Big Fish as the school musical this year? I think I remember it. A circus cannon, you say? Yes, that sounds easy. Anything I should be aware of? Capable of holding an actor so they can be seen to get into it? Hmm, it’ll be big but I think it’s do-able. I know how I can construct it. Sure. I’ll get onto that right away. Seems simple enough. Shouldn’t be a problem. At all.
I wish I didn’t keep saying things like that. Of course, it’s difficult. Of course I’ll have to rethink every constant of the universe. I wish I didn’t watch YouTube videos. They are the bane of my existence tricking me into thinking I’m capable of all things.
The cannon started out in my head as a kind of tube which was a frame of chicken wire, wood and surrounded by plaster bandages which I could then apply wall filler to sand down and make a smooth finish which would be lacquered and painted.
So, I started out building the frame. I already had the chicken wire and the wood ( basically the thickness of shims which had been trimmed off of 2x4s ).
It actually looked OK. It was the right size to fit a person.
With the frame constructed, I needed to build the shell of the body. I had the bright idea that, after I wrapped chicken wire around the frame, I could lay plaster-dipped gauze on the chicken wire and it would harden like papier mache.
Here’s the evidence of how far I went with this.
The reason it didn’t work was that the frame wouldn’t hold its shape and ended up looking like a 6ft maggot.
So, I had to quickly come up with MK2. This time with a more rigid frame. I had a heck of a time trying to find a material that would wrap around the frame but be hard enough to look like a thicker surface. I tried, and got bruised by hardboard (not cardboard) panels and I thought I’d got the solution with a thinner type of panel but the panel was under so much stress that the screws got pulled through. Luckily, there was a collection of very large cardboard (not hardboard) panels that I was able to fold enough to wrap around the frame. Because the cardboard was not as hard, the screws would still go through so I added Gorilla tape to the screw holes for reinforcement and that kept it all together. After a nice paint job by the cast and crew, the cannon took its place on the stage for all of the required 30 seconds.