Honk (2005)

The Ugly Duckling Musical

Honk! is the story of "The Ugly Duckling" turned into a musical. For more information about the play, look here on Wikipedia

In this production, my main task was to build the giant eggs (used during the opening). In most versions of the play, the five "ducklings" are hatched from some sort of prop egg. I had seen it done with everything from cardboard eggs, cloth eggs, and even plastic eggs. The director wanted the eggs to look like real eggs (only larger). To figure out the size of the eggs, I used a paint can (as a seat) for each of the actors to sit on, then used a strip of flexible plastic to form a loop over each actor to determine the general size of each egg. These measurements were then transferred to Turbocad to finish the design of the eggs. Five eggs were built, four of them were identical - the fifthe egg was larger (for Honk).

In our version, I decided to make the eggs using blue styrofoam (1/2 inch foam like on the side of a house). I first built small stands for each of the eggs. These were used to mount the eggs onto, as well as provide a seat for the actor (while waiting to break out). The plan was to cut the styrofoam into a bunch of hollow circles, stack them up and glue them together. Once I had a list of the number of circles I needed for the five eggs, I relaized that this would not be an easy task to cut by hand. With over 500 circles to cut, I decided to build a machine to make it easier.

The machine that I built used an upside down saber saw to cut the circles. The saw was mounted with the blade pointing toward the front. A platform was added to the table that could slide the foam into the blade. A pin was mounted in a small track on the platform. This pin could be adjusted to determine the size of each circle. Here is how it worked: a piece of foam (a little larger than needed) was centered on the pin. The saw was started (along with a vacumm) and the platform was slid into the blade. As soon as the pin was even with the blade, the foam was slowly turned on the centered pin. This would cut the foam into a perfect circle. The platform was slid back and the pin was adjusted 1" closer to the blade. The platform was once again slid forward, and the circle was now turned once again. This made a perfect "hoop" of foam (with a small slit). These hoops were stacked and glued to form the eggs (the slits were offset). The last few circles were made solid for the tops. After the eggs were stacked and glued, they were sanded, then covered with plaster to make them smooth. Once the eggs were painted, I cut out a small section out of the back and cut off the tops. See the pictures below

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This is the special saw I built for cutting the circles.

Here is a closer view of the saw with the pin and guide.

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Stacking and glueing the foam to make an egg.

This is an inside view of one of the eggs during construction.

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Four of the eggs are finished and the fifth is being built.

The eggs are test-fit on the wagon.