Melissa Ng creates amazingly intricate 3D printed masks using Blender. I had a chat with her about her work.
Hi Melissa, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company?
My name is Melissa Ng [Eng] and I'm the creator of Lumecluster.com, wonderlands for the entrepreneurial mind, where I help entrepreneurs break through fear and self-doubt through inspirational writing and 3D printed art.
I am also the co-founder of PianoVerse, a place to play, learn, and love piano in Queens, New York. Here we provide private piano lessons to all ages (but cater primarily adults). Overall, I like to identify myself as a doodler, entrepreneur, 3D printing artist. It was through my experiences in building PianoVerse that inspired me to create Lumecluster.com.
How did you get into the business of creating 3D printed masks?
On my site, Lumecluster.com, I often doodle-blog about the excitement and constant fear that creators/entrepreneurs face when fighting for the life of their ideas and dreams. Feeling bored and uninspired by my black and white doodles that I paired with my writing, I ached to find some new way to express this theme...3D printing seemed like the obvious new direction. Before even knowing how to use any 3D modeling program, I had already decided my first 3D model would be a mask :)
Creating masks or mask-themed jewelry felt like the perfect way to give my doodles new meaning and depth. I wanted my masks to portray the unpredictability of the creative and entrepreneurial dreamer’s wonderlands. Overall, the mask aims to raise a discussion on how we choose to wear our dreams (or nightmares) at rest, work, play, and life.
For how long have you used Blender? How did you learn to work with it?
I started using Blender back in October 2013. I had a lot of doubts about my ability at first, but I was amazed to discover the vast resources that are available now. I began rummaging through videos on YouTube, but then I found communities like BlenderNation, BlenderCookie, and Blender Guru.
I devoured every single tutorial that caught my interest. While the tutorials didn't teach me how to do exactly what I wanted, they were a huge help in creating a foundational understanding of how Blender worked and what I could do with it.
After a month or two of exploring tutorials, I finally decided to try to make my Dreamer Mask: Illumination. Choosing to make this piece really forced me to focus and apply what I had learned (and getting it to stick in my head!).
Can you tell us a bit about your workflow? How are these masks created?
I always start by doodling away with a pen in my moleskine. From there, I take my doodles into Blender and open them up as a background image. Then I extrude and shrinkwrap my designs along a face sculpt.
How do you 3D print your models?
I get my models printed through Shapeways. I've had a lot of success with the strong white flexible. Recently, I started creating silver, brass, and bronze. So far they've turned out great as well.
Do you have any upcoming Blender related projects?
Definitely. Everything I make is in Blender :D I have a jewelry collection coming out with another company. I am also developing an extensive jewelry collection for Lumecluster, which is dream and mask-themed. And of course I'm still making more masks.
But the biggest project I have planned right now is a Kickstarter campaign :) Can't wait to share more about that soon!
Which work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my first attempt, the Dreamer Mask: Illumination, not because it was my first but because it was a huge leap for me. Like many folks, I thought learning how to 3D model and 3D print was beyond my ability. Diving into 3D modeling and learning programs like Blender are more accessible than ever and I feel pretty lucky knowing that I have these resources available to me.
Do you have a tip for beginning 3D modelers?
Don't wait until you "know enough" to begin that awesome project you've always wanted to start. Sure, it'll test your patience and competence, but that's the point. After all, there's no excitement or sense of adventure in pursuing only what you know and what you're familiar with.