please contact

Send submissions to:

Third Party Gallery

2159 Central Ave

Cincinnati, Ohio, 45214


Deadline: Sat Jun 2nd, 2012