Posts Tagged ‘Calvin and Hobbes’

The finished piece!

22 Dec

Building the soft support in the Calvin & Hobbes themed ukulele case…

Awhile back, I posted the construction of the internal support framework for the ukulele itself. This consisted of cutting a shape that followed the contour of the uke, then building a scaffolding that held it up off the bottom of the case. Now I install that scaffolding, but it first has to be covered in a soft material. The scaffolding pieces are first laid out and the ukulele is set in to see if any trimming needs to be done to accommodate the fabric.

Uke in place within scaffolding

I then need to start positioning the fabric over the scaffolding pieces and trimming it to fit.

Positioning fabric for fit and trimming

I planned to tuck and glue the fabric edges to the sides of the case once I had it trimmed properly. It was really kind of a trial and error thing as I trimmed the fabric, then once I had it the way I wanted it, I glued the fabric to the scaffolding using plain white glue and let it dry. I then put glue on the bottom of the scaffolding and inserted it into the case to dry.

Scaffolding glued into case

Now the edges of the fabric needed to be tucked in and glued to the sides of the case to finish the job.

Tucked and glued fabric

For the lid, I did pretty much the same thing, except the intent is to gently press against the top of the ukulele so it doesn’t flop around in the case. I basically cut the case shape, glued two strips that would land on either side of the bridge and strings, then covered it with the fabric and glued it into the lid.

Lid liner covered with fabric

To finish the Calvin & Hobbes themed, handmade papier-mâché ukulele case, I inserted and glued the lid liner in place.

Liner glued in

When the ukulele is placed in the case and the lid is closed, the lid liner securely holds the uke in place. The finished piece looks thusly…

Uke in the finished case

I hope you found this post series entertaining and informative. I’d love to see what you come up with after seeing this case go together. Remember, you don’t have to buy something if you can build it yourself, especially if you have materials lying around that would get tossed otherwise. You’re more resourceful and talented than you may think…just think…

Watch for my next posts. Another project to watch the construction of. Thanks for reading…tell your friends to subscribe!


Let’s get a handle on things!

24 Nov

Before the Thanksgiving Holiday, I showed you the clasp on the Calvin & Hobbes snowman themed ukulele case I’m building. Now, I want to show you the handle I concocted. A ukulele isn’t very heavy, and even with the weight of the recycled cardboard and paper case, the total weight isn’t more than a few pounds. The handle needed to be strong enough to manage the weight of the uke and case, plus any torque and stress from carrying it.

I decided to use a piece of square 5/16″ wooden dowel that I had on hand as it was light and strong and could be securely drilled and glued. I also wanted to put a “sleeve” on the handle so it was more comfortable to hold onto.

Cardboard sleeve and wooden dowel

I started by cutting pieces to hold the handle away from the case, then cutting a piece to be the handle itself. I then rounded the ends of the handle and since the sleeve was a black cardboard tube, I used a black permanent marker to color the ends of the wooden dowel.

Handle pieces with black marker

From here, I glued one handle end and clamped it, then drilled it to accept a bolt. I could only glue one end at a time because i have to be able to slip the cardboard sleeve onto the dowel.

Glued, clamped and drilled

Now I’m able to slip the sleeve on and it looks the way it should…

Handle with cardboard sleeve

With the sleeve on, I then glued and clamped the other end, then drilled it for bolting.

The other end glued and clamped

The handle can now be screwed to the case with some wood glue for strength and stability. The handle matches the look of the case and is pleasing and functional.

Handle attached

We’re coming into the home stretch… Next time I’ll show how I added the interior support structure that holds the ukulele in place and cushions it while in the case. Don’t go away…we’ll be right back!


The clasp!

19 Nov

The clasp of the Calvin & Hobbes themed ukulele case is another piece of re-purposed fun. As you can plainly see, I fashioned this out of the handle of a cheap, dollar store paint brush. I had used it for a gluing job, which left it unusable for a second project. The handle was still perfectly good…why throw it away, right? I drilled a hole for the fastened end and a larger hole drilled for the clasp end and it worked great.

Re-purposed paint brush

Bolt added

Clasp installed on lid

Seen close-up, the clasp uses a re-purposed nut and bolt with a cut piece of margarine tub lid as a washer.

Close up of installed clasp

The gentle upward curve that the lid adopted as the mâché dried worked out well since the tension holds the clasp tight until you apply some downward pressure on the lid.

Clasp in place, holding lid on

The handle comes next time. I’ll get that post up after the Thanksgiving holiday. Stay tuned!


Hinges are where the action is!

