Twice a year I go camping with 1200 of my closest friends. Some of us bring “art” to the camping. In the past few years, along with some campmates, I’ve built a few things. This spring I’m working on building a big ball. Big as in 8-foot in diameter, and glowing. And one of the cool things about this camping trip is they often kick down some dollars to help pay for the “art”. Yay, art grants!
Constraints: it has to be portable, and constructable/deconstuctable in a relatively short amount of time with minimal tools — my tool collection is modest and mostly handtools. Also, it’s a 4-day camping event, you don’t want to spend the whole time building when there is other fun to be had. And there isn’t much in the way of heavy equipment to help the build.
I realize there may be other approaches, but I’ve decided to use 3/4″ EMT conduit and canopy fittings to build a frame. Then enhance the frame with hooping – made from hula hoop material. Then covered in white cloth. And lit-up from the inside.
Some framing in progress shots:
We got this far, when we ran out of conduit. If you look closely, you can see a crossbeam is missing.
Then I made a dome-shaped cover (since I can’t find my parachute. I think I might have given it away). I used the sphere cover sizing calculator from this site: https://simplydifferently.org/Geodesic_Dome_Notes?page=18
I opted for 6 leaves, and put in my numbers for this slightly larger than 8-foot diameter ball frame. Next, a trip to the fabric store for 12 yards of white suit lining fabric. Then a long evening making a cardboard pattern, then cutting the material. And then a long morning sewing it all into a dome cover.
Then shanghaiing a neighbor to help put the cover onto the dome. What this test highlighted is that I need to add much more framing if I want it to keep it’s ball shape when covered. The fabric drooped into all the open space. This photo is the most ball looking, and it’s just because the wind caught it and puffed it out.
Hmmm, more hooping – how about some hoops from the material used in hula-hoops. Lightweight, not to pricey, easy enough to procure. I calculated I need about 75 feet of hoop material if I’m going to add 4 levels of hooping.
This is pretty much how far I’ve gotten.
Next up, buying more conduit. And gathering some friends/campmates to finish out the framing. And figuring out how to cover the other half of the ball. And how to keep it from rolling. And how to light it best. But that’s all for another day.
For now it’s sitting in my front garden amusing (annoying?) the neighbors.