COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition


How to Make a Camel by COSI

Author: Kate

Our exhibit fabricator for Lost Egypt was the Science Museum of Minnesota. The camel was subcontracted out to Blue Rhino Studio, who create amazing animal and architectural models.

The first step was to research what camels look like. While in Egypt, COSI photographer Brad Feinknopf paid a guard to let us photograph his guard camel while it was lying down, from all angles.

Camel Research #1

Camel Research #1

Camel Research #2

Camel Research #2

These photos and other research provided Blue Rhino Studio with front, side and back views of a camel, which they scaled to an average camel height, width and length based upon project advisor Jonathan Elias’ recollections and other photo research. From there, artist Jim Burt at Blue Rhino amalgamated the information, started sculpting and gave Sarah the Camel her personality.

Jim Burt was the main artist and had 2 to 3 people helping him. 2’ x 4’ x 8’ urethane foam blocks were glued and then carved and sanded to get the basic shape.

Sculpting #1

Sculpting #1

Sculpting #2

Sculpting #2

Sculpting #3

Sculpting #3

Sculpting #4

Sculpting #4

This was then covered with water-based fiberglass cloth similar to a paper mache’ process.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass

Then a water-based epoxy was applied over the fiberglass. The hair and detailing were added in the epoxy layer while it was in a soft putty state. The epoxy was then color-stained with base pigment colors and acrylic paint highlights were added after that.

Fiberglass and Paint

Fiberglass and Paint

The project from start to finish was estimated at 12 weeks, including the photo research, back-and-forth discussion, sculpting, modeling, painting, etc. The discussions were about things such as the camel’s size; whether it should be made of soft or hard material (in order to last the 6+ years that Lost Egypt will be touring, the camel needed to be sturdy); the angle of the head in order to make it more appealing and photogenic; the color of the fur; how to give the impression of those long eyelashes that camels have; and whether we could add an interactive feature to make the camel spit or grunt (unfortunately, the budget didn’t allow this!).

Face

Face

Body

Body

The neck and tail were reinforced with metal tubing and fiberglassed into the foam substructure. This made Sarah the Camel very durable.

The camels ears are bent metal covered with epoxy. The teeth are epoxy. The stirrups are metal – painted to look like leather straps and act as a step up to the camel.

Ears

Ears

Ears Finished

Ears Finished

Teeth

Teeth

The saddle is modeled upon photo research of camel saddles, with wood and metal frame construction. We added foam padding for comfort, a real middle eastern blanket and an underblanket replicated from pictures.

Blue Rhino Guys on Camel

Blue Rhino Guys on Camel

The materials used are all high quality and fire-rated, giving us a unique and sturdy ambassador for the Lost Egypt exhibit.

Finished Camel

Finished Camel

Blue Rhino on Camel

Blue Rhino on Camel

Camel at ASTC

Camel at ASTC



First Ride on the Camel by COSI

Author: Kate

Josh, John, and Kate on Camel

Josh, John, and Kate on Camel

Recently Josh Kessler, John Shaw (our Traveling Exhibits Manager) and I attended the annual ASTC conference (ASTC is the Association of Science-Technology Centers) in Philadelphia. We had a great time attending sessions, working at our booth in the Exhibit Hall and being involved in some unconventional networking with our colleagues – we played a mega-game of Assassins, and all three of us were eliminated by noon on the first day! Well played Minotaur Mazes and Indianapolis Children’s Museum (Indy took out both John and Josh…)  and a big thank you to Cynthia Sharpe of Thinkwell Design & Production for organizing the game (they’re the folks who designed our current Sesame Street traveling exhibition).

Here’s our booth at the conference. We included the prototype of the pyramid puzzle we’ll have in Lost Egypt, as well as Sarah the Camel and another traveling exhibit we manage – Zula Patrol: Mission Weather.

ASTC Booth

ASTC Booth

The biggest highlight for me was when a family visited the Exhibit Hall (it’s mostly adults, and for some reason most of them didn’t take us up on the offer to ride the camel). There were two little girls, ages 2 ¾, from Philadelphia. One of them wasn’t so sure about the camel, but the other one, Aurelia Browning, became the first kid to ride on the camel! She got a lift up, but once there, seemed perfectly content to sit in the saddle and look around.

