Animal Project — Part 1(Plastic)
Lab Spring 2021
… and the winner is,,
also affectionately known as the “clown of the sea.” the cutest possible blend between penguin, duck, and parrot. they greet each other with beak kisses and reunite with the same mate every year at the same nest and share parental responsibilities equally. i’m weak
- first order of business: gather photos
Above: I also saved puffin drawings, sculptures, earrings(!), even cakes(!!!) to reference how other people might have seen, interpreted, and communicated the form of the bird.
Step 2: Research and Study!
National Geographic, Wikipedia, and YouTube were my main sources for initial research. Things I learned and my responses to the questions to consider:
What is the animal’s personality? Write adjectives down to help guide your form making.
Social, friendly, goofy, clumsy, adventurous, curious, faithful/loyal, placid (non-aggressive), flighty, conflict-avoidant, endearing, mysterious
What are the similarities and differences between you and your animal’s behavior? List them.
- They spend most of the year alone at sea, but when they gather back together on the cliffs for mating season in the spring, they’re a really social bunch. In the same way, I think I’m more introverted, but also love being with others.
- I think it’s the most endearing thing that puffins mate for life and I like that they split parental duties equally.
- Land and take off a little clumsily
What are your animal’s special traits or behaviors?
- Their beaks fade to dull during the winter months, and bloom again with vibrant color for the spring (gotta look good for mating season!)
- They “fly” underwater — they use their wings to stroke underwater with a flying motion
- Have a “low profile walk” with their head bowed to let others know they don’t mean trouble
- They can hold more than 10 fish in their mouth at a time!
- Walk in circles with exaggerated footsteps to mark their territory
What factors led to the animal’s extinction or endangered status?
- Climate change, over-fishing, fish dying off/moving, harder to find enough food to raise young chicks
- Oil spills mess up feathers, puffin could die of exposure to cold temperatures
- More people, artificial lights confuse their dependence on stars for navigation
- Predators: Great black-backed gull, foxes, rats
- Also, humans: hunted for their meat, puffin is a delicacy in Iceland:(
3.1 — Iteration 1
- oat milk jug (underbelly and wing)
- translucent milk jug (back and wing)
- coffee creamer bottle cap (face)
- plastic cup (beak)
I was honestly quite happy with my puffin! My beak was still underdeveloped, but other than the lack of color, I felt like my proportions were pretty accurate! (although, the wings are also a little short)
- add (at least some) color
- figure out beak
- figure out interaction
3.2 — Class Discussion
- Color doesn’t have to be true or accurate to the actual animal — the project is about form — BUT consider communication and recognizability of the animal
- Not so abstract that you can’t tell what it is, but also not so realistic you’re getting caught up with making little individual feathers, etc.
3.3 — Iteration 2
- kept from iteration 1: head + underbelly
- prosciutto container (black)
- purex detergent container (blue)
- tide container (orange)
Note: the face pattern is a little inaccurate, but it was because I might want to get a new back piece for the final iteration and I wanted to leave room to cut more later if needed. The white “eye” patch is supposed to be more like the whole face.
- Still figuring out beak (currently just taped on)
- Get new part for back area?
- Cut face pattern more accurately for final!
- Something to consider: make all white for the final? Don’t want to rely too much on color and I think it’ll be easier to find parts (milk jugs, etc.)
3.4 — Breakout Room Crits
- Color vs. no color?
- Beak shape is too sharp, round the part connected to face
- Soften angles
- Try to capture puffiness of cheeks
3.6, 3.7 — Final Refinement
- kept from previous iterations: underbelly + head + wings
- fabric conditioner bottle (dark blue)
- tide bottle (orange)
My main concern with going into the final iteration was how to attach the beak to the front of the face. I couldn’t round it around the creamer cap, because a puffin’s beak is actually very thin and really does just stick out from the middle. However, I also couldn’t just glue it onto the creamer cap as it was because there was a big hole in the middle of the cap where you pour the creamer from. So, my solution was to create a second “head” cover piece that would fold over the top and provide a surface to glue the beak onto.
Then, I also realized I could extend this piece to cover up the hollow area around the neck! With previous iterations, I had covered it up with either thin sheets of bended plastic (iteration 1) or a head pattern “cap” (iteration 2). However, I wanted something less patchy for the final, so this was a much better solution.
Then, I realized halfway through that I could also cut the piece to mimic the eye shape of the puffin! Three birds (ha!) with one stone.
For the top head pattern part, I debated between using the black piece from the second iteration, and the new navy handle part of the fabric conditioner bottle. The black piece would have allowed for a more accurate pattern itself, but it was flat at the top, so it would have flattened the curve of the neck. On the other hand, the new fabric conditioner piece was the thin handle part of the bottle, so I couldn’t cut the pattern as accurately, but the dip where the handle connected to the rest of the bottle made it perfect for representing the curve of the neck. Again, I felt that form should be prioritized over patterns or colors on the surface, so I ended up using the navy piece.
Another note: one crit I got from last class was to try and add more depth to the face, as it had just been the single cylindrical cap piece, and the puffin’s face (left) is, puffier. However, I noticed upon looking at more photos, that it’s actually not as puffy when in flight (right). So, I decided not to add more pieces to the cheeks, and just detail the eye contour with the top head piece instead.
5.8 — Last Adjustments + Documentation
3.9 — Final Crit
- Struggles: finding the right parts and curves
- Wanted to make animal very fluid, because the puffin is very smooth and has soft, sweeping curves. So I kept the number of pieces pretty minimal, but that meant I had to made each part just right, so figuring out the neck and head pieces were especially time-consuming and very trial-and-error.
- The head is a little big for the body, but I decided accuracy of the proportions was something I was willing to compromise a little in order to prioritize the overall fluidity of the form — I didn’t want to add more pieces to the end of the body because I wanted to keep it more simple and fluid.
Things I learned:
- Plastic is kind of dangerous to cut, but also satisfying!
- Label stickers on plastic containers are really hard to remove
- We use a LOT. A LOT A LOT of plastic. Oceans and oceans and oceans of plastic:(((
- Puffins might just be the cutest birds alive and they must never go extinct.
I honestly really enjoyed this project! Some days were really stressful because I was having trouble finding the right parts, or I kept having to make the same part over and over again (aka making the head cover part a total of 6 times…), or I also had other assignments due the next day — and it involved the most amount of late nights out of all the projects yet. But, the making part was fun and I’m really happy with how Henry turned out! I’m glad I decided to use color, and I’m really thankful I found the materials I did: I think the back part (curvy navy pieces) was a really good find, and the thin-ness of the prosciutto container made for nice floppy wings. I also purposefully included the tide logo on the beak and like the way that looks as well:)