The Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher continues to fascinate and inspire more than 40 years after his departure.

Especially well known for his mathematical bent and two-dimensional renderings of “impossible” three-dimensional geometries, workarounds for Escher’s tricky angles and structures have found a home with 3D printing!

escher curl up instructables

Rachel McConnell, who explores art, engineering and design in her work, used an Objet500 Connex Multi-Material 3D Printer by Stratasys to create a physical “Escher Curl-up model.” The model was based on Escher’s 1951 print “Wentelteefje,” which contains both drawings and text about an imaginary creature with articulated segments, human-like legs, eyes on stalks, and a bird-like beak. McConnell’s  Curl-up was a complex exercise in geometry, physics, construction and materials science.

McConnell identifies herself as both a hacker and a maker, as she confirmed to the Stratasys blog in an exclusive interview: “I am someone who likes to get into the guts of things, understand how they work, and to make changes to existing objects, especially repurposing them, often as opposed to buying something new.”

McConnell, a past lead developer at Instructables, used their Objet500 Connex Multi -material 3D Printer from Stratasys to produce several iterations of the Escher Curl-up, experimenting with the size of the segmented pieces and various materials to produce this fantastic rendering. She then shared the fruits of her labor with the entire Instructables community.

3d printed escher curl up instructables

“There are two major difficulties with any non-digital fabrication technique: testing and repeatability,” she explained. “It took me quite a few tries to get a shell shape I was satisfied with, and trying to carve or model it by hand even once, let alone copy after copy and all slightly different 18 segments, would have been very time consuming and extremely difficult.  The speed, precision and repeatability of the Objet500 Connex 3D Printer removed all of these difficulties.”

With McConnell’s wide range of interests and versatile skills, we’re guessing it is likely that she will have occasion to use multi-material 3D printing again – maybe she will even venture into 4D printing. “Learning a new fabrication technique is one of my favorite things to do, and the Objet Connex has a lot of depth to it,” she told us. “I definitely want to try some of the stuff I’ve heard about where you print something large but thin all balled up, and then it relaxes into shape when you remove the supports.”

The unfurled “Curl-Up,” based on an imaginary creature devised by M.C. Escher, was designed and 3D printed on an Objet500 Connex Multi-material 3D Printer by Rachel McConnell. Photo by Rachel McConnell.