Introduction: Playa Lizards

Picture of Playa Lizards

I've got a bead-wrapped lizard/salamander piece of art that's about 8" long. He's multi-colored with bulbous eyes, really a cool little guy. I want to recreate this guy on a larger scale, maybe 4' long, stand-alone, using conduit or other inexpensive materials for the frame, spine and legs, make his hide out of space blankets/colorful fabric + baubles, then add LED's to the spine and eyes that glow at night.

Ultimately the piece would be 3 or more lizards placed on the playa with some unusual landscaping items around to gain attention. The lizards would need some form of solar recharge during the day so illuminate the LED's at night. I'd like the eyes to glow and dim.

Step 1: Make Frames for the Lizard Body and Spine

Picture of Make Frames for the Lizard Body and Spine

I've been stuck on this step for a bit. I've been trying to use conduit, which is fine for the lower body. Think of the salamander's body in this piece as a flat planarian worm kind of shape. It's relatively easy to shape a piece of conduit to that shape.

The head/neck/spine is more difficult. I can't seem to get the conduit to bend sufficiently to form the shapes I need without making a mess of it. I'm stuck right there...making the salamander's body frame with a good material that's weldable. Welding conduit hasn't been much fun either. I'm using oxy-acetylene and it's not going too well.

You can see from the pics that his 'main' frame is basically a piece of wire that is doubled up to form the legs. Very basic. The spine is another piece fastened at the stem and stern.

My frame has to be strong enough to support the body and materials, and able to hopefully be collapsable for transport, or at least be able to take the legs off and possibly the spine as well.

Step 2: Legs

Picture of Legs

Finally got the spine done with some grunting, torching, protractors and calculating.

Now, the legs. First attempt with 3/4 .065 thickness carbon tubing - stuff is really hard to bend, but no zinc fumes which is one up on conduit. Conduit is easier to work with but harder to weld. I got a piece of threaded rod, I'm going to try that next.

It may not be clear from the picture below, but the lizard's lower frame and legs are one piece of wire. My problem is how to make the legs attach to the frame. Preferably removable for storage or transport. I'm thinking I'll make the two front and two rear legs one piece each. The frame body will sit on top of the leg pieces and be fastened to them rather than a butt weld or something like that.


diode_tensegrity (author)2006-07-09

I tried using a conduit bender I have but the curves are too big. I then tried using a wooden form but it didn't turn out too well. After experimentation, it seems like just bending the tube free form with sand inside makes really good curves, you can control the size and shape just by looking at it as you bend. Easiest way to do it I've found so far.

diode_tensegrity (author)2006-06-30

LED's are part of the description. I couldn't afford enough LED's to cover the whole body, but I plan on putting LED's along the spine and in the eyes. I want the eyes to color change slowly, perhaps dimming and brightening as well.

miniappleton (author)2006-06-29

cool! why don't you replace the beads with leds?

dan (author)2006-06-28

what are you bending the tube with? to get good bends without kinks you really need a tube bender, plus pack the tube with sand first. you can check out the tube-bender at home depot and it is not too hard to make your own version if you dont want to buy it.

diode_tensegrity (author)2006-06-28

I just realized from surfing this site that I could use carbon steel instead of galvanized conduit....zinc fumes...yeech! Almost as cheap and welds better too.

Moose (author)2006-06-26

hey... thats a cool idea! I've got one of those little lizards too!

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