We get a lot of kids in the booth at art fairs. A LOT. And a lot of teachers as well. And for the last few months, I’ve been promising to share an idea I had with them for a simpler, more child-friendly technique for making Fobots. Now, please note–this is not how I make Fobots. Noooo no no. When I make’em, there are metal fragments flying, molten lead dripping, caustic chemicals, and a hundred different ways you can hurt yourself. In short, not an ideal school project, unless you really hate children.
The idea I had was this–don’t try to glue objects to your cans or other found materials. Glue bonds break too easily, and it’s hard to hold everything in place while the glue is drying. So what you’re going to do is buy a bunch of magnets from the hardware or craft store, and glue stuff to THEM. Then, find tin cans for the head and body, and let the magnets do what they do best. Here are two little bots that I put together this morning from stuff I had laying around the house, as well as some cans from the recycling bin:
Here are the details. First, find cans that are tin, not aluminum. Cans that had liquid inside and that have been opened by puncturing them with a “church key” type can opener are best if you want to have both the top and bottom of the can in place. You can leave the labels on or remove them–or even paint the cans. Next, round up a bunch of cool stuff from that drawer in the kitchen, that workbench in the garage, that aisle at Ace Hardware that has all the fun little parts in drawers, or the flea market. Then glue that stuff to the magnets. I used hot glue, because I like the immediacy, but most glues will do. Finally, just stick the magnets to the cans. I chose not to give mine legs. It’s hard to find cans that have the bottom intact, and if they do, they have ridges on the bottom that make it hard for the magnets to stay level. So one of mine has a skirt, and the other is legless, but if you do find a can that is wide and smooth on the bottom, give it a try. Just don’t make the legs too long, as it will make the bot unstable. For an even simpler project, make just a robot head–you can have plenty of fun and creativity with eyes, noses, mouths, hair, hats, ears, mustaches…
The beauty of this process is that if you drop your bot, or squeeze the arms too hard, anything that comes off can just get stuck right back on. And bonus! If you find enough cool junk, you can mix and match to your heart’s delight, just like Mr. Potato Head!