Introduction: Wearable ZOO Masks Tinkering Workshop

This instructable serves as documentation for the "Wearable ZOO workshop", a tinkering activity conceived at Muse Fablab. The aim of the workshop was to create animal masks to decorate a Google Cardboard, while introducing the attendants to tinkering techniques. The process was facilitated by building elements developed at Muse Fablab, such as laser cut cardboard structures, MDF connectors and other functional paper elements.

The recommended age for this activity is 8+.

This guide will allow you to reproduce the building elements that made the workshop possible and get a sense of the final results that we achieved.

Step 1: Build Your Google Cardboard

First, you need to get your hands on a Google Cardboard. You can buy one here, or you can build your own using items available at your local hardware store. Detailed instructions can be downloaded here.

Step 2: Cut Your Cardboard Structures

Using a laser cutter, cut the cardboard elements that will serve as foundation for your mask. You'll find them collected in the this vector PDF file ("Cardboard.pdf").

The file contains:

  • the main structure, to be easily attached to your Google Cardboard
  • three kinds of strips that will serve as skeleton for elements that require support, such as snouts, trunks, and beaks.

The main structure has six legs that will hook to your Google Cardboard. It is also perforated. The holes will make it easier for you to attach the elements that will become part of your mask.

Step 3: Cut Your MDF Connectors

MDF connectors can be used to apply functional and ornamental elements to the main cardboard structure. The connectors are U-shaped and come in two different sizes. They will fit perfectly inside the holes of the main structure, thus allowing for a facilitated tinkering experience.
Download this vector PDF file ("U_connectors.pdf") to get cutting.

Step 4: Cut Your Paper Elements

In order to provide our masks with interesting textures that could be easily reproduced, three paper elements have been created. Their names are Scale, Circle and Leaf.

  • Scales were designed to recall the appearance of fish, but can be used in a great variety of ways. For example, by drawing pupils on them, they can become eyes. Since they are also a source of color, the workshop partecipants used them to mimick fur and exoskeletons.
  • Circles were made available to depict bumps, and small protuberances. By pulling their edges they can become three-dimensional, thus looking very much like chameleon's eyes.
  • Leaves were designed to be used as plumage. They were provided in several different colors, to allow the partecipants to portray a wide array of birds, such as peacocks, chickens and parrots.

Finally, we used a paper shredder to cut paper sheets into strips.

Step 5: Gather Some Other Helpful Materials and Tools

In order to bring the animal masks to life, you will need to get your hands on a wide variety of cool and helpful materials. Some of them can come from the recycling bin, while others can be shopped at 99 cents stores.

Here is a comprehesive list of the materials we provided during our workshop. Feel free to use it as source of inspiration for your material hunt.

  • Straws
  • Balloons
  • Yarn
  • Aluminium foil
  • Toothpicks
  • Cotton wool
  • Styrofoam
  • Foam rubber
  • Plastic tubes
  • Bottle caps
  • Paper and plastic glasses
  • Fabric
  • Plastic gloves

We suggest cutting these materials into smaller components when needed.

These are the tools we provided:

  • Scissors
  • Marker pens
  • Scotch tape
  • Cutters
  • Staplers

Step 6: Get Tinkering!

Now that you're all set, it's time to get tinkering! Let your imagination run free!

Step 7: The Final Results

After working on their masks for an hour, the partecipants were given a Google Cardboard to mount their creations on. These are some of the final results that were achieved during the workshop. Bear in mind that there are plenty of other ways to turn simple materials into stunning masks. You just have to get tinkering, follow your instincts and enjoy the whole process. Good luck!

Words by Margherita Ferrari, MUSE FabLab

Photos by Benjamin Vitti