In May of 2016, the One Street Museum in Kiev, Ukraine contacted the Lilly Library about our Theodore Dreiser death mask. The One Street Museum has built an impressive collection of death masks—currently around 300—and they want to add Theodore Dreiser to that number. You can read more about this incredible and haunting collection here.
Dreiser (1871-1945) was an author of literary naturalism, known for such novels as Sister Carrie (1900) and Jeannie Gerhardt (1911). The Lilly Library holds several collections of Dreiser materials, including manuscripts, photographs, correspondence, printed materials—and the death mask.
The traditional method of creating a copy of the mask involves using plaster to create a new mold and then casting a new mask from that. Obviously this would be a very messy process that could potentially damage the Lilly’s original, so we decided that a modern 3D print is a much more viable solution.
We contacted Tassie Gniady, the Digital Humanities Cyberinfrastructure Manager with UITS (University Information Technology Services) Research Technologies to get information on how to have a 3D print created. Tassie reached out to Jeff Rogers, Principal Project Analyst & Team Lead at ICTC (Information and Communications Technology Complex), IUPUI for the 3D scan to be made. Jeff came to the Lilly and used a GoScan! 3D scanner to create the initial digital 3D model, which we then took to Andrew Webb, the 3D Lab Coordinator with UITS Technology Center Consulting. You can find out more about IU’s 3D printing services here.
A small prototype was created, the 3D model was fine-tuned and at 7pm on Monday, June 13th the printing began. You can watch a live stream of the print being made by following the link below:
We ask that you enter a user name (whatever you want it to be) so that we’ll know how many unique viewers are watching. Then, depending upon your computer, operating system, browser, etc., you will basically be asked several questions about allowing your computer’s camera and microphone to be accessed or used. Just select “None” or “Deny” and continue. After a few moments, the live stream will appear.
The entire print will take approximately 100 hours to complete.
Below are photos of the initial scanning process with our original death mask. We’ve also included an image of the 3D model, which shows the support structures required for the print to be made. Those will be removed after the print is complete.
We’re so excited to share the grim visage of Mr. Dreiser with the other side of the world without the original mask ever leaving the building, and we’re excited about the potential for collaborative partnerships that use amazing modern technology to bring the past to life. Thank you Tassie Gniady, Jeff Rogers, and Andrew Webb for making this project possible!
Zach Downey, Digitization Manager