Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science- Lewis Carroll and Art

teaparty_tennielThis past weekend I had the opportunity, once again, to present with my wonderful friend and studio helper Allison Gonzalez at the Houston Expanding Your Horizon’s Conference for teenage girls.

“Expanding Your Horizons Network is known as the preeminent source for resources and experiences that provide focused engagement of middle school girls from all backgrounds in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).” Of course–I am an artist and understand the importance of having an A (art) in the STEM curriculum. I am a proponent of STEAM.

I titled my topic- “Art, Technology, Medicine, Math, and Literature”

Houston, Texas Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

A digital quick sketch of the proposed sculpture “Move One Place On.” I am excited about this piece. I can’t reveal the name of the park until later, but it is a Texas Park. Come have lunch with the Mad Hatter and his gang, as these folks are doing in the scene.



There is geometry behind my digital sculptures. A great resource for learning about this is through Guerrilla CG videos such as this one on Subdivision Surface Overview.

It was a lot to cover but with my newest art project I could cover it all. I am creating a monumental sculpture of the Mad Hatter’s Tea party. I talked about how I created this presentation in the computer using digital programs and also how I work in the studio using traditional and digital processes just as I featured in my new book 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling Focal Press 2015.

The girls learned about 3D printing and that some of the miniature items that I will be hiding in my monumental sculpture will be created in the computer and 3D

The girls learned about 3D printing and that some of the miniature items that I will be hiding in my monumental sculpture will be created in the computer and by a 3D printer.

We talked a bit about Lewis Carroll and that this is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and about how Charles Dodgson ,the real man behind the pen name of Lewis Carroll, was a mathematician. I shared some of the secret math and other things that are in his cool stories. I then shared the math/geometry and code behind my digital artwork.

The girls learned that 3D printing is done with code and created in layers. They played with a layer puzzle.

The girls learned that 3D printing is done with code and created in layers. They played with a layer puzzle.

The girls learned about 3D printing and how it works in layers and the many different applications of 3D printing.

The girls played with pin art andlearned that collecting points on their hand  can create a replica of their hand, if they had smaller pins or points they would collect more detail.

The girls played with pin art and learned that collecting points on their hand can create a replica of their hand. If they had smaller pins or points they would collect more detail.

We looked at how 3D scanning works with both laser and light and used pin art to see how the pins made a replica of our hand.I posed the question,  if I had smaller and more pins would the detail of the hand be better or worse?

Some of the girls that also attended my presentation last year remember using photogrammetry and a cell phone to scan their feet

We learned that the artwork in the computer is made up of polygons.  Then we were able to make our own 3 dimensional item by using polygons.

We learned that the artwork in the computer is made up of polygons. Then we were able to make our own 3 dimensional item by using polygons.

We looked at how geometry works in the computer, about the underlying mesh of a 3d piece of art and how if we add more squares to a mesh we are able to sculpt more detail, but we must use more computer memory.

The girls got to see lots of 3D printed pieces and even took one home thanks to the generosity of Lulzbot.

March Hare by sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

Digital Model of the March Hare for the monumental bronze sculpture.

Finally the girls made a Dodecahedron [doh-dek-uh-hee-druh n,]. Thanks to Disney who provided this free printable.

The girls were provided with a list of links that they could use to help them learn about math, 3D and explore on the computer. Below are the links I shared.


While speaking at 3D Printer World Expo I met the people at Lulzbot.They are all about education and generously donated some 3D prints that I could give the girls.

The girls came in and out of the room to a series of videos. My choice videos for this presentation were
The Making of the movie Paranorman using 3D Printing

Derby the Dog how a dog got legs using a 3D printer

And another on how they are using 3D printers for body parts

3D Printer Replaces body parts

LINKS GIVEN TO GIRLS – These are from my book 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft…


Art, Technology, Medicine, Math, and Literature –by Bridgette Mongeon

Be curious- Think Impossible things.

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

If you want to investigate 3D Technology further, below you will find information and websites. 

www.digitalsculpting.net  My website on my book and digital technology

www.creativesculpture.com My fine art website.

Free or Inexpensive Gems that Encourage Individuals to Play with Math.

Knot Plot Helps to visualize knots http://www.knotplot.com/download

Surface Evolver Visualizes minimal surfaces http://www.susqu.edu/brakke/evolver/evolver.html

TopMod  A topological mesh modeler   http://www.viz.tamu.edu/faculty/ergun/research/topology

SeifertView Visualization of Seifert Surfaces http://www.win.tue.nl/~vanwijk/seifertview/

Excellent tutorials on geometry and computation http://www.christopherwhitelaw.us/?p=567

Blender Free- open source 3D Modeling, animating and much more http://www.blender.org *Sculptris Free http://pixologic.com/sculptris Hard surface and organic.

