Introduction: How to Make a Helicopter Ornament

About: Kiwi transplant living in the US.

This helicopter ornament is made out of a clear glass ball, wooden spatulas/ice cream sticks, and some odds and ends in the workshop. I really just used whatever I had laying around except for the glass ball.

I made this a number of years ago at Christmas for Thing One (an ornament tradition - every year I make them an ornament for the tree, building them a collection) before Thing 2 arrived. Now I'm making this one by request from Thing Two so that they both have a helicopter.

Thing Two likes green. A lot.

Here is a list of the things you'll need:

Clear glass ornament (got mine at Michaels)
Wood spatulas or ice cream sticks
bamboo skewer
1/2" wood dowel - about a 1" piece
1/4" dowel - about a 4 " piece
quick setting epoxy
assorted rivets, washers, eye hook
paint (I used modeling enamel, found with the models at Michaels)

Step 1: Rotor Blades and Feet

Thee rotor blades and feet are made out of the spatulas/ice cream sticks.

Two sticks in an 'X' - these are the rotor blades
The 2 feet are both double thickness, each is just two sticks glued together.

I used white glue  and brushed it onto the sticks, then clamped them with the mini clamps until dry - I gave it about an hour.

Step 2: Attaching the Ball to the Legs to the Feet

First cut the 4 legs. I used a bamboo skewer and cut 1" pieces. Sand off any burrs so they're ready for attachment to the body and feet.

This is where you will just have to play with it until it looks right. The four legs connect the glass body to the feet. Use modeling clay to lay everything up. Make sure to align the opening in the glass ball - it needs to face rear (and centered), and pointing slightly upwards.

I scratched up the glass at the 4 spots where the legs will join...I used a diamond tipped Dremel bit to gently scratch it up. Probably didn't need to , but I wanted to give a good tooth to the epoxy on the glass.

I used epoxy to glue everything and create a strong physical bond. Epoxy comes in two parts - when you mix (typically equal) parts together, a chemical reaction causes the paste to harden. I used a dab of epoxy on the bottom of the leg, attached to the foot - supporting everything with modeling clay until cured. Then I epoxied the top of the legs and rested the glass ball onto the 4 legs, at the scratched spots on the glass, and walked away.

Step 3: The Tail Section

Start with the 1" piece of 1/2" dowel. Smooth it out with sandpaper.

Then drill a 1/4" hole into one end - hold the dowel firm by clamping it in a vice. Try and get it centered. It needs to be no more than about 1/2" deep - enough to seat the thinner dowel when they are glued together.

Flip it over and re-fasten the clamp. Cut a slit into the other end using a fine saw blade. The ring from the glass ball will seat into the slit in the dowel and be bonded with epoxy.

Step 4: The Tail Rotor Blades

I used bamboo cocktail skewers here - cut them so that I was just using the centerpiece of each and glued them in an X. You could use more ice cream sticks and cut them to size instead of the bamboo skewers.

When the glue was dry, I drilled a small hole in the middle of the X.

I used a small rivet for the axle, although you could use many different things...wire, paper clip etc. I reversed the nail inside the rivet and also added a couple of washers, more for aesthetic than anything else. Push the rivet through a washer, then the tailpiece, then another washer, then the rotor. At this stage it is just dry-fitting it together, because I still have to spray paint the rotor blades.

Step 5: Attach the Main Rotor Blades

Drill a hole through the middle of the rotor blade.

Push the rivet head through the hole, and the washer will go underneath the rotor blades. No real reason, I just thought it looked nice.

I liked the look of the dry fit, so next I spray painted the rotor (oh - and the tail rotor) in silver, then it was ready to attach to the top of the glass ball.

I scratched the surface of the glass at the spot on top where the rivet head would touch the glass, then glued the rotors to the glass with a dab of epoxy.

The eye hook was glued into the hole on top of the rivet - the ornament will hang from it.

Step 6: Final Touches

Did I mention that Thing Two is into green? Green it will be. I used modeling enamel and a small brush and it took just a few minutes to get it all painted.

The last step was to reattach the tail rotors, and sealed the end of the rivet nail with a dab of clear liquid nails to lock on the rotors and axle.

One cool helicopter ornament to add to Thing Two's collection.

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