Gift for grandparents (shhh..)

Last year my first grandparent turned 80, and other than a visit, I brought no present.. and felt bad about it.

In the beginning of this year, two more grandparents celebrate their 80th birthdays and I was thinking long and hard about nice presents for them, so that my visit is not the only thing they’ll have to remember. They seem not to need anything, as far as they let everyone know, and although I can think of many nice things I could get them in a shop (like one of those circulation boosters or a shiatsu massager, or just nice grandpa and grandma sweaters), I would like to make it special and personalized.

So, last night, while unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep (because I drank way too much tea) a great idea (I think) popped into my mind:

A few factors contributed to this idea:

I discovered that printed photos are very much appreciated by grandparents when I had to print some photos and exchange them back for some of my moo mini cards – they already knew my contact detail, and were interested in the photo anyway!
Photos also make much better Christmas cards, as proven by this year’s successful, though late, experiment.
Many chats with Jodi about what goes on in various hacker spaces and communities – including but not restricted to 3D printing.
A tweet by Cory Doctorow showing off his 3D printed porcelain bust.
The goal is to get some statues, 10cm or so in height, with a hollow vertical axis so that they can be put on a support and rotated. I’m not sure yet what they should be made of, I’d like wood, or porcelain, but anything would work I guess.. I’d make the support the same way.

Now, I am looking for help from the internets ๐Ÿ™‚ on two fronts:

do you know of a 3D printer available in Galway, or somewhere in Ireland, or even in Romania, preferably not too expensive, and
can you point me to some good tutorials (I googled it too but without much success yet, I’ll keep at it) on what is needed as input for a 3D printer – I assume some CAD files, and how to generate the model from photos? (or video?)
Any help is appreciated! And any opinions too ๐Ÿ™‚