Animal Project Part 1

This was a project assigned to me for my Design Lab class at CMU which required me to research an extinct or endangered animal and then model it using recycled materials.

I decided to study and model a Carolina parakeet because they were found in the Midwest where I grew up and I think a bird would be an interesting challenge. I did a lot of research about the Carolina parakeet and I learned that they were social, loud, and playful. One of my favorite facts is that they eat poison berries and were thought to be poisonous due to these berries. However, they are unfortunately extinct. Above are some notes and sketches that I took on these birds as well as an image of a Mounted specimen in the Field Museum.

As a creative way to show the research that I've done, I wrote a story from the perspective of a Caroline Parakeet which is shown above.

I originally wanted to make my model with foldable wings, but I decided instead to focus more on making the bird as accurate as possible instead of making a complicated mechanic. There weren’t really any pictures of the Carolina parakeet with its wings out so I used the sun conure as a reference for the wing structure. Above is my first model. I had a lot of trouble getting the pieces to glue together due to the plastic I chose, so I opted for tape. Hot glue just puts holes in the thin plastic and other glues don’t seem to grip it. I had a difficult time with the beak too because it was so small compared to the rest of the bird. I put the wings on hinges so they could flap up and down as my required interaction. I think this plastic adds to making the bird seem light and airy and like it could actually fly.

I decided to lose the feathers for my model and instead focus more on the form of the bird as the assignment was aimed towards this. I tried to create both the implication of the feathers and the correct thickness for the wings by layering plastic. I also cut slits into the tail to create the illusion of feathers. I also switched all of my white masking tape to clear tape or glue to keep the white tape from taking away from the form.

I wanted to spend some time redoing the wings on my bird after getting some feedback that they resembled more airplane wings than bird wings. I looked at some images of bird wing anatomy and created a new stencil for me to use for my wings. I sketched out this general shape on a piece of paper and then taped it to my larger green pop bottle before cutting it out. I then flipped over the stencil and did this again for the other wing. I wanted to create the illusion of feathers and give my wings a little more of a curvature for the shoulders and thickness so I took my stencil and cut it down to create the top layer of feathers shown in the photo and cut out another layer of plastic. You can see the new wings in the images above.

The above images are my final Carolina parakeet model. I took the time to make a new tail without the cuts that I previously implemented as they were too detailed for the rest of the bird. I also remade the beak so that it was cleaner and matched the rest of the bird better. I struggled with the beak since it is so small to get the proportions and the shape right. Overall I’m pretty happy with how my parakeet turned out, my main focus for most of the project was trying not to focus on the details and the feathers and instead make shapes that are accurate for a Carolina parakeet. I also spent a lot of time making the wings the right shape and representing feathers without making each individual feather.