Colibri: an organic motion sculpture

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Project by Derek Hugger posted 10-06-2015 02:30 AM 3789 views 38 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project that I’ve put roughly 700 hours into. It is my eighth woodworking design project, and it is by far the most complicated one I’ve done to date. This is Colibri.

It began with a lunchtime conversation between a friend and I, bouncing ideas around about what my next woodworking project could be. For most of our conversation, few ideas peaked my interest. Then it hit me. I wanted to try and step out of my comfort zone and do something that I had never done before. I wanted to make something whose motions were organic and fluid, a piece that simulated something found in nature. I turned to my friend, “What if I made a sculpture of a hummingbird flying in slow motion?” “How are you going to do that?” he asked. I paused, and then replied, “I have no idea.” He laughed, “Cool, you should do that.”

So it started. I scoured the internet for study material: slow motion hummingbirds videos. I watched them for hours, trying to fully understand all the motions I wanted to include in my sculpture. I used some of the videos I had found as underlays to create 3D animations of Colibri’s movements, carefully matching my animations to the motions in the videos. From there came the painstaking process of generating the mechanisms that could drive those motions. Coming up with the basic mechanisms was an immense challenge in itself. Fine-tuning them to closely match the motion of the animations added an entirely new layer of complexity.

On top of making the sculpture function as intended, I felt it was important that the appearance of Colibri’s forms complimented its movements. For this reason, nearly every shape in the sculpture is constructed from tapering, sweeping curves. Straight lines and geometric shapes were only used when necessary, to help minimize a machine-like appearance and promote a more organic aesthetic.

For more information, or to get detailed woodworking plans for Colibri, please visit my website:

A sample of the woodworking plans can be downloaded here.

And, last but not least, here is a video of Colibri in motion:

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

50 comments so far

View SawdustTX's profile


239 posts in 1747 days

#1 posted 10-06-2015 02:40 AM

Absolutely amazing engineering and craftsmanship.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 1850 days

#2 posted 10-06-2015 03:03 AM

First off, the design is absolutely amazing – Then, the execution is flawless, so beautiful, so immaculate, and how clean and precisely the movement works… Bravo !!!!!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Millertime's profile


5 posts in 1363 days

#3 posted 10-06-2015 03:47 AM

i think this is an amazing piece of art. I loved the video of the hummingbird in motion. Thanks for sharing…..made me smile.

-- There's nothing that a good cigar won't cure.

View calisdad's profile


277 posts in 932 days

#4 posted 10-06-2015 03:48 AM

Off the Hook !! Unbelievably beautiful- in so many ways.

Thanks for posting.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3099 days

#5 posted 10-06-2015 03:51 AM

Awesome design and execution!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View shipwright's profile


7094 posts in 2221 days

#6 posted 10-06-2015 03:52 AM

I’ll just go with the trend of absolutely amazing. ...... because it is.


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Scott Landry's profile

Scott Landry

158 posts in 893 days

#7 posted 10-06-2015 03:54 AM

Wow! That is insane. Incredible project!

-- Every project is an opportunity to acquire new tools and any solution that requires buying a new tool is the correct one.

View wunderaa's profile


242 posts in 1625 days

#8 posted 10-06-2015 04:14 AM

Speechless. Just awestruck by the design, engineering, and craftsmanship. Just absolutely stunning. Wow.

View BobWemm's profile


1728 posts in 1349 days

#9 posted 10-06-2015 06:03 AM

That is one of the most FABULOUS works of Art that I have ever seen.
Absolutely AWESOME. Congratulations.

Thank you so much for sharing this.


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View obi999's profile


201 posts in 2831 days

#10 posted 10-06-2015 06:19 AM

This leaves me speechless… Great!!!

-- *** the german lumberjock ***

View deon's profile


2507 posts in 2448 days

#11 posted 10-06-2015 06:48 AM

Wow, amazing work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View irtamos's profile


177 posts in 1467 days

#12 posted 10-06-2015 06:59 AM

Great job!

-- irtamos, Belgium

View Howard 's profile


77 posts in 466 days

#13 posted 10-06-2015 07:04 AM

Fantastic project… I am in awe of your talents!

-- The greatest compliment you can give a person is to copy and hopefully improve upon their work.

View Bud_3's profile


663 posts in 647 days

#14 posted 10-06-2015 08:58 AM

Interesting!Best piece of yours given the fact you have incorporate a scene from nature.If you allow me is”the mechanism behind the nature flow”

View BenjaminNY's profile


48 posts in 825 days

#15 posted 10-06-2015 10:07 AM

Really impressive. Do you keep this in your house or does it go to market?

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