Paper Engineering: Creating Musical Instruments from Paper

As mentioned in my blog post about the halloween costumes, I recently had a commercial paper engineering project on the go. I’d been contacted in early October by Giant Ant, a creative studio that tells stories through moving pictures and sound. They were working on a concept for a music video shoot for Victoria indie band Current Swell, and they were looking for someone to create life-size instruments from paper.

Paper Instruments - acoustic guitars
Paper Instruments - acoustic guitar detail
Paper Instruments - acoustic guitar detail

I’ve never done a project this large, nor did I have any previous experience creating paper props, but I said yes to the project. I felt strongly that it was something I could do, and knew I would learn a tonne of new skills in the process. The list of deliverables included: one drum set with drumsticks and cymbals, three acoustic guitars, two bass guitars, and one harmonica. The deadline was to get it all completed and ready for the shoot within a week and a half.

I worked my behind off and delivered the props with time to spare.

Paper Instruments - bass guitars
Paper Instruments - bass guitars

It was a pleasant surprise to tap into abilities I didn’t previously realize I possess. I am able to design three dimensional objects in my head with very little planning and then create them. It feels a bit like a new super power.

Paper Instruments - harmonica
Paper Instruments - drum set

For the guitars I was given both an acoustic and a bass guitar to use as reference, but for the drums and harmonica I used photos to guide me. It’s incredibly helpful to have a real object to work with in creating three-dimensional props because then there is no guessing about size.

The video shoot happened last Thursday in Vancouver, and the finished version should be available in a few weeks time. The Current Swell shared a behind-the-scenes video of the set, and I was glad to hear they loved the paper instruments.

Sadly, all but two of the guitars were destroyed, as this was part of the concept of the video.