Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Make Rocks:101 Part #1

In April, I built a rock structure for the Timor Python Exhibit. The reptile curator requested that the rocks be tiered so that the snakes would be able to climb, which would also utilize the height of the exhibit space. They also needed areas to comfortably curl up on, while always keepng the animal within view of the visitor. I had to make it strong enough for the handlers to climb on, waterproof if they should need to clean it with a hose, and smooth enough that the texture would not tear the skin of the reptiles.

If I could have used solid bead foam in building the exhibit, it would have cost a fortune. To keep costs down, I designed a wooden armiture for the sheets of foam to rest on.

The tilt of the structure helps keep the reptile in view, though I sculpted some of the angle out and also carved divets, or scooped-out areas, to compel them to curl up in plain view. At the reptile curator's encouragement, we scooped out caves in the tier-structure, which again would make them feel cozy and safe from those gauking weirdos on the other side of the glass.

We then tinted a special portland cement mixture for the hard-coat, though we knew it would require some mottling with paint. ...More in the next installment!

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