Animal Project — Part 1(Plastic)




  • first order of business: gather photos

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:

  • 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
  • Conflict-avoidant
  • 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
  • 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:(
watched a whole one hour documentary on puffins. an hour well spent
gathering materials: a whole church’s worth of plastic trash

3.1 — Iteration 1


  • oat milk jug (underbelly and wing)
  • translucent milk jug (back and wing)
  • coffee creamer bottle cap (face)
  • plastic cup (beak)
  • brads
introducing,, Henry the Puffin!
reference photos
  • add (at least some) color
  • figure out beak
  • figure out interaction

3.2 — Class Discussion

brutal honesty time:0
  • 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

gathering materials pt. 2: one man’s trash is a design student’s treasure
  • kept from iteration 1: head + underbelly
  • prosciutto container (black)
  • purex detergent container (blue)
  • tide container (orange)
the new and improved (and animated!) Henry the Puffin
  • 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)
figuring out the beak + head
evolution of the head (not including the final!)


Henry’s evolution

5.8 — Last Adjustments + Documentation

made beak shape + size more accurate!


fly, Henry, fly!

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.
bonus (taken for photo design!)



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