Turn Your Old Bulbs into Fisherman Dioramas with This Handy Tutorial
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Do you like fishing? Perhaps you also happen to have some old bulbs lying around the house?
Then why not kill two birds (well, fish) with one stone and create this stunning fisherman diorama (in a bulb). The results are, quite frankly, stunning.
Before we get stuck in, however, you'll some basic tools and gear.
Tools and equipment needed
- Used/new incandescent bulb
- Glass polish
- Glass cleaner
- Dremel rotary tool
- Modeling knife
- Modeling tools (file, etc)
- Clear liquid epoxy
- Aluminum foil
- Transparent 3D gel
- Hole punch
- Epoxy putty
- Old plastic sprues
- 3D printed fisherman or ready-made plastic model
- Wood glue
- Spool of thin copper wire
- Cotton pads
- Piece of ash veneer
- Model paints
- Model paint brushes
Step 1: Prepare your bulb
The first step is to grab your used or old bulb and polish its outer surface with some glass polishing paste over any trademarks or other markings on the bulb.
Using your Dremel tool, attach a polishing head and work the polish into the glass. Continue until any printed details on the glass have been thoroughly removed.
Next, replace the head of your Dremel tool with a rotary cutting bit, and carefully cut around the top of the screw cap of the bulb.
Cut all the way through and then remove the lighting element and the cap from the main bulb.
Grab some pliers, and then gently remove any excess pieces of the screw cap from the bulb. It should come off in one piece. Use a modeling knife to remove any remnant adhesive or mastic -- if needed.
Once complete, grab your Dremel once again and polish the cut surface of the neck of the bulb. Be gentle when you do this -- it is glass after all. You will also want to wear some PPE or do this outside to prevent inhalation of glass particles.
With that complete, spray the interior of the bulb with soapy water or glass cleaner to remove any debris from the cutting and polishing process. Wipe the inside the bulb with a piece of cloth and watch your fingers on the cut edge of the glass -- it will likely be pretty sharp.
Step 2: Begin to make the diorama
Mount the bulb at an angle and add some modeling sand (or real sand) to the bottom of the bulb. With that complete, pour in some epoxy resin to fix the sand into place inside the bulb.
To apply the liquid epoxy, make use of a long pipette, or make a DIY applicator using a bent piece of metal. This is to avoid spilling the epoxy on other parts of the bulb.
Continue adding epoxy until the sand is completely saturated.
Step 3: Make the reed bushes
Next, grab your copper wire, and cut it into length. Dab some super glue on the wire in place, and press it against some cotton pads. This will help us create our own simulated reeds for the diorama.
Let the glue dry, and then begin to pick away at the edges of the cotton with some tweezers to make them look more realistic.
Next, grab some aluminum foil, and cut small leaf shapes from it. To do this, cut thin slivers of roughly an elongated triangle shape.
With that complete, hold your copper wire reeds between a pair of clamps, and then begin to glue each "leaf" one by one to the stem. This will take you a fair amount of time, so try not to rush it.
If this sounds like too much effort, you could always try to use some ready-made plastic alternatives to the right scale.
When the glue sets, you can then bend and curve the leaves so that they look a bit more life-like. For this diorama, a total of thirty reeds were hand-crafted.
With the reed's basic form complete, you can now begin to paint them. Undercoat each one by hand (or using an airbrush) using light green colored paint. Paint the main stems and leaves but leave the very top tufts of the reeds.
With the green parts complete, airbrush the reed tufts using a desert yellow paint. Leave the paint to dry, and then cut off any excess bit of wire at the tops and bottoms of the reeds.
Tidy up the tufts using tweezers if needed.
Step 4: Make the bridge/jetty
With the reeds complete, it is now time to turn our attention to the bridge or jetty. Grab a piece of ash veneer and cut thin strips of it to make planks. You'll want them around 5/64ths of an inch (1-2mm) thick.
With the strips cut, you can age them by rubbing your modeling knife up and down their lengths.
Next, take your veneer planks and cut differing lengths to make the frame of the jetty and the top planks. With that complete, begin to assembly the jetty as needed.
Glue the pieces together using PVA or wood glue.
This particular jetty has been given a rustic feel by using a variety of planks of differing lengths. You can make it as uniform, or not, as you like.
With the planks in place, drill tiny nail holes using a model drill. You'll want between two and four on each plank to attach them to the frame below.
Next, mix up some dark brown oil paint with oil thinner and wash over the entire surface of the jetty.
For the parts of the jetty that will be immersed in water (like the piles/legs) mix up some green oil or acrylic paint, and apply it to the lowermost parts of them.
You will also want to add some small pieces of wire to mount the fisherman to later. Assembling the diorama will be fiddly enough, so give yourself a helping hand now.
