as a young child i was always intrigued with how these things work. for those of you who dont know what a weather statuete is, it is a small statue or figurine in white and blue/purple/red. the main purpose of these cute statues was to forecast the weather by changing color. blue stands for nice weather, red for bad weather, and purple for if the weather is somewhere in between good and bad.
nowadays they aren't as popular as they used to be, and in most countries i dont think they have ever been popular. i think this is kind of a shame and that more people should know about the existance of these wonderfull things. thats why i have decided to make my own.
Step 1: Understanding
the color of these statutes changes with the air humidity, in bad weather the humidity is higher and in good weather the humidity is lower. the color is also influenced by the air temperature because warm air is generally more humid. this causes the cobalt(II)chloride (pronounced as : cobalt-di-chloride) to change its color. blue is good weather and red is bad weather.
cobalt(II)chloride is a salt, a bit like table-salt. a salt is a mixture of a metal (in this case cobalt) and a non-metal. (often but not always chloride) The non-metal steals a bit of charge from the metal (an electron) and becomes negatively charged. positive and negative attract, so all positive and negative molecules stay together. that's how a salt stays a hard cristal object instead of falling apart.
some salt can trap water inside. salts can even change properties when they trap water inside their structure. plaster is a type of salt that becomes extremely sturdy when it traps water. even so sturdy that it can help fix broken bones. cobalt(II)chloride does something else. it changes color!
this property of cobalt chloride is what we're going to use to make a weather statuette
Step 2: Making Clay
if you want to you can easily make you're own clay for the statuette
here however is the simplest recipe I could find on airdrying clay. make sure you have airdrying clay because that works easier and althought the melting point of cobalt-chloride is above 700 degrees celcius , i dont know what will happen if you heat it up.
for the clay you will need
-. table-salt and flower in a 3 to 4 ratio
-. water in a little over 1/4 times the amount of table-salt and flower
-. a bowl to kneed the ingredients
so for example
30 grams of salt
40 grams of water
ad that together and you get 70, you have to divide that by 4 and then you get 17.5.
round that up to 20 grams of water (since milliliter and millimeter are practically the same thing for water you can also say 20 milliliters of water)
Step 3: Making Clay, the Sequel
if you have the right mixture start to kneed it until it becomes somewhat like cookie dough. then ad a little bit of oil (+- 3 tablespoons for every kilo clay)
be careful not to add to much. if you added to much, just add some table-salt, flower and a tiny amount of water/no water at all.
just kneed this for a few minutes and it becomes a clay ball. this kind of clay is really nice to the touch and (depending on the type of oil that you used) can smell fragrantly .
Step 4: Your Statuette
when you have you're clay, you can start making the statuette.
if you want to use the homemade clay, and you want to use more color, just add a few drops of food coloring.
first you have to decide what kind of statuette you're gonna make. I decided to make a kind of wyvern*
I found it really useful to first make a crude and quick sketch to get an image in your head of what you actually are going to make. when you are done sketching, make a new one. but this time make a sketch of the skeleton of you're animal.
if you choose to not make an animal, thats fine too. instead of making a skeleton make a support structure sketch.
* a wyvern is bird like dragon. they have dragon wings, but walk on 2 bird-like legs instead of four.
Step 5: The Wire Frame
with the help of you're skeleton sketch you can start making the actual support structure for you're statue. in the pictures you can see how I made my wyvern skeleton.
for the skeleton you will need :
a long piece of iron wire.
start with a piece as long as possibly. about four to five times as much as you think you're going to need.
then start from the bottom up and gently make feet for you're animal. make sure it can stand up by itself, so make the feet more or less beneath the centre of gravity.
first make the animal itself with one piece of wire, then when thats done, keep wrapping the wire around, especially at the belly and the legs. the belly is often the thikest and needs to have the most support so the clay won't fall of and the legs will have to hold up the weight of the body so they need a lot of strengt.
these need the most wire, but don't forget to do every part of the body at least two times.
if you have difficult and large structures, it can be handier to make them apart from the main body.
use another piece of wire to connect the 2 parts together or bend the two parts around each other. as you can see in the pics I chose to make the wings separated from the body and I later attached them, it worked just fine and it was easier than making it all in one piece.
Step 6: The First Clay
now you can start putting clay around the wire frame. at this point you should decide which colors you want to use and with parts you want to change in color.
here are the colors I chose
1. green I wanted to use a vibrant color for the main body, green was the most dragon like.
2. yellow yellow is my second clay color, it is dragon like too, and I can let it change color because the cobalt(II)chloride can be blue and red, both these colors mix well with yellow and form green and orange. both green and orange go quite well with the green I used for the main dragon body.
