Mastering Mockups

So the point of this project is to prototype how an object might look using paper, expanding foam (I actually didn’t end up using this), and design clay (industrial plasticine).


First thing is always sketches! I actually spent a lot more time just looking at ladles than sketching out different designs. I was pretty much set on a design anyways, but sketching is sort of part of the project.


With the terrible hand illustrations above, I tried to explain why I selected a ladle for the project. Basically, the curvature of the handle on most ladles (and flatware in general) is facing the wrong way. For almost any other hand tool, the convex side of a handle tends to fall into the fingers, while the the concave side usually is where the thumb rests. Ladles and flatware have to sort of stupid curvature, which makes them all really uncomfortable to use, especially when trying to pick up a small bowlful of soup.

Solidworks Sphere Screengrab

To make the paper mockup, I first had to go into CAD to make a hemisphere for the bowl part of the ladle.

Handle Solidworks Screengrab

And a pretty rough near-pyramid for the bump in the handle.

Meshlab Screengrab

The hemisphere made in Solidworks was exported as an STL then imported into Meshlab. Using the “Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation” tool, I reduced the number of faces. With the new low-poly STL, I simplified bowl part along with the handle bump to Pepkura, which was used to generate unfolded paper models.


The instructions for the assignment were to laser cut these, but with the end of semester drawing near, the line for the laser cutter was quite long. Instead, I just hand cut the parts.


The cardstock doesn’t take to folding too well on its own, so I had to scribe everything first in order to fold it nicely.


All folds were creased prior to gluing. I used a toothpick to apply a thin coat of glue on each of the tabs.


The handle bump seemed to be pretty good. This is the part of the project that probably should have been filled with expanding foam, but the volume was so little, and it was actually pretty stiff by itself, so I decided to skip out on the foam-filling part.


The long handle was formed with two long strips of cardstock, scribed into approximate thirds. The outer piece was scribed just a little bit wider to compensate for the thickness of the paper when folded. The bimorph allows my to shape the hook at the end of the handle along with help to maintain the shape of the handle better than a single sheet of cardstock.


Paper part seems to be coming along just fine.


I probably spent a little too much time doing this. Design clay is very soft when heated, but once it is cooled, it retains its shape quite well. It cools sort of quickly, so after slapping on a bunch of clay and then carving down a bit, I had to put the entire part back into the hot box. I had to repeatedly put the part in, take it out to smooth, and heat again to get the final shape and finish.


That’s it! Hopefully I’ll get some more design clay to work with in the future. It definitely was quite a bit of fun, and it’s nice and reusable.


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