This will simulate slime from years of wood exposure to water.
Step 5: Begin to assemble the diorama
Next, it is time to begin assembling the diorama. Take your jetty and place it inside the bulb into the position you want it. Then, grab your reeds, and begin to install them into position too.
Obviously, you will need to add some dabs of glue to the parts when installing them to hold them into place. Keep adding reeds until you are happy with the look.
Step 6: Make the water mix
Next, it is time to make the epoxy water for the diorama. Take some more clear epoxy and measure out 12.92 grams. To make the water slightly cloudy, add a small amount of pigment to the epoxy and stir it together.
Then add a mixture of glue and yellow and purple dyes, and keep stirring the epoxy. The end result should look like a murky water effect.
With the mix complete to your liking, begin to pipe the epoxy into the bulb.
Keep pouring in the epoxy until you achieve the depth of water you want for the diorama.
Step 7: Make the rod and paint the fisherman
With the water complete, it is now time to turn out attention to the fisherman. Grab some old plastic sprues and heat up using a lighter.
Pull the hot plastic apart to make a thin wire of plastic. Cut out the piece that looks the most like a bent rod, and compare it to your fisherman model for scale.
Next, grab your 3D printed (or bought) fisherman model. Prepare the model to receive the rod by drilling a hole through his hands and any rod details that may be present already.
With that complete, place your fishing rod into place on the model to check it looks ok. Adjust as needed, but don't glue it into place just yet.
Now we can begin to paint the fisherman. Undercoat the model using a dark grey color (or another color of your choice) using either a paintbrush or airbrush. In all cases, slightly water down the paint so that it runs smoothly and evenly over the model.
Paint the fisherman's top in blue or any other color you want. Next paint the skin, hat, and any other details (like sunglasses) as need be.
As with other models, use a mixture of washes and thinned-down oil paint to add depth and texture to the model. Also drybrush in lighter tones for things like clothing, etc.
Next, turn your attention back to the rod. Cut small loops of aluminum foil and glue them to the rod to make the line guides. Then, thread through whatever material you want the fishing line to be made from.
You can use melted and stretched plastic, wire, cotton thread, or an actual fishing line for this.
With the rod complete, glue it into its final position on the fisherman model.
Step 8: Make the fish and water lilies
Next, take your two-part epoxy putty -- we will be using this to make your fish. Mix together an equal amount of the two parts to make the soft putty ready for hand-crafting the fish.
The fish will be relatively small, so only mix up as much as you need. When ready it should be similar to plasticine. Use a mixture of tools to make a rough fish shape and add fins, etc, by pulling out parts of the putty using tweezers.
Using your modeling knife to add details like gills, the mouth, etc, as needed. Keep working the piece until you are happy that it roughly looks like a fish of your choice -- in this case a pike.
Let the putty cure fully, and then paint fish as needed.
Alternatively, you could use an appropriate scale pre-made fish model and cut it to size, as needed.
Next, take a length of sharpen, hollow brass pipe, or use a paper puncher, to punch out small circles of aluminum foil. Take your aluminum circles and then cut out a small triangle to create mock lily pads (basically little Pacman's). Make lily pads of different sizes using a similar process.
For the lily blossoms, cut out small starburst shapes from the foil, and compress the middle into a soft surface (like a sponge) to bend the arms upwards.
Once the lily pads and blossoms are ready, you can paint them as needed.
Step 9: Add ripples to the water
Next, grab your transparent 3D gel. Add small amounts to a paintbrush, and begin to paint on ripples to the surface of your diorama water.
Add splash effects for the point where your fish will be appearing from the water, and then glue your fish into place, as needed. Continue adding more ripples to the water's surface, as needed.
While the 3D gel is still wet, begin to also stick on your lily pads and lily blossoms as required.
You will likely need to use tweezers for this part. With that complete, paint some thinned-down paint to add a water disturbance effect around the fish.
Step 10: Make the bulb holder and complete the diorama
Next, grab another incandescent bulb and safely smash the glass element of it -- we are after the complete base cap. Use pliers to remove any excess pieces of glass and the central filament assembly.
Scrape out any mastic inside the base cap too. With that complete, polish the base cap inside and out as thoroughly as possible. You want it to look shiny and new.
Use your Dremel once again to help you out here.
With that complete, add super glue to it, and glue securely into place on the exposed neck of your diorama piece.
With that, your fisherman diorama is basically complete. You can continue to tinker with it to your liking -- like making, or modifying, a wooden display base for it.
Other than that your piece is ready to display somewhere prominent in your house!
If you enjoyed this project, you might fancy trying your hand at creating your own scale-model log cabin? Just a thought.
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