*Daz Studio 3D Free http://www.daz3d.com

Other Free Fun Stuff
JWEEL Free browser based jewelry design program https://www.jweel.com/en/

Autodesk 123 Series Free http://www.123dapp.com/
123D Catch- Scan from your cell phone
123D CNC-Create files for CNC milling
123D Creature- Create creatures using this app
123D Design – Create 3D models using this free app
123D Make – Helps you to make physical models out of designs.  123D Sculpt – Sculpt using your iPad
123D Meshmixer – helps to prepare your files for 3D printing
123D Tinkercad- helps you to design 3D object for printing

Learn Code for Art Processing 2 http://processing.org/

The Annotated Alice Lewis Carroll, John Tenniel, Martin Gardner editor

A Sitting For A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

As stated in a previous post, I have been working on a sculpture of Alice and the Mad Hatter. The sculpture called Move One Place On is a monumental bronze sculpture of the tea party featuring several figures from Lewis Carroll’s story. Families can come to the park, sit at the bronze table and have tea with the characters.

Whenever an artist creates a sculpture they need reference. This past weekend we had two photo sittings to obtain reference for the sculpture.

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A Magnum Opus and Celebrating 150 Years of Curiosity

teaparty_tennielI have been sculpting for thirty years, and am now embarking on what I refer to as my magnum opus.

Some readers may have heard me mention this sculpture over the last two years. The project is a larger than life size Mad Hatter Tea Party in bronze. Families can come to visit the sculpture and bring their lunch and join in the tea party. I’ll post more on the location of the park in another post.

I work both digitally, sculpting in the computer and traditionally sculpting in clay. Many times I use both.  I just completed a book on these techniques titled 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling. Focal Press 2015.  This project uses all of these techniques and more.

I started with a quick digital design. Over the last two years, the digital design has morphed into several different sizes and versions. The design will morph quite a bit more from the digital design, as I take each character and make them my own and sculpt them in clay.

The Scope of the Project
The characters are larger than life measuring approximately 8 feet tall. I revert to the original John Tenniel illustrations for my inspiration. However, the Hatter scene I am creating is really contrary to the original illustration of the Tea Party. In Tenniel’s illustrations, all of the characters are at one end. In my sculpture, Alice, the Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse are spaced out. In fact, each character interacts with a guest that is not yet present at the tea party. The scene needs interaction from visitors to be complete. The sculpture lures individuals to bring a meal and share at the table. The table seats between 6-8 guests. The sculpture titled “Move One Place On” entices visitors to change places in the middle of their visit, just as the characters did in the story.

A Treasure Hunt

There is much more to this scene than meets the eye. Along with the tea party, there is a dedication plaque in the shape of an oversized storybook set upon an old tree trunk. There are small tree stump steps for children to climb to see the words. Sitting on a leaf of this storybook is a mouse that reads the dedication. Moving to the top of the storybook, you will see the feet of a small rabbit jumping into a hole. Move around the tree trunk, and you will not only see a rabbit in the cutaway section of the tree, but you will see a tiny Alice falling down the hole. And so… the treasure hunt begins. Found within all of the bronze pieces in Alice’s Wonderland are many different hidden objects and even more meanings behind each of those objects. How many of these can one find on this curious journey? Well, 150, of course. I have dedicated 150 in honor of the 150th anniversary. On July 4th of this year, the world celebrates the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

alice for 3dprinterworld expo2

Digital sketch of the Hatter’s tea party by Bridgette Mongeon

The ScheduleBy the official anniversary date of July 4, 2015 I hope to have enough of the scene sculpted so that camera crews can come in and film. My team and I will continue the sculpting. I have awarded the bronze casting to Shidoni Foundry in New Mexico where more documentation of the process will take place. I am working diligently to hit the target date of installation scheduled for summer of 2016. It would be wonderful if that date were close to the 151st anniversary of the story.

