Chris Templeman’s “Make and Take” 3D printer installed in Chinatown Plaza on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston (courtesy the artist)

Acquiring a 3D-printed rooster from the “Make and Take” installation in Boston’s Chinatown Plaza on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway requires a bit of luck. The small objects are printed continuously, dropping into a slot when complete. Although artist and engineer Chris Templeman designed his project with ample space for accumulating roosters, visitors have been arriving day and night to collect the free birds.

“We had no idea that people would come at all hours to take them, it’s awesome,” Templeman told Hyperallergic. The “Make and Take” machine, made in collaboration with New American Public Art, is housed in an eight-foot-tall polycarbonate kiosk, positioned just before the red gate to the plaza. It was launched on Chinese New Year in January in honor of the Year of the Rooster. The interactive art machine follows previous Greenway Conservancy projects based on the Chinese zodiac, including Kyu Seok Oh’s handmade paper “Wandering Sheep” for 2015’s Year of the Goat, and Don Kennell’s steel “Monkey See” for 2016’s Year of the Monkey.

Templeman’s rooster was 3D scanned from a porcelain statue at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The sculpture, which stands just over six inches tall, is labeled as “China for Export,” as it was an artisanal object created to be sold abroad. While the roosters slowly formed from plastic filament in “Make and Take” aren’t quite as precious in their material, there is a link to the spirit of cultural exchange represented by the original rooster.

Rooster, porcelain (gift of Miss Aimée and Miss Rosamond Lamb, photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Completed “Make and Take” 3D printed roosters (courtesy the artist)

“My goal for the piece is to produce 2,017 roosters since it is the year 2017,” Templeman explained. “To produce 2,017 roosters you need to produce a little over five a day. Further, since I am printing a Chinese artifact, I wanted to take time to render it well — cracks, repair marks, and all — and to do so with the printer it needed hours.”

Running a 3D printer constantly out in the elements of Boston has had its challenges, with wild tangles, and misshapen botched birds. Templeman 3D printed a shade to protect the machine from direct sunlight, which seems to have stopped the radical deviances, although he still regularly checks on its progress and works with the Greenway staff to maintain its operation. “Over the first month I was on site on average every other day, so it was a tough start, but I learned so much and I got to interact with the public which was awesome,” Templeman said. “I am awe-struck that people are waiting hours to get a rooster.”

Chris Templeman with the “Make and Take” 3D printer installed in Chinatown Plaza on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston (courtesy the artist)

Chris Templeman’s “Make and Take” machine in Boston (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Chris Templeman’s “Make and Take” is installed in Chinatown Park at the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. 

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print and online media since 2006. She moonlights...