Retro-Rocket Lamp - Intro




Over the past year I've been dabbling in 3D design, models, signs, etc. and...LOVE IT!

A few months after seeing my friend Dan Sawatzky make a submarine out of a fishbowl I was in the dollar store and saw a round flower bowl and thought...hmmmm, I don't want to do a submarine...but...maybe something else...HEY a Rocket!!!...and off my mind went.

With my mind racing I walked down each isle of the dollar store slowly. I grabbed some some clear marbles...what could they be used for? Then a package of 3 cat toys (clear balls that looked like they could easily be seperate into two) Bubble windows for the ship?!?! Then the best of the best...a package of multi-sized "googly eyes" like you see on dolls or stuffed toys...these would be my rivets!
When I returned home and rummage through my "junk drawer" (we all have one) and found a pointed plastic tube that was the base to a long broken solar light...the fire nozzle for the rocket?!?!? So...other then the HDU (explained later) and paint...everything was purchased at the dollar store.
This is my journey.
BUT! This is my first full Instructable. I've submitted photo instructables before but nothing like this so...forgive me if it's not quite "right".
Also I'm not the best writter so again...forgive me if it's a little disjointed. :)

Step 1: Design and Carving - NOSE CONE and CAP

I knew I wanted to make a fish bowl or flower bowl rocket ship...but how and what would it looks like?
I had the 100 small LED Xmas lights already, I found the flower the design.
An amazing designer and friend of mine, Dan Sawazky, had designed a submarine out of a fish bowl and I loved the design of it but wanted mine to be be a little different, not only because it was going to be a rocket but also much brighter, because it was going to be a lamp as well.
I started first with some very rough sketches of the nose cone and legs...BUT...quickly realized I would have to router both sides out of the same piece of material.
I used HDU board (high density urethane), it's easy to carve and lightweight. I used a CNC Router but this material comes in different hardenesses and can be carved by hand.

First I designed and cut one of 3 nose cone pieces and the "cap" they would sit on. I added some holes in the cap for light to shine through.
The clear marbles from the dollar store fit nicely into the round hole in the nose cone pieces.
The clear ball cat toys came appart and I placed half in the center of the cap, then used Gorilla Glue to glue the nose cone pieces to the clear cat toy and the nose cone cap. Once dried I then glued the entire assemled piece to the glass bowl. Then I applied the googly eyes for rivets.
I primed everything and applied the first layer of Modern Masters Metallic Gold paint.
Once dried I then created a wash or glaze of a darker goldy-bronze metallic and applied that and then wiped it off with a rag.
I then applied a little straight bronze to each rivet.

Step 2: Design and Carving - LEGS, BASE CAP and FIRE NOZZLE

I also used HDU board (high density urethane), for the legs. I used a CNC Router but this material comes in different hardenesses and can be carved by hand.
So I designed and cut one test leg that had the same look/feel as the nose cone pieces and then the "cap" for the bottom of the flower bowl. This cap would placed over the open end of the flower bowl. It also had some holes drilled in it for not only ventelation but so some light could shine out from inside the bowl. It also had slots or the legs to fit into as well as a larger hole that the LEDs would fit through.
Once fed through they go into a cardboard tube which is covered in tinfoil. I would then wrapped the lights around the tube.

I cut the end off that solar light stake I found in the junk drawer so the lights would fit through and one could stick out of the fire nozzle slightly.

I applied rivets to everything, primed everything and then applied the first layer of Modern Masters Metallic Gold paint.
Once dried I then created a wash or glaze of a darker goldy-bronze metallic and applied that and then wiped it off with a rag.
I then applied a little straight bronze to each rivet.

I then wired the lights through the fire nozzle and the base cap and once done glued everything together with Gorilla glue.

Step 3: Design and Carving - SUPPORT STRAPS

The pretend "support straps" that would appear to connect the base cap with the nose cone cap were also cut from HDU but in this case I simply cut thin pieces off a scrap piece of board with a saw. I then trimme them all with a utility knife so they were the same length and gradually got smaller in stages.
Where they got smaller I used a dremel tool to put a groove into the surface. This would create a simulated look that each piece went under the next and with the application of a rivet at each point with add to the illution.
I then used a heat gun to heat the HDU and bent it to the shape of the bowl. When it cooled it retained the curved shape. This woul make it much easier to glue to the blow afterwards.