31 Oct

When I started thinking about the way the Calvin & Hobbes themed ukulele case would close, I had to decide how it would be easiest to get the top and the bottom to go together smoothly. I considered the usual way of hinging the back and clasping in the front (really, the front side and back side). The problem with that is it’s a shorter angle in which to make sure everything lines up and fits together. The irregular shape of the case also presents a problem because the hinges would have to be on the same “plane” in order to open correctly and placing them on a curve would be tricky. I finally decided to put a single “hinge” at the bottom of the snowman shape and a clasp at the head. This seemed to take care of the hinge plane problem and also made the lid go on easier because the curves acted to “line up” the shapes as I closed it. The papier-mâché sounds neat when it pops together.

I also decided to use a flexible material for the hinge so there was a little more forgiving play in it. What I wound up using was the drive belt from a little hand-held vacuum cleaner, cut into pieces. This was also a great way to use something odd that was re-purposed and reused.

Vacuum cleaner belt cut into hinge pieces

I then trimmed the ends to put a curve on them.

Trimmed hinges

I drilled holes in these pieces, then attached them to the lid.

Hinges attached

Inside the attachment

And finally, the attachment to the bottom of the case…

Attachment to the bottom

At the other end, the head of the uke case, I need a clasp, which I’ll describe next time. Until then, I welcome your input and comments!


Lining the ukulele case

20 Oct

Last time, I put the lip around the inside of the case bottom that acts as guide for the lid. Now I need to add the pieces inside that will hold and stabilize the ukulele when it’s in the case. I did this by tracing the shape of the inside of the uke case bottom onto a double thick piece of corrugated cardboard. Then I traced the contour of the ukulele itself in the correct position within that shape.

Tracing the uke contour

I then cut out the outer shape.

Shaped for inside case

And then the uke shape…

The ukulele shape cut out

Now, in order to bring this piece up so the ukulele will nestle into it, I have to stilt it using uniform pieces of cardboard. I started by cutting a perimeter piece and gluing that into place, then adding a support scaffolding to the shaped areas.

Support scaffolding for the inset

This piece then was glued into place inside the case bottom. Eventually, it will be covered with a fleece material to protect the finish of the ukulele from scratches and snugly hold it in place while in the case.

Inset piece glued into place

Next, I’ll show how I made the “hardware” like hinges, clasps and handle. This kind of thing is always cool stuff because it allows you really reuse and repurpose materials so they are recycled instead of thrown away!

I encourage questions and comments and if the mood strikes you, give me a like on Facebook and tell your artistic friends to follow the blog. Til next time, keep creating your own pieces!


Adding the lip

08 Oct

So, in order for the lid of the Calvin & Hobbes uke case to close and fit tightly, there has to be something to guide it. On other lidded cases and containers I’ve seen, they seem to put a thin inner lining piece that sticks up, creating a ridge that stabilizes and holds the lid in place. I’m using a medium fiberboard like what would be on the back of a pad of paper and I’m gluing it to the inside surface of the case bottom. It will stick up about a quarter of an inch all the way around.

Cut and curled fiberboard

I used a cardboard tube to add some curves to the fiberboard so it would fit and clamp a little easier, then I used wood glue to secure it and I clamped it as shown.

Clamped lip piece

With all the pieces glued in, the ridge is complete.

Lid ridge all in place

Close up view

The next step will be to cut pieces to go inside the case that will cradle the ukulele and prevent it from moving around. Stay tuned to watch how that gets done!


Applying the cartoons

02 Oct

Now that the white base coat is on the Calvin & Hobbes themed ukulele case, it’s time to start adding some of the decorative elements. I just copied them out of my daughter’s prized Calvin & Hobbes books without her knowing. Because the shape worked well, I decided to use whole comic strips around the perimeter of the case, then close-cut larger elements to go on the top and bottom. I wanted to add these side elements before I added hinges and handle or I’d have to cut around them and that would’ve been a pain.

Applying the comic strips

As you can see, I used marker to add a little color to the otherwise black and white comics. Personally, I think the snowman themed Calvin & Hobbes strips were just about the funniest ones that Bill Watterson did.

Top and bottom

Next time, I’ll put the inner cardboard lip edge in. This will be the ridge that the lid slips over when you close the case. Isn’t it fun using recycled and re-purposed materials to make amazing art?

I can’t wait for my daughter to see this…she’s gonna flip!


Edge taping

24 Sep

Now I have to seal the cut edges of both the lid and the bottom of the uke case. Using that paper box tape again, I wet a strip, apply it to the outside, then cut slits and lap it over to the inside so it follows the contour of the case.

