How come nutcrackers only come out during the winter holiday season? Why not make one for Valentine's Day?
This is the special Instructables member Nachomahma version. Like most nutcrackers, this one does exhibit the same range of motion but may need assistance when busting a nut. Could be a gumball buster. Since I have never met the good man in person, I have based a few details on Skunkbait's field guide and have captured on film some shots, including what will be his favorite, "has burger". Flame broiled and over 200 million served. Maybe there will be a Burger King on Mars. I wonder what that would be like...
So make your Valentine's Day Nutcracker based on any character or significant other. Entirely made of recycled cardboard, glue, a pencil, yarn and some paint.
Disclaimer: I am neurotypical city folk. This instructable is lighthearted in nature and should be taken that way, my way.
Step 1: You Need Stuff...
This project is really just some simple cardboard construction, a little paper mache and voila, magic.
You will need:
A pencil or similar dowel
4 toilet paper tubes
2 paper towel tubes
Some rigid box cardboard
Brown kraft paper, or just some newspaper for paper mache
Yarn in whatever colors you want to use for the hair
Craft sheet foam to make accessories
awl or pointy screwdriver to make holes for the dowel
Heavy scissors or utility knife to cut cardboard
A stapler helps to tack things in place while the glue dries
Warning: Be careful when you cut cardboard with sharp instruments and always have a work area protected so you do not cut up your nice floor or carpet.
Step 2: It Looks Good in Paper...
I had no plans for this. This was something created as I went. Whatever dimensions were based on eye proportions that looked good. Hey, you might end up with your own RoboGnome nutcracker instead.
Start by making the legs and feet.
Place the long tube perpendicular to the short tube.
Trace the profile of the long tube against the short tube. When you project the tube circumference on the round short tube, you will get an oblong shape.
Cut that into pie-wedge shapes which will act as glue tabs for the upright tube.
Glue in place.
Cut out pieces of cardboard and layer up for thickness to create the toes. You could make it in the shape of giant feet if desired. Stuff tubes with crumpled up paper as fill. This helps to give some strength to the squeezable tubes. Cover with paper mache.
I covered and reinforced my joints with paper mache as I went along. I had some extra brown kraft paper to use. You can also peel off the outer layer of the cardboard to use too. It was not worth the extra effort to have a bowl with a mix of glue and water but would have made things go faster. I just applied full strength glue to small ripped pieces of paper and glued them down. A final layer of glue bound all of the edges and surfaces. Then you could have fun peeling the dried glue from your fingertips.
Step 3: Ground Control...
Place your nutcracker feet on a piece of cardboard.
Trace out a shape that will fit larger than what the feet will be. You can make it heart-shape, square, or whatever shape appeals to you.
Laminate two or three layers of the same cardboard shape. Alternate the direction of the corrugation or internal grain of the carboard to get the greatest strength.
Go around the entire edge with paper mache to give it a finished look.
Step 4: Hip Replacement...
Now you should have da feet and the base should be dry.
Cut out a piece of cardboard strip that will form the base of the torso.
Arrange your feet on the display base and affix to the torso ring.
Use staples to help hold the tops of the feet tubes in position while the glue sets up.
Step 5: Channel Your Gut...
Determine how high you want the nutcracker to be. You can sketch this out by using the height of what you have put together and double it, then add the height of the head.
Form a channel for your nutcracker lever.
Fold over lengths of cardboard with the grain going up and down to create the sides.
Fold over smaller pieces to box in the gap.
Glue on additional pieces of cardboard to reinforce the channel if it is still flimsy.
Step 6: Get Your Head on Straight...
Cut out a form for the head.
Glue on to the top of the superstructure.
Add the nose.
Wad up balls of paper to fill in.
Layer on more cardboard strips to serve as a nailing surface when you attach the yarn hair later.
Paper mache the head.
Step 7: Flailing Arms...
Make arms from two short toilet paper tubes.
Fill with scrap paper to increase the strength of the tube.
Using a long piece of paper stuffed inside the two tubes helps to bridge the open joint.
Cut out some cardboard paddle-shaped pieces to insert into one end of the tube for hands.
Go back to the partially completed nutcracker torso to figure out what position the arms and hands should be.
Bend and hold in position.
Paper mache over the joints, hands, and the end of the arms.
Step 8: There Is No Point...
You could use a dowel or maybe a few free IKEA mini-pencils but just find a new pencil.
Add any additional cardboard pieces to beef up the skeletal frame.
Stuff hollow areas with paper to support the paper mache skin.
Pick a spot to pierce the paper mache with the awl or pointy screwdriver.
Align all of the hole for the arms and the mouthpiece.
Insert the pencil all the way through the pieces.
Cap the exposed ends with the arms. You could wrap the pencil ends with some more tape to help it hold in the arms.
Step 9: Give the Gift of Gab...
The nutcracker mechanism is just a pivot lever that goes through the body of the nutcracker.
When in the down position, the mouth is closed. Pull up on the lever in the back to open the mouth.
The lever arm is an L-shape. Construct by shaping a piece of cardboard like in the picture.
Position in the torso channel and see if it will work when it is pivoted.
Mark where the hole should be for the dowel. Use an awl or pointy screwdriver to make a hole completely through the lever piece.
The pivot point luckily coincided with the axis of where I would attach the arms.
Laminate cardboard to the lever so it is as thick as the torso channel. It should fit just snug.
Step 10: Accessorize, Assessorize...
The rest of the body is covered in paper mache.
Use cardboard construction and paper mache to make accesories.
Prime and paint as usual.
Make other things like flip-flops from craft sheet foam.
Step 11: Plug and Paint...
After everything is all the glue has dried, prime the figure for painting.
When the primer is dry, use a magic marker to outline the details on the nutcracker.
Step 12: Good Hair Day...
Grab a few long strands of yarn. Cut into useable lengths. You can give the nutcracker a haircut and trim later.
It helps to mix a few shades of color yarn to make the hair coloring more realistic.
Staple at the center of the bunch of yarn and have the free ends fall from the center.
Start at the bottom and work your way to the center or top of the skull. Of course, leave an empty spot for balding or make the strands very long to accomodate a comb-over.
Attach at various points, tacking with a stapler. You could also put a dab of glue or hot glue and hold the yarn in placed until the glue sets up.
Step 13: Good Treats...
You can pack surprises, notes, real chocolates or anything you want in that little heart shaped container. Just hope you do not scare them off.
Present to your Valentine.
Happy Valentine's Day.