3. white I am going to use white for the claws, teeth and horns. i will mix in some cobalt(II)chloride with this too so the claws theet and horns can shift in color from blue to red.
you can of course use other colors, but make sure that the ones that you mix in with cobalt(II)chloride will change color. so choose a color that can mix with both blue AND red. if you choose wrong it can possibly result in a ugly cow-poop like brown. and I don't thing that you want that.
if you have you're colors, pick the one that you want to use as you're base color. this color can NOT be mixed with cobalt(II)chloride.
get this color inside you're clay by adding food coloring or buying colored clay and start putting the clay onto the wire frame. this does not have to be precise, just try to get the general shape and size of the body of the animal.
Step 7: More Clay
when you have the biggest part of the body covered you can start using you're tools.
now, you don't have to run to a shop and buy tools, just scavenge inside you're home and use anything that seems useful.
I used : a needle, a wooden stick from an ice lolly, and I found an old screwdriver set of which I used the screwdriver heads. I also bodged a knife from a pencil sharpener.
the latter 2 where really useful so I strongly recommend you find tiny screwdrivers and a pencil sharpener.
now gently add more clay and finetune the main body. add the shape of small muscles and the last layer of clay. you could see this as the skin of you're creature.
if you're content with how the basic creature turned out, let it dry. drying can(depending on the type of clay) take anywhere from 12 hours up to a week.
Step 8: Even More Clay, But With Colors
now you can start adding details of different colors. I made yellow wings and I added a yellow belly to my wyvern. for some parts you might need to remove some of the old clay. for example : you can remove some of the belly . if you don't do this you're creature can get a bit overweight looking.
you can also make these parts change color by mixing the clay with the cobalt(II)chloride.
first put your cobalt(II)chloride in a basket and then gently smack it with a hammer. you only have to do this if the cobalt(II)chloride crystals are to big (larger than a millimeter). if you have small crystals you can start mixing it right away. when working with the clay with cobalt(II)chloride always wear protective clothing. make sure as much of your body is covered as possible. so presumably wear : a coat with head, latex gloves, long sleeves, and long trousers. work in a well ventilated environment because breathing in cobalt(II)chloride can possibly lead to cancer. so watch out and be smart.
since the wings are very thin and cover a great surface you might need to add some wire. just weave some trough the skeletal structure of the wings, this helps to hold up the clay while its still soft. if you do this correctly you won't even see there is wire going trough the dragon wings.
after a while you might notice that the cobalt(II)chloride mixed clay is "bleeding" this is perfectly normal. if the liquid gets on parts with you don't want to change color, just wipe it of with some toilet paper.
when the water evaporates, the cobalt(II)chloride will mostly stay behind and it will make the color change more noticeable so try to wipe of as little as possible.
Step 9: The Last Bit of Clay I Promise
for the last step, get your white clay out
make more details loose from your creature and use some wire to attach 'em too the creature.
for horns and claws just roll small noodles and stick a bit of wire in them. leave 5 millimeters of the wire exposed. now push the wire with the claw/tooth/horn into the body of you're creature. since there isnt any cobalt(II)cloride on the white clay yet, you can do this with your bare hands. this works easier than first rubbing the clay in cobalt(II)chloride and having to do all those small details with gloves on.
for the plates on the back of my dragon I first made ten triangles. make some bigger triangles and some smaller triangles. cut pieces of wire of about 1-1.5 centimeters en push them into the back of the dragon. then push the triangles on them. the biggest ones in the centre and the tiniest more outwards.
when you have all the details in place, gently rub the cobalt(II)cloride onto the scales and claws. since you're working with cobalt(II)chloride you have to put on your protective clothes again
when you are done, let it dry. if you want to speed op the drying proces you can put it for four minutes in the oven on the lowest setting. be careful! this can speed up the evaporation of the water so much that it takes cobalt(II)chloride with it. you definitely don't want to breath this in.
when its done drying you can enjoy you're very own color changing super mega fantastic hyper cool weather statuette!
Step 10: Everything I Used for This Project
1. 2 packs of green lightweight modeling clay. (you can also use homemade clay, but then you will need
2. 1 pack of yellow lightweight modeling clay food coloring for the colors)
3. 1 pack of white lightweight modeling clay
4. an ice lolly stick (instead of ingredients 4-7 you can also just use proper
5. a mini screwdriver set tools for working with clay)
6. the blade from an old pencil sharpener
7. 1.5 meters of iron wire (for the wire frame)
8. a plier
9. 10 grams of cobalt(II)chloride
10. a small tray
11. a hammer
12. a coat with head and long sleeves
13. protective gloves
14. toilet paper (for wiping of the liquid of the wyvern wings)
15. a pen and paper (to sketch what you're going to make)
if you want to make your own clay
i don't know how big you want your statuette to be, so I can't say how much of each ingredient you're going to need. see the step : making clay for the ratio of the ingredients
this was my first project on the instructables site. i hope you liked it! if there are any questions, just ask them in the comments, i will try to respond as quickly as possible.
by the way, if you think that it is winner worthy, this project is part of the color of the rainbow contest.
if i made any grammatical mistakes, im sorry, i am not a native english speaker.