How to make a Walking Cactus cont'd.
     We have completed the skeleton for our creature and are ready to start adding some of the surface details that will make our creature come alive.  Remember that there are a lot of facts about a creature's appearance that we simply dont know much about such as body color, surface texture or other soft body parts.  Our creature will be red in color unlike the one depicted on the right and will have thorny legs and grasping claws on each leg.

The materials that we will be using include red yarn, large toothpicks or wooden dowels, an electric drill and a hot glue gun.

 Details for added realism
        Probably the toughest part of this aspect of our build is adding the spikes that lined each of the twenty legs on our walking cactus.  We used a drill press and a 1/8 inch drill bit to make the holes needed for this feature.  We cut down our wooden dowels in 2 1/2 inch lengths and secured each dowel to the PVC using our hot glue gun.

       This was a time consuming process and we decided to add only two rows of spikes per leg as depicted in several of our reference pictures.


     You can find these wooden skewers in the housewares aisle at your local Publix.  They are available in two sizes but be forewarned that the longer size has a larger diameter as well.  Once they were cut to size we inserted the pegs into each of the predrilled holes.

                      Floral foam
           (Michael's, Jerrys Artorama)
     Once the glue had dried, we applied several coats of Rustoleum Flat Black Primer which did a good job of concealing the white PVC coating.  We let them cure in the sun before proceeding to the next step.

                 (Home Depot)
     We took a trip out to Michaels and purchase a rather neutral looking yarn that was also on sale.  This color seemed appropriate and was found in several of the reference pictures we used during our research of the Wiwaxia.  It also blends in with the sandy bottom of the ocean where this creature would have been found.

     We have started wrapping each of the legs with our yarn using the hot glue gun to secure each end.  It took a few attempts to get the right look so take your time and wrap each leg tightly minimizing gaps or bunched up yard.

      Pictured to the right we have completed covering most of the legs and are test fitting each component to make sure everything fits correctly. 

                     Poly Panels
                 (Home Depot)
        We used PVC cement to permanently secure each leg to the main body.  Its a good idea to rough up the  end of the PVC pipe  thats being glued with sandpaper in order to insure a solid fit.

We then took 12 inch pieces of yarn and wrapped the area where the leg joins the main body for a more uniform appearance.

 The Abdomen and Head
        We considered several options for constructing the abdomen which included using foam, balsa wood or a large pine cone.  We decided to laminate four small pieces of styrofoam together to form a large rectangle.  We traced the outline of the abdomen with a sharpie and cut out a rough, pear shaped piece.  After a few passes under the belt sander our new abdomen has begun to take shape.

    We will continue to sand the styrofoam using a wood rasp and medium sand paper to get the right shape and then cover it with yarn.  A wooden dowel will be inserted in the middle of the foam in order to make it easier to ancher the abdomen to the main body.

     Pictured to the right you can see the finished head.


      After gluing the wooden dowel in place, we sprayed a few coats of flat black primer to the foam.  We then wrapped the abdomen in our tan colored yarn while placing a few "dabs" of hot glue to keep the yarn in place especially on the curves at both ends of the piece.  We put two layers of yarn on the abdomen which gave us the look and texture we were hoping for.

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