Introduction: Giant Duck Ornaments

In the fall of 2013, there was a giant rubber duck floating in the rivers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was big news.

At the time, I was teaching a high school shop class. We decided to make holiday ornaments commemorating the year the duck came to Pittsburgh. We made a bunch for sale at a craft fair to raise funds for the shop, then students made ornaments to keep for themselves.

My documentation of this project was a little spotty, but I think the ornaments turned out great and I wanted to share them now before another holiday season passes by. Speaking of cool projects made by my former students, check out our class Instructable page! (this project really belongs there - but I lost the account password and no longer have access to the associated email - whoops!)

Step 1: Laser Cutting

Unfortunately my laser cutting files have been lost to history. All I have is the screen shot above of a video of the cut files being sent to the laser cutter - hopefully you can see clearly enough to get the idea.

The ornaments were made in four layers, each cut from 1/8" birch ply. This design gave the ornaments a fun 3D look and made finishing and assembly simple enough to finish over a couple hours but complicated enough to be worth while. I did the cutting on a Trotec Speedy 300 at TechShop. In following steps - I'll explain how we put them together back at the school workshop.

Step 2: Finishing

We made a lot of ornaments, and we finished them in all sorts of different ways.

To add color, students used acrylic paint, wood stain, and markers. The layered design of our ornaments made painting and staining them really easy - for the most part each layer only took one color. It was also fun mixing and matching layers before of to find the combinations that looked best.

The stained ornaments got a coat of polycrylic after they were assembled.

Some of the ornaments had the Pittsburgh skyline cut in the back layer, others had a full back layer with an image of the city or one of the stadiums. The images were printed on card stock, cut out with scissors, and glue-sticked onto the back layer before assembly.

Step 3: Assembly

The first two pictures above show how the layers fit together to make an ornament. The third picture shows one of the dowel pins we fit into the holes on either side of each layer to keep them lined up - here a student is using sand paper to round off the pins edges. Other than that, we spread a little glue between each layer and tied some twine to the top hole of each ornament.

(I know, the Pittsburgh and 2013 are backwards in these pictures).

Step 4: Student Work Gallery

Some more of the outstanding ornaments made by my former students.

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!