Seen Interstellar recently? Inspired by Matthew McConaughey’s latest on screen antics, we’ve gone all intergalactic on you! Here’s how to make your very own Saturn, Venus, Uranus, or maybe even an undiscovered planet far far away…
Our solar system was formed over the course of billions of years, but let’s be real: you and I don’t have that kind of time. When 3Doodler created a model of the solar system for the MoMA Design Store window last spring, we only had a few days to pull it off, but the results were (excuse the pun) out of this world! Here’s a closer look at how we did it (and how you can too!) — your homemade planets would look strikingly handsome hanging from a tree or atop your mantle, just in time for all those holiday well-wishers to admire your work.
Doodle a planet. Sounds easy enough, right? A variety of differently sized balls hanging on strings… how hard could that be? We had 8 planets to build and we wanted the whole thing mostly to scale, so my goal was to find 3-4 different sized spherical objects we could doodle on. Short on time and unable to get my hands on the perfect plastic balls, I went on a scavenger hunt through the warehouse. Here’s what I had to work with:
x1 semi-deflated soccer ball
x1 light bulb
x1 IKEA ceramic soup/cereal bowl
x1 heat gun (a hair dryer or iron also works)
PLA strands in various colours
Miscellaneous: tape, paper, and pencil
Wrapping the sun
The soccer ball, by far the largest sphere, became the sun. Max started by using the wrapping technique to cover half of the soccer ball. Think of spinning yarn or a cocoon – your wrist does most of the work. We then used a heat gun to very slightly “melt” the wrapping together to create the illusion of fullness. Wrapping is a great technique to use, but can be quite time consuming, so Max swapped techniques on the second half of the sun, instead doodling directly onto the soccer ball (which we had covered first with masking tape). Since we ended up using 2 different doodling methods for the sun, it became a sort of a “Franken-sun”.
Creating a skeleton for Uranus and Neptune
You can “wrap” an existing object, OR you can also build your own skeleton structure and wrap that, like I did with Uranus and Neptune.
To build your own skeleton, trace the desired circle size on paper, doodle and peel 6-8 semi-circles, and then doodle them together so that they form a sphere-like shape:
One small step for man, one giant leap for an IKEA bowl
When it came time to make Jupiter and Saturn, I turned to an IKEA bowl for help. To differentiate the two planets a little more, I used the inside of the bowl on one, and the outside on the other, which made their sizes and shapes slightly different.
I taped the bowl with masking tape (not needed, but it helps with grip) and pressed firmly down into the bowl, making sure to anchor into the bowl/tape properly. On a few occasions the doodle came off the bowl, so I held it in place and resumed doodling. You can also use tape to help you secure your existing “Doodlage” if need be.
Of course, because a bowl isn’t a perfect semi-circle, I had to doodle two halves and then create tops and bottoms for both. To do that, I doodled a “netting” on the top of each semi-circle, which I then filled in:
Let there be light… bulbs… on Mars, Earth and Venus
I used similar techniques on the three smaller light bulb-planets (Mars, Earth and Venus): doodling directly onto a light bulb. Please be careful to only doodle to the fattest part of the bulb – if you doodle past that, it becomes close to impossible to remove your Doodle from the bulb without breaking the glass.
Being the sticklers for perfection that we are, we wanted to make Earth more or less geographically correct, so I drew the continents onto the bulb using a Sharpie (tip: you need to draw each hemisphere first, one of which needs to be drawn upside down!), then used our clearly blue and green to fill in land and water.
Did you know? Doodling in PLA onto glass and ceramic leaves the side that was in contact with the material super glossy/shiny!
Oh Mercury, if only all planets were as easy (and small) as you!
Mercury was the easiest (and smallest) planet to make. I used a Styrofoam ball I found amongst some packaging and doodled silver onto it. While it worked out well, it’s worth noting that styrofoam melts quite a bit, so my planet ended up smaller and less perfectly round than expected, which was actually perfect for Mercury, but I wouldn’t recommend doodling onto Styrofoam as a general rule. A papier-mâché ball might be a better bet, and you’ll still get that imperfect shape you are looking for!
In the end, we were quite proud of the solar system we put together over a weekend with stuff we found in a warehouse, but the universe is a big, big place -- let's see what you can come up with!