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Monday April 13 2015 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

Stanford University design teacher John Edmark has created these cool 3D-printed sculptures called blooms that, when spun, create a zoetrope-style illusion of motion.

The placement of the blooms’ appendages is inspired by the same method Mother Nature has used to make pine cones and sunflowers.

When spun on a rotating base under a strobe light, the blooms and their appendages appear animated and alive, moving up down and along.

That is because the rotation speed is synchronised to the strobe so that one flash occurs every time the sculpture turns 137.5º – the golden angle.

And if you count the number of spirals on any of these sculptures, you will see that they are always Fibonacci numbers. In the Fibonacci sequence, each number is the sum of the previous two.

For this video, rather than using a strobe, Edmark set a very short shutter speed (1/4000 second) on his camera in order to freeze the spinning sculpture:

“The placement of the appendages on these sculptures is critical to the success of the animation effect,” says Edmark.

“The positions are based on a specific phyllotaxy – i.e. leaf order – used by nature in a number of botanical forms, including pine cones, pineapples, sunflowers, artichokes, palm trees, and many succulents."

Edmark continues: “137.5º is a very special angle, called the golden angle, based on the golden ratio. When that angle is used by nature as a growth strategy it leads to the formation of spiral patterns.

“If you follow what appears to be a single petal as it works its way out and down the sculpture, what you are actually seeing is all the petals on the sculpture in the order of their respective distances from the top-centre."

Edmark created the designs in his capacity as artist in residence for DIY network Instructables.

He computer modelled these ‘blooms’ using Rhino software with a scripting programme called Python before exporting them as files and then printing them using a 3D

Edmark is offering to share the files to print at home if individuals contact him via the Instructables site. The sculptures can also be ordered ready-made from 3D-printing
site Shapeways.

To discover how blooms are made, please visit:

And for more information on John Edmark, follow him on is website and on Vimeo.

Suggested by
Stéphane Balet