Furniture is a tricky thing. There are so many phenomenally designed couches and chairs to adorn your living space, but frankly, how many people have the kind of money to buy the most elegant and modern pieces of architecture?
I mean, the Eero Ball Chair is the perfect example: http://www.eero-aarnio.com/8. I have always wanted one of these chairs. It is described as a room within a room. The spherical shape creates a sort of secluded and private abode. A comforting, modern, chair. A sure conversation starter. But at upwards of 700 dollars it is dang expensive. For poor college students, beginning families, or couples, who can realistically dish out that kind of dough?
So, I came up with a solution. I was going to make that chair, for my dog. Because frankly, after being hyped up on doggy treats, he could use a little room within a room to go to, so he can sleep off the sugar, and give me some time to nap as well! But this chair is the perfect size for youngsters as well. And I am sure they would love to have their little "castle" or secret room to go to. This chair can spin after all, and what little kid wouldn't love that.
This project is really easy to do! It is mostly newspaper, flour, water, pringles cans, foam and fabric. The hardest part is being patient! I think the most time is spent waiting for things to dry during this project, than actually creating it... but it is definitely worth it.
Step 1: Materials
- Exercise ball
- salt (prevents mold growth)
- MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
- Plastic tube/ PVC pipe/ Pringles container (reduce, reuse, recycle!)
- 5/8" threaded rod
- 5/8" nuts (x2... but get a few extra just in case)
- Screw cap
Smoothing (step 5):
- Plaster/ Joint Compound (upwards of 12 lbs.)
- sandpaper (rough and smooth)
- 6 Cans of matte white spray paint
- 2 Cans of white epoxy spray paint (can be found at Walmart)
- Foam 1.5" thick (A 3 feet by 8 feet sheet)
- Red fabric of your choosing (Or any color you desire)
- 1 Can of spray adhesive
-A super excited child or dog to test out their new abode!!
Step 2: Paper MÃ¢chÃ©
The first part of this project is paper mâché, which is as simple to do as it was creating a piñata or project in those good old middle school days! Here are the steps.
1. Get an exercise ball, I got mine at target, but they sell these anywhere. Don't get anything too expensive (the ball won't be usable after this). I recommend an exercise ball because it won't stick to the paper mâché, making your life easier in the long run, it's cheap and easy to obtain. Choose the size of exercise ball according to how large you want the chair. I really wanted to create a dog bed, so I choose a smaller exercise ball.
2. Tape line around ball to know where to stop the paper mâché. The ball usually have some lines around them already, make sure you follow one of those around so you know you are creating a straight even line, and thus you don't have a wobbly chair outline. Make sure you tape this line a little farther than halfway on the ball. This is a semicircle chair, but in order to create that "room inside a room" effect you need the chair to be slightly enclosing. (Look at the picture below, everything to the right of the line is the chair, you will be able to see I taped just over halfway)
3. Make your newspaper strips. Mine were about 1 foot long and about 1.5 inches wide. These don't all have to be the same size, or have straight edges, or look pretty. Just make sure they are not too big, because otherwise they won't fold over the ball correctly and you will have wrinkles, and you can't iron these out!
4.Time to make your paper mâché concoction! Mix about 2 cups of water, 1 cup of flour and a pinch of salt. The salt is there to prevent mold growth while the project is drying. You wouldn't want a moldy abode! So don't forget this! You want your mixture to be the consistency of yogurt (not greek yogurt... that is too thick) so add flour and water until you reach that consistency. This is not going to look like a lot of paper mâché goop (for lack of better technical term :) ) but you want to make it in small batches so that it doesn't get too dry as you are working. It is really quick to make, so fresh batches during the project are necessary.
5. Place your exercise ball in a large bowl so that it doesn't roll around as you attack it with paper mâché, how frustrating would that be! Not to mention your floor would be covered with goop... not fun to clean up!
6. Cover the newspaper slips evenly on both sides (do not go for soggy). Then lay the pieces parallel to each other on the ball. In each square patch you do on the ball you want a one layer of newspaper horizontal and another layer on top of that, in a vertical direction. This adds stability to the ball. It is like a cross-hatching pattern.
7. Once the entire ball is covered with a layer of vertical strips and a layer of horizontal strips, allow it to dry for at least 12 hours. Repeat step 6 at least five times (at minimum!) Ten layers is more ideal. The more layers you add, the stronger your chair will be. Don't worry if your layers or goop application is slightly uneven. You won't see this in the end.
