Flying home: How to make a zoetrope

Spinning, swirling, flapping, flying, a single line, a blur of blue, a flickering image, a zoetrope.

Spinning, swirling, flapping, flying, a single line, a blur of blue, a flickering image, a zoetrope.

For this month’s craft spot we were inspired by the subjects of acclaimed author and artist Jeannie Baker’s new book Circle, showcased in an exhibition of her collages opening this Thursday. Circle follows the journey of the Bar-tailed Godwit bird, an at-risk species of shorebird that undertakes the longest unbroken migration of any animal, flying from their breeding grounds in Alaska to Australia and New Zealand.

Here we’ve created a paper craft zoetrope of flying Godwit birds. Originally developed as a simple animation toy in the 19th century, the zoetrope relies on the persistence of vision to create the illusion of movement, making it perfect to display these beautiful creatures on their journey “flying on and on, for nine nights and nine days, flying without rest” ( Jeannie Baker, Circle).

materials

Assemble your materials.

Materials

  • 2 copies of our zoetrope template (blank template or template with illustration)
  • 1 cd lid (alternatively you could use a cd/dvd at the top and bottom of your zoetrope to create the same shape)
  • Double sided sticky tape
  • Glue
  • Some oil pastels or other decorative medium
  • A pencil and a pen
  • Scissors
  • String

Recommended Ages: 7 and up

STEP 1

Cut out your zoetrope template and fold along the dotted lines

zoetrope template cut out

Zoetrope template cut out

STEP 2

Use double sided tape to fasten the folded template together. Tape both pieces of the template together in the middle.

Step 2: Fold the template.

Fold the template.

Step 3: Draw your flock of birds.

Draw your flock of birds.

STEP 3

If you want to illustrate your own bird, draw or trace the 10 flight movements onto small pieces of paper. The pieces of paper should be about the same combined length and height as the blank animation reel on your zoetrope template. Outline figures in a pen or dark pencil so that they are easy to see when spinning the zoetrope.

Step 3: Arrange your birds.

Arrange your birds.

Step 4: Paste your birds on the template.

Paste your birds on the template.

STEP 4

Paste the figures onto the template in sequence and colour in the background of your animation. Keep the application of colours simple so that it will not distract from the movement of the bird when spinning.

Step 4: Add some colour.

Add some colour.

Step 4: More colour.

More colour.

STEP 5

Tape your zoetrope template inside the cd case.

Step 5: Tape your zoetrope to the inside of the container.

Tape your zoetrope to the inside of the container.

STEP 6

Cut 2 lengths of string approx. 40cm long. Fold them in half and tie them together at the fold. Stick the ends evenly around the sides of the cd case to create a mobile/spinner for your zoetrope.

Step 6: Two lengths of string.

Two lenghts of string.

The final product.

The final product.

And there you have it, your very own simple animation device.

Watch through the slits spinning right and left, as the bird flies on and on…for nine days, and nine nights, flying without rest…

-Annalice Creighton, Public Programs Coordinator

You can find more great craft ideas on our kids make and do page.

Circle is included in the FREE galleries ticket and is on until 31 July 2016.

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