Thursday, February 18, 2016

Peg Whale - Craft activity

     A little while ago I was asked to come up with some craft activities for a school holiday program for a bunch of pre-teens. I never tried Pinterest before, but I heard that it was a good place to look for such things. 

And it was! One thing I saw there was a photo of a fish made around a wooden clothing peg that seemed ideal.

 I played around with some scissors, paper, and a wooden peg and came up with a Whale design that was simple enough for the kids to make (with a little help for the younger ones).

I have attached a pdf file of the shapes to cut out.

Print out the file on thin card.

Get out the colouring media of your choice - crayons, water colour, automotive spray paint, whatever... and design up your whale's skin. You can get creative with patterns or just go for a solid colour. My example was just quickly done with crayon, nothing special.

Carefully cut out the two shapes. With me so far?

Find a wooden peg. A fresh new one would be ideal! You could possibly use a plastic peg of this design, but you would need to research alternative adhesives. Better stick with wood if you can!

 Using wood glue (I recommend PVA...) attach the peg to the piece with the lower jaw and the tail fins. Note where the peg lines up with the tail fins.

Fold on the dotted lines to create the lower jaw line of the Whale. I didn't do it on this sample, but you can colour both sides of this piece. Some kids draw teeth and a tongue for added effect. 

 The next part is probably the trickiest bit. Note the pencil lines in the photo. Put a small amount of glue along this line to glue the two halves of the head together. Don't put any glue in the centre area, keep it to the edges.

 Also, place a small amount of glue on the sides of the peg where the head attaches. I suggest you pour an adequate amount of glue onto a plastic plate and then apply what you need exactly where you need it using a thin strip of card. 

Note how the back end of the head fits on the peg and that the front of the head lines up with the lower jaw.

And there it is, a whale, with an opening mouth! I quickly drew some eyes on my whale with a marker, but its much more fun to get some of those googly plastic eyes you get in craft stores and glue them on. See the picture at the top for examples by children at the holiday programme. This is a craft activity that appeals to boys as much as it does to girls, which is a good thing.

Included on the pdf is a tiny Jonah which can be coloured in (on both sides!) and then his arms and legs can be folded into a kneeling in prayer position. He is glued into position on the lower jaw and is revealed when the mouth is opened.

If you don't want to be so biblical, you can replace him with a tiny Pinnochio or a rolled up tongue or a fish or maybe some krill. Let me know how you get on with that!

Here is the pdf!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Ned Kelly. Australian icon. Innovator. Misunderstood genius.

Ned Kelly. Australian icon. Innovator. Misunderstood genius. More than a bushranger. Not just another bearded hipster on a fixie...

Inventor of the bicycle helmet, by which means he sought to protect the rider from the perils of Magpie Attack! 

People speak of drop bears and sharks and hundreds of other deadly, bitey and sting-y things in Australia, but what brings true terror to Australians every spring is the magpie, swooping from above with murderous intent, especially to those who dare to ride bikes.
Not many people know that Ned Kelly was a keen early cyclist, and instead of cowering indoors in September, he decided to do something about it.

 He invented the bicycle helmet. 

Admittedly his early prototype was very heavy (remember this was before the invention of polystyrene) and lacked a little in peripheral vision, but he had on-going plans to develop his ideas.

Unfortunately where he got in to trouble was with his early method of crowd funding. Approaching financial institutions and the public with guns blazing, and promising not to shoot his backers as a reward, was met with a level of misunderstanding by the police of the day.

When Kelly faced the full weight of the law, the judge redefined 'stretch goals' and his enterprise came to an early end.

Such is life...

Here are some photos of my first real attempt at automata - figurative kinetic sculpture. Ned rides his bike as he is continually swooped by a magpie.  Check out the video too!

Magpie has paper wings and a body made of Kneed-it epoxy putty
Ned is made from pine mostly, with aluminium armour (from old drink cans) and aluminium wire for arms, easy to bend in shape! This photo shows him without his jacket and chest armour.

Terror Australis - Magpies

Anyone who has wandered around Australian suburbia in the springtime knows that danger lurks above. Danger in the form of a magpie. They do not like anyone venturing too close to their nests, and they take particular dislike to cyclists. One year a magpie swooped me and opened up a cut just below my ear, he was smart enough to dive blow my bike helmet. The most nasty magpies actually go for the eyes, and can cause serious damage.

This is a video of a different magpie, not quite as vicious as that one on Farm Street, but the Berserker St magpie still took his nest protecting activities seriously. It's hard enough sharing the roads with drivers who think they own the bitumen without the distraction of a bird intent on your destruction! 

 This preoccupation with magpies has had some positive side effects, an awareness of the  natural world around me and it's seasonal rhythms, and an outpouring of creativity. Here is a woodprint I did during a workshop with local printmaker Michelle kershaw at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. A magpie is an obvious choice for a black and white print, after all!
And I know I've posted this before, but it's appropriate for this post, a handy guide to safe cycling during magpie season. It may at some point be expanded into a picture book.

In my next post I will show you an automaton (figurative kinetic artwork) that was also inspired by magpies. Stay tuned for that!

But worse, far worse than the magpie, is the drop bear. Despite all it's gleeful promotion of deadly Australian wildlife, the Australian Tourism people keep all news of the drop bear suppressed. I'd write more about them except Honzablog is not a place of horror and I don't want to be shut down...