Aurelia on the Camel

Aurelia on the Camel

We joked with her and asked “Is this your first time on a camel?”

She replied “No.”

Uh, okay. Not the answer we expected. It turned out that Aurelia and her sister had recently visited the zoo, and got to ride on a camel there. So while we didn’t give Aurelia her first camel ride, she’ll always be remembered by us as the first kid to ride Sarah the Camel. Thanks to Aurelia and her family for letting us take the picture and tell the story. We can’t wait to share the camel with more kids in Lost Egypt!



Thank You Blue Rhino Studio and Science Museum of Minnesota! by COSI

Author: Kate

camel head 2

Our camel, Sarah, is finished! She will be joining us at the Association of Science-Technology Centers conference in Philadelphia in a couple of weeks before coming to live at COSI until Lost Egypt opens. I’m hoping I can get a luggage strap and some wheels and pull her through the Philadelphia airport as my carry-on item (although I’m guessing she won’t fit under the seat in front of me…).

blue rhino team

We want to give a huge thank you to the Blue Rhino Studio folks who created our delightful dromedary – Jim Burt (left) is the main sculptor at Blue Rhino Studio – he sculpted Sarah. Also shown are Jeff Nelson, Aaron Dysart, Nikkia Vredenburg and Ryan Dahl. Not pictured are Dave Leak and Tim Quady. We all enjoyed working with them, checking on Sarah’s progress, and visiting Blue Rhino Studio!

sarah dan and dick close

We’re also grateful to our partners at the Science Museum of Minnesota who worked on Sarah, including Dan Miller and Dick Leerhoff, who are pictured here.

Thank you!



Lost Egypt’s Amazing Camel by COSI

Author: Kate

Our camel (who we’ve nicknamed Sarah) is almost finished! A couple of our Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) partners headed to Blue Rhino Studios to see the progress. To see if the camel is going to hold up as thousands of kids climb on it, we have to test it (that’s the fun part!), so here’s the team at Blue Rhino, as well as Dan Miller and Dick Leerhoff from SMM hard at work!

Blue Rhino Testers

Blue Rhino Testers

Dan Miller and Camel

Dan Miller and Camel

Dick Leerhoff and Camel

Dick Leerhoff and Camel

Since last time, the eyes, ears, and teeth have been added, and the camel has been painted.

Camel Face

Camel Face

Camel Face

Camel Face

Sarah’s hump is pretty tall, and we’ve had to think about how people will climb into the saddle. We designed the saddle similar to real ones on camels, and we’ll be adding some decoration like blankets to soften it up. We have added a stirrup as well to help the riders.

Complete Camel

Complete Camel

It’s been amazing seeing Sarah emerge from a block of foam, being sculpted into a camel that looks just like the ones we saw in Egypt!



Building a Camel by COSI
July 25, 2008, 9:01 am
Filed under: Construction News | Tags: , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

The camel is moving forward! We approved the initial design, and now the folks at Blue Rhino Studios are working on blowing him up to full size. And full size is, well, full size. Camels are big!

Camel Prototype

Camel Prototype

The designers sent us this maquette of the camel. We had already looked at an earlier model and made a few suggestions (like raising her head up more, having her eyes open, and making her “smile”) that, as you can see, they changed on this model. Since we approved the model, they moved into the next phase, which is making the actual camel that we’ll use in the exhibit.

Rough Camel

Rough Camel

As you can see, they started with a big lump of clay. You can see how the outline of the camel is there in the shape. You can also get a feel for how big she’s going to be—look at the guy who’s working on her!

Sculpted Camel

Sculpted Camel

Next, they start adding details and refining some of her features. Features like her ears and tail are added later; you can see the wire that they’ll be forming her ears around. As Blue Rhino keeps moving forward, we’ll keep you posted. I can’t wait to see her when she gets done!



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 – http://www.rhinocentral.com/profile.html – 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!