Galapagos Tortoise Shells




About: Woodsman and field tutor on a week day. Life long inventor, designer, engineer for the rest of the time. From items that make life easier to items with no reason to be....other than the idea popped into my h...

These paper and card structures came from a need to show Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, as it pertained to the tortoises of the galapagos, in a hands on way. The remit was for 2 large size tortoise shells one from an island with only low growing flora and the other from an island with taller shrubs. The shape of the head opening is dictated by how the tortoise eats.... oh, and so that they can be stored easily when not in use one must fit inside the other!

Step 1: Starting Off

I trawled the internet for photo's for inspiration and decided upon the look of the shells, I then started cutting card for the main structure. this was all trial and error, I tried to emulate the platelets that make up a real shell, arranging for gaps to allow making a 3D shape whilst keeping it all joined together. To hold it in shape, once I started forming, I used strips of card stuck inside the structure.

Step 2: Adding the Detail

Once the basic shape was formed I added a cardboard bottom plate, added detail and thickness in tiers to the platelets with thin card. The larger shell had quite large gaps so I used flexible decorators filler to smooth the joints which were finished off with overlapping strips of newspaper, all stuck in place using wallpaper adhesive.

Step 3: Finishing Touches Before Painting

The remaining job before painting was to thicken up edges so that it no longer looked like card so more news paper plastered on and smoothed.

Step 4: Painting

The painting was all done with rattle cans in greens and browns with a base colour sprayed on all the platelet edges, these were then masked off to add another colour, I did this a number of times then finished it all off with a couple of coats of varnish.

The interiors were painted mat black.

The smaller one of the two has fooled many people into thinking it is the real thing



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    3 Discussions


    11 months ago

    They turned out fantastic! Thanks for sharing!


    1 year ago

    Well done!

    "fooled many people into thinking it is the real thing"

    Add me to that list ;)


    1 year ago

    When I first saw them two turtle shells I was feeling sorry for the two turtles that died for you to have those shells!Well what a fool I felt like when I kept reading you're instructables rog8811,great job.