Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Inspired by Rain and Flowers" - Rainstick Tutorial

Listening to the rain, and watching my flowers emerge and bloom this spring has gotten my creative side geared toward nature and all her beauty. I think that the sound of rain is something soothing in the heat of Summer's drought, and so the idea came to me of making a rain stick for those months to come. Now, being a person who recycles almost everything that comes her way, I wanted to use things that are common and readily available to everyone, for this, my first post for Creative Paperclay.

Materials and Tools Needed:

Creative Paperclay
Cardboard tube from wrapping paper or mailing tube, about two inches wide, and preferably thick-walled
Brown paper grocery bags
Masking Tape
Duct tape (optional)
2 lids from the ends of canned juice
Aluminum foil or a few soda/pop cans
White glue (you know the old school one I'm talking about)
Cord or heavy string
Rice or small beads or plastic pellets
Acrylic Paint and brushes

1. Open up one brown bag by cutting it down one side and removing the bottom to make a flat sheet. Soak it in water until saturated. Then crumple it up, and lay it flat to dry, making sure to leave it wrinkled-looking.
2. Meanwhile, cut tube to desired length. Shorter will be stronger, but you want it to be a couple of feet long, if possible. Don't squash it flat as you cut. Use a sharp blade rather than scissors if necessary.
3. To make the insert, which will create the chambers in the tube (image 'A' in Step One diagram) for the rice or beads to bounce off and create the sound, do one of two things: Either tear off a piece of aluminum foil twice the length of your tube, crease it length-wise until it is about 1 -1/4 to 1 -1/2 inch wide, OR cut open some aluminum cans, removing the top and bottom, and cutting down the length of the can to make a flat sheet of aluminum. That sheet will need to be cut into strips, then stapled together to make a long strip twice the length of your tube. Yes, aluminum cans can be cut with regular scissors, and stapled with a desk-type stapler. It's really thin. You can get three strips from a regular-sized can. I used three cans. The foil will make a dull, soft sound, and the aluminum cans will create a sharper tinkling sound, more like rain. I prefer the cans.
4. Accordion-fold the entire strip, then pull open somewhat to insert it through the tube. You might have a little trouble getting it to the other end. Wrap a long piece of your string around one end, crimp it over the string, then thread the string through, and gently pull the strip into the tube. Fold the ends of the strip over the ends of the tube on the outside (image 'B' in Step One diagram), and tape them securely to the outside of the tube. Staples are good here, too.
5. Tape a juice can lid to ONE end of the tube ( image 'C' in Step One diagram) after the strip has been inserted and fastened to the tube at both ends. If the lid is wider than the tube, that's great. The wider the finished end, the better. We'll fill in the difference with the clay. Add a couple of good handsful of rice, beads or pellets. About 1/4 cup is perfect for a two foot tube. Less is better here, than more. Put your hand over the open end, and tip it up to see how it sounds before you add the other lid. If you used foil, and don't care for the sound, now's the time to switch to the repurposed cans. Once you are satisfied with the amount of rice, and the sound, tape the other lid to the open end of the tube. Don't substitute any other material for the ends, as the metal will make a difference in the sound. You can use a different lid, as long as it's not coated in a plastic. A jar lid would work.
6. If your tube seems a little too fragile, you can reinforce the tube with more paper from grocery bags. Open it up and remove the bottom, then tape one edge along the length of the tube, roll it tightly, then tape shut along the entire length. Do as many layers as you need to make the walls of your tube strong. Better to take a little more pain at this point, than be disappointed later when someone squeezes too hard. This is why a mailing tube would be a benefit, but all I had was a wrapping paper tube and it worked great.
7. Fill in the difference between the juice can lids and the sides of the tube at this point, but only at ONE end (image 'D' in Step One diagram). I like to smear glue on the surface that I'm applying the clay to, then let it dry just enough to be tacky. It will help the clay adhere better, adding to the longevity of your work. You don't have to be neat yet, because you'll add another thinner layer of clay once this one dries. You can easily mess up the first end while working on the second one, so be patient. When the first end has become relatively dry, you can do the other end.
Now for the patience that it takes to let it dry completely. This could take several hours or even a day, if it's humid. If you get a few cracks, just wet the cracks, fill them with fresh clay, and let dry again.
8. Once the ends are both dry, wrap a wide piece of masking tape or duct tape around each end, leaving half the tape off the end of the tube (image 'E' in step One diagram). Cut the tape that extends over the end into tabs, and fold them tightly down over each end. This is the main thing holding the end together, so wrap the tape at least twice.
1. Cover the entire end, and up the sides of the tube about two or three inches with a thin layer of clay, making designs in it, if desired (image 'B' in Step Two diagram). Use a little glue first so the clay will stick well. Again, it's best to do one end at a time and let it dry, rather than trying to do both. Make sure that the end is very flat and that the tube will balance and set on it's end before the clay dries. Repeat with the other end, and let dry completely. (Image B in diagram Two)
2. Cut your now dried crumpled paper into the proper size to cover your tube. I had some from another project, and though they were all smaller pieces, I used three of them. Made no difference. I covered the seams later with string. You might be able to get one piece that will wrap around and cover your entire tube (image 'A' in Step Two diagram).
3. Pour some glue into a small container, and thin it down with a few drops of water, if needed to make it spreadable. Using a flat brush, spread it over the surface of your paper, on the wrong side, to within a quarter inch of the edges. Wrap the paper around the tube, smoothing it to remove air pockets, then use the brush to glue the edges down. Let it dry a bit.
4. While the paper dries some, cut a long ( 3 feet or so) piece of string, and submerge it slowly into the glue by pushing it down with the flat brush. You might have to thin the glue a little more, but don't get it too watery. You want the entire string submerged in glue, and you will get a little messy at this point, so just hold onto the last end of the string, and dip your fingers if you have to. Then, hold the brush in one hand and start slowly pulling the string out of the glue, letting it slip between the brush bristles while you pull it up. That will remove the excess glue, and keep you somewhat less messy. Then you need to wrap the string around the tube in a random pattern. The way I did this was to get it started before pulling the entire string from the glue. Once I had it wrapped a time or two around the tube, I just turned the tube and let it wrap as the string was coming up out of the glue. Or you could have someone hold the tube and turn it while you wrap if you want. You can use shorter pieces if you hide the ends well. Let it dry completely.
5. Now the fun part. Using the Creative Paperclay, decorate your rainstick in any fashion that pleases you. I have a passion for all things botanical, so leaves and flowers were an easy choice for me. Use glue to adhere the wet clay to the tube. I put the leaves on with glue, then textured them with veins while on the tube, rather than doing it beforehand, so that they wouldn't get smashed (trial and error).

Do just a part of your tube at a time. You can easily distort something while working in another area. Do a section, let it dry, do another, and so on. You might even come up with a new idea as you add things. I was originally going to do only leaves, but a few flowers bloomed out. ;-). Then paint it in your choice of colors and waa-la!! You now can listen to the sound of rain in the middle of August while your real flowers are withering in the heat.

Here's my finished rainstick. Hope you like it!


debbieluttrell said...

PS I promise that my next post will be much shorter, and have fewer steps. Just wanted to do what felt right at the time.

Terri Sproul said...

OMG... I really do LOVE This project... What a great and cool thing to make.. might have to try it..

Brenda said...

Wow, very cool. I love it...we have had so much rain we need more dry weather. Is there an anti-rain stick? Hehehe. Seriously great job

debbieluttrell said...

Well, there were some comments on here, but I guess with Blogger being so messed up yesterday, they disappeared.

Amanda said...

Great job Debbie :)