Saturday, June 30, 2012

Paper plane

First off, this craft project is neither fast or easy.  Maybe with some practice it might be easy.  It is however in my nature to volunteere and say "yes" prior to knowing how to do the thing that I have volunteered for and this is a prime example of that.  If you should take on a similar project perhaps there are some tips here to save you time with your do it yourself large scale paper mache project.  In the end it was a good experience and I had help and support from my church and neighborhood friends.
The project is an airplane model for our Vacation Bible School.  The wingspan is about 33 1/2 feet wide and the engines are made from plastic 55 gallon drums.
I first made a computer drawing from a photo that I found online.

I printed the drawing to the size I wanted in order to make a small clay model.  By covering my drawing with wax paper I was able to make the clay model right on top of the drawing.
Now that I had a model to take 3 dimensional measurements from, I started scaling up the size and making plywood outlines that I built up with sheet foam panels.

Next I covered the whole thing with chicken wire.  The wire was screwed to the plywood base every 6 inches to make sure that the whole front would not fall off when I mounted the plywood to the wall.
Next came lots of paper mache.  If I had it to do again I would have reinforced the chicken wire more.  It seamed that no matter how round I made the plane, once the paper mache dried it would shrink causing the plane to become an octagon instead of a circle.  I also finished off the strips of paper with paper mache clay, a layer of drywall mud, and then a good sanding.
Engines started out as 55 gallon plastic food storage containers.I cut about 4 inches off the bottom and then removed another 4 inch ring. The ring was thrown away but the remaining 4" deep "dog dish" was mounted to the wall first, then the engines were slid over the dog dishes and screwed in from the sides.
I cut a hole in the bottom leaving about a 1 1/2" rim.  The rim was covered in round foam plumbing insulation from the hardware store.  It even had self sticking tape already attached.
White duct tape, my new best friend.  I filled the gap with tape so nothing would start moving later.
I then added a layer of paper mache clay followed by a layer of traditional paper strip paper mache to the foam area only.
Engines about ready for their insides.
1/4" plywood disk with a paper mache cone plus some freehand radial spray paint turbines.
My engines are ready.
All wing outlines were drawn on plywood.
  1/2" foam sheets formed a pyramid shape on top of the plywood to create the 3 dimensional effect.  Every thing was taped together with white duct tape.  3/4" pvc pipe was used to form the front edge of the main wings.  I just used tape alone on the tail foam panels.
I had to get up on a 12 foot ladder to take this picture of the final fitting in my back yard.
This was my concept drawing pieced together from a picture of the auditorium, a picture of the clay model, and some freehand clouds and vapor trails.
We test mounted the plane to the wall and traced an outline to help us put it back up again later.  After taking the plane back down, my friend Laurie Steinfeld came in and painted in the clouds and vapor trails, Thank you Laurie!
And the finished plane.