Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mechanical Chameleon

A big big thank you to the wonderful people over at MechanoChameleon for the new Paper Moon banner!

To show my appreciation for their continuous help and support, -- and because someone over there is celebrating a birthday today! -- a modest offering. Introducing Paper Moon's very own version of the MechanoChameleon.


This little guy is the first thing I make that is not entirely paper. I felt like I was cheating somehow, but it was a lot of fun regardless. I got to experiment with a lot of different materials and styles.

I had no idea how to make a paper chameleon look "mechanical". I needed parts that were small enough for a paper model but that still looked nice and had lots of detail. A clock was the most obvious solution. I paid a visit to a nice old watch-maker who owns a 1m x 4m shop near my university. When he heard I was working on a project, he was more than happy to raid his old cabinets, which looked unopened for years, to find me a piece with the perfect clockwork.


I have to say, it was not without some regret that I tore apart this beautiful old clock.

It was a fiddly job and not one suited for delicate digits, which I am unfortunately cursed with. Nevertheless, after much tinkering and cursing, I managed to disassemble the clock and extract a few nice greasy pieces.

The only thing that was rustier than the clock were the tools I used to take it apart.
I may need a shot at some point.

Then it was time for the chameleon. I chose this model which has a lot of folds and pockets, perfect for tucking in all of those gears and wheels. This is my version of John Montroll's Chameleon.

My first victim

Didn't like the color. Started over.

This color made a much nicer contrast with the metallic
colors of the gears and bolts

Then came the endless piercing and gluing. For the eyes, I used pieces from an old wrist-watch the watch-maker also gave me. The tongue was a metal ribbon from the old clock. I kept dropping some of the smaller parts on my grandmother's Persian carpet. If you have ever seen a Persian carpet, you will understand why that is a nightmare.

I was so concerned with getting all the parts to stick that I forgot to try to balance the model. It was a disaster. No symmetry whatsoever. To remedy this, I had to whip up a stand for the thing, but all I had lying around were these plier type things and a paper clip.

In the end, I managed to make it stand and look half-way decent!

And then of course came the taking of many pictures. Coincidentally, I just discovered a nice photo editor app. Suffice it to say, I went a little bit crazy.


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