COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

Prototyping a Camel by COSI
May 22, 2008, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Construction News | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Kate Storm

We’re working on my favorite exhibit components for Lost Egypt – a life-sized camel! Our project partners on the exhibition, The Science Museum of Minnesota, found an amazing company, Blue Rhino Studios – – to design and build a camel for us.

We’ve been looking at materials, size, scale, and all the other issues that go into designing a large one-humped camel, aka “Camelus dromedarius,” if you like to know the Latin genus and species. One-humped camels are called dromedaries, and are found in North Africa and the Near East. Two-humped camels are called bactrians or “Camelus bactrianus,” and are typically found in central Asia. We only saw the dromedaries in Egypt, probably because it’s in North Africa.

While camels aren’t really used much for transportation in Egypt today, you can still see them at the Giza Plateau and at Saqqara. We saw the camel below, which gave rides to tourists. I loved the colorful halter, although the picture really can’t capture the smell of a camel in the hot sun, which is definitely something…memorable. See the long eyelashes? They’re great for protecting the camel’s eyes from the desert sand.

In Saqqara, the guards rode camels, so the gear was less gaudy and more utilitarian. We needed to get photo references for Blue Rhino while we were in Egypt, since it’s challenging to figure out exactly what a camel looks like lying down. Their legs fold in on themselves like origami – very strange! So we asked the guards if we could take pictures of their guard camel. They laughed when they noticed us taking this photo of the back end.

Blue Rhino has produced lots of other animals as well – check out the detail on the moose, bobcat, and other animals on their website. The artists at their studio have designed a small clay model, called a maquette, which you can see below.

A maquette is a small scale model which is useful to test your concepts, without the expense of producing a full-sized version. This prototype is studied by the whole design team, and changes are made to it. We’ve already made several changes to our camel based on the maquette, including the way the head is turned and the angle of the neck. The human being in the model is scaled to represent someone 6’ tall, just to give an idea of the camel’s size. I can’t wait to see this when it’s done!



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