Response to the Brief (Marble Run)

The marble run project is where we work in a groups to create a marble run that will allow us to run a marble for 20-30 seconds continuously, it has to be creative, use as many different materials as possible and of course have the wow factor.

In my group we had few initial theme ideas; history of weaponry, theme park, different landmarks around the world, a fair ground and a crazy golf course, shown below is the spider diagram Sabine drew out to document our different ideas.


Sabine came up with the idea of a fair ground theme, we decided this was the best theme as we felt that it would allow us to give the marble an interesting route and everyone could contribute to the design as we all had a similar knowledge of fairgrounds, whereas themes such as the history of weaponry was a theme that Sam had specific knowledge on but the rest of us we’re as clued up on. Early on, we made the decision that our marble run would have four parts, there are four in our team so it was an easy way of making sure every member of the group was making an equal contribution to the project. Therefore we chose four iconic parts of a fairground; ferris wheel, Helter Skelter, dodgems and a carousel.


I drew out a rough diagram (left) to show roughly the order of the different attractions, Sam then created a more detailed scaled drawing (right). We further developed the fair ground theme by putting our own twist on a traditional fair ground; we chose to create it in a Gothic style, inspired by Tim Burton. I’m not used to creating things in a gothic style so I needed to do a LOT of research before I started making my part of the fair ground…a creepy carousel.


Most of the carousels I looked at had similar things in common, for example that they tended to have a lot of lights on them, the majority of them used horses although some had different creatures such as lions, mystic creatures and sledges, all of the carousels had the same structure in that they all have a banner across the top of the carousel, they’re all circular and have poles holding the animal statues in place. I like the idea of having lights on my carousel, although practically I don’t think I’d be able to have the time or skills to attach small LEDs  I thought I could use gems in order to give the impression of lights on the carousel.


I found these two images, they gave me inspiration on how I could make my carousel look scarier, I think I’m going to use foil to decorate parts of the carousel in order to give it a similar effect to the one in the second picture and I thought I could use the skeleton of a horse as the artist has in the first picture.

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I researched some Tim Burton style work to get an idea of how I could reflect this on the carousel, I can use the curly style of he  uses on the corners of the carousel, I could also incorporate bats and skeletons into the design and I thought about using twigs for the carousel poles, however when it came to making my carousel I decided to use plastic poles because they were all the same size and structure.

I thought about how I could make the carousel work practically and drew a sketch of what I wanted my carousel to look like.


When it came to making the carousel I had to make a few alterations…

I had to change the material I used for the creatures from play dough to clay, this is because the play dough wouldn’t stay in the shape that I sculpted it to so it made sense to use clay instead. I made the play dough myself and another fault with it was that it was grey instead of black, the colour I wanted it to be.


This is my play dough bat.

Another thing I had to change was the type of creatures I created, the skeleton horse wouldn’t work because I couldn’t put it through the pole and it weighed too much so drooped down, instead I changed that design to a spider. I also added a ghost design as the broom was difficult because it was a horizontal shape as opposed to a vertical shape so I only made one broom. I then painted them all black so they would match the gothic theme and mounted them on a plastic stick that I’d covered with silver foil.

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Originally I had wanted to write a title across the top of the carousel however the plates that I used for the top and bottom of the carousel were a bit too small so I couldn’t fit the title ‘creepy carousel’ on, I didn’t think this was too bad because I didn’t want to crowd the design.

I added a centre tube to the carousel to make it sturdier and put less pressure on the plastic poles.

The final change I made was to the placing of the marble tube, at first I was going to have the tube going around the side of the carousel and put the whole carousel at an angle but my Mum suggested instead to put the marble tube at an angle, before deciding on this I thought through other ways I could make the marble run through the carousel…I had the idea of using the centre tube and making the marble drop through, the problem with this was that it would be difficult to connect the run at the beginning and the end of the carousel to the centre tube. Therefore I decided to raise the run as my Mum had suggested, I also had to change the materials I used for the run, I was going to use cardboard but this proved difficult to get into a circular shape and when I did get it in the shape I wanted it had a lot of ridges which I thought might stop the marble from running. In answer to this problem I used hair curlers! Crazy I know but I managed to get them into the shape I wanted, they were the right size for the marble and were strong, I taped them together and then covered them with tin foil to make it fit in with the design of the rest of the carousel.

IMG_0631 IMG_0633 IMG_0634 IMG_0635I’m really happy with my finished design and I feel it gave me the opportunity to try design methods I would never have thought of using, such as clay models…fingers crossed it works for the filmed run!

The other members in my group made the other areas of the fairground…

Sabine designed the Helter Skelter:

Sam designed the Ferris Wheel:

Jake designed  the Dodgems:

Unfortunately on the day we presented the marble run, Sam didn’t turn up and he hadn’t left his part of the marble run for us to connect up so we had to connect Sabine’s Helter Skelter to my Carousel on the day of the run! Obviously that wasn’t as we’d planned because it should’ve been Sabine’s, then Sam’s, then mine, the Jake’s so it didn’t look quite as good as we’d wanted it too. Another problem we had was that when we filmed the marble run it stopped on the dodgems a few times, which was odd because it hadn’t done that when we tried it a few days before, so we didn’t get a complete run through when it was filmed.

Here’s a photo of our finished run: