Pangaea: Honeycomb and the many lessons that can be learned making it

Introduction

For the Pangaea launch party we wanted to make the SU Bar appear like it had been colonized by bees; for this I’d planned to purchase large rolls of honeycomb core, spray paint them yellow, then create glistening golden stalactites of resin to represent honey. Unfortunately we did not have the correct equipment to make the stalactites, and the honeycomb core wasn’t going to arrive in time. Here’s what I came up with as an alternative.

Problem solving

I spent an evening sifting through the inventory of the Pangaea studio, and found the following:

  • A lot of chicken wire left over from another project; this had a hexagonal structure and was easy to fold but didn’t look much like honeycomb.
  • A lot of yellow spraypaint; this was easy to apply, but would only form a thin coating on the chicken wire.
  • A lot of craft paper; this allowed light through, such that we could put ripple lights behind it.
  • Some hot glue guns, with both normal, and golden glitter hot glue.

I needed to define the shape of the chicken wire more, and make the surface appear more waxy, but I also needed a background for it to sit on to conceal the lighting, and for the glue to stick to.

My original construction method

My original method was less than perfect: I pinned a layer of craft paper to a table, then pinned a layer of chicken wire over it and removed the first set of pins from the paper. I then painstakingly went over every bit of wire with at least one layer of hot glue. This was then spray painted yellow, then had golden glitter hot glue laid into the cells along the “bottom”.

This had many advantages:

  • It looked roughly like a honeycomb
  • It was flexible and cuttable, but plastic, meaning it could be folded into the gill-like structures found in hives
  • The paper it was made from was fire retardant, meaning it didn’t need to be fireproofed (and all the problems that came with that!)

As proud as I was of it, my team and I couldn’t help noticing a few major problems:

  • It took HOURS to make a usable amount
  • It took hundreds of hot glue sticks to totally cover the material
  • The material had no color depth, being a continuous uniform dark yellow

I filmed a short video of the material and me explaining it, posted it onto the group chat, and went home.

The power of teamwork

I came in the morning and found that the team had been mucking around with the design. They’d made several interesting developments:

  • To start they didn’t cover all of the chicken wire
  • What they did cover was covered thick in some places and thin in others
  • Instead of spray painting it they used acrylic paint and rolled it on lightly with a paint roller (such that only the upper surface of the glue was yellow)

After a bit of thinking about the various changes, we decided to cover all of the chicken wire, spray paint it, then use the paint roller with a much lighter shade of yellow than the spray paint. In the end we used up two 20 meter rolls of chicken wire. They were hung up around the bar, and from a distance did look quite realistic!

What can be learned learned

This event can be used as an anecdote for many important lessons:

  • If you’re ordering a specialized material (especially a custom material), order it early (however long it takes to arrive, give yourself twice that before you even begin needing it!)
  • If you need to find an alternative, look through EVERYTHING that you own
  • Be humble; if your design needs modifying and you can’t think of anything, open your mind to your teams suggestions
  • Think decisions through; maybe a later version isn’t necessarily a better version

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