A Gargoyle Gecko Gothic Cathedral and the Discovery of a Dawn of a New Industrial Revolution

Aug 19, 2022 | Blog, Essays


            After our Gargoyle Gecko, Mabel, joined the family, it became a top priority to make her tank as Gothic as possible.  Afterall, you can’t have a breed of gecko named for the mascot of Gothic architecture living in an enclosure with postmodern décor.

            Happily, I found a shop on Etsy that made custom backgrounds and immediately ordered an 18 X 12 copy of Kylemore Abbey.  I am pleased to report that even as a two-dimensional facsimile, it did what Gothic architecture is meant to do.  Every time we look into that enclosure, our senses are lifted to the heavens.  It’s like a sneak peek back into the middle ages when the praise of God was at the topmost of everyone’s mind.  Sometimes, if we listen closely, we can almost make out the bells calling for vespers in the evening.

            The one blemish in the enclosure that really distracted from the Medieval feel was Mabel’s humid hide – the little cubby that’s kept extra humid so she can go in there and shed her skin or just take a steam.  We were still using the deli cup she came in.  We’d cut a hole in it and flipped it upside down.  It worked great practically, but, ornamentally, – with the lush greenery, the treebark accents and the castle background – it looked like a piece of roadside trash in the garden of Eden.  In addition, my hope was to one day add a grotto and I didn’t like the idea of a miniature statue of the Mother of God having to stare at Styrofoam every day.  

            It was at this point that I discovered there is a surprising number of stores on Etsy that sell reptile enclosure accoutrement.  The advances in 3D printing appears to have really opened up markets that were once in the grasp of only people who had the money to own large factories.  There now seemed to be many ordinary people with mini-factories in the basements of their homes dotted all across the United States.  I found a lovely little humid hide in a beautiful shade of fiery red that would perfectly match the natural greens, browns and stone of Mabel’s enclosure. (Find the humid hide here).  It certainly would not be an eyesore to any neighboring Marian shrines.

Though the selection of reptile enclosure décor was wide –including pagan temples – there was a noticeable lack of  Gothic Cathedrals for Geckos on the market.  So – while paying for my humid hide – I happened to mention in passing in the comments at checkout that if the purveyor of the shop ever had a notion to make a Gothic Cathedral for Gargoyle Geckos to perch on, to let me know because I would most certainly be interested.  I mention silly ideas to Etsy shop owners here and there and nothing ever comes of it.  They usually just ignore me or give me a pity, “yeah, that would be great.”  So, I was quite surprised when the shop owner messaged me and wanted to try the idea.  And I, of course, had to go through with it because how does one back out after popping off at the mouth like that? 

            The shop owner asked what I had in mind.  I didn’t know what I had in mind.  I didn’t think he’d take my suggestion seriously.  I quickly researched Gothic Cathedrals and felt that, as far as Gecko climbing needs go, Chartres Cathedral was probably the best example to model a gecko Gothic Cathedral after.  I had never before collaborated on a project with a maker via email in a medium I knew nothing about, so I tried to look professional.  I drew up sketches that looked less like professional blueprints and more like they were drawn by the hand of a preschooler that only helped further the knowledge that, in reality, I had no idea what I’d had in mind when I’d sent that silly message.  Why hadn’t he just blown me off like everyone else?!

Thankfully, the maker knew his medium very well and had also come to the decision that Chartres was the best Gothic template from which to model.  From there, he took the reins and designed a beautiful, yet practical climbing structure/ hide for geckos in the shape of a Gothic Cathedral that included not only spires and flying buttresses, but a beautiful rose window to boot!  In fact, he intimated that Gothic architecture really lent itself magnificently to the 3D printing process.

He sent me the finished product.  It was exactly what I wanted.  It was attractive and sized perfectly for my enclosure, but it was sturdily built.  (The Gecko Cathedral is sold here). 

It came out so well, in fact, that I started to brain storm other ways I could use the tiny cathedral.  

  • in a fish tank
  • for a centerpiece on the table
  • as an object for a prayer corner
  • for a fairy garden
  • book shelf décor
  • as a present to the bishop that has everything

I had no idea of the capabilities of 3D printers until this experience.  Seeing the finished product in my hands it occurred to me that we are probably at the forefront of a new kind of Industrial Revolution.  A new era in which manufacturing is on demand, can be personalized, has far less waste, has fair pay, is local and can be done from home.  

With this kind of localized, small-scale production, we could eliminate the need for many factories which would save a lot of money in energy costs and reduce pollution.  Parents  could stay home with their kids, discarding the need for childcare.  Going from mass production to on-demand would dramatically reduce waste.  Customers would get exactly what they wanted and – with no need for mass cost-cutting – it would be a well-made product that could last a long time.

After seeing what someone with a good imagination, talent and a knack for math can do with a 3D printer, I’m very enthusiastic about the future of manufacturing.  I’m excited to see it being re-humanized –the relationship coming back between the maker and the buyer – and I’m enjoying the opportunity of seeing this all in its infancy.

Mabel is enjoying her Gothic Cathedral perch and sometimes, if it’s quiet in the house, we can almost make out the sounds of monks chanting coming from within it.


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