Intro: How to Make a Marble Maze
Over the years I've made a few projects involving clocks. Most of the time I just use a clock that I bought on sale or from the dollar store rather than buying the clock movements on its own. So I end up having a few extra clock cases lying around waiting for me to find something useful to do with them. I came up with the idea to make a marble maze game a few months back but I was busy with other projects. I noticed that there was a Toy contest underway so I figured that this is a good time to do it.
My marble maze is constructed mostly from craft foam so it is inexpensive and fairly easy to make so it is a great craft for kids. You can adjust the difficulty of the maze by putting the holes in less scary positions along the maze (or don't put any in at all) if your making this with/for younger. children.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- Clock case/housing
- Craft foam
- Polymer clay
- Craft punch(es)
Step 2: Floor
The clock cases that I have generally consist of an outer frame, glass and an inner frame (clock face) that holds the clock dial and the movement in the back. It is usually held together with screws and easy to disassemble. The maze itself with be make on the inner frame then covered with the glass and outer frame.
I tried peeling off the paper with the clock numbers but it didn't come off easily. I just left it since I was going to use green craft foam for the floor of the maze anyway. To make the maze floor, I placed the clock face onto the foam and traced around with a pencil and then cut out the circle. It needed to fit inside the edge of the clock face so I had to trim it a little. Test that it fits well, you don't want any bumps or buckling which could interfere with the movement of the ball.
Step 3: Preparing the Walls
I made the wall of the maze by gluing two sheets of different colour craft foam together. Craft foam can vary somewhat in thickness, the two sheets I used had a combined width of roughly 3-4mm. This was fairly rigid but you can probably have a slightly thinner wall if you would like. I used regular white glue to glue the sheets together. Once the glue had dried, I cut 1cm wide strips of the foam.
Step 4: Adding the Walls
I had designed the maze on paper first. You can transfer the design easily to the craft foam If you draw it out in pencil, lay it face down over the foam and rub the back of the paper. Once the design is transferred begin constructing the walls by cutting the correct length of the double foam strips and gluing it onto the floor of the maze.
Step 5: Bumpers
I added a few other obstacles to the maze such as bumpers. These are constructed by using a craft punch to punch out shapes from several different colours of craft foam, gluing them together and then gluing them to the floor of the maze.
Step 6: Bridge and Ball
The ball/marble for the maze is made from polymer clay and is 5mm in diameter (it can't hurt to make more than one, something that small is easy to lose).
To make the maze more challenging I made bridge from polymer clay. (I only had white clay so I coloured it with a Sharpie).
Step 7: Holes, Etc
With a pencil, I drew in where I wanted the holes to be. (The placement and size of the holes can determine how easy or challenging the maze will be). Cut out the holes with scissors, test that the ball can fall through the hole easily.
I added a couple of more challenges to my maze, one is a flower, although it looks cute there is a hole underneath it which you can't see. The other is a couple of gates, these are made from a bit of craft foam with at hole in the middle that the ball needs to roll through.
Step 8: Finnishing Holes
Now that the maze is done we need to make holes in the clock case so the ball can fall all the way through. Place the floor of the maze into the clock case and mark the where the holes are. Drill out the holes, and place the maze over top again to make sure all of the holes line up and the ball can fall through easily.
Step 9: Ball Slot
Since the clock case has a glass cover, I needed to make a slot to get the ball into the maze. I drilled a hole into the side of the inner frame as well as the outer clock frame. I built up some glue on the sides of the hole on the inside of the frame so that the ball will be directed through the outer hole and into the maze.
Step 10: Finishing Up
I made a base for the frame so that the ball doesn't just fall through the holes and land on your lap (or bounce on the floor and roll under the couch). I made the base by gluing stiff cardboard on to the bottom of the frame. To get the ball out, I drilled a small hole on the bottom edge of the frame.
I few final touches were to paint the frame a cheerful colour and draw (achievement) stars along the maze to see how far along you get before that ball falls through a hole, you can number the stars too.