How to Build a Model Iceberg

Updated July 20, 2017

What you see of an iceberg above the surface is only a fraction of the total structure. Most of it rests below the water line and can spread out significantly, becoming a hazard to ships. As much as 85 per cent of the iceberg is below the surface and that is a part you might want to depict as well. It is not too difficult to make either part with basic craft supplies and household items.

Select cardboard box to serve as a display case for the iceberg. It should be wider than it is tall.

Place the box in front of you and cut away the front face and the top with a hobby knife or scissors.

Measure the space inside the box and mark the dimensions on the foam core board.

Cut two sheets of foam core to fit inside the box as snugly as possible. Test fit the foam core sheets to make sure they touch all three walls of the box.

Measure the depth of the box and mark a line on the three interior walls three-quarters of the way up the box. This will serve as the waterline.

Paint the inside of the box shades of blue beginning with dark blue beneath, light blue near the waterline and medium blue between to suggest changes in depth.

Outline the shape of the iceberg on one piece of foam core board for the top.

Mark the second piece of foam core for the shape of the lower portion of the iceberg making sure it is approximately twice the size of the upper outline.

Wad up newspaper into densely packed shapes and pile them over the outline of the upper iceberg, holding the structure together with masking tape as you go.

Dip strips of plaster cloth into water and apply gently to the upper iceberg shape, smoothing the plaster with your fingers as you go.

Apply a thin layer of plaster patch or modelling clay around the base of the iceberg, teasing it up into peaks with your fingertips to simulate waves. Set it aside and allow to dry.

Ball up newspaper wads and form into a mound approximately twice the bulk of the top of the iceberg and secure with masking tape as you go.

Match up the top and bottom parts of the iceberg to make sure the bottom part is centred and properly sized.

Apply a layer of plaster cloth to the bottom part of the iceberg and allow to dry.

Water down a small amount of medium blue paint to a solution of approximately 25 per cent water and 75 per cent paint.

Lightly apply the paint mix to the recesses of the lower iceberg and allow to dry.

Lay the box on its back and slide the lower iceberg into place along the water line and secure it by pushing at least a dozen finishing nails through the cardboard walls into the foam board.

Turn the box right side up and apply a line of white glue around the edges of the foam board and across the surface.

Place the top part of the iceberg on the foam board, secure with finishing nails and allow the glue to set for at least an hour.

Paint the surface of the water with dark blue paint and the peaks of the waves with a tiny bit of white.

Paint the outside of the box as you like and cut away top part of the box above the waterline if desired.


The top of an iceberg is likely to feature peaks and irregular shapes whereas the bottom is more likely to be rounded. This project could be modified to simply model the top of the iceberg.


Make sure you have new, sharp blades when using a hobby knife. Dull blades are more likely to skip off, cut your fingers or mar the project.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box
  • Hobby knife or scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Foam core board
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • Newspaper pages
  • Masking tape
  • Plaster cloth
  • Water
  • Plaster patch or modelling clay
  • 2-inch finishing nails
  • White glue
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About the Author

Sean Kotz has been writing professionally since 1988 and is a regular columnist for the Roanoke Times. He has also written for the Blue Ridge Business Journal, The Roanoker, 50 Plus, and Prehistoric Times, among others. He holds a Master of Arts in literature from Virginia Tech.