PATIENCE. It will be rewarded. Just keep the image of the end product in mind, if you rush this project it won't turn out right. You need to wait 12 hours in between each paper mâché application. Get a nice book, or series, you want to read during this project, you can get two things done at once!
Step 3: Making the Base
You can work on the base while you are waiting for the paper mâché to dry!
1. Out of MDF (see materials list) cut a circle. My circle was 16" in diameter. But make a base a good size in proportion to size chair you are making. Check out the link on the first page for a reference for the ratio of base to chair size.
2. Drill a hole in the middle of the circle, EXACTLY, the same size as the nut. You do not want the nut to move around when you insert the screw, otherwise you will have a wobbly chair. I don't think your guests want an amusement park ride when they sit down, and your dog will not appreciate the lack of security, so take care here folks! Once you drill the hole, and insert the nut, put the threaded rod into the MDF.
3. Using PVC pipe (or an empty pringles can: reduce, reuse, recycle! Plus when you tell people you made this chair out of flour, water, pringles containers, and newspaper they will be super impressed at your craftiness), fit it over the threaded rod, and cut it to the size at which you want the chair to rest on. This part adjusts the height of the chair, you can choose if you want it nearly sitting on the ground, or higher up. If it is for a dog, or child, making the chair a little closer to the ground would be a good idea.
4. Using newspaper and masking tape, smooth out the angle between the pringles container and the base, it should be sloped and not 90 degrees. Use this link, to look at the base of the actual chair as a model for yours.
5. Paper mâché the base just like you did with the ball.
Step 4: Applying Plaster
The project is taking shape! Now although it is really tempting to remove the exercise ball to see the skeleton of the chair, DO NOT SUCCUMB TO YOUR CURIOSITY! Keep the exercise ball in until you finish plastering the outside of the ball. The paper mâché won't quite be stable enough to hold up the plaster, and may cave in and bend. So don't sacrifice the spherical shape of your chair, and keep the exercise ball inflated.
1. Using gloves, apply the plaster thickly and evenly across the entire ball, and on the base. I bought plaster premade, you can get the powered form, but that it is just easier to get the pre made stuff. The plaster layer should be about 1/2 cm thick, but use your best judgement. Allow this to dry for 24 hours, or according to the directions on the package.
2. AFTER the plaster is dried sufficiently, take out the exercise ball! Now you can plaster the inside. Make the inside plaster thicker than on the outside, this will add much stability, and you won't notice the difference in thickness, after all the inside will be covered with foam padding. Note: DO NOT be shocked if the outside starts cracking, and DO NOT worry. This is normal. Once everything dries, the cracking will be minimal, and everything will work out. Allow the inside to dry for 24 hours.
Step 5: Sanding
Take some time to stand back and smile! The chair is looking good. It's time to smooth out the edges a bit. Sanding is really important, the quality of your sanding determines the quality of the final product. The paint goes on over this, and spray paint doesn't hide bumps that well.
1. Starting with a rougher sandpaper, sand the entire outside of the chair. Once again, you don't have to worry about the inside, it will be covered with foam. Note: You will notice that over time there are air pockets of places that do not have plaster. DO NOT worry about this, you are sanding to get the right shape, and you will fill these holes in later. Also, though sanding is monotonous and you can get lost in your own little world, reign it in! DO NOT get carried away, you don't want to sand all the way down to the newspaper, if you do... what was the point of plastering?
2. Once you have gone over the ball with the rough sand paper, fill in the holes you see with plaster. Allow to dry for 24 hours, yes even though you are not putting much plaster on, you still have to wait 24 hours for it to dry completely.
3. Once this is dry, sand the entire chair again with a finer grained sandpaper.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the chair really comes alive! Ensure there are no more air pockets.
5. Sand the base as well!
Step 6: Painting
Time to put the pizazz in the chair!
1. Spray pain the entire chair white. It will be hard to tell if it is covering (as the plaster is white as well), but overtime you will be able to see the difference between the plaster on the inside of the chair (don't bother spray painting the inside) and the outside. Use Matte white finish paint, and use as many layers as you feel is necessary. I used 6 cans of paint.
2. Allow 24 hours for drying.
3. Apply Epoxy spray paint to harden the outside so you don't scrape off the plaster. The epoxy also provides a smooth, high gloss finish... so it starts to look professional! Epoxy spray paint is what is used to cover fridges, so it's some sturdy stuff, but safe as well.
