How to make a Wiwaxia (and survive the experience!)
  
     Wiwaxia is one of the more popular if not unique Cambrian Creatures.  While its overall shape and body plan may first appear relatively simple  it is more complex than it looks. 

    We will be using sheets of poly foam along with fiber board, manila file folders and fiber board to create our very own Wiwaxia.  We will learn how to laminate and seal foam in order achieve impressive results.  Here goes:




Materials Needed      

* Poly Foam Sheets                                               * Fiber Board (Office Depot)
* Titebond (Or Elmer's) Carpenters Glue         * Coarse Raspe of Wood File
* Manila File Folders (Office Depot)                 * Auto Body Primer
* Steak or Bread Knife with Cerrated Edge     * Auto Body Filler (Optional)


    
     We are using Poly Foam Sheets that were purchased at Home Depot.  Each pack has (5) four foot sheets of one inch foam.  Its very affordable and easy to work with.  We used a bread knife to cut  five pieces approxmately 20 inches long.

     Using our bread knife once again, we cut another stack of foam sheets that were two or three inches shorter than the first.  Here they are before we glued them together pictured below right.

    
                      Floral foam
           (Michael's, Jerrys Artorama)
    
     The next step is to laminate the foam sheets together using our carpenter's glue.  You dont need to use much of the glue which will form a very tough bond when it has fully cured. A hot glue gun gives you good results with the wait!








     We glued each sheet together and let them sit overnight.  The idea is to laminate a rough shape for the Wiwaxia body and then sand down the sides to achieve a more rounded appearance.  We also inserted four long wooden skewers (Publix) in each corner to pin the sheets together while they dried.  This enabled us to work on the body while the glue was still curing.




    
                        Foamular
                 (Home Depot)
    
     A few hours later, our sheets of foam are securely glued together and are ready to trim.  We took a Sharpie pen and drew a rough outline of the Wiwaxia's shape.  We then used our bread knife and continued shaving pieces of foam until we achieved a more rounded contour.  This is somewhat time consuming but the results are really worth it. 

     Warning! This is really messy.  We had a shop vac running during this step to suck up all of the foam pieces.  Once we had cut a rough shape we followed up with a coarse wood rasp or file.  This works REALLY well in shaping and smoothing out your Wiwaxia body.

    
                     Poly Panels
                 (Home Depot)
    
     The next step in our construction is to outline the Wiwaxia scales on fiber board  that we purchased at Office Depot.  They don't have to be perfect and you can use scissors to cut them out.  We are going to add texture to them prior to painting.


    
     We used a hot glue gun to attach them to the styrofoam.  Begin gluing them from the bottom edge and work your way upward being sure to overlap each layer as seen in the picture on the right.


    
      Our wiwaxia is finally taking shape but we have to think about the surface details including its spines, eyes (?), feet (?), base color, and any textures that we would like to add.  There are several interpretations of what the spines might have looked like but one thing is consistent- they were fairly wide, blunt tipped and flat with a slight curve. 


     We decided to use some old manila file folders to use as the base material for our spines.  We cut out the spines and glued wooden dowels inside each while leaving about two inches of the dowel exposed.  This will make it easier to secure to the body.


    
      Pictured to the left is our finished Wiwaxia body.  The scales have been added using our hot glue gun and spines are ready to be installed as well.  We are now going to spray out creature with a base coat of primer being careful to cover all surfaces with several light coats as opposed to one heavy coat. 

     Because our creature was a bottom dweller, we are going to use earth tones such as tan, brown, and sienna with black shadows or highlights.  These colors will match better with the sandy floor of the ocean bottom.



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