Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dinosaur Bookends

They took a meteor for us. Never forget.
Dinosaurs have served valuable purposes throughout human history. Our earliest phonographs, messaging systems, even our bridges were constructed with the aid of dinosaur labor. In that proud tradition, let the memory of helpful dinosaurs live on by handcrafting these fine dinosaur bookends.

What You'll Need:
  • Plastic dinosaurs, 6-8" long (Bipedal preferred. Sorry, Ankylosaur)
  • Decorative slates
  • Spray primer & paint
  • Hot glue
  • (Optional) Cotton swab
  • (Optional) Permanent Marker
  • Cost to You: $4 in materials, plus a half can of spray paint and a negligible amount of hot glue for 1 Dinosaur Bookend

Perhaps you stumbled upon a group of plastic dinosaurs in a nearby toy or craft shop (or a box in the attic) and wanted to integrate them into something a little more useful than a Jurassic diorama or inevitable endgame of plastic cowboy one-upsmanship. Before we build them into these bookends, let them have a last night out on the town. Maybe they'll throw a party...

Utahraptor just told a hilarious joke.
...or go on a safari!

Fun Fact: All dinosaurs were herbivorous!
Under no circumstances should they attempt to befriend MegaCat, even in a large group.

Hey guys, I think he likes me...
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
After all their adventures, you'll want to give your dinosaurs a bath. Warm, soapy water (the same soap you use for your dishes) and a scrub brush will clean off any mold release, hand grease, store grime, cat slobber... There's lots of things that could compromise the next few steps, so clean them thoroughly. And while this is a guess on my part, maybe avoid hand soaps with lotions and things as that seems like it would just deposit stuff back on your dinosaurs.

Once cleaned and completely dry, give them a thorough priming. You could also use a spray formulated for plastic (Krylon makes a good one) but I don't know if the plastics in dinosaurs or the paint they apply in their homelands would get in the way.

Complete aside: It occurs to me that as most plastics are petroleum based, there may be some actual dinosaur in your dinosaurs. Huh. Moving on.

When it comes to painting a dinosaur, I advise wearing rubber gloves (at least one, like a food-service Michael Jackson) and freely rotating the dinosaur to get under the belly and tail, around the limbs, and under the neck. Once you've got the hard parts, set it down to spray the back and sides and that should do it. If you don't want to spray your hand as much, jam a finger into their mouth and maneuver them on their tail. Your experience may vary.

Let the primer dry and select a color that suits your decor. We went with a satin maroon. A gloss white like a nice ceramic could do as well. Two light coats gets even coloration without losing scale detail. If you aren't getting enough paint in their mouth, spray directly into the lid of the spray can until you get a small puddle of paint and dab it in with a cotton swab. Remove little threadlies from the paint as you go. (Most solvents that clean spray paint ruin small paint brushes, in my experience, so I use a disposable applicator for this trick)

You may also opt to skip painting them all together and maybe add some tufts of aquarium plant in a later step if you want the "natural habitat" look. Then again, if accuracy is your bag, hose them down with spray adhesive and thrown them into a bag of chenille offcuts. They'll come out feathered and fancy!

Once paint is drying, move on to the bases. A & I found these octagonal wall hangings, 6" x 8", in a craft store. They're supposed to get folksy art or chalk platitudes or something, but we liked the natural crag look for our dinobase. Plus, it adds some heft and surface texture to the underside of the bookend, both of which are vital to this thing actually doing its job.

Removing the hanging twine leaves a pair of small holes in the slate. I'm experimenting with fillers and paint to overcome this for a sellable version, but for our personal set we just made sure that the holes were "upstage" of the dinosaurs and got blocked by the rest of the decoration.

Plan your dinosaur's position on the bookend. I stood a large manual up on its end and pressed the base against it. Position the dinosaur so that as many points as possible contact the vertical surface. After all, if the dinosaur isn't vertical, your books won't be either. Most dinotoys have them cocked back on their tails for support, which is great for us as it makes for a stronger bookend.

Once you like the position, you can mark their feet with small dots of permanent marker. This will help you place the hot glue accurately later.

Small, controlled dabs of hot glue on each of these spots, and then a swift application of dinosaur. Double check against your vertical surface to make sure your dino is in the right place. If not, pop them off the slate, peel off the glue and try again. It seems like it would be easy to get these to come loose, but I tested by picking up my raptor and shaking the slate to dislodge it. Didn't come off. Wrenching it off the base put pressure on one spot of glue at a time and it was pretty easy.

Once glued, slip those bad boys onto some shelves with leaning books and amuse yourself when T-Rex tries to press his stubby little arms against them. Oh, T-Rex, it'll never work. Your arms are too tiny.

With this project, we've narrowed the lead for most represented fandom. Right now, Assorted Time Lord References are at 3, Dinosaurs at 2. It's anybody's game. If you've got some ideas for either contender, the comment box is below. You know what to do with it.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome idea!

    (and I hate all the crap I just had to go through in order to post this comment.)