A queen and her prints : a study in 3D modeling and printing for theatrical costumes

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Lopez, Vanessa Jeanette

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3D printing is not new technology. In our current day, it offers us endless design opportunities and manufacturers of 3D printers have made them as user intuitive as possible. Yet even with the exponential growth in accessibility to the mainstream consumer market, 3D printers are still not commonly found in most costume shops around the nation. The exception being larger commercial shops with corresponding larger budgets. Upon having casual conversations with my peers in various costume shops, the common consensus is that the 3D workflow process appears to be overcomplicated, especially for us drapers who are not traditionally trained in vector and modeling software. For my MFA thesis, my objective was to obtain a better understanding of why costumers tend to stray away from 3D printing, and also as a costume technician and crafts artisan, I wanted to know what specific pros and cons 3D printing offered my current existing costume making workflow. I also wanted to understand how easily this technology could be incorporated into my already existing skill set considering I was a novice who had never encountered any sort of modeling software prior. To do this, I designed and built a stylized peacock inspired costume for the character ‘Titania’ from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the intention that her base garment would be constructed using traditional dressmaking techniques, and her jewelry, crown, and feathers would be fabricated digitally on a 3D printer. I wanted to ensure that this project was for the benefit of the everyday 3D workflow novice specializing in costuming, like myself, so a lot of choices in my project were dictated by ease of use and lower costs. This culminated in me sharing my research and final peacock costume at the annual United States Institute for Theatre Technology stage expo and conference to a room full of costume professionals and enthusiasts.


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