Pipe Cleaners Make for Elegant Zoetrope

Craft & Design
Pipe Cleaners Make for Elegant Zoetrope

Usually the most challenging and time-consuming step in building a zoetrope is positioning the individual still figures just right so they animate smoothly when it’s turned on. ITP student Sanniti Pimpley found a way around this by crafting her ballerinas from easily pose-able pink pipe cleaners.

Using nothing more than papier mache, wire, cardboard, and the requisite turntable and strobe light, she succeeded in creating a convincing animation of a graceful toe loop, repeated every two seconds.


The positions of the dancer are mapped out in a sixteen step sequence before any construction begins.


Papier mache and wires are affixed to the cardboard base.


Finally, the dancers are posed, mounted, and the apparatus is colored black to reduce reflection.

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

View more articles by Michael Colombo