Edge taping completed

Detail view

With both edges done, I need to base coat with white. It is, after all, a snowman and I need the under color to reflect that.

Painting the edges white

Detail of edge painting

Then, painting the rest of the case with a base coat of white…

White base coat

Next, I’ll start applying some of the cartoon images. It’s coming together nicely!


Cutting the case apart

20 Sep

Before I actually cut the two halves of the Calvin & Hobbes ukulele case apart, I want to further stabilize it by taping the edges. There are times when I use standard masking tape for some of the secure taping on my papier-mâché projects. I suppose that for some of you purists out there, masking tape is nearly heresy, but consider that it IS paper, just paper that is pre-glued. In this case, I’m not using masking tape, however. I’m using the old fashioned box tape…you know the kind. The roll that is kraft paper with the glue already on it that you have to wet with a sponge.

Old fashioned box tape

I had been given a whole case of the stuff awhile back and I discovered that it was perfect for joining flat surfaces…like taping cardboard boxes…who knew, right?

Edge taping the uke case

I applied the half of the tape width on the curved surface of the case, then I cut the tape so as I lapped it over the edge, the tape could overlap and follow the edge without buckling. I also used the tape to cover the cardboard seams vertically and to cover the buckling of the cardboard as it followed curves.

Taped edges

Detail view showing vertical taping to hide corners

Now, the case is ready to be cut apart to separate the lid from the bottom. I just used an xacto knife again and tried to keep the blade as level as possible during the cut all the way around the case.

The case cut apart

I know that the shape of this case is kind of odd. It certainly works for the ukulele, but as mentioned before, it takes its inspiration from the Calvin & Hobbes “snowman” series. If you’re a Calvin fan, you’ll remember that he took out his frustrations by building outrageous snowmen in his front yard. What do snowmen have to do with a Hawaiian instrument, you ask? Absolutely NOTHING, but my daughter is a big fan of the strip and since this amazing art case is for her…it just worked as a theme! She’ll also appreciate that her old man is once again making cool stuff that’s fun and useful by repurposing and reusing scraps and junk. Isn’t Recycling great?

The next step will be to tape the exposed edges of both the top and bottom pieces of the case. This is starting to take shape…so keep your eyes peeled!


Ukulele case gets a top

15 Sep

Last time I showed the Calvin & Hobbes ukulele case I’m making for my daughter with just the sides glued into position. To continue, I needed to trim out the bottom to the shape of the sides. I just used a #11 Xacto knife and close-cut as straight as I could to the perpendicular sides.

Bottom trimmed out

The next step of course is to flip and glue the top piece on. Later, I’ll cut the lid off of the case off by slicing through the side at a measured distance from the top. I need to do it this way because I need the stability of the top and bottom of the case glued in place so the lid doesn’t torque or lose it’s shape when sliced off.

Flipped, glued and weighted

So here’s what we get when the other side is trimmed. Now I have a solid box with top and bottom glued on and stabilized. Isn’t cardboard cool stuff?

Other side trimmed

Next time, I’ll show cutting the pieces apart and then I’ll begin doing the papier-mâché. I’m getting pretty excited now that the case is taking shape. Stay tuned!


Ukulele Case

23 Aug

My daughter bought a ukulele because she became enamored by them watching the movie “50 First Dates”. As she plunked and tuned and learned chords, she also needed to safely transport the instrument if she took it places. I decided to use my love for re-purposed materials, recycling and Papier-mâché and make her a case. I wanted it to be a surprise, so I snuck the Uke out of her room for some surreptitious measurements. Then I needed to figure out a shape, afterall, I’m building it so it can be any shape, right?

I decided on a Calvin & Hobbes theme because my daughter loves that strip, and since the shape is close and  even though it has NOTHING to do with ukuleles, I chose the C&H snowman series as the inspiration…

I basically used 5″ wide strips of double thick corrugated cardboard, bent into the curves I’d drawn for the case, then applied wood glue to the edge and pinned it in place to dry.

Initial Shape

Completed base shape

I’ll continue to post the steps so that you can follow along and try this for a piece of your own!


Holiday cheer

20 Dec

Just in time for the holidays, I’ve completed a piece that would look great on a table, next to the tree or maybe even on the porch! Inspired by Calvin and Hobbes (my daughter loves that strip…), I thought a snowman that has the exasperated, anguished look that is common in the “Calvin snowmen” would be fun.

This snowman is papier and cloth mache, finished in acrylics and wash with a real scarf for accent. He was a big hit at the holiday party my friends at The InSights Group held on December 10th, and I’m sure you’ll love him too (he IS for sale as well, if you’re interested!).


Strike a pose!

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille...