Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Whimsical Windflower Whirligig

The weather has been so nice in Tucson that I couldn't help but do another garden project this month - I might just keep doing them until December!  This flower is a kinetic sculpture, the inner flower petals move one way when the wind blows, and the outer petals move the other.

The materials needed to create the flower are:

Delight™ Air Dry Modeling Compound
tracing paper
craft knife
bowl - the one I used is about 4" across the top
acrylic paints
wooden toy wheels (available in hobby stores)
- the ones used for this project are 3/4" diameter, by 3/16" thick, with a 3/16" hole.
wooden beads - the ones used for this project are 1/2" round, with a 3/16" hole
brass rod in the diameter that most closely matches the hole dimensions of the beads.
plastic wrap
rolling pin

Start by cutting a strip of paper, holding it in place inside the bowl, and marking the edges to get the inside dimension of the bowl.  Measure the length of the marks, then draw a circle with the same dimensions (or, cut the paper to the marks, fold it in half, and set your compass to match that distance :) )

Divide the circle into five sections (72 degrees on the protractor).  Trace the circle and divisions and set this aside for later use on the inside flower pattern. Cut out one of the sections, fold it in half, and draw a petal shape onto it as shown.  Cut out the petal shape and trace the design onto the remaining four sections.  Tape the original petal back in place, then cut out the remaining sections on the paper to create the entire flower pattern.

Mix the desired color of paint with enough modeling compound (clay) to make a 1/8" thick circle large enough for your flower pattern.  Roll the clay into a ball, place between plastic wrap, then roll it out to 1/8" thickness.

Place the pattern gently onto the clay and poke a hole in the center, marking it into the clay.

Line up the center mark on the clay with the center of the wheel and press the wheel into the clay.  Work the clay around the wheel until the wood is covered, and clear the clay from the center of the wood.  Again lay the pattern onto the clay, align the centers, the cut the clay out to the pattern shape (don't press the pattern into the clay or it will stick - another method is to place plastic wrap over the top of the clay, align the pattern, then trace around it gently with a toothpick to transfer the pattern to the clay, remove the plastic wrap, then cut out the design from the clay)

Once you have the clay cut out, cut out the petal sections of your paper pattern, fold each in half and place a small piece of plastic wrap over each folded petal.  Use these petal shapes to prop up your clay flower petals, lining them up so that the fold of the petal is half-way underneath the clay petal as shown.  Make sure you put them all facing the same way around the flower.  Set aside to dry.

For the inner section of the flower, start by drawing a second circle, 1/4" less in diameter, over the tracing you made from the first circle, then create the pattern the same way you did for the first one (cut out one section, draw petal shape, etc.)  Mix clay to desired color, and complete the steps for rolling out the clay and inserting the wooden wheel as you did for the first set of petals.  Line the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and place the flower inside.

Cut the petal shapes from the pattern, fold each petal in half and cover with a small piece of plastic wrap.  Place the petals under the petals of the flower as you did for the first set, but this time put the folds going in the opposite direction.  Set aside to dry.

While the petals are drying, paint wooden beads to use as spacers between the petals, and, if desired, cover another wheel with clay and sculpt the center of the flower.  I was originally planning on using a bead for the center, but then decided to sculpt a larger center piece.

You'll need three or four beads, or three beads and a wheel.

When all the pieces are dry, sand any rough edges, and, if desired add additional paint accents - I brushed on some ColourArte Twinkling H2O's watercolors to add some extra sparkle.

Cover both flower sections and all remaining pieces except brass rod with Paverpol and allow to dry.
Test assemble the piece on the rod as shown; bead, outer petals, bead, inner petals, bead, end cap or bead.  Make sure the petals turn freely. If not, remove them from the rod and clear the hole with the tip of your knife or a tiny bit of rolled up sandpaper.  Once the flower sections can move freely when everything is assembled, mark the rod where the first support bead will sit (behind the outer petals) then remove all the pieces.  Bend the rod if desired - the whirligig will also work well if the flower is left upright.  Attach the support bead to the rod with Paverpol and allow it to dry.  Re-assemble the remainder of the sections, then attach the end cap/bead with Paverpol.  Allow everything to dry before placing it in the wind.  Enjoy the breeze!

Unfortunately, every time I tried to get a video of the whirligig outside, all I got was gusts of wind which didn't show how the petals turned.  So I made a quick vid. using the blow dryer - which made it spin too fast for you to see the different directions...so then I tried to slow it down a bit and back the dryer off - well anyhow, here is a 13 second video so you can at least see that the petals do actually turn quite well :)  I hope you will make your own flower(s) and enjoy them moving in the garden.

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