David Mantey, Editor-in-Chief
The Quixotic Divinity headdress is the premiere piece of wearable art from Chicago-based artist, and longtime proponent of the 3D-printed medium, Joshua Harker.
The headdress debuted on the runway in
November 2013 at the 3D Printshow
held at that Business Design Centre
in London’s Islington borough and
the Carrousel Du Louvre in Paris.
The engineering feat serves both as an eye-catching
addition to the catwalk, as well as a representation of
the shift to design-driven manufacturing from manufactur-
Inspired by Harker’s intent to push the limitations of existing tech-
nology, laser-sintering system provider EOS sponsored his design, growing
(laser sintering) the 8 ½-pound headdress on an EOSINT P 760 additive
manufacturing (AM) system.
Quixotic Divinity [QD] resulted from automatism, an approach to the surrealist
genre in which the artist spontaneously draws and develops from a dream state.
Beginning in the 1980s, his intention had always been to develop his
work three-dimensionally, but no medium sufficed until 3D printing came
"I’m letting these things grow in front of me as I work on the composition,"
Harker says about his process. "A major reason that I use 3D printing and
the software is the way that I have to work. It can’t be coding, or using for-
mulas. I have to be able to work quickly and fluidly, as an artist would do
with a pencil or clay."
Harker starts to work without any preconception or sketching. In this
particular case, the only parameter he accounted for was center of
gravity, because the headdress had to stay secured on a model’s head.
For the more organic shapes, he used Pixologic’s ZBrush, a digital
sculpting and painting program, and then switched to Solidworks
3D Studio Max to use the software's predictive and interference
features, and sharpen the edges. He also used Blender, a free and
open-source 3D computer graphics software.
"ZBrush doesn’t really do well with hard-edge and mechanical types of things
because you have no parametrics or any dimensions; it’s more proportional,"
According to Harker, switching between three different software types can be trying. "It’s a real pain in the ass," he says, "but it has gotten better than the old days."
About 10 years ago, he was using as many as 12 different programs; as each step
required a different software. In comparison, three isn’t too bad.
"Once the piece is finished, I go into right brain mode, getting all of the technical
stuff right. I make sure the dimensions are good; make sure it isn’t a five gigabyte file,
scale the file, validate it, and export. In the past, every one of those things required
different programs, now I have three programs to do 90 percent of my work."