4. You guessed it... wait another 24 hours to dry. (I think the hardest part of this project is waiting, and not getting ahead of yourself!)
Step 7: Base Attachment
1. Drill a hole in the chair exactly where you want to place the base, you can just eyeball this using the actual chair as a reference. Drill the hole all the way through the bottom of the chair, and make it the EXACT size of the nut and bolt.
2. Put the base with the threaded rod onto the chair, measure where you need to cut the rod, mark it and then remove the base.
3. Cut the rod down to size. Then secure the base onto the chair! You now have a taste of what the final chair will look like!
Step 8: Inner Chair Foam
This is the final push of the marathon! I warn you, just like a marathon, even though you have completed the bulk of the work, the last few miles are the most difficult, and require the most technique and attention. So stay focused! Also, this may sound complicated, but it really is not too bad. Use the pictures as references, and post any questions you have, I will respond promptly.
1. Take a string and figure out the circumference of the opening of your ball chair. Divide this figure by 5 (as you will ultimately have five sections of foam). Measure out a base of a triangle on the foam, using this calculated number. See the second picture below. You will have five triangles measured out and drawn on your foam rectangle. The bases will be the calculated number, and they will be the exact height of the foam (3 feet) they are isosceles triangles, so the point should be in the middle of the base.
2. Place these triangles into the chair. The tips should converge in the middle of the back of the chair. Cut them so they meet there nicely. As you will see, due to the spherical nature of the chair, you will have some spaces of emptiness that look like the petals of a flower. Using newspaper, trace the shape of this empty section.
3. Using your stencil, cut out five foam "petals" (see picture 3).
4. Sew these foam petals to the sides of each triangle, creating a spherical foam dome. Just use regular cotton thread and a needle. The final product should look like picture 4. You can see the petals come together to make a flower! That's how you know you've done it right.
5. Now, although it sounds counter intuitive, cut this foam structure into five pieces again. This time, cut them exactly down the middle of each petal. You may, rightly so, be asking why we started with five pieces, created a foam dome, and then cut it up again. You can't effectively cover the dome with fabric like this (and you have to cover the foam with fabric before putting it in the chair), and you need even pieces that will just slide into place when you put them into the chair.
Step 9: Applying Fabric
Adding the POP of color for your WOW factor!
1. Lay the five pieces of foam (from the previous step) onto your fabric. Draw an outline about 2 inches wider than the foam onto the fabric, and cut it out.
2. Remember you are covering the concave portion of your foam (you will see the curve still even after you cut the foam into the five pieces) so make sure you put the fabric on the correct side.
3. Spray the tip of the foam with spray adhesive, and apply the tip of the fabric. Secure this.
4. Spray halfway down on the foam, and smooth the fabric onto this section. Next spray the rest of the foam and apply the rest of the fabric, and smooth out the wrinkles. Make sure you spray the adhesive on in patches, as it dries relatively quickly, and you don't want to be rushed laying the fabric on the foam. Note: Spray the adhesive on the foam and NOT the fabric. It leaves a white residue, and will stain the fabric if you spray it directly onto it.
5. Once the front is covered, flip the foam pieces over, so the fabric is on the ground and the foam backside is face up. Spray the long sides of the pieces and fold the fabric up. Make nice tight, clean, crisp edges!
6. Now you are going to do the edge of the piece that will face outward from the chair. The base of the triangular foam pieces. Spray the adhesive and fold the fabric up. You will notice that you are left with "wings" on both sides of the front, fold these wings towards the longer side of the foam piece and adhere them. This will create a little bump, but this will be sandwiched between all of the leafs, so you won't see it.
Make sure you apply enough adhesive. If you don't the fabric will pop up and create bubbles.
Do this OUTSIDE... the spray adhesive gets EVERYWHERE... trust me.
Step 10: Fabric Piping
This step will really put the PRO in professional looking product.
1. Spray the inside of your chair with adhesive. Starting at the bottom, put in your fabric covered foam pads, SYMMETRICALLY.
2. Measure the circumference of the entrance of your chair, and cut the fabric piping to the proper size.
3. Measure a proper sized strip of fabric to cover the piping.
4. Sew the fabric around the piping AS TIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE.
5. Cut away the excess fabric. Glue the piping into place with hot glue. Ensure your seam is facing the inside of the chair so it won't be seen.
Step 11: FINALLY YOU ARE DONE!
CONGRATS... YOU FINISHED! Call over you kid, or your dog, or your friend. Let them test out your new masterpiece. Enjoy the room inside the room!