My first 3D paper model – Small spatter cone

Besides volcanoes, my household has many strange and nerdy hobbies. One of my other pastimes is tabletop gaming everything from historical military to fantasy to science-fiction.  Originally, we were collecting miniatures made in lead or tin and hand-painting them, but thanks to computers, printers and the internet (as well as less time and less money for metal models), we have embraced gaming with paper miniatures and models.

Last night, we had a friend over and tried out a roleplaying game available online for free called Where No Man Has Gone Before featuring free paper model characters by OkumArts.  It’s a fun fast little game where you can be part of the landing crew (in your red shirt) and explore new planets.  We had so much fun that we’re playing again in a few days..and we’ll be exploring a highly geologically active world….which is where the fun begins.

A paper-model Star Trek roleplaying game in progress.

A paper-model Star Trek roleplaying game in progress.

We need lava, volcanoes, and MORE volcanoes…and quickly.

Mind you I have not built a paper model in a long time, nor have I ever designed one that was more complicated than a shoe-box. but I know Photoshop, and I know volcanoes, so I set to work.

Paper spatter cone model that I made in Photoshop

Paper spatter cone model that I made in Photoshop

The image above is the finished product. It is from a one-page pdf. file you can download and print here. >  volcano-model <  and it took about 15 minutes to cut out and glue together. Below are the instructions

For best results, print this project on letter-sized heavy weight paper or card-stock.

You have the option of making either a cone with a solidified floor attached at the bottom (larger circle), or a cone with a summit caldera and lava lake attached nearer the top (small circle with lake). Also there is optional fountaining lava, which can be attached through a slot in the summit caldera piece.

1) Trim out all pieces, being careful to not cut off the white tabs.
To make assembly easier, carefully spindle the cone (semi-circular piece) around a thick marker pen or other round object to “curl” it. Fold each of the white tabs downward. Fold the tabs on the summit caldera piece down as well. Fold the fountaining-lava piece (the orange square bit that doesn’t look very fountainy at the moment) in half along the black vertical line down the center.

2) To assemble, start by connecting the ends of the semi-circle to form the cone. Apply a little craft glue on the white tab at the end and fasten the other end so it just covers the white part. A small clothespin or paperclip can be used to hold it in place while the glue dries.

If you just want a solidified deep crater floor, skip ahead to step 5

3) Apply glue to the blank side of the fountaining-lava piece except for on the tabs. Fold and allow to dry. It helps to place a light weight on the piece while the glue dries. Once that is done, the shape of the lava fountain is up to you. It can be short, tall, wide or skinny or more than one fountain. Once you are done cutting out your desired shape of fountain, attach it to the lava-lake piece. With a sharp hobby-knife, cut a straight slit in the center of the lava lake just wide enough for the tab on the lava-fountain to fit through. Spread apart the two tabs on the folded lava-fountain piece to form a neat crease. Press both tabs back together in order to pass them through the slot, and then apply a little glue to the outside of both tabs so that they may be folded upward and attached to the under-side of the lava-lake piece. Again use small weighty objects, clothespins or paperclips to hold the pieces together until the glue dries.

4) To attach the lava lake inside the cone, it might help to do a “test-fitting” first before applying any glue. Once you have a feel for where to position the tabs, apply a dot of glue to each of them and carefully begin fitting the lava lake piece in. This part can be tricky and maybe even a little sticky Take care not to use too much glue and be sure to have clothespins or paperclips handy for holding things together

5) To attach the solid caldera floor, put a small amount of glue on each tab of the cone and carefully set the whole piece on the caldera-floor working your way along the edge. Using clothespins or paperclips to hold the pieces while the glue sets isn’t an option for this part of the project, so I recommend using a half-dozen weighty objects such as coins or small smoothed pebbles leaned around the edges of the cone to secure it until the glue dries.

6) Once everything is dried, you can take a black felt-tip marker and carefully blacken any white edges that are visible. Orange, red or yellow can be used on the white edges around the lava fountain.

Perhaps in the next few days I will add a few more volcanic features to the collection. I’m working on a geomorphic set of lava rivers as well as a row of fissure vents, and hope also to do some add-ons like an acidic caldera lake, maars, and maybe columnar jointed basalt.  In the more distant future, I hope to complete a volcanic secret lair, some more explosive eruption effects and somewhere in between all that maybe a paper model of Li’l Volcanohead.

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