NOTE: Do not heat the HDU straps while they are on the glass bowl. The heat gun will cause the bowl to crack. Heat the HDU away from the bowl and when it becomes "bendy" place it on the bowl and bend it to shape. Hold it there while blowing on it to cool it down.

I then gorilla glued on the riverts, primed everything and applied the first layer of gold metallic paint. I then used a combination of hot glue gun glue and Gorilla Glue to apply them to the bowl.

Step 4: Design and Carving - LAUNCH PAD

While gluing up the legs and bottom cap I realized the legs were a little too thin plus I realized the lights needed to be swtiched on in some kin of cool, I decided the entire rocket should sit on a launch pad.
I sketched out about 10 different designs but kept coming back to a slightly star wars looking metal plate launch pad. I designed it and routered it out of one piece of 1" thick HDU board...leaving two "panels" flat so the controls for the LED lights could be inserted.

I measured the control box and swtiches for the LEDs and cut a hole with my dremel tool into the flat panels. Once the controls were inserted I used a product called Abracadabra Sculpt (similar to Magic Sculpt) to cover the majority of the box so only the buttons and switches were showing. I also created some rivets out of the sculpt. I also drilled a hold in the center for the lights to come through.

I then primed everything and applied a silver and blue metallic paint base coat.

Step 5: Our Space-Dog

I discovered that even with the launch pad...the rocket was still a little wiggly so decided it needed some type of metal rod to secure it a little more to the launch pad and reduce the "wiggle"...but how would it blend in? I kicked around a number of ideas and decided on a spaceman holding a flag. I have to sculpt a space man! After doing some research on the net I found two reference images that I combined into one 3D space-dog!
His body is two ping-pong balls gorilla glued together. I then cut one in half and covered everything with Abracadabra Sculpt.. Then sculpted a back-pack, found a glass lens of some sort (again, in that magic junk drawer), added a belt, arms, boots, etc. etc.
Primed it and used a variety of Modern Masters metallic paints and then gorilla glued him in place to hold not only the flag...but the rocket in palce.

Step 6: The BOWL

The only thing remaing was to finish off the bowl. I cut some round stickers to cover the inside of the bowl. This was to keep these areas clear when I painted the inside of the bowl. I used my airbrush to apply a thin layer of pearl white paint and a touch of pearl blue to the top of the bowl.
I then pealed off the stickers and had nice round clear windows.
Once dried I then took the remaining cat toy ball halves and using Abracadabra sculpt put frames around each window and pushed them gently onto the outside surface of the bowl over a clear (unpainted) area. When the sculpt dried it adheared to the glass bowl.
I then painted the bubble window frames with modern masters metallic paints.

Step 7: Final Details and Videos

Once everythng was dried (at various stages) it was all glued together with gorilla glue.

Day Time Video

Night Time Video



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    14 Discussions


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment and vote! I voted for your Quasicrystal has amazing detail...that must have taken quite a bit of time to cut all that and put it all together. I checked your website...amazing work!

    Dream Dragon

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! I voted for you, though it looks like you are no stranger to CNC. It's a really stylish project. Thank you for sharing it.

    1 reply
    rkguyDream Dragon

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Dream Dragon
    It was one year ago this month I got my hands on my cnc router and software. I'd never worked with a cnc router before so I got my hands on the software and planted myself in front of the computer and played with the software and then did test cut after test cut after test after day after week after week. LOL
    I was determined to learn everything about the machine and software....I'm still learning. I purchased the router from a shop that had purchased it from the fellow that had built it.
    It's been a brain expanding and creatively explosive year for me. :)


    Thanks aleholder
    I had a vision of the finished project in my head but it changed and morphed along the way. I think you're right the early Lost in Space, Flash Gordon and Steam-punk designs were all bouncing around in my head as I worked. :) LOL


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks ChrysN
    It took awhile to finish...that's why some of the photos are a little out of order I think. :( Despite the time it was worth it in the end! :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is really cool!
    The lighting is amazing it looks like you have lights under the base as that right?
    I see a name on the flag is that the name of the space-dog?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's for the comments. It's entered into 3 contests so I'm hoping I'll get enough votes to win something! :) LOL
    You are correct...there are lights under the base. I used my dremmel to cut a circular groove into the underside of the base and placed a few lights in the groove, then they went through the hole in the base into the firing nozzle and up into the bowl.
    This was a gift for my nephew Kai. His name is on the flag and on the bowl as well in and above the windows. Also the space-dog has a patch on his back that says "Team Kai".