Jacob’s Dream at Smithsonian X 3D

This week a group of faculty and technology leaders from campus will be in Washington, D.C. to explore the future of 3D printing in the arts. The Smithsonian X 3D event will include representatives from the Department of Art & Design and from the Maker Lab, sharing the process of digitizing Jacob’s Dream.

The 34-foot-tall bronze was dedicated in 2006 as part of the university’s Centennial Celebration and became an instant campus icon. ACU art and design professor Jack Maxwell and a team of students, engineers, and construction and landscaping specialists worked for two years to plan and produce the towering project.

Jack sat down with us last month to talk about the process of digitizing the 8-foot maquette.

The project was led by Jordan Williams, ACU graduate and co-founder of Captured Dimensions in Dallas, who will also be a part of the Smithsonian event. Jordan’s team scanned the scale model last summer, providing a digital record of this one-of-kind of piece, along with the ability to reproduce Jacob’s Dream at sizes beyond the reach of traditional methods.


Maker Stories

This is one of two stories we produced this semester about ACU faculty and alumni actively working with new maker technologies. Last month we shared the story of Dallas artist and alum Rolando Diaz and his collaboration with ACU faculty and staff in the Maker Lab on a mixed-media project combining 3D modeling and precision laser cutting in the final piece.

We’re thankful to Ro and to Jack for sharing their experience connecting emerging tech with artistic vision.


Filming artist Rolando Diaz

Rolando Diaz has been a painter for as long as he can remember. The ACU alum and Cuban native has spent more than 20 years working with paint on canvas. Only recently did he start thinking in three dimensions, creating several mixed media works from found objects and materials. Then he discovered the ACU Maker Lab.

Even before ACU’s new digital fabrication space opened to the campus in October, Ro began working alongside ACU faculty and staff inside the space, planning and creating a sculptural piece with the tools the facility offered.

The Learning Studio’s filmmaking team accompanied Ro and his collaborators during the project, including visiting his Dallas studio. The result is this beautiful two-minute documentary of the group’s creative process inside the Maker Lab, from start to finish.

Ro hopes to use this small model as a prototype for a five-foot version, to be unveiled at his annual gallery show in Dallas this December. We asked him to give us the backstory on “Forbidden Fruit,” the series of paintings on which the sculpture is based.

Writing Center parodies

In 2011 shy, unassuming Writing Center director Dr. Cole Bennett stunned audiences with his riveting portrayal of a shmarmy boss in their first promotional parody of The Office. This fall he returns in a more ambitious role inspired by the hoity grammarians at Downton Abbey.


The shorts were written and directed by Christina Johnson and Learning Studio alum Ben Weaver and feature student tutors from the Writing Center. Christina has been working with Dr. Bennett since she was an undergrad, finishing a BA in English in 2011. This last spring she was the first Masters candidate to defend a screenplay thesis to complete her MA in Creative Writing.

Christina is now an Associate Producer and Researcher for AMS Pictures in Dallas, working on a number of television and documentary projects including shows for HGTV.

Congrats Christina and Ben, and we’re looking forward to seeing bigger things in the near future.


Maker film rolls on

We released our first short documentary We Are Makers in June and it keeps on rolling. We’re approaching 10,000 views in the first two months in over 60 countries, so obviously we’re pleased with the initial reception.



Two opportunities we were equally proud of were a couple guest blogs we were asked to write this summer alongside the release. If you’d like some detail on the film, here are those links.

Nathan Driskell, “We Are Makers: Documenting a Burgeoning Movement,” Core77 Blog, July 23, 2013

Kyle Dickson, “We Are Makers Seeks to Explain the Maker Movement,” Make Magazine Blog, July 3, 2013


We Are Makers released

Last week we released a short documentary on the Maker Movement as part of broader discussions on campus about the value of “learning by doing.” We’re pleased to share it with the ACU community as so many here on campus contributed to its final shape.

We spent several weeks in March interviewing key voices thinking about the impact of making in different contexts—in community centers and libraries, in education and museums, and in hackerspaces and online.


Special Thanks

We’ve already had a chance to thank those who welcomed us into their makerspaces and workshops while shooting in Austin and NYC, but we did want a chance to share a few of the Abilene connections.

  • thanks to Michael Daugherity and the department of Engineering and Physics for return visits to film their 3D printer and begin thinking about its future impact
  • Sandy Freeman welcomed us into the ACU Theatre Costume Shop where Amanda Martin made a dress on the spot
  • we spent a great afternoon with James Langford dusting off our macro lenses to shoot tools in his shop
  • Megan May in the library not only shared her lightening-fast knitting but also introduced us to student maker Brittany Bunch who is both an Etsy seller (at Projects for Bliss) and a part-time Disney princess
  • Evan Young helped edit the additional footage for wearemakers.org while Matt and Nathan were heads-down on the final film
  • and finally Elvis Sanchez who worked with Nathan to score the transitions in the film with stunning work on a tight deadline

The production of the film itself just reminded us how many makers surround us here in Abilene, making this a logical spot to open a makerspace of our own.

Details coming this fall.