New Book Projects
As you may know, I recently completed a book titled 3D Technology In Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting, and Milling- Publisher Focal Press. I expect this book to come out Summer 2015. It is my goal to use this sculpture, Move One Place On and create two books- for which I am presently seeking a publisher. The first book, is tentatively titled Finding Alice: An Artist’s Curious Journey of Combining Traditional and Digital Art to Create a Monumental Bronze Sculpture. In my previous book, I focused on the many different types of digital technology that I and other artists around the world use to create art. This new book focuses on one job from conception to installation and all of the steps in between. I will be sculpting using the traditional sculpting processes and using some of the digital processes I cover in my previous book. I include even more technology in this project. For example, I created Humpty Dumpty digitally and will have him 3D printed. I will then embed the 3D printed piece in the clay before it goes to the foundry and is cast in bronze. There will be many treasures created this way. The second book in this project is Finding Alice- A Field Guide This book gives clues to the 150 different elements found in the scene. It is written in Carrollian style using such things as rhyme and riddle. In the light of that, let me give your first clues in the Finding Alice Field Guide.

tree stump

The tree stump begins the adventure of finding the hidden objects. A mouse sits on the leaf reading, At the top of the book is a hole in the tree stump, a rabbit is jumping in the hole. Walk around the stump and you will find Alice falling. Here visitors begin their search for the many hidden objects and meanings embedded in the bark of the tree stump, and scene of the tea party.

Searching for Lily before the game
A mother to two- they are the same.
Here she reclines-facing east
Believing this many ‘fore morning feast.

This riddle holds four of the 150 elements in the field guide. The book contains a place for an individual to fill in the blanks. I’ll give you these answers. You will have to find the other 146 answers on your own.

1. Who is this character?
The White Queen

2. What is pertinent to the creation of this hidden object?- See Finding Alice- Process book.
She is the White Queen but is also in the image of the artist’s mother.

3. Where is this physical piece located?
I guess I can’t answer this for you as I have not placed her, and how on earth I will get her to face east is going to be a challenge.

4. What is the literary reference?
(Hint—it is a number. Include the sentence written by Carroll.)
Six “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Chapter 5)

Of course, I have been writing the books as I work on the commission. However, I need to place the bronze sculpture before the book is complete. That delay means I won’t have final images of the installation for the book until July 4th 2016 and it does take a while for a book to be published. Maybe the books will be ready by July 4th, 2017? I’ll let you know after I secure a publisher.

Media and Press Page
I am delighted with this project and the work it will entail. If you are interested in publishing a story about the project, I will soon have a media page with some images. I will be adding more images to the page as we progress on the project. If the media page is not up yet, it just means that I have been terribly busy. Just fill out the contact form and I’ll zip some images and information off to you. If you know of anyone who would like to document the creation of this sculpture as a film documentary, please let me know.  I think it would make a very interesting film.

Speaking Engagements

I’d be delighted to share the project through speaking engagements and lectures. I’m already planning a speaking tour about art and technology and will be delighted to share this portion. Maybe I’ll even pass on a few more hints for the field guide.

There are many ways that educators can use this sculpture and the works of Lewis Carroll to encourage education in such things as history, literature, and math. Educators can also use the technology and art aspect of this project. The artist will be providing curriculmn associated with this project on this website.

If you live in the Houston, Texas area and are an artist that is  available from March- September and would like to intern on this project, contact me through my contact page. Be sure to let me know your availability and give me links to your work.

I’m also looking for an assistant to help with the publicity for this project and will be interviewing individuals immediately.

I’ll share more later, but for now… I must jump in the hole with Alice.

Having Fun with Alice in Wonderland- Morphing the March Hare

How does a sculpture morph?  As I stated in previous posts, sometimes I will create a 3D digital model to work out the design process. This lets my client and I change and modify sizes, placement, interaction and poses.  These digital models are done quickly usually using preexisting models that I can change to fit my needs.  The photographs on this blog post show the morphing of the March Hare.  For the monumental bronze sculpture of Move One Place On- a scene in Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. rabbitt


I would continue to create the sculpture digitally, but sometimes I just like the feel of the clay.  So I then went back down to the traditional studio, my office is upstairs my studio is downstairs. Downstairs I worked on the March Hare, in clay. Besides making the monumental sculpture of this scene I will also be making a number of  table-top versions in bronze for sale. Sculpting downstairs in traditional clay and seeing things in a physical form helps me to see how this smaller version will work as well as the interaction of pieces in a physical world.   hare


Once I got something I was interested in, I brought the clay piece back upstairs and scanned him with a 3D scanner. I will need a digital model to enlarge him, but I also did not want to sculpt a tiny cup, saucer and watch traditionally.  I put these items into the model in the computer.  march hare

I love the action of this piece. Remember also that he is interacting with the visitor, that will be seated on a bench next to him.  You also remember that I mentioned in a previous post that I will be hiding things in the sculpture. When you see this sculpture be sure to check out the stump that he is sitting on. I am sure I will be hiding things there. I also have a bunch of other ideas for hidden objects in this piece of the March Hare.  I can’t wait to sculpt him life-size. As soon as the other figures are ready I will send the 3D files off for enlargements.  Stay tuned.