As a part of our Christmas madness this year, we decided that a fun gift for my sister would be to make trivets. She cooks a lot, and she likes anime (especially anime by Hayao Miyazaki), so those seemed like reasonable things to blend together.
Additionally, Shapeways allows prints in ceramic materials, which makes trivet creation easy!
Step 1: Trivet Design
For our trivets, we decided to go with just positive space and empty space, and no depth information. We decided that this would lead to a more endearing trivet look, though you can certainly do multi-depth trivets if you want. Since we are going to use Shapeways' tool for 2D to 3D, we only need to create a 2D image in this step.
Our trivets were of Totoro, but you can of course do any character you want! I found a frontal image of Totoro on the web, then traced it in Photoshop. Some of the lines had to be thickened up to work with the materials guidelines for ceramics, but this is easy to do, and their tool makes it an interactive process. (I just noticed that Shapeways is no longer offering ceramics, but certainly this could be done in their new material, porcelain, when it's available.)
When you're happy with the trivet, just upload it to the Shapeways 2D to 3D creator, and resize it to be how you want! They'll give you a 3D rendering of your part in the color you choose, so you know exactly how it will look.
Step 2: Finishing Touches
To function as a trivet, we're going to need some little feet. We bought some at the local hardware store in the section with furniture leg protectors. These are also available on Amazon.
You have to be a bit mindful with the placement of the feet to ensure that your trivet will remain balanced and in one piece (so place more than you think you need if you have long, thin pieces in your design). Totoro didn't have a lot of small parts, so I just put six feet scattered around his body.
Step 3: Use Your Trivet!
My sister has been enjoying her trivet. :) All that's left now is to